Bavaria Gourmet Trail guide

Crystal clear lakes, dense pine forests, storybook villages, and weißwurst sizzling on the grill — welcome to Bavaria’s Gourmet Trail. As the name suggests, this route is largely devoted to local eats inspired by southern Germany’s long-standing tradition of hospitality and indulgent cuisine.

The beauty of Bavaria is that it has plenty to offer year-round. Spring and summer are ideal for hiking, exploring the alpine trails, and swimming in the Isar River’s refreshing waters. Winter is the definition of comfort for anyone who loves to cozy up with a glass of glühwein (mulled wine) at a family-run inn. Regardless of the season, you’ll be able to go on a culinary adventure, sampling cheese, wine, sausage, pretzels, and desserts. For anyone who appreciates good food and fine beer and wine, Bavaria will very likely be the trip of a lifetime.

In Bavaria, even the salad is made of sausage.

Photo: Radiokafka/Shutterstock

Germany has a diverse repertoire of dishes united by two things: a passion for kneading dough in elaborate shapes and a love for the many types of German sausage.

Get your hands on a brezn with obatzda (pretzel with cheese) and have a go at the hearty local dumplings stuffed with either meat or fish. Try the iconic Nürnberger Rostbratwurst — a grilled sausage with a fragrant mint flavor made of veal, beef, or, most often, pork.

One of the most beloved culinary products in Bavaria, this sausage dates back to the 14th century. According to legend, Nürnberger Rostbratwurst was so popular that German innkeepers used to sell it illegally to hungry customers past the hours of a curfew imposed during various epochs of history. Only three-inches in length, the sausage was passed through keyholes in an elaborate secret transaction. Luckily, today you can order a Nürnberger Rostbratwurst at any time of day or night, and the sausage is often present at local inns’ breakfast buffets.

Bavaria’s cuisine is so indulgent that even the salad is a sausage salad. A mix of Regensburger sausages, onions, chives, and vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste, Bayerischer Wurstsalat is the ideal appetizer. At the dinner table, you’ll also find some Allgäu mountain cheese — a dry cheese made of 62 percent unpasteurized cow milk with a three-inch rind colored in the signature dull shade of yellow and dotted by a few holes that’s a recognizable characteristic of alpine dairy products.

Photo: Kzenon/Shutterstock

Bavaria prides itself on its hospitality, and most eateries recreate the authentic atmosphere of a German home by inviting you right in. You’ll run into a multitude of beer gardens, and if you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll cool off in the shade of their thick chestnut trees. Bavaria is something of a paradise for beer. With more than 600 breweries and 40 types of beer, you can travel for over a month without having the same beverage twice.

Some must-try beer combos: Pair a cold glass of Helles, a light lager, with a semmelknödel — a fluffy mix of breadcrumbs, eggs, and milk the size of a tennis ball. Go for the iconic Bavarian pilsner — a pale lager with a bitter, earthy taste. Refresh yourself with a radler — a bubbly mix of equal parts Pilsner or lager and lemonade.

If you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck. Start with a bowl of the traditional Bavarian Creme, which is a compote-based gelatinous dessert made of berries with a light vanilla flavor. Then reach for a slice of Zwetschgendatschi — a buttery flan made of cornflour and almonds.

Bavaria has over 15,000 acres of vineyards around its storybook villages.

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Although more low-key than its neighbor France, Bavaria has plenty of wine to offer with its thriving viticulture. Franconia is the home to a number of grape varieties — blauer spätburgunder, müller-thurgau, bacchus, kerner, silvaner, and, of course, Riesling, which is perhaps the best-known of the bunch. In the winter, you have white glühwein to look forward to.

A spicy-sweet blend of white wine (typically produced from silvaner or müller-thurgau) is mixed with apple juice, plum brandy, orange and lemon slices, a stick of cinnamon, anise, cloves, and honey to produce the warm holiday drink that makes you feel warm and cozy on the inside. Glühwein is traditionally paired up with Lebkuchen biscuits from one of the stands at the Christmas markets. Each baker has a secret recipe for biscuits that they will never reveal, so you’ll just have to try them all.

Photo: Bob Pool/Shutterstock

Many wineries are located in the area between Aschaffenburg and Schweinfurt, facing the slopes of the Main River. You have a myriad of “wine walks” to choose from. In Sommerhausen, you can explore the wine trail that leads you directly through the Siegelswäldchen Woods. This trail delivers stunning views of Ochsenfurt and Eibelstadt’s rolling hills.

If you head out on the Iphofen trail, you can visit the Julius Echter estate, the second-biggest winery in all of Germany, which has been around since 1576. Here you will learn all about the bocksbeutel — the pot-bellied, flat bottle that has become one of Bavaria’s staples. The shape was strategically designed to prevent the bottle from rolling when placed on a hill.

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