Tegernsee, one of Bavaria's many lakes Tegernsee, Bavaria

Bavaria prides itself on its uniqueness and is effectively if not officially a state within a state. Bavaria features a variety of beautiful lakes, forests and the towering summits of the Alps. The highest mountain in Germany, the 'Zugspitze', is located in Bavaria at the border with Austria. The 'Chiemsee', 'Starnberger See' and 'Tegernsee' are just some of the exquisite lakes which invite visitors to take a rest in Bavaria. The region is perfect for swimming, hiking, cycling or any other outdoor activities.

Upper Bavaria has its own highlights, which include beautiful castles and gorgeous monasteries. One of the most spectacular sights in Germany is the Neuschwanstein Castle, which epitomises the fairytale landscape of Bavaria. This stunning castle sits perched high atop a mountain range. It was built by Ludwig II, whose marriage was the starting point of the world famous Bavarian tradition: Munich's 'Oktoberfest'.

Beer is not merely considered to be a beverage in Bavaria, it is their cultural heritage. The population of Bavaria is proud of its beer. There are various local breweries, many of them with an excellent reputation i.e.the 'Paulaner' and 'Augustiner' breweries. Bavarian beer (brewed according to the purity regulations of 1516) is world-famous; the hops used in its production are grown in Bavaria itself.

Bavarians are characterized as either loud and brash or as humorous, warm and fun-loving depending on who you meet. They are often seen in traditional leather short trousers ('Lederhosen') or embroidered dresses ('Dirndl'), and are primarily Catholic and conservative.

In eastern Bavaria, glassworks and porcelain manufactorers carry on traditional crafts.