Marktl am Inn
On a gentle bend in the Inn River, some 60km southwest of Passau, sits the drowsy settlement of Marktl am Inn. Few people outside of Germany (or indeed Bavaria) had heard of it before 19 April 2005, the day when its favourite son, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was elected Pope Benedict XVI.
Nestled in a cul-de-sac under snowcapped peaks, sleepily alluring Mittenwald, 20km southeast of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, is the most natural spot imaginable for a resort. Known far and wide for its master violin makers, the citizens of this drowsy village seem almost bemused by its popularity.
For a thousand years Freising was the spiritual and cultural epicentre of southern Bavaria. Now the nearest town to the airport, it's become something of a bedroom community for Munich but retains the feel of a traditional market town. In 1821 the bishop bowed to the inevitable and moved his seat to Munich.
When you've exhausted all possibilities in central Munich, the northern suburb of Schleissheim is well worth the short S-Bahn trip for its three elegant palaces and a high-flying aviation museum, a great way to entertain the kids on a rainy afternoon. To get to Schleissheim, take the S1 (direction Freising) to Oberschleissheim (€5.
Looming over the Wörnitz River, the medieval covered parapets, towers, turrets, keep and red-tiled roofs of the 12th-century Schloss Harburg are so perfectly preserved they almost seem like a film set. Tours tell the building's long tale and evoke the ghosts that are said to use the castle as a hang-out.
Known as ‘Wies’ for short, the Wieskirche is one of Bavaria’s best-known baroque churches and a Unesco-listed heritage site. About a million visitors a year flock to see this stuccoed wonder, the monumental work of the legendary artist brothers, Dominikus and Johann Baptist Zimmermann.
A pocket-sized trove of weird treasures, Schloss Linderhof was Ludwig II’s smallest but most sumptuous palace, and the only one he lived to see fully completed. Finished in 1878, the palace hugs a steep hillside in a fantasy landscape of French gardens, fountains and follies. The reclusive king used the palace as a retreat and hardly ever received visitors here.