Germany’s Bavaria is where the traditional and the modern collide—where medieval castles, small cobble stone towns, Baroque churches, and traditional festivals share history and space with national parks, world-class cities, gorgeous palaces, and high opera.
Munich, the cultural center of Bavaria and gateway to the Alps, is the third largest city in Germany. It is perhaps most popular for its beautiful architecture, fine arts, international businesses, and annual Oktoberfest beer celebration, the largest festival in Europe which attracts most than six million visitors to Germany each year. In fact, Munich is often referred to as the city of “laptops and lederhosen” because of its rare ability to stay at the forefront of technological developments while also maintaining its true cultural heritage. This heritage is on display throughout the city, especially at the expansive Olympiapark, Marienplatz City Square and Glockenspiel landmark, and Nymphenburg Palace summer, as well as its Hofbräuhaus beer halls and plenteous microbreweries, pubs, and beer gardens serving up the country’s legendary brews.
Outside of the cities, whimsical castles and palaces dot the countryside, including King Ludwig II’s famous Schloss Neushwanstein castle and the UNESCO-listed Wieskirche pilgrimage church. One of the most memorable excursions curated by Ker & Downey is a drive down the twisting country roads between Salzburg and Munich past the Chiemsee Lake to the quaint alpine village of Auschau. Here in this Bavarian fairytale of a town is Residenze Heinz Winkler, a gourmet sanctuary offering modern yet traditional culinary delights by “cuisine vitale” founder himself, Heinz Winkler.
Culturally, Bavaria has more in common with neighboring Austria and Switzerland that it does with the rest of Germany. It is not uncommon to see the stereotypical Lederhosen, white sausages, and beer steins around here. Economically, however, it is the strongest part of the country, as it houses Munich’s BMW powerhouse of automobile engineering, as well as some of the country’s most prestigious universities.