Explore the Bavarian Forest
Categories: Family and Kids, Sightseeing, Cultural and History
[ source: Flickr]
The Bavarian Forest lies in the South East of Bavaria, between the Danube river and the border with the Czech Republic. Together with the adjoining Bohemian Forest in the Czech Republic, it forms the largest range of forested mountains in Central Europe.
The mountains are ‘medium height’, reaching 1,500 metres (nearly 5,000 feet), rising from the flat Danube plain, through rolling hills, to the forested high mountains along the border. Much (Much vacation rentals | Much travel guide) of the border area is covered by the Bavarian Forest National Park, the first National Park in Germany (founded in 1970), including the largest area of forested wilderness in Europe.
The Bavarian Forest, with its cold winters and dense forests, maintains a very distinctive character, in spite of the opening up of the area to tourism with the arrival of the railway in the late 19th century. The border has played an important role in history, firstly marking the Western boundary of the Habsburg Empire and later the cold war divide between Eastern and Western Europe, the ‘iron curtain’. Local festivals throughout the summer celebrate local battles and other historic events, as well as the use of horses in forest work, always accompanied by plenty of locally brewed beer and brass band music.
Walking, cycling and many forest based sports and activities bring tourists to the area from spring to autumn, while the cold winters provide potential for all types of winter activity: downhill skiing on the Arber mountain (location of world cup races), cross country skiing and snow shoe walking through the forests, tobogganing, curling, skating and horse drawn sledge races.
As well as the pretty villages, castles and towns of the Bavarian Forest, many of which contain factories and museums featuring locally produced glass, the area is an ideal base from which to explore the Danube, with its beautiful cities of Passau (Passau vacation rentals | Passau travel guide) and Regensburg (Regensburg vacation rentals | Regensburg travel guide) (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as Klatovy, Plzen and Cesky Krumlov (another UNESCO World Heritage Site) and even Prague in the Czech Republic.
The area also has its own cuisine and local drinks: with traditional dishes featuring pork and dumplings, lots of locally caught game, fish from the mountain streams and desserts with fruits of the forest. Many villages have small breweries and the other local drink is schnaps, made from herbs, roots and fruit from the forest.
Although a popular tourist area with Germans, there are very few foreign tourists and it is never crowded. Truly an area where you can ‘live like a German’ and leave the outside world behind for a few days.
About this Article
This travel guide has been written by Martin Holborow.
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