When spring slowly ebbs away, allowing summer to appear, wanderlust sets in as holidays are planned. For some, the lure of an Alpine dream in Germany’s Bavaria is the sweet mustard to your weisswurst (Bavaria’s traditional sausage offering).
With castles of story-book beauty bequeathing dark forests, only dwarfed by the snowy peaks of the Alps, Bavaria is the chocolate-box idyll. Clichés of cowbells chiming across flower-filled meadows and the clink of golden beer tankards all ring true and the region can be fully treasured by car.
Unlike the tourist haven of Switzerland, the majestic Deutsche Alpenstrasse (The German Alpine Road) winds through the Bavarian countryside; ethereal lakes, medieval villages and rolling hills a plenty. The scenic route spans 450 kilometres, starting in the west at Berchtesgaden to Lake Constance that borders Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Flying into Munich or Memmingen airport and picking up a rental car is an easy endeavour and will allow for unrivalled exploration. Areas of outstanding beauty aside, a more poignant excursion on any Bavarian road trip would be a visit to the Dachau concentration camp. In such a beautiful wilderness it is easy to forget Germany’s past and a visit to the first camp opened in Germany, which is now a memorial site, is an important place to absorb.
Castles in Fussen, Linderhot and Neuschwanstein are all located en route and boast incredible traditional architecture. Similarly, Ettal abbey is a stunning Benedictine monastery with Baroque church which holds such striking art-work that it is considered Germany’s answer to the Sistine Chapel.
For an offering from Mother Nature, the journey allows for a brief hop across to Salzburg, Austria. The ice caves at Chiemsee and Werfen are awe inspiring; vast caves with eerie blue glowing stalagmites are hidden within the Tennenbirge section of the Alps and guided tours can be taken to witness what can only be described as a scene from a Hollywood blockbuster.
Whilst on a jaunt to Salzburg, it would be deemed a crime to The Sound of Music enthusiasts to miss out of an opportunity to see the locations used in the filming of the 1965 movie adaptation. The infamous steps on which Maria and the von Trapp children recite the favourite Do-Re-Me can be located at the Mirabell Palace and Gardens.
From Salzburg, it is back onto the winding Bavarian roads and onto the departure airport of choice.
Bavaria may not hold the same glamorous grandeur as Alpine rival Switzerland, but what it lacks in Michelin star restaurants and inflated prices it makes up for in peaceful roads, tranquil locations and the chance to feel perfectly alone in a rich tapestry of nature and architecture.