Guide to Oberammergau Germany

Oberammergau is a small village in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district, known for its colorful painted house murals and the Passion play.

Here you will learn everything you need to know to plan a trip to Oberammergau, with things to do, tips to get there, when to visit and nearby places to see and explore.

Guide to Oberammergau Germany pin photo

📕 What is Oberammergau known for?

Oberammergau is that tiny village that you would imagine if you think of Germany or Bavaria. Picture a few traditional houses in the alps surrounding a church, and you have Oberammergau, the village with the overly long name.

Somewhat, this village is anything like most places. People from all over the world come for three reasons to Oberammergau, the world-famous passion play, the mural paintings and the wood carving expertise.

Each of these attractions has a story to tell, and you might be visiting for either one of them or just to enjoy the natural environment in this part of the world.

We walked the streets of Oberammergau on October the 17th October. It was the day after a religious holiday in Bavaria called Kirchweih, which is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in October.

This holiday is also celebrated on Monday and that’s why the village seems so empty in the walking tour video of Oberammergau.

🎭 Passion Play

It is said that in 1633, the humble, and very faithful, people of Oberammergau swore that they would reenact the suffering and resurrection of Christ if they were to be spared by the plague. The Black Death was ravaging once again through Central Europe.

This is how the Oberammergau passion play came to be, and it has since then been played in Oberammergau for over 390 years.

Every 10 years, participants from all over the world flock to see the play in person, which is primarily held in the hotter months from mid-May to the 1st of October.

The last Passion play was held in 2022 due to Covid-19, as it was supposed to be performed in 2000. Over 400,000 visitors experienced it in person in 110 shows. The next one is planned for 2030.

Over 60% of the residents are involved, either directly as actors or indirectly in one way or another. In fact, male actors from the community don’t get to shave their beards a year before the play on Ash Wednesday.

Village center Oberammergau
Village center Oberammergau

For a very long lime, up to 1830, it was held in the cemetery next to the church. A separate passion play theater was built in 1900, which is where the 5 1/2 hours of the play come to live on a massive scale.

1934 marked the 300-year jubilee, and that was also the year when Hitler, a gigantic fan of the play, attended in person.

Post WWII, the Passion play was criticized by the Jewish community for the way they portrayed Jews. Eventually, the script was rectified, but only recently in the 2022 Oberammergau 42nd version of the Passionsspiele.

Nonetheless, the Passion play is well visited and the 4500 seats in the theater are filled at all times. Ticket prices range between €30 and €180, which depends on the category that you pick. The show is always held in German only!

Passion Play Theater Oberammergau
Passion Play Theater

🎨 Lüftlmalerei Mural Paintings

Lüftlmalerei is a special wall and ceiling art form from the German-speaking alps. Realistic looking colorful facade paintings, in the trompe-l’oeil style, adorn buildings and sometimes tell a story or just decorate the local houses.

These hyperrealistic optical illusion paintings (also called Scheinmalerei) were applied in thin layers on the still wet lime plaster, which created a vivid effect with intricate details.

This unique fresco painting technique originated in Mittenwald and in Oberammergau in the 18th century, but influenced other parts of Bavaria, such as Berchtesgaden, as well as neighboring Tyrol in Austria and got as far as Lucerne in Switzerland.

Influenced by baroque and rococo elements, the paintings would depict religious scenes and daily life in the alpine villages. You will also recognize some typical style elements such as flower garlands and shells.

Both Mittenwald and Oberammergau are located on the old trade route between Venice and Augsburg, so it is believed that traders from Italy brought the idea and know how to those far away mountain villages. Only the locals from these two villages had the right to transport goods over this trade route!

Today, newer paintings show various sceneries, and they are applied using the “al secco” technique, which is the more cost-effective painting on dry wall technique.

