The Allgäu between Lake Constance in the west and the Lech River in the east is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in southern Germany. Extended moors and forests cover the north, while the southern part, sculptured by the ice age, is hilly and fertile. In the south the Allgäu borders the Alps with soaring mountain peaks and deep valleys. The Upper Swabian Baroque Road (Oberschwäbische Barockstraße) will lead you to marvellous churches and castles which harmonize wonderfully with the countryside.
Sailing and swimming in the Allgäu natural lake
The natural lake to the west of Immenstadt covers nearly 2.5 square kilometres and is crossed by the river Konstanzer Ach. Other tributaries are the hillside streams in the south. An area of outstanding natural beauty has been established all around the lake. The Alpsee is great for sailing and surfing because of the valley running eastwards offering passage for the prevailing westerly winds. This often leads to strong turbulence; the wind direction can change very quickly. There are bathing opportunities in three places: on the south-west, south-east and eastern shore.
Castle and old town at the foot of the Alps
The town is located in the Eastern Allgäu on the river Lech, which exits spectacularly from a gorge between Ammergauer and Allgäu Alps into their foothills. That's why it has its name. The Romans called the settlement on the Via Augusta “Fauces”, which means “gorge”. Today Füssen marks the southern end of the Romantic Road and is a good starting point to visit the Bavarian royal castles. Worth seeing is the old town with its gabled houses and the High Castle, which lies on a steep rock high above the city.
Quaint farmhouses in the shadow of the Zugspitze
The town dates back to the Roman route station “Partanum” on the Via Claudia. In 1361 it gained in importance when it became the official resting station on the trade route from Augsburg to Italy. Quaint farmhouses are found especially in Garmisch. Southwest lies the Zugspitze – the highest mountain in Germany at 2,964 meters – and its top can be reached by cable car! The famous Benedictine Abbey from 1330 is located 15 kilometers north in Ettal.
By cable car to the local mountain of Oberstaufen
The 1,834 meter high mountain is the highest peak of the foothills of the Allgäu Alps. Because of its exposed location it is easy to reach and offers a great view of the mountains and the lush green foothills from above. The Hochgratbahn leads up the mountain. One can, for example, take the cable car up the hill and, on the way back, walk to the valley station via the Nagelfluhkette. (return: 11.3 kilometers, 4:30 hours, up and down: 960 meters)
From medieval castle to royal summer residence
Hohenschwangau Castle, then also known as Schwanstein Castle, was first mentioned in documents in the 12th century. It was owned by the Knights of Schwangau until the 16th century, after which it changed hands several times and was severely damaged in various wars. In 1832 the later King Maximilian II, father of King Ludwig II, acquired it and had it rebuilt in the neo-Gothic style according to original plans. The Bavarian royal family used Hohenschwangau as a summer and hunting residence. King Ludwig II spent his childhood here and used it as his summer residence until his death in 1886.
Free Imperial City on the Swabian Baroque Route
This health resort in the Württemberg Allgäu is situated on the Upper Swabian Baroque Route. The old town is surrounded by a medieval city wall. As a free imperial city Isny was always somewhat more affluent than the surrounding area. This is evidenced by the magnificent buildings, especially the Church of St. Nicholas from 1288, the City Hall and the “thief tower” where originally two prisons were housed. Landmark of the city is the slender Blaserturm (trumpeter tower) from which the guards once held look out day and night for fires or approaching enemies.
Lookout between Allgäu and Tyrol
The 1178 meter high Oberjochpass is only a few hundred meters away from the Austrian border. It is an important link between the Allgäu and Tyrol. Those who drive the winding Jochstraße between Hindelang and Oberjoch, can already marvel at the view of the Allgäuer Alps, while Hindelang and Oberdorf lie below.
Spectacular exit of the River Lech from the Alps
The waterfall near Füssen is a unique natural monument of the Bavarian Alps. The water masses of the River Lech, fed from the Alps, plunge over five steps twelve metres into the depth. Below the Lech Falls, the river narrows and enters the Lech Gorge. It is the only one in the entire Bavarian Alpine region through which a larger Alpine river can still flow freely and unimpeded by man. From the Lechfall car park you can take a tour of the royal castles, which leads to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau through magnificent landscape. (return: 13 kilometers, 6 hours, up and down 522 meters)
Picturesque island town in Lake Constance
The picturesque old town of Lindau is located on an island in Lake Constance. It is connected with the mainland by a sea-bridge. Maximilian Street leads past patrician houses from the Gothic and Renaissance era, finally ending at the harbor, which is dominated by a lighthouse and a six meter tall Bavarian lion. A beautiful riverside walk with views of the Alps skirts around the old town.
Fairytale castle of King Ludwig II.
Three miles south of Füssen at the foot of the Alps lies the fairy tale castle Neuschwanstein built by King Ludwig II. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, its design was inspired by stage decorations used for two Wagner operas, Tannhäuser and Parzival. The King, also known as “Ludwig the Mad”, was officially declared insane before the castle's completion in 1896 and he drowned under mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg in southern Bavaria shortly after being removed from power. Consequently, no one has ever lived in the castle. Tours can be taken through several rooms, including the Throne Room and the Singers' Hall. The best views of the castle can be had from the Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge).
Schroth therapy and a museum of local history
From the 9th century to 1805, for around 1000 years the village belonged to the monastery of Sankt Gallen; it was only during the secularisation under Napoleon that it became part of Bavaria. Oberstaufen became famous for its Schroth therapy. From 1949 the naturopathic treatment with certain drinking and dry days, which dates back to a Johann Schroth (1798-1856), was offered in the local spa house. Today Oberstaufen is the largest health resort in the Allgäu. Worth seeing is the local history museum in a farmhouse from 1788.
Health resort with cable car to the Breitenberg
The health resort on the northern edge of the Allgäu Alps is crossed by the River Vils and consists of 13 individual villages. The landmark is the late baroque church of St. Nicholas in Pfronten-Berg. From Pfronten-Steinach a cable car takes you to the Hochalpe (1502 m) and from there a chairlift goes on to the Breitenberg (1838 m). From there you have a beautiful view in all directions.
The treetop path in Scheidegg
High up in the treetops the forest thins and the views open up to wonderful surroundings. A wobbling bridge and the discovery trail make the walk a bit more adventurous, even if it is designed to be suitable for prams and wheelchairs. In addition to the treetop path there are two nature trails.
Following the torrent on wooden footbridges and rock stairs
Northeast of Sonthofen, the Starzlach has dug a wild and romantic ravine for many thousands of years. The torrent rises at an altitude of 1070 metres and then rushes through the picturesque gorge. It plunges over several waterfalls, which provide coolness in summer and freeze to bizarre ice curtains in winter. Wooden footbridges, rock stairs and even shorter tunnels have made the wild gorge accessible. (return 2:30 hours, 3,6 kilometers, up and down 250 meters)
Romantic Road: From Munich to the Rhine Valley