We were staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the weekend and headed over to Mittenwald for some hiking (and dining since for us they seem to go hand-in-hand). It was mid-November and it seemed that many of the restaurants were closed for vacation – I guess in between seasons. But we were not disappointed in our stay at all.
Mittenwald is on the Germany-Austria border and, as you can imagine, had some of the most breathtaking views imaginable. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remind myself that I am actually here and not looking at photographs in travel magazines!
We found parking easily enough in the center of town on Bahnhofstraße (there were several parking areas). Then we proceeded to do a walking tour of the town. What a neat little town – so full of Bavarian style houses with painted exteriors. I could only imagine what they look like in the height of the warm seasons when their flower boxes would be full and overflowing with colorful blooms!
We stopped in at the Pfarrkirche – the exterior was beautifully painted and we were in for a treat once inside. There were signs requesting no photos to be taken, otherwise I would’ve had a great time documenting this Baroque interior. The ceiling mural was amazing and there were paintings all around the church.
In the front of the church is the statue to Matthias Klotz, the violin maker that put Mittenwald on the map for its violins that are now famous world-wide. There is a museum for violin making (but it was closed); however, we were able to look inside the windows of a couple shops that crafted these musical instruments.
We walked south of town looking for the Leutaschklamm (gorge). Walking along a canal that had lots of ducks playing in the water, we continued down the road passed sheep fields until we came to the trail. We actually found the trail before we got to the start of it (we saw the signs going up the hill) – so we jumped on at that point. What we didn’t realize until later was that we actually started at the end of the trail (no wonder the signs seemed to be going backwards in their information!). The gorge was well worth the trip – and we later learned that part-way along we crossed over into Austria. There is a waterfall, but it was closed for the season, as well as the Karwendelbahn up to the top of the mountain (sounds like another trip to plan!).
After our hike, we stopped back in Mittenwald for some lunch. Since most places were closed, we found Café Paula, a konditorei that had outside seating (did I mention that weather was beautiful that day?). While they were out of the soup I was hoping for, I found an equally delicious substitute and my fellow travelers all had yummy dishes as well. Since the local brewery was closed, we crossed the street to the local grocery store and picked up some food and beverages for later before heading back to Garmisch.
This was a wonderful day in a little village that we may have overlooked if it weren’t for a guidebook that we used regularly. We will be returning in the spring/summer in order to see the things that we closed this visit.
Visit my Mittenwald page.
WE did get one excellent hike in Garmisch to the Stepberg Alm, which was a steep ascent at a very quick hour and forty-five minute pace, straight-up. This only confirmed to me that I was not in great shape when it comes to hiking. It was my first real hike this summer, and I really noticed it in my legs, despite the swimming. As a matter of fact, I swam a lot before I left, and I sure felt the tiredness in my legs on the steep ascent. The good news was that my injured knee gave me no problem on the way down, despite having forgotten my tensor bandage, which I normally wear. However, I used poles on the less steep descent and was careful just in case.
You do not have to do it with this intensity, but you should be in good overall cardiovascular condition, and the path can be steep, windy, and if wet, slippery.
The Stepberg Alm is one of my favorite hikes around Garmisch. It is normally about a 4-hour tour for us, five for most, but we did it in around 3-hours last week. Not bad. Actually we cut an hour off the bottom bit by driving up to the drop-off parking zone. Cheaters, I know, but we know the bottom section so well, and it is flat and boring. The Stepberg Alm itself has been renovated this year. It is bigger, there is a larger inside area, and they have installed indoor plumbing. There used to be only outhouses. Other than that, thankfully, they did not ruin the charm of the hut. I am posting pictures of the Stepberg Alm on my Garmisch pages this afternoon. So you can check them out. I did not take too many pictures, but will post what I have.
Drive or bike south of Garmisch to Grainau and follow the signs to the Eibsee. This clear, cold lake lies at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain. A well-maintained path circumnavigates the lake and makes for an easy hour-long hike. In the warm months, people flock to the Eibsee to sun on the rocky beach and brave the water which warms up from ice cold to just plain cold. There is a hotel, restaurant with deck, and a paddleboat rental at the lake.
Expect to pay a couple euro for parking at the lake or take the Eibsee bus from the Marienplatz in Garmisch.
At 2962 m., the Zugspitze is Germany's highest peak. During the winter months, it is packed with skiiers and snowboarders from all over the world. In warmer months there is hiking and sunbathing available.
I went to the top in November to have lunch at the restaurant and take in the amazing views. It seemed like the mountain peaks stretched on forever! Beware of the icy winds on the panorama platform, even in summer. Inside, there is a video playing about the construction of the cable cars and mountain stations. Also, from the top you can cross the border into the Austrian station. We descended by cable car to the basin station on the Zugspitzeplatt to have a bier and take some sun.
There are two ways to get to the top: the cogwheel train or the cable car. The cogwheel train descends through the mountainside and doesn't afford much of a view. Unless you are afraid of heights, I would take the cable car both up and down. You will get amazing views of the Eibsee lake below.
Round-trip adult fares: 43E in summer, less in winter. Park at the lot at the bottom of the Eibsee-Seilbahn or take the Zahnradbahn from Garmisch (the station is next to the Bahnhof).
If you take the hike up from Garmisch-Partenkirchen ý Hammersbach about a 500 meter climb ý you get to the Hollentalklamm. This pass follows the course of a stream, which has over the Millennia turned into gorge.
What makes it interesting, or esoteric if you will, is that around circa 1895 or so, they discovered some kind of fuel oil deposits trapped in the rock, and set about building a railroad up there to extract it. You cannot believe where they hacked that narrow gauge track into the cliffs and along the watercourse. Testimony to manýs ingenuity in the pursuit of profit, but also a good 50-years before anyone had ever heard of an environmental assessment. Most of the tracks are gone, and those that remain are only twisted pieces of metal spaghetti to remind you how temporal even concrete and metal are compared to mountains.
The hike is cut through the rocks in a series of paths and caves, largely unchanged, and long since grown back to hide the scars. Now it is a pleasant 2-hour hike up, and if you want you can carry on another 2-hours to the Oesterfelderkopf or put on your climbing gear and do the Klettersteig to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Deutschland.
Nothing tastes better than a cold beer after a long, hot climb
We enjoy southern Bavaria and go there a good bit for long weekends to enjoy its natural beauty. On a recent trip, we were with visiting friends and family and we were looking for something different to see. So we headed up from Garmisch-Partenkirchen towards Ettal and Oberammergau to visit one of the three castles built by Bavarian King Ludwig II – Linderhof Palace.
You are probably most familiar with King Ludwig’s larger castle – Neuschwanstein – located not too far away from here. While he never finished that one, Linderhof was completed and was designed more as a retreat away from the world and its inhabitants – a private oasis in the middle of the beautiful Bavaria hills. It was built as a miniature Versailles Palace, complete with a small version of the Hall of Mirrors. King Ludwig was a fan of Louis XIV and you can see the Sun King’s influence throughout the building. But this palace was meant only for King Ludwig II – he didn’t entertain there and his private grotto for opera performances had only one seat it the private viewing box.
The grounds of Linderhof were very nice to walk through – lush green fields with trees and a pond enjoyed by the swans. The palace overlooks a very formal garden with a fountain that shoots water high above every 30 minutes. Once inside, the palace tour gives you a look into the life of King Ludwig – a glimpse into his personal and private side, rather than the showy Neuschwanstein side that you get in that castle.
We were fortunate to visit Linderhof on a beautiful spring day with clear skies and few crowds. Walking the grounds and visiting the gardens was a beautiful experience because of this. Having visited all three of King Ludwig’s castles, I have to say that Linderhof was my favorite. Come join me on a tour of Linderhof Palace!
To read more about Linderhof Palace, visit my page weekend at Schloss Linderhof
The Eibsee is located 9 km southwest of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and roughly 100 km southwest of Munich, at an elevation of about 1000m.
The Eibsee lies at the base of the Zugspitze several hundred meters from the Eibsee Cable Car.
Bet you don't know what you have missed if you haven't visited the unique Igloo Village!!!
The Igloo Hotel is made out of 3 Romantic Igloos, 4 Group Igloos and an Igloo Bar! Spend a night in one of the igloos and experience an unforgettable night as an Eskimo.
Neuschwanstein Castle is known to most people who like castles, Europe, or Disney. It is on the top of many people’s must-see lists when they come to Germany. It was designed and built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who never lived to see the work completed. To this day, the castle is toured in its unfinished state by millions of tourists a year (as many as 6,000 per day walk through its halls at the height of the vacation season).
There are people that loathe this castle as the epitome of tourism run amok. And, yes, there is some truth to that. It can be crowded and there are many tour groups and buses and souvenir stalls. On busy days tempers can be short as people tire of the crowds.
But I am going to say that despite all that, Neuschwanstein Castle is a place to visit when in Germany. I despise crowds and overtly touristy places, but I honestly do like Neuschwanstein Castle. Living in Germany for several years, I have the opportunity to take guests to the castle on a regular basis. And each time I enjoy looking at the castle set high in the mountains. I’ve taken the guided tour twice so far (if my guest is traveling solo I go with them on the tour; if there are more than one, I let them make the climb up to the castle and do the tour while I find new things to explore in the area).
As a little girl I remember seeing the castle in the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Although at the time, I didn’t know it was a real castle, I was mesmerized by the fantastical look of the structure, seen from the air as Chitty flew across the Tyrolean Alps. Disney would use Neuschwanstein Castle as its model for the castles seen in its amusement parks and on this logo of the company – seen at the start of most Disney movies as Tinkerbell flies around it.
As I have grown older, I appreciate the history, craftsmanship, creativity, and inspiration for the castle. King Ludwig II was an eccentric man who enjoyed the operas of Richard Wagner. He built this castle and dedicated its interior design to Wagner’s operas with each room representing different stories from the operas. The wood carvings, the furnishings, the details, and the whimsy in the castle are some things I find enjoyable to look at.
And you cannot beat the location! Ludwig knew how to select the best locations for his palaces! On sunny days, the area around Neuschwanstein is absolutely stunning. On dreary rainy days, it is not as nice, but it still is inspiring.
To read more about this well visited castle, visit my weekends at Neuschwanstein Castle page.
When I was a kid, we used to have this VW bus that my dad camperised, and we used to drive all over Western Canada in it and go camping.
Then when I was a little older, I read Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck, and a little later, The Drifters by James Michener.
It has always been kind of a dream of mine to pack all my stuff - bike, skis, kayak, hiking boots, etc. - in a VW bus and spend at least 6-months discovering Europe without any fixed agenda. Just travelling around to places, hanging out, being able to sleep in the van, and then get up in the morning and go hiking or biking or whatever.
I might go to Toulouse and learn some French while exploring the Pyrennes or I might just kick around the Alps for a while. Unfortunately, it is getting the six months off. This could come between jobs and/or on my way back to Canada someday.
My other problem is finding someone who wants to come with me. Adventures are more fun when you have someone to share them with. But, in a VW van, it has to be someone that doesn't complain or get on your nerves too much.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a mountain resort town in Bavaria which is famous with its unspoilt nature, vibrancy and Bavarian charm.
Walking along the streets and strolling down the alleyways you'll discover a little more of the variety the area has to offer: historical sights, interesting excursions, art and culture, exciting events and no end of sport and wellness.
Unfortunately we drove through Garmish-Partenkirchen to the Zugspitze very fast.
You can watch my 1 min 08 sec Video Garmish-Partenkirchen out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
Schloss Hohenschwangau is one of three castles in the nearby area that Bavarian King Ludwig II lived in – the other two are the famous Neuschwanstein Castle and Schloss Linderhof. I have visited all three and, while Schloss Hohenschwangau is very much a grand palace in a beautiful setting, I find that it is my least favorite of the three. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like it, I just like the other two more.
The castle dates back to the 12th century, making it the oldest of the three castles. However, the previous owners, the Schwangau Knights, no longer existed by the 16th century and the castle was abandoned. It was heavily damaged in the 1800s during the Napoleonic wars. King Ludwig II’s father, Maximilian II, purchased the ruin when he was still Crown Prince and rebuilt the castle in the mid-1800s.
Hohenschwangau is well worth a visit when you are in the area visiting Neuschwanstein Castle. Even if you don’t have time to take the guided tour, try to make some time to walk up to the castle and explore the castle grounds. Even if just for the view, it is well worth it. The hike isn’t as strenuous as heading up to Neuschwanstein and there are horse-drawn carriages available if you like.
Schloss Hohenschwangau played an important and influence role in King Ludwig II’s upbringing and development. It was here that he lived while he had Neuschwanstein Castle built (at least up until his death). It was in this castle that Ludwig would entertain his favorite opera composer, Richard Wagner (while Neuschwanstein Castle was built around Wagner’s operas, Wagner actually never visited that castle).
Schloss Hohenschwangau is definitely worth a visit while you are in the area. I have been to the area four times so far; Hubby and I took the guided tour of Hohenschwangau on one of these visits and have brought other guests to explore the grounds. On nice days, it is a beautiful palace with a stunning view!
To read more about nearby Hohenschwangau Castle, visit my weekends at Schloss Hohenschwangau page.
After some recent coursework on German history and architecture, I returned to the ski stadium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to have a second look at the buildings. On my first visit to the stadium, I was awed by the size of the ski jumps (they still amaze me that people ski down them!) and didn’t really look closely at the area where the spectators would sit. Other than being rather uncomfortable looking, I just recalled the stadium being bland and old looking.
As I did some research on Albert Speer, Hitler’s primary architect during his regime, I learned more about the stadium. Specifically, the stadium was built for the 1936 Winter Olympics which would be held in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area. The ski jump stadium is classic Nazi architecture with its large bulky and bland stone structure decorated with reliefs of nondescript males and females reminiscent of Greek sculpture. While some of the structure has been torn down, the bulk of what is there today is the same as what was built for the 1936 games.
During my research, I found an interesting website that has photos of the stadium in 1936 and today. On my return to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, I was able to look at the stadium with a different view. It is still being used today for ski jump practice and lessons (see my video for kids taking lessons on the jumps) and parents sit in these same stands as they watch their children learn the sport.
Easily reached by bus from Garmisch-Partenkirche for a day outing is the Linderhof Palace . It is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one of which he lived to see completion.Ludwig already knew the area around Linderhof from his youth when he had accompanied his father King Maximilian II of Bavaria on his hunting trips in the Bavarian Alps. When Ludwig II became king in 1864 he inherited the so-called Königshäuschen from his father, and in 1869 began enlarging the building. In 1874 he decided to tear down the Königshäuschen and rebuild it on its present-day location in the park
It was another dream of mine to see this lovely castle on which Walt Disney based his fairy castle. So it was with great enthusiasm that we boarded the bus early morning for our day outing to Schwangau and its two castles. Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Schwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner.
The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886