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One of the best things about living in Düsseldorf is that we are in such a central hub that connects us to the rest of the world. We could even take a day trip to Belgium or the Netherlands if we wanted! Thanks to cheap flights and now, cheap train tickets (thanks to FlixTrain), we can travel anywhere our heart’s desire, even if we just have a few days.
However, try not to forget… we’re in GERMANY!
A country which I now believe to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. If you haven’t taken the time to explore the Bavarian Alps yet, you need to make this your next long weekend getaway! I say long weekend and not weekend because this place truly is worth taking more than just a couple days for.
Ideally, I’d spend a week there minimum, but if you’re like many people, long weekends are when most of your Germany explorations take place. So, for the convenience of those who enjoy spending their weekends getting to know the country they live in, I’ve put together a long weekend getaway guide to exploring the beautiful and majestic Bavarian Alps.
If you’re looking for somewhere with natural charm but closer to home, why not check out the Harz Mountains?! Perhaps not as mind-blowing as the Bavarian alps, but gorgeous to say the least.
How to get from Düsseldorf to the Bavarian Alps
If you have the time to road trip down to the Bavarian Alps, I would highly recommend it! If you don’t have a car, there are tons of cheap car rentals in Düsseldorf and you can find and compare the cheapest prices easily online.
It takes about 6 hours to drive to Munich by car, and if you have the time, I’d suggest stopping along the way to check out some beautiful historic towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Würzburg.
Otherwise, if you’re planning on making this a long weekend trip (like perhaps over Easter holidays), I’d definitely suggest taking the train. You’ll get from Düsseldorf Central Station to Munich Central Station in less than 5 hours, and assuming you leave on a Thursday after work, you should arrive in Munich with enough time to either go out for some drinks or hit the hay early to prepare for your next few days exploring the Bavarian Alps.
I’m taking you on an adventure through Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berchtesgaden!
From Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you can take the direct regional train (RB) in the direction of Reutte in Tirol which will get you to Garmisch in less than 1,5 hours. Once you’ve arrived in Garmisch, if you’re planning on staying the night in the region, you will receive a BAYERN-TYROL Guest Card from the accommodation provider. With this card, you’ll receive free transportation around the region and tons of local discounts.
If you don’t have the long weekend to see it all, but would still like to not only see the Bavarian Alps, but take a cable car up to the tallest point above the clouds (Zugspitze), there is an awesome day trip for 65 Euro from Munich to Garmisch you can check out.
What to see in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Now that you’re here, it’s a no-brainer. First things first head to the Bavarian Alps! Here are my tips for making the best out of your time here.
Take a Gondola up to the Alpspitze
The Alpspitze is a 2,628-meter high mountain which not only offers beautiful views of the surrounding Bavarian Alps but also of the towns below. If you’re there on a cloudy overcast day like we were, you may enjoy a beautiful sunny day above the clouds.
Zugspitze is 2,962-meters high and known as the highest mountain peak in Germany (which you can see in the first photo below). It also costs 58,00 Euros per person.
TIP: Rather than spending 58,00 Euros on a ticket up to the Zugspitze, we opted to spend 28,00 Euros each to take the Alpspitzbahn (gondola) up for some gorgeous views of the Zugspitze. Included in that price, we were also able to take 2 other gondolas around the other side of the mountain to get back down into the town. Highly recommended.
Take the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Zahnradbahn to the Eibsee
If you’re staying overnight, the Zugspitzbahn ticket is included free of charge in your Guest Card. It is a beautiful old train that takes you alongside the Bavarian Alps until you’ve reached the Eibsee. The Eibsee is a breathtaking crystal clear lake which is 973,28 meters above sea-level and about 177,4 hectares large. Conveniently, this is also the train stop where guests will get off to take the gondola up to the Zugspitze. That means you’ll also get some beautiful views of the Alps while enjoying some lakeside relaxation. If you’re up for it, there is also a 7,5 KM (2-hour) circular route hiking path around the entire lake that is definitely worth taking!
Where to stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
If you’d like a personal recommendation, I stayed in a wonderful (and super affordable) hotel (Hotel Quellenhof) just outside of Garmisch-Partenkirchen with gorgeous views of the Bavarian Alps, which I would definitely recommend! Otherwise, you can browse below.
If you don’t mind staying in the same location for the long weekend, I’d suggest scratching the rest of this plan of your bucket list for now and saving it for another trip. There are so many wonderful places to explore in Garmisch, and the connection from Munich is so easy, that it makes for a relaxing trip to the Alps.
However, if you’re thinking to yourself ‘this is likely the only time I’ll find to head down to see the Alps’ well then, keep on reading! To get from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Berchtesgaden can be a little tricky with train and bus travel. I would suggest renting a car in Munich before arriving in Garmisch so that you can continue your Bavarian Alp explorations.
What to see in Berchtesgaden
Whether you’re a history nerd or a nature lover, Berchtesgaden is an incredible place to visit. Different than Garmisch in the sense that hiking opportunities here are endless (Garmisch’s Alps make it a bit more tricky), but both areas are absolutely breathtaking.
Take a Hike through Zauberwald
Zauberwald, or known in English as the Magic Forest, is a majestical forest. The name is a result of a landslide that brought down tons of massive stones and boulders which has since been overgrown by the local vegetation. The blue waters, incredible landscape, and rapid waters make is quite a magical place!
Take a History Lesson at the Dokumentation Obersalzberg
Although some pretty heavy information to take in, the Dokumentation Obersalzberg is definitely worth a visit. It is a museum just outside of Berchtesgaden which showcases tons of historical information about Hitler, Obersalzburg, and his mountainside country home.
Hitler deemed Obersalzberg his second home when he started visiting on a regular basis in 1928. He forced the locals to leave their homes so he could create his own village of Nazi leaders. He built tunnels under the entire city (which can be found under the museum today) and built his home just on the other side of the hill (which is now simply a sign deeming this is where Hitler’s holiday home once stood).
Take a stroll around the Hintersee in Ramsau
Just behind the bed & breakfast, we stayed at, was this stunning lake, Hintersee. There is a circular route around the entire lake which doesn’t take more than 45 minutes to hike, but if you’d rather get on the water, they also offer boat rentals quite cheap too!
Take a Boat Tour of the Königssee
You can grab round trip boat tickets at the Königssee Seelände (right next to the parking lot) which will take you to the beautiful St. Bartholomä (featured in the bottom far right image). The boat ride itself is beautiful, and you can explore the area around St. Bartholomä in about half an hour.
If you decide you would rather visit Berchtesgaden as a day trip from Munich, there is also a day-trip for 70 Euros which takes you to Berchtesgaden to visit the Königssee. Along the way, you’ll see Eagle’s Nest, Germany’s highest waterfall Röthbachfall, and drive along the most scenic Alpine Route in Germany.
Where to stay in Berchtesgaden
I chose to stay a little outside of Berchtesgaden as the prices were more affordable and there were more family-style apartments available directly on popular hiking routes, like Hintersee and Zauberwald. Our guesthouse, Gästehaus Hinterponholz, has a 9,4 rating and definitely lived up to its high expectations! Looking for something more central? Check below for more options.
After you’ve spent a few days exploring Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berchtesgaden, it’s time to head back to Munich to catch the train home to Düsseldorf!
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