Germany road trip: The German Alpine Route

What is the most iconic and the most favorite Germany road trip route? It is the German Alpine Road, aka Deutsche Alpenstrasse.

The German Alpine Road is the oldest German tourist route, and if you love road tripping through Europe or Germany, it is a must.

From impressive Alpine views to smoothly rolling hills, from fairytale castles to stunning lakes. You can visit popular destinations in Bavaria along this route.

Plan as much time as you want, you can join the scenic road anywhere you wish and leave it whenever you want.

We want to show you the TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS of this great road, so you will enjoy your Germany road trip to its fullest.

But before we do, let’s talk a bit more about the road itself.

Germany road trip: Basic information

If you are coming to Germany for the first time, check our German Travel Tips which comprises lots of helpful tips about Germany.

This stunning route is around 484km (300miles) long and it will take you through beautiful Bavaria with a mixture of landscapes through your drive.

You can drive the whole route or visit only the part you are most interested in. It is worth it to leave German Autobahn and take this panorama route.

The route starts at at Lake Constance (in the west) or at Lake Königsee (in the east). They mark the route in both directions.

The German Alpine Road splits in 9 parts/regions listed from west to the east.

  • Lake Constance – The road trip starts in the west in town Lindau, which offers Mediterranean feeling and will take you through Allgäu Alps.
  • Allgäu Alps – The Oberjoch Pass is one of Bavaria’s most popular scenic drives.
  • Royal Allgäu – Here you will find the famous and dreamy Bavarian castle Neuschwanstein.
  • Zugspitze Region – beautiful region with famous Garmisch-Partenkirchen area and the highest German mountain Zugspitze.
  • Tölzer Land Region – a lake paradise. Lake Walchensee, across Kesselberg street and on to Lake Kochelsee.
  • The Region of Tegernsee and Schliersee -Driving through Tegernsee, Schliersee and Bayrischzell, you will come across countless restaurants and cafes that provide Bavarian hospitality.
  • Chiemsee Alps – Get on Chiemseeschifffahrt (a boat), which goes to the Fraueninsel and Herreninsel.
  • Chiemgau – Area of glorious scenery and activities in unspoilt nature.
  • Berchtesgadener Land/ Lake Königsee – The scenic drive ends here, cruise on the Lake Königsee, and go for scenic walks.

The route is suitable for cars, motorhomes, motorbikes or even bicycles. We love to rent a cabriolet when the weather is great. The perfect car for a great scenic drive through Bavaria Alps like this.

Our tip: Have enough time to swim in the lakes, stop for pictures of breathtaking views of the Alps, go for a hike and explore the fairytale castles.

Highlights on your Germany road trip

To keep things simple, we will also list TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS of your Germany road trip, from west to the east. But you can also drive from east to the west.

#1 Lake Constance

Lake Constance aka Bodensee in german and it borders three countries: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This is the starting point of your epic Germany road trip.

It is the third largest freshwater lake in Europe; it is 63km (39miles) long and nearly 14km (8,7miles) wide. The lake splits into two parts: Upper part and Lower Part. As popular summer destination, you will find many types of accommodation, restaurants and cafes. The area is popular for sailing, windsurfing and swimming. 

Lindau

This town you will find on the eastern side of the lake. Very popular for its harbour and the old town on Lindau island. The harbor has a Bavarian Lion statue and a stone lighthouse with lake and mountain views, which is very popular motive for pictures.

Take a stroll along the lakeside promenade which has many cafes and is ideal to watch the maritime activity in the harbour. You can climb the lighthouse and enjoy the beautiful views.

Our tip: Wine has a very long tradition here, so why not to explore it a bit more. You can go for wine hiking trails and explore the countryside. Or climb Germany’s highest vineyard, the “Hohentwiel” in Singen. Have a glass of Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and many more varieties.

#2 The Oberjoch Pass

On your way to the east from Lindau you will pass the Grosser Alpsee, which offers great sport activities, but it is also a pleasant spot to swim. Close by, you can find the Alpsee Bergwelt where you can go for a ride on the Alpsee Coaster – Germany’s longest toboggan run. A fun activity for you and your family.

Keep driving towards Immenstadt, Sonthofen and Bad Hindelang, where you will approach the most winding road on your Germany road trip: The Obejorch Pass.

The Oberjoch Pass is a mountain pass in the Allgäu Alps just one kilometre west of the Austrian border. It dates back to Middle Ages and was an important trade route over the Alps. You will experience an exhilarating drive with 105 bends! Perfect for a motorbike ride or a cabriolet drive like us.

Our tip: Don’t miss the viewing platform just before the summit, looking back down the valley.

#3 Germany road trip: The fairytale Castles

Driving along the German Alpine road, you will see a variety of landscape. Entering the fairytale world of King Ludwig II will give a proper royal feeling while exploring your Germany’s road trip.

There are four castles in the area, which you should visit.

Hohes Schloss (High Castle) is a gothic castle build on a hill overlooking town Füssen.

Schloss Hohenschwangau (Hohenschwangau Castle) is a 19th-century palace which was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.

Schloss Linderhof (Linderhof Palace) is the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed. The gardens surrounding Linderhof Palace are one of the most beautiful creations of historicist garden design.

The most famous Neuschwanstein (Neuschwanstein Castle) is the highlight of the fairytale story. The castle was intended as a private residence for the King until he died in 1886. Ludwig II lived in the palace for only 172 days.

Our tip: After exploring the beautiful castles, dip in refreshing cool water of either the lakes Weissensee, Hopfensee or Forggensee.

#4 Garmisch

From the Allgäu, this panoramic tour crosses the Echelsbach bridge to the Zugspitze region, the Upper Bavaria region.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a German ski town in Bavaria, formed when 2 towns united in 1935. It’s a prominent destination for skiing, ice skating, and hiking. The town lies near the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, with a 2,962m summit accessed by a cogwheel train and cable car. The area is very popular for both locals and tourists.

You will find the Great Olympic Hill (Olympia Skisprungschanze), which is a ski jumping hill in Gudiberg. A world cup competition is held there every year on January 1, as a part of the Four Hills Tournament.

Taking the cable car up to the Zugspitze will give you spectacular views over the alps, but it is expensive. One mountain ascent and descent can cost up to 61euro. Check Zugspitze page for more information about tickets.

Right under Zugspitze you will find picturesque Eibsee lake, which is popular for its sunrises. You can easily walk around the lake, it will take you approx. 1,5hour. You can swim, rent a SUP, and do many more water activities.

Our tip: Eibsee is one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria. Walk around and enjoy the views. Getting very close to the lake, you need to get through a bit of forest, but there are already walking trails, just follow one of many.

#5 The Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm)

The Partnach Gorge is near the area of Garmisch-Partenkirchen but it is so beautiful that it deserves to be in our TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS of your road trip Germany.

It is a deep gorge, incised by a mountain stream, the Partnach. The gorge is 702 metres (2,303 ft) long and, in places, over 80 metres (260 ft) deep. They designated it a natural monument in 1912.

Entry costs 6 euro per person. You can even bring your own dog, which needs to stay on the leash all the time.

#6 Germany road trip: The lake paradise

Bavaria is popular for its stunning lakes and this part of your Germany road trip will show you three beautiful lakes: Walchensee, Kochelsee and Sylvensteinspeicher.

Walchensee is also known as a Bavarian Caribbean for its crystal blue water. It is a dream for anyone who loves water sports. One of the deepest and largest alpine lakes in Germany, with a maximum depth of 192,3m. You can take a slight detour and drive on a toll road along the lake. The toll road goes between Jachenau-Einsiedl and Wallgau-Vorderris. It will cost you 5euro and is worth a drive.

Between Walchensee and Kochