Almost ten years ago I took my first trip through Germany. I had just graduated from University & was looking for a great adventure, so I flew to Europe & spent 2 days in Berlin & another 2 in Munich for Oktoberfest. In combination with other equally short stays in different European countries I was lucky enough to see many of the highlights, but never really felt as if I got to know any one place. I recently had the chance to return to Germany for a total of 12 days & explore Bavaria from the a luxury lodge in Schliersee. In order to see all that I wanted to see, I got my hands on a rental car & decided to explore Bavaria using the famous Alpine Road as my guide.
I should note that staying in Schliersee meant doing 3/4 of the Alpine road in one day & the other 1/4 on a separate day, but for the sake of this post I am going to list the stops from West to East assuming that you will be driving the entire route in one direction.
STARTING IN FÜSSEN
While technically the Alpine road begins at Lake Constance, we started our journey from Füssen in the foothills of the Alps. This beautiful area was one of our favorites, not only housing Hohenschwangau Castle where King Ludwig II spent much of his childhood, but also the awe-inspiring Neuschwanstein castle.
Perhaps the most famous castle in the region, the view of (& from) Neuschwanstein Castle could not be more beautiful. Pull off to the side of the road as you are approaching the castle for an amazing view from the ground, then fight the hoards of tourists in town to get up into the mountains & inside of its walls for another amazing panoramic view.
EXPLORE IN (& AROUND) GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN
From Neuischwanstein Castle we crossed into Upper Bavaria for a stop in the mountain resort village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Located just an hour South of Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a great spot for both souvenir shopping & people watching . It is also the starting point for many hikes (should you have the time) including the hike to Partnach Gorge. Hike the path to Partnach (approx. 25 minutes) with its rushing waterfalls & stunning views before/ after spending some time exploring the town.
From Garmisch-Partenkirchen we traveled further through the mountains & lakes to the lakeside town of Rottach-Egern with its charming shops & small cafes. Garmisch-Partenkirchen made for the perfect place to grab some snacks before taking a break & relaxing by the lake.
HIKE TO JOSEFSTAL FALLS
Not too much further along the Alpine Road is Schliersee (our home-base throughout this trip.) With so much to see & do you here you could certainly spend a few days in this lake town. From distilleries & viewpoints to paddle-boarding & boat trips, we enjoyed every minute, but for those of you just passing through, I would recommend taking the hike to Josefstal Falls.
Josefstal Falls can be reached by an easy hike through the forest near Schliersee Lake. The first tier of the falls can be reached in just a few minutes (pictured above) & is certainly worth the hike. From there, you can continue exploring with the assistance of marked paths, or head back into town & walk the path surrounding the lake. After exploring outdoors & before leaving Schliersee, be sure to make a stop around the corner at Café Brunnhof for a taste of their delicious cakes.
THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS TO OBERAUDORF
From Schliersee we wound through twisting mountain roads to the city of Oberaudorf. The views that we saw along this drive may have been some of our favorites from the entire trip & seemed to get better & better as we rounded each corner. On a warm day like ours, you will see lines of classic cars & bikes out enjoying the views as well. Enjoy this portion of the trip best by leaving time to stop (safely) at roadside pull-offs for beautiful panoramic views.
Travel Tip: If you you are looking for a meal when you arrive in Oberaudorf, we recommend Alpenrose where you will get a well-priced & well-portioned Bavarian meal with a great ambiance. In addition to the ambience, Alpenrose has indoor/ outdoor seating, kids menu, vegetarian & vegan menu options & an English menu (which can be difficult to come-by.)
YOU'RE IN THE HOME STRETCH!
The last stop on our Alpine Road trip was beautiful Lake Königssee for a relaxing boat cruise & view of Mount Watzmann. Located near the border between Germany & Austria, this beautiful blue lake is (for the most part) a part of the Berchtesgaden National Park.
Even just the view of Lake Königssee made the perfect end to our journey, but if you are interested in sightseeing by boat be sure to arrive early & beat the crowds. We explored Königssee on a weekday in off-season & even still the lines were long & the crowds were out in full swing! Expect to pay approximately 13 Euro for a roundtrip boat to St. Bartholma (or half price for children.)
When all was said & done, renting a vehicle to drive the Alpine Road is something that I would highly recommend for anyone visiting the region. From castles & mountains to valley's & lakes, there was so much to see & do along the way & it was the perfect way to experience a large number of things in a shorter amount of time.
If you have driven the Alpine Road & have tips or pit-stops to share, please feel free to leave a comment here or join the conversation on Twitter @TLTRAVEL. You can also find video footage on the TL Travel YouTube channel for this trip & many more. See you there!