For many, Bavaria embodies the archetypal Germany. Beneath snow-covered mountains, centuries-old villages cluster around onion-domed church towers. And it is not unusual to see local men wearing traditional lederhosen. King Ludwig II built the extravagant Neuschwanstein Castle in the Alpine foothills (reserve tickets in advance), as well as the opulent island palace of Herrenchiemsee and the more intimate Schloss Linderhof, where he actually lived. Active travelers can take advantage of ski runs, scenic hikes and even whitewater rafting, depending on the season.