Over a thousand years ago, Bavarian tribes settled in the Alps between Munich and Merano and created a uniform cultural area. It is still visible in the architectural style of the houses and in the appearance of the alpine pastures. Today the area belongs to three countries: Germany, Austria and Italy. This tour combines the best of the Alps: snow-capped peaks and sun-drenched valleys, cultural towns and idyllic lakes, beer and wine...
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Although it is still a relatively young city, Munich’s charisma extends far beyond the Bavarian borders. Around the 11th century a few monks settled on the Isar – hence the name (apud Munichen – with the monks).
Because of its strategic location at a bridge and also at the intersection of two trade routes, the city soon became the residence of the Wittelsbach family who reigned as dukes, electors and kings of Bavaria. The city experienced a boom in the Baroque era and finally also in the 20th century. Munich became the capital of Art Nouveau – but also of the National Socialist movement. In 1919 Hitler already tested the demonic effect of his speeches in the Hofbräukeller. Although Munich is a high-tech location today, the Bavarian folklore is lovingly cared for, especially in the last week of September when the Oktoberfest beer festival takes place.
The attractive Neo-Renaissance villa was built in 1886 next to the Nymphenburg Palace and park, one of the most famous sites in Munich.
The 17th century palace, now open to the public, has played an important role in numerous historic events. The small, family-run hotel next door prides itself on its 23 individually designed bedrooms and friendly service. Bicycles are loaned for free, for example, and tickets for the local public transportation system for the ride downtown can be purchased at the reception desk. In spite of the quiet location, Germany`s largest beer garden is just minutes away. The hotel staff will gladly provide restaurant recommendations and assist with the planning of local activities. Indeed, the little inn was recently named a Service Hotel by the travel website Venere.
A visit to the castle that Elector Ferdinand Maria once gave his wife on the occasion of the birth of the heir to the throne is a journey through time to the Bavarian monarchy. Two shady avenues lead to the castle, between them lies the Nymphenburg Canal. In summer it belongs to the swans, in winter to the ice skaters. At the end the half a kilometer wide castle rises. The 230-hectare English castle park with its streams, canals and bridges looks like a fairy tale forest. Today the castle houses four museums.
The semicircular Karlsplatz, better known as Stachus, is the gateway to Munich's trendy pedestrian zone. Here you can find several S-, U- and tram lines, cars, buses, cyclists and pedestrians. Some only want to cross the old town, others start their city stroll here in the pedestrian zone. Or go shopping in the Stachus Passagen. The large fountain with its water jets invites you to cool off on hot summer's days.
The Gothic cathedral and city parish church “Zu Unserer Lieben Frau” dating back to the 15th century is the landmark of the city. The nave is 109 meters long, 40 meters wide and 37 meters high and is said to accommodate 20,000 people. The 100 meter high towers with the so called “Welschen Hauben” are based on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. From the south tower of the Frauenkirche one has a magnificent view over the city. The footprint in the entrance hall is called the Devil's Step. The devil himself is said to have stood here because he had bet with master builder Jörg von Halspach for his soul. The church regularly gives organ concerts, has several choirs and its own cathedral singing school.
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Vehicle: VW Golf or similar (CDMR)
Location: Munich (City Office)
The scenic route will take you through the rolling hills of the Prealpine countryside past beautiful Chiemsee. One of Ludwig the Mad's (Ludwig II) most spectacular projects after Neuschwanstein is located on the island of Herrenchiemsee: An opulent palace designed as a replica of the Palace of Versailles.
There are several quaint Bavarian towns close to the route, such as Traunstein and Ruhpolding.
Tegernsee is one of a group of pre-Alpine lakes south of Munich in Bavaria that includes Ammersee, Starnbergersee, Schliersee, Simssee and Chiemsee. Lying farther south than the others and sheltered by mountains on three sides, Tegernsee enjoys more sunshine than the neighbouring lakes – in fact, more sunshine than any other place in Germany. The lakeshores are, in contrast to many other Bavarian lakes, almost entirely accessible to the public, although partly covered with reeds. In the south there are two larger bays and a small island, the Ringseeinsel. In several surrounding villages one can rent sailing, rowing or electric boats. The pleasant climate makes Tegernsee a popular getaway for residents of Munich. Thanks to the sunshine, clean air and remarkably clean water fed by mountain streams, numerous spas have settled in the towns that dot the lakeshore. The Austrian border, marked by snow-capped peaks south of the lake, is a mere 20 km away.
The 1,838 metre high mountain belongs to the Mangfallgebirge, the eastern part of the Bavarian foothills of the Alps. It is the highest peak of the Wendelstein massif. Because of its exposed location it offers a very good view of the foothills of the Alps and at the same time can be seen from many locations. The Wendelstein cable car and the Wendelstein rack and pinion railway open up the mountain, which consists of light grey Wetterstein limestone. Around 100 metres below the summit stands the Wendelstein Church of 1889, Germany's highest church. There is also a mountain observatory. The mountain top is also easily accessible on foot. From the valley station of the Wendelsteinbahn in Bayrischzell-Osterhofen it takes about three hours to reach the summit.
In 1873 the largest of the three islands in the Chiemsee Lake was acquired by King Ludwig II. to build his Herrenchiemsee Palace. However, the reduced copy of the Palace of Versailles remained unfinished. In fine weather the serrated mountains of the magnificent Chiemgau Alps are mirrored in the lake. A passenger ferry runs to the island regularly. There one can visit the castle or stroll through the park.
The hike leads through the history of alpine farming. Three alpine pastures are on the way, where information boards provide information about the alpine pasture system. You also have wonderful views of the Berchtesgaden and Chiemgau Alps. The tour leads along paved alpine and forest paths. The alpine steep tracks require a certain amount of surefootedness. (Round trip 11.1 kilometers, 4 hours, up and down: 670 meters)
The varied hike leads along the Schattseitweg from the Gasthof Oberwirt in Ramsau to Hintersee. After a few minutes you reach the glacier springs, which are fed by the meltwater of the Blaueis glacier at Hochkalter, 1,500 metres above sea level. After you have crossed the Marxenklamm gorge, through which a torrential white water rushes, you go on a nature trail through the magical forest. Over bridges and footbridges you reach the Hintersee and go back halfway up. (round trip: 15.7 kilometers, 5:15 hours, up and down: 734 meters)
The city located at the northern boundary of the Alps is one the most beautiful in central Europe. The backdrop of the Alps to the south contrasts strongly with the rolling plains to the north.
The closest Alpine peak – the 1,972 m Untersberg – is only a few kilometers from the city center. The inner city, or old town, is dominated by baroque towers and churches. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is Salzburg's most famous son. The houses where he was born and also lived in are popular tourist attractions and there are many monuments remembering the “Wolferl” in the city. His family is buried in a small church graveyard in the old town.
The 19th century villa, converted into a boutique hotel, is located in a residential area south of the Kapuzinerberg.
Each of the 14 rooms is individually furnished and offers modern comfort. In the morning a rich Breakfast buffet with local and seasonal specialities awaits and in good weather can also be served on a terrace in the garden with a natural pond. Those who want can take a stroll along the Salzach and reach the oldtown in approximately 15 minutes; with the bus (line 7), it takes about five minutes.
The fortress from the 11th century towers high above the city. It is the landmark of Salzburg and with an area of over 7,000 square metres one of the largest castles in Europe. The location on a rock above the Salzach was ideal for monitoring a wide surrounding area. Even today you have the best views of Salzburg from there. The interior of the fortress is also worth seeing. Concerts take place regularly in the Golden Hall. If the ascent to the castle is too difficult for you, you can take the fortress railway.
The Salzach River, which divides the old town into two parts, flows right through Salzburg. To the left, i.e. west of it, lies the actual core of the city. There are the historic churches, the monasteries and cemeteries, the Salzburg Cathedral and the Getreidegasse with Mozart's birthplace. The Festspielhaus and the Residenzplatz also belong to the left Old Town. The old town on the right is younger, but is also a UNESCO World Heritage site due to the many valuable town houses and the worth seeing Mirabell Castle. Those who want to stroll through the old town should therefore visit both sides of the river.