Look out for the following painted houses in Oberammergau:

  • Pilatushouse – In the Ludwig-Thoma road
  • Klepper house – formerly the oldest house in Oberammergau (it burned down in the 60s), located in the Kleppergasse road.
  • Hotel Alte Post – centrally situated near the museum
  • Der Heinzeller – opposite the Hotel Alte Post, it’s a souvenir shop
  • Lang Selig Erben house – In the Dorfstraße right after the Heinzeller house.
  • Hänsel und Gretel house – Located on the Ettalerstrasse
Pilatushaus Oberammergau
Der Heinzeller house
Der Heinzeller house

🪓 Wood Carving

The art of wood carving has been a tradition for over 500 years in Oberammergau. The village of 500 inhabitants is proudly holding the title of wood carver village.

A monk chronicler in the nearby Ettal monastery, mentioned a very skilled wood carver for the first time in 1520. He then called this villager a “Herrgottschnitzer”, which translates to “lord god carver”.

Devout to their religion, the locals would carve out sophisticated 3D sculptures depicting religious personalities and scenes.

Today the village has over 60 professional wood carvers and most have been doing this for many generations in the family.

The village is dotted with wood carver shops, and visitors can even take part in a wood carving workshop in the Pilatushaus.

The museum in the village center tells the tale better and talks about the technique and preferred wood used.

Religious native scene statues and other non-religious wooden art pieces can be acquired in the countless small boutiques.

Taking a stroll the village of Oberammergau
Taking a stroll the village
Wood carving traditions in Oberammergau
Wood carving traditions in Oberammergau

🌄 Things to do in Oberammergau


The museum of Oberammergau was easily visible on our last visit in October 2022. We were standing in front of a blue cube!

Turns out the robes used during the 2012 Passion play were turned into a massive blueish-grey outdoor cube art piece named “Immateriell”.

The museum building is in the that cube and each side of the panel was to be sold as an individual art piece for more than EUR 200K!

Coming to the actual exhibition, which takes place in the inner rooms. The passion play and wood carving techniques come together in the main exhibition with figurines from the 17th, 18th and 19th century.

But don’t be fooled, this museum is not just filled with wooden religious carvings, no in fact, modern art installations and a light effect bring a certain flow in and tell an entangled mysterious tale.

Museum and Ticket Counter
Museum and Ticket Counter


The summer toboggan run is just located outside the village, and it’s most definitely a must-do for all families and fun seeking people.

A chair lift takes you up, which takes about 17 minutes. At the top you strap yourself in with a belt, and then it goes downhill for 3–5 minutes. This thrilling ride is safe and fun, suitable for all ages, and you even have a break if needed.

You might encounter a waiting time during peak seasons on weekends in July and August, but if you visit in spring or fall, you practically have it all to yourself!

A ticket per adult with chair lift costs about €14. You can also combine it with a day hike up the hill and take a ticket at the top, which is priced at about €9.

Kofler and Laber Mountain

The Kofler mountain is the iconic oddly shaped peak that you can see when standing in the village.

It’s the town’s most beloved mountain, and they even organize a special bonfire night there once a year in August to honor the late Bavarian king Ludwig II.

Join an advanced difficulty level mountain tour, which will take you to the summit and from there you can breathe in crisp air combined with a spectacular view of the valley.

You may strive for a more relaxing experience with the nostalgic Laber cable car up the Laber mountain. A small blue historical cable car cabin takes you up the mountain to 5400 feet (1,645.92 m) altitude.

From there you get an exceptional view of the Bavarian alps and the surrounding lakes. I recommend a local afternoon coffee with a Torte cake at the restaurant at the summit.

Lang Selig Erben house Oberammergau
Lang Selig Erben house and Kofler mountain

Souvenir Shopping

I already mentioned the local talent for wooden crafts and carvings. Nativity scene fans will be able to stock up on uniquely looking figurines and wooden souvenir pieces.

Look out for the Christmas shop opposite the museum. Here you will find a vast collection of cute wooden Christmas items. The offering is just absolutely fantastic!

When in Bavaria, get hold of the typical ceramic beer jars. You might be able to get one with your name on it.

Local Dirndl dress and Lederhosen pants fans may find some time to acquire a true local “Trachten” piece to add to their Oktoberfest attire.

A handmade leather belt or an embroidered handkerchief are some smaller gifts worth getting from the region.

Christmas store Oberammergau
Christmas store
Hand carving boutique Oberammergau
Hand carving boutique

More Fun Things:

  • Horse-drawn carriage ride – Can be done in summer and in winter. Ask at the Tourism office to help you book a ride.
  • Winter sports – Skiing, country cross skiing, ski tours, sledging, you name it.
  • Rock climbing
  • Cycling – hire a regular mountain bike or a remarkable E-Bike to discover the Ammergau valley.
  • Reptile house—a small house with tons of well cared reptiles. Great for kids!
  • Whetstone village Unterammergau – The neighboring village is known for its craft in making whetstone, which are used to sharped knifes and sickles. You can visit the mill in the gorge or the museum.

🚗 Getting there

Oberammergau is well situated at the edge of the alps. You can get there within a reasonable time frame, either by car or public transport.

By Car

Travel from Munich towards Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the national road 95 and take the road up the hill in Oberau. You will cross the Ettal monastery and the next village is Oberammergau. You will be driving for about 1 1/2 hours.

If you come from Innsbruck or the Isar valley via the Achensee lake route in Tyrol, take the road towards Mittenwald. Continue the way to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and from there look for directions to Oberau, Oberammergau and Ettal. Once in Oberau take the road up to Ettal and drive on to the next village, Oberammergau. The trip takes about 1 1/2 hours too.

I recommend parking right opposite the tourism department. It’s a payable save parking spot from 8 am to 6 pm with an hourly fee of €1, but a day ticket is €5, so you can’t exceed that.

Hotel Alte Post Oberammergau
Hotel Alte Post

By Public Transport

If you are coming from the Munich airport, take the S-Bahn train to the main train station in Munich. A train from there will take you to Murnau, which is a town near Oberammergau. At last, you will have to switch in the market town of Murnau am Staffelsee to the regional train to get to the station in Oberammergau. This trip takes about 2 1/2 hours.

Another option is to take a train from Innsbruck to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and from there a regional bus to Oberammergau. This trip takes as long as the one from Munich, 1 1/2 hours, but it can take longer because connections are less frequent.

Old Restaurant inn with rooms
Old Restaurant inn with rooms

💭 FAQs

What’s the weather like all year round in Oberammergau?

Spring and fall are the most pleasant seasons to visit due to temperatures averaging between 50 and 70 Fahrenheit (ca. 10 to 20 degrees Celsius). It can get rather hot in the summer months with temperatures peaking at 95 Fahrenheit (ca. 35 degree Celsius). Winters can get cold and icy as the temperatures drop to up to 15 Fahrenheit (ca. -10 degree Celsius).

Where to eat and stay in the village?

Most rooms and hotels are family run by locals. You will find a broad offering from 1 star to 5-star hotels in the area. If you want to be in the center of everything, experience the local flair, with a kitchen that serves Bavarian meals and beer, then stay in the Hotel Alte Post.

Newer Lüftlmalerei style
Newer Lüftlmalerei style

🧭 More places nearby

The area has so much more to offer and is truly one of the most beautiful corners in Germany and Bavaria.

The Ettal monastery is just a few minutes away from Oberammergau. This historical Benedictine abbey can be visited, and they even produce their own liquor and cheese!

The Linderhof castle, one of King Ludwig II’s famous fairy tale palaces, is just situated across forests and fields a 15-minute drive from Oberammergau

We also loved the market town of Murnau am Staffelsee for the lovely people and the great ambiance there. The town is conveniently located on a lake.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is another must see for all Lüftlmalerei art fans. The town consists of two town centers because Garmisch and Partenkirchen were merged by Hitler for the Winter Olympics in 1936. Two town centers means twice as many wonderfully painted houses to marvel at!

When in Garmisch, take some time to explore the Partnachklamm gorge. This natural caved gorge is known for its unique ice formations in winter.

All nature lovers should definitely make a stop at the beautiful Eibsee lake or take the cable car up to Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze.

For the ultimate Lüftlmalerei experience in one place, visit Mittenwald. Your mind will be blown away by the painted houses!

Guide to Oberammergau Germany pin picture

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