It is a strange thing, that many people connect vacation, with some foreign land. Be that some beaches in southern Europe, in Spain, Italy or Greece, or some more exotic places like Thailand, Bali or similar. At the same time we forget, that our own country has so many scenic places and spots drawing many visitors from other countries to our homeland. In our case, Germany is the country we “forgot” to explore and spend more time vacationing.
So in 2015, we decided to spend a few days in the Allgäu Region of Bavaria in southern Germany. A very scenic region with the alps in the background, cows on the fields and the typical homes that most us know from TV or Online. Of course, one cannot visit the Allgäu without making a stop at the most scenic castles worldwide: Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Hohenschwangau. All of those places in a perfect picturesque setting.
It was amazing to see and proofing my point, that, when visiting those places, as Germans, we were a clear minority. Looking around we saw hundreds and, in the case of Castle Neuschwanstein, thousands of people from the US, Asia and other countries. Apparently they knew something, we didn’t know or didn’t even consider when making travel plans.
We started the trip driving east from our hometown near Lörrach in the very southwestern corner of Germany. One of the issues going East (or West for that matter) is, that there are no major highways going West to East. Somehow, the highways in Germany – at least in the southern part – all go south to north and vice versa. So a trip that would typically take 3 hours on a highway, ended up taking 6 hours. But hey, we were on vacation and the driving did a least go through scenic areas.
After around 5 hours, we arrived in Füssen in Bavaria at the Forggensee. An old scenic town with the river Lech winding through town. Füssen is also very close to the most famous castles in the world – Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau and Austria’s border is just at the outskirts of town. We toured the town and then moved on to our hotel a short distance outside of Füssen in Jungholz, Austria.
Earls the next day, we drove to castle Linderhof. The castle, built by King Ludwig II in the 1870s, is a very beautiful building with tons of gold, mirrors and exclusive furniture. It’s an example of how the king’s and (to use today’s words) the upper 0,05% lived at the time.
However, not only the castle itself is stunning, also the gardens around it. They were initially planned as a smaller version of the Versaille gardens in France, but the design of the garden didn’t fit in the narrow valley were the castle was located. So they adjusted the design to what it is today.
More on castle Linderhof you can find here: http://www.schlosslinderhof.de/englisch/palace/history.htm
Wehn taking a tour of Linderhof during high season, plan some waiting time as it gets very crowded. The good part is, when you buy a ticket, it shows the time slot of your tour, so you can spend the waiting time in the gardens, instead of waiting in line.
The next day we went on to visit Castle Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. We already felt the day before, that castle Linderhof was crowded, but oh my, the mass of people in those 2 castles were amazing. Well, there’s a reason why they’re called the most famous castles worldwide……
First Hohenschwangau, which lies in sight of Neuschwanstein, just lower and next to a lake. The castle was built in the 12th century and was purchased in 1832 by King Maximilian II, the father of later King Ludwig II. Here Ludwig II spent his youth and also used it as his residence in summer until his death in 1886.
More on castle Hohenschwangau you can here: https://www.hohenschwangau.de/1303.0.html
Next stop was Castle Neuschwanstein, just a few minutes away (so we thought). It actually takes quite a while to get to the castle. Walking takes about 45 minutes to an hour uphill. The more convenient way is by bus, but waiting times can easily take an hour as well. So we took the bus because at temperatures of about 85°F, we didn’t feel like walking uphill.
The castle itself is, to my opinion, much more impressive from afar. When you get close, you’re surrounded by thousands of tourists taking selfies and there’s some waiting involved when you plan to take some photos from the scenic spots. We didn’t take a tour since we didn’t feel like waiting for an hour again, so we just took our time to walk around outside and in the Atrium.
The nearby Marienbrücke was unfortunately closed for renovation. From there you have an awesome view on the castle and the surrounding area.
More on the castle you can find here: http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/palace/index.htm
Having done the castle part of our trip, we moved on to visit some scenic town nearby, Mittenwald. It is one of the typical Bavarian towns that you might know from pictures, german movies etc.
The town lies directly below the Karwendel Mountain. Since we have never been at the top of the mountain, and weather was nice, we decided to take a trip with the gondola right to the peak. Of course, serious hikers would frown upon us, but the hike of of 7,5 hrs and more than 5.000 ft elevation gain, was a bit too much for us tourists.
The Karwendel Peak, the Birkkarspitze, can be reached via Gondola much easier in about 15 minutes. The view from up there is amazing and there’s a nice hike from the peak station to the nearby viewing points. The peak is about 9.000 ft above sea level.
On our last day, we got a special treat. Typical for the area in the fall, the cows, that are on the fields high in the mountains during summer, will be moved back to town and in the stables for winter, around September time. We were lucky enough, that the town we stayed in, did that just wehen we were there.
So we got up on the last day of our trip and waited outside until the cows came (sounds funny enough). Now, cows are not on a schedule and certainly don’t care, wether tourist wait along the street. So, it was a long wait, but it was worth it. For the event, the cows are decorated with flowers so it makes a very nice event for picture taking. Of course, as any event, it is followed by a day long party in town 🙂 No pictures of that though 🙂
Well, 3 days full of sightseeing and events right in our home country. Why travel far, when the good and beautiful can be found right at home. This is true for any country in the world.