It has been said that only a small portion of Bavaria belongs to the Alps. Yet, these magnificent mountain peaks are what often comes first and foremost to mind when thinking of this federal state. Color me silly — there must be something magical about them then, not?
This might be why the 450km (approx. 280 miles) long German Alpine Road, called Deutsche Alpenstraße in German, is one of Germany’s most popular tourist routes. You’ll find it to possibly be the most beautiful region on Earth. No, I’m not exaggerating; and no, it’s not the beer talking. ;-)
However, if you can’t do all of the German Alpine Road any part of the route that runs east/west in the very south of Germany (pretty much along the Austrian border) from Lindau to Berchtesgaden is a delight for the eyes, the soul, and your taste buds.
Starting on the island of Lindau, you’ll find yourself right in the middle of Lake Constance (called the Bodensee in German) which is connected to the mainland by bridge & rail which is how so many visitors get here to sunbath or sail.
Doesn’t bring on those images of ages of Lederhosen wearing, Alphorn blowing Bavaria, does it? Don’t fret, this is only the beginning of the Alpenstraße — there’s a lot more to come.
Traveling east, you’ll find little towns like Oberstaufen with its cute lil’ village church and an endless supply of spas, and Immenstadt im Allgäu which somehow has just about an unending number of old churches, historical buildings, fountains, and sporting activities.
When you’re in Füssen, not only are you at the highest point in Bavaria but, also close to the town of Schwangau and its shy Hohenschwangau Castle (the boyhood home of King Ludwig II). Right in between it all is Ludwig’s massive Neuschwanstein Castle.
Oh, Ludwig, I don’t know what mad genius you had going on when you designed Neuschwanstein — but, you’d be proud to know it’s one of the most visited places in all of Germany. I’m just sorry you didn’t live to see it completed.
You did get to see the Linderhof Palace completed, at least. This castle you’ll see as you get closer to Oberammergau. Yes, you’ve heard of Oberammergau, because its Passion Plays are world famous (next one in 2020).
However, if you come here in an off-year, Oberammergau is still a fantastic medieval village town and near to the 14th century Ettal Abbey in Ettal. It once housed buildings used my Benedictine monks, women in the nunnery, and the Teutonic Knights.
Going further east, you couldn’t ask for a better outdoor vacation and with all the Alpine lakes, Nordic Walking & bicycling trails, boating, and festivals in the posh town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It hosted events in the 1936 Olympics, and the annual New Year’s Ski Jump Tournament is a super smash hit! Plus, the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, is nearby.
You’re welcome! :-)
Not that you won’t find any sporting activities to get your blood pumping, Kochel am See is more an artistic town with a museum of work by the artist Franz Marc. It’s quite possible he was inspired by Kochel’s natural beauty and waterfall.
Benediktbeuern, our next stop, sure inspired Johann Goethe, who traveled this route on his way to Italy. Its Benedictine Abbey is the oldest in Bavaria (739 A.D.), and spas are not the only things bringing people from all over — they’re coming see a pure traditional Alpine village.
You’re more than half way through your journey; and there’s always time to stop at both Bad Heilbrunn and Bad Tölz. While you have more than a fair share of modern spas to visit, you also have Alpine Lakes to swim in, historical medieval town centers to see, and Local History Museums to explore.
Save some energy to see Castle Hohenburg and a fabulous Baroque Church in Lenggries; and more Alpine swimming with a stop at another 8th century Abbey in Tegernsee. If you do get a wee bit tired stop for rest along Lake Tegernsee. Yes, a lake by the same name.
Then again, if you get tired you can always take the cable car or hot air balloon ride up & over the Bavarian Alps in Bayrischzell. Called the Wendelstein Bahn, it will bring you up to 1724 meters in high speed (7 minutes only) and provides you with spectacular, unforgettable views.
Quite the opposite in Reit im Winkl, a cute and extremely popular health resort village, where skiing, cycling, and anything Nordic is on the agenda. It lies within the Chiemgau region and is famous for lots of snow during winter.
Sadly, you’ve almost come to the end of the German Alpine Road leaving Ruhpolding with its seventy-three villages and green meadows. If its chalet style Rathaus with ornately painted windows & doorways is any indication of what to expect, you’ll just be speechless.
The last stop is Berchtesgaden. This was once a playground for Nazi officers, and Hitler’s residence, the Berghof, was located nearby. Interestingly enough, Hitler’s teahouse, the “Eagle’s Nest,” is now a restaurant (which can be accessed by special bus and an imposing elevator). Today, Berchtesgaden is a shopping haven and a great place to experience traditional Bavarian culture and history.
See how fabulous the German Alpine Road is? And, you never know what else you might find along the way…