The German Alpine Road is the oldest vacation road in Germany. It dates to a journey by the Bavarian King Maximilian II in 1858, but it took more than 100 years before the road was consistently able to be traveled on with its current route. Since 1960, there has been a continuous road from Lake Constance to Königssee – around 450 kilometers (280 miles) along the edge of the Alps with views of the magnificent mountain panorama.
Start at Lake Constance
The classic route of the German Alpine Road starts at Lake Constance. By plane, you can fly to Friedrichshafen, for example, and rent a car at Friedrichshafen Airport. You can then quickly reach the beautiful island of Lindau in Lake Constance after a half-hour drive.
Lindau on Lake Constance
Lindau has a charm all its own and there is something to see at every turn. The panorama that you will have from the island in Lake Constance alone is admirable. The Alps in the distance are impressive and before you really get going, you should treat yourself to a beer and leave the car for the day to get into the vacation mood.
The Scheidegg waterfalls in the Allgäu region (on the border with Austria) are up to 22 meters (72 feet) high and can be admired from several vantage points. They are a true spectacle of nature that invite you to linger.
Peaks along the German Alpine Road
HOCHGRAT NEAR OBERSTAUFEN
Oberstaufen is a perfect starting point for hikes – for example to the Hochgrat. You can also take an overnight break here, depending on your schedule.
OBERJOCH NEAR BAD HINDELANG
The municipality of Bad Hindelang offers hiking and biking trails as well as alpine via ferratas (protected climbing routes) for sporty travelers. The health resort town also has swimming pools and three mountain railroads, so you won’t be bored. From the Oberjoch you have a unique view of the Allgäu region.
A visit to Bavaria’s Fairytale Castle
The charming parish church of Nesselwang and the Alpspitze are the landmarks of this small town. In the distance, you can already make out the Zugspitze and the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, where the German Alpine Road will take you next.
NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE NEAR HOHENSCHWANGAU
Ludwig II had Neuschwanstein Castle built and realized his dream. Today it’s visited and admired by tourists from all over the world. Fun fact: Did you know that the castle was the model for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle?
Germany from Above
Coming from the Allgäu, you will now continue on the German Alpine Road in the region of Upper Bavaria. The town of Oberammergau is famous for its painted house facades and for the Passion Play, which only takes place every 10 years – it will happen again from May to October 2022.
EIBSEE NEAR GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is best known for the Zugspitze, as the town lies at the foot of the 2,962-meter (9,718-foot) mountain, which is the highest in Germany. Accordingly, many (day) tourists also come here. A stroll through the beautiful town is just as worthwhile as a hike to the Eibsee.
The German Alpine Road in Tolzer Land
The bright blue Walchensee offers you a refreshing place to cool down in the hot summer. You can swim or explore the surrounding mountains on a hike. Continue on your way via the Kesselbergstrasse.
Stroll along the lake or go for a tour on an excursion boat – both are possible at Kochelsee. In the background you can see the magnificent mountain scenery, which makes the panorama look like a picture. And from Kochel am See, along the German Alpine Road, it’s also not far to the oldest monastery in Bavaria in Benediktbeuern.
The historic town center of Bad Tölz has a lot to offer: The market street, small alleys, family-run stores for handicrafts and traditional costumes, plus restaurants, breweries and cafés to linger in.
At the foot of the mountain Brauneck lies the former rafting village of Lenggries, which is now a popular starting point for hikes, bike tours and, in winter, skiing. From Brauneck (which is also easily reached by mountain railroad) you have an impressive view: Lake Starnberg, Karwendel, Zugspitze and even Munich can be seen in the distance. Wow!
The Lakes Along the German Alpine Road
The reservoir or dam lake Sylvenstein has a fjord-like shore where you can just feel good. The dam was completed 60 years ago, and the dam wall has a height of 44 meters (144 feet). Originally, the lake was planned to be much bigger.
Whether it’s a picnic by the lake, an excursion by boat or simply a long walk along the shore: Lake Tegernsee offers you numerous opportunities for leisure activities. Since the lake is only about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Munich, it is also worth taking a short break from your drive along the German Alpine Road for a day trip to the Bavarian capital – especially if it’s during Oktoberfest!
Whether rowing, hiking and biking in summer or skiing, cross-country skiing and wellness in winter: Schliersee is a destination for every season and guarantees you great photo motifs. The journey continues to beautiful Chiemgau.
Discover Magnificent Chiemgau
ASCHAU IN CHIEMGAU
It’s not far to Lake Chiemsee when you arrive in Aschau im Chiemgau. The small town is surrounded by mountains and therefore a great starting point for various outdoor activities: Hiking, biking, mountaineering, climbing and much more is possible.
The Chiemsee (emphasized with a hard ‘K’ at the beginning) is also called the Bavarian Sea. With an area of almost 80 square kilometers (31 square miles), it is the third-largest lake in Germany. The popular recreational area is also best known for its two islands: Fraueninsel and Herreninsel. The former has been home to a Benedictine monastery since 772, while the latter has two castles worth seeing. You can reach both islands by boat from Gstadt or Prien.
CHIEMGAU ALPS NEAR RUHPOLDING
Ruhpolding offers you impressive mountain scenery and corresponding leisure activities, which you can pursue locally. Ruhpolding is also known nationwide for the biathlon performance center Chiemgau Arena.
THE DESTINATION IS NEAR – BERCHTESGADEN NATIONAL PARK
Ramsau, the first mountaineering village in Germany and a great starting point for numerous excursions and hikes nearby. Through the fairy-tale magic forest (yes, it’s really called that) you can easily reach the picturesque Hintersee on foot. This is famous for its reflection of the Hohe Göll on the mirror-smooth water surface. On foot, by bike or by bus, you continue into the nearby Klausbach Valley and up to the Hirschbichl Pass.
Berchtesgaden has much to offer worth seeing. The beautiful town center with the Berchtesgaden Castle, but also the Obersalzberg with the Kehlsteinhaus. In addition, there is a salt mine, a brewery, a distillery for the local gentian liquor, the Watzmanntherme and even more great excursions in the surrounding area:
- Watzmann (third highest mountain in Germany at 2,713 meters, or 8,900 feet).
- Wimbachklamm gorge
- Rossfeld panorama road (also: Roßfeldhöhenringstraße)
- Almbachklamm gorge
- Schellenberg ice cave
The German Alpine Road ends in Schönau am Königssee and behind you lie about 450 kilometers. The wonderful landscape around Königssee is a great place to unwind and find some peace. You should definitely take the boats across the lake to St. Bartholomä or to Salet and enjoy the view of the Watzmannostwand. Numerous alpine inns offer you a place to rest. If you want to see the area from above, you can take the newly built Jennerbahn up to 1,800 meters (5,906 feet).
If you have a rental car, you can return it in Munich or Salzburg, for example – or rent a car at Salzburg Airport if you want to do the tour the other way around, from east to west.