Although the Archbishop of Salzburg lived in celibacy qua office, this did not prevent him from taking the beautiful Salome Alt as his lover. And since he was a generous man, he had a palace built for them and their 15 children, which he named after her “Schloss Altenau”. When he had to exchange his pretty residence for a prison cell in Hohensalzburg in 1612 because of this scandal, the glory came to an end. His successor as archbishop was his virtuous nephew, who expelled the illustrious family and renamed the castle. It's called Mirabell ever since. A masterpiece of architectural history is the magnificent staircase from the ground floor to the second floor. The wall niches contain marble sculptures inspired by Greek mythology.
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the old town, you can hike to one of the surrounding mountains. Especially recommendable is the legendary Untersberg in the south of the city. The massif between Berchtesgaden and Salzburg is full of mysterious caves, including the Schellenberger Ice Cave and the Riesending Shaft Cave. Both can be visited. From St. Leonhart, the Untersbergbahn takes you up to the ridge in ten minutes and overcomes 1,300 metres in altitude. From the mountain station you can hike to the Große Mittagsscharte. (round trip: 2 hours, 4.5 kilometers, up and down: 260 meters)
The town with 11,000 inhabitants is the cultural center of East Tyrol. It lies at the foot of the Lienz Dolomites, where the Isel and Drau Rivers flow together and form a large estuary basin.
A special feature of the old town is the Gothic St. Andrä church, which is considered to be one of the most important buildings in East Tyrol. West of the city lies the Bruck Castle. This Habsburg castle from the 13th century now houses a local history museum.
The 4-star hotel sits in a remote location on the banks of pristine Lake Tristach, a few kilometres south of Lienz.
From Lienz excursions can be taken either to the massive Grossglockner ridge to the north or the gorgeous Dolomites to the south. The hotel manages to retain a personal touch despite its size with 42 well-appointed rooms. Carefully selected works of art hang on the walls throughout the building, even around the indoor swimming pool. The public areas are bright and airy, especially the winter garden overlooking the lake. The award-winning restaurant serves fresh fish such as trout, zander and pike from the lake. Guests can swim in the lake in the summer months. Several hiking paths lead past the hotel.
The Upper Alpine Road (Hochalpenstraße) that begins in Heiligenblut at the foot of the Großglockner is one of the most magnificent mountain stretches in the world. The 22 km long highway leads through the Glockner Massif up to a height of over 2,500 m (8,200 ft.). Although the route around Austria's highest mountain was already used by the Romans, the road wasn't built until the 1930s. Today most traffic across the Austrian Alps uses other passes, leaving this route relatively quiet. Car parks are present at most viewpoints from which marked hiking paths lead off into the mountain terrain. In good weather a trip along a side road called “Glacier Road” (Gletscherstraße) is a must.
This striking massif in the Sexten Dolomites has become the most famous landmark in the Dolomites. At 2,999 meters, the “Big Peak” was first climbed in 1869. Even today, the peaks are still very popular among climbers. The easiest objective to reach is the Auronzo hut, the Rifugio Auronzo (2,320 m), directly south of the massif on the Forcella di Longeres, which can be reached by cable car from the vacation town of Misurina.
While gentle meadows, forests and sun-drenched plateaus characterize the lower Puster Valley, the Hochpustertal is particularly known for the rugged peaks of the Sesto Dolomites. Above all, of course, the Three Peaks. The landmark of the Dolomites is equally popular with photographers and hikers. For those who find the hikes too strenuous, many cable cars are available, leading to lookouts and summits. Even Gustav Mahler appreciated the beauty of the Dolomites. He spent the summer months from 1908 to 1910 in his composing cottage in Toblach, where every summer the Gustav Mahler Music Weeks take place in his honor.
The world-renowned center for mountain-sports is located in the Valle de Boite in the Ampezzo Alps. Cortina is surrounded by the most beautiful peaks of the Dolomites: the Tofana di Mezzo (3,244 m), the Monte Cristallo (3,221 m) and the Sorapis (3,205 m). In most cases mountain railways lead to the summit. Until the middle of the 20th century, the spoken language was mainly Ladin. Since then Italian has taken over. Local cuisine and expressions are still greatly influenced by the old Austrian Empire. Gulasch and Krapfen (donuts), Gröstl and Chenedi (Tyrolean dumplings) reflect the long association with Tirol. Polenta and bean soup on the other hand originate from the Venetian plain.
The capital of the province of Bolzano-Bozen has a distinctly Austrian flavor. It is situated in a narrow valley which was once the crossroad of several ancient trading routes.
While the baroque city center clearly shows that the region belonged to Austria for centuries, modern Bolzano represents an interesting mixture of German and Italian culture. The landscape is dominated by the fascinating Dolomites, which rise majestically to the east creating bizarre formations. Huddled at the foot of the mountains is Caldaro al Lago. The warmest lake in the Alps is surrounded by vineyards for the production of red wine.
The medieval castle atop a hill near Bolzano dates back to the year 1236. It was acquired by the Dellago family nearly 100 years ago and converted into a luxury hotel and restaurant by the current generation of Dellagos.
From this quiet perch atop a hill surrounded by vineyards guests can enjoy wonderful views of Bolzano and Catinaccio. Inside a pleasant atmosphere is created by works of folk art, bright colours and wood furnishings. Dinner on the panoramic terrace is an experience to which Mediterranean-influenced cuisine and a good wine cellar also contribute. Somewhat off the beaten track of the castle is the pool, where you can dream, read or lounge on the sun deck. Guests can also use the indoor pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam bath, solarium, tennis court and library, and Vespa excursions can be arranged.
The Bolzano Municipal Museum is currently the home of the exhibit “The Man from Hauslabjoch”- better known as “Ötzi.” The mummy was discovered protruding through the ice in a glacier in the Ötztal Alps in 1992. A public prosecutor was initially brought in because of the mummy's head injuries. The case was closed, however, when a forensic examiner determined that the body was 5,300 years old! Of particular interest is the life-like Ötzi reconstruction based on 3D images of the mummy.
This loop trail starts at Korb castle and leads to the striking castle ruins of Hocheppan and Boymont. Along the way, there are a number of overlooks offering a view of the vast Bozen Valley. (1:45 hrs, 5 km, elevation change: 210 m)
Those who wish to climb the Gantkofel not only need to be in good shape, but should also be unafraid of heights and steady on their feet. Yet the steep and narrow trail should pose to difficulties to alpine hikers. At 1,866 meters, the peak offers an amazing view of Bozen and the Dolomites. The hike ends at the Moarhof, a historic mountain farmhouse, where you can order goulash, dumplings, fried eggs and other South Tyrolean delicacies. (5:15 hrs, 8.5 km, elevation change: 930)
This short walk will take you through the old town and along the Talfer toward St. Peter. From there, you will pass through vineyards on your way to St. Magdalena. This is where the high-quality St. Magdalener Classico wine is produced, which you can try for yourself in the Eberle restaurant in St. Magdalena.
After travelling through the Brenner Pass, a toll road, you will enter the Austrian state of Tyrol. Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is worth a stop to explore the narrow streets of the old town and see the famous Golden Roof. Emperor Maximilian I had the roof of gilded copper shingles made in 1494 on the occasion of his marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza, a daughter of the Duke of Milan. Just past Reutte you will cross the border to Germany.
Those wishing to avoid the heavy traffic on the Brenner Motorway can take a side route through the Özttal Alps via Meran and the Passo del Rombo. Vast mountain meadows, deep gorges, waterfalls and glaciers lie along the route.
Innsbruck's local mountain stands only a few kilometers south of the city in the Tuxer Alps. The 2,246 meter high summit is barren and offers a beautiful view across the city and the Inn valley. From Iglis, a district of Innsbruck, a cable car leads up to the striking mountain. Not far from the mountain station is the highest botanical garden in Austria, the Patscherkofel Alpine Garden. More than 400 different plant species grow on two hectares of mountainous land, including very rare ones that are under strict conservation.
The castle, visible from afar, is enthroned on a hill on the south-eastern city border of Innsbruck. Once it was the castle of the counts of Dießen-Andechs, whose ancestors already resided here in the tenth century. In 1133 the castle was destroyed by attacks led by Henry the Proud, then Duke of Bavaria. Only 150 years later, the plant was rebuilt. Today the massive building houses a museum with art from the private collection of Archduke Ferdinand II.
The late Gothic bay window is located in the old town of Innsbruck and bears its name because of the 2,657 fire-gilded copper shingles on the roof. The magnificent house was built in 1420 as the residence of the Tyrolean sovereigns. However, the magnificent dungeon was only added 80 years later on behalf of the then German King Maximilian I.. In 1536 the leader of the Tyrolean Anabaptist movement, Jakob Hutter, was burned alive on the square in front of the Golden Roof. Many of his followers then emigrated to America and founded several communities in Pennsylvania, where they are still called Hutterer today and live a traditional, pre-industrial lifestyle. Today the Golden Roof houses a museum.
The circular hike around the Patscherkofel offers magnificent views of the Viggartal, the Viggarspitze and the Glungezer. The first section leads from the mountain station of the Kofelbahn along the Zirbenweg past the Boschebenhütte to the Hochmahdalm. Here you can stop for refreshments on the sun terrace with a fantastic view of the Stubai Glacier. (return: 5.5 kilometers, 2 hours, up and down: 250 meters)
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.
On a lofty summit originally selected by King Ludwig the Mad for the site of another fairy-tale castle after completion of Neuschwanstein sits a hotel which is like no other.
Newly arrived guests are first struck by the endless vistas of mountains, green valleys, lakes, and forests at their feet. Then comes the hotel itself, in which every room was individually and imaginatively decorated by the owners themselves, resulting in living quarters that are not mere guest rooms but distinct creations that exude luxury, taste and comfort. Next to the hotel the ruins of Ludwig's final project still stand, within whose tranquil walls the visitor may better sense the lingering spirit of the eccentric ruler than at tourist-plagued Neuschwanstein, clearly visible in the distance. Travellers who brave the narrow road leading up to the castle will be richly rewarded.
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.
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.
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.
On the border between Germany and Austria lies the 1,986 meter high Aggenstein. From the Breitenbergbahn base station you can hike along a scenic trail to the Bad Kissinger hut. The last part to the summit is a secured climb. You can take a break at the Bad Kissinger hut. The ascent to the summit requires sure-footedness and concentration. At the top you have a panoramic view over the Tannheimer mountains. On your way down you pass the Hochalphütte, where you can stop again. (return: 10.7 kilometers, 5 hours, up and down: 1172 meters)
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)
Much of this journey follows a scenic stretch of road that connects some of the most enchanting villages, churches and landscapes in southern Germany.
A few places worth noting along the way are the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the towns of Wildsteig, Rottenbuch, Peiting, Schongau and Hohenfurch.
On June 14, 1738, the farmer's wife Maria Lory saw tears in the eyes of a wooden figure depicting the suffering Jesus at the scourge column. This miracle soon attracted thousands of pilgrims. For the"Pilgrimage to the Scourged Saviour on the Meadow" a new church became necessary: the Wieskirche. From 1745 to 1754 Dominikus Zimmermann created the oval church, which nowadays is regarded as Rococo of the highest perfection. Today the Wieskirche is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts one million visitors from all over the world every year, especially on the Festival of the Tears of Christ on the Sunday following 14 June. Concerts take place during summer.
From the Wieskirche the Brettlesweg runs through the Wiesfilz. The boardwalk leads through a moist bog with many ponds. After a few minutes you reach the Schönegger Käsealm, where you can buy several dozen kinds of cheese, sausage, fresh hay milk and farmhouse bread. Everything is from their own production. Or you can enjoy a Schönegger Brotzeit (snack) at one of the sunny tables. (There and back: 3.4 kilometers, 1:30 hour, up and down 52 meters)
Location: Munich Airport (Desk at Airport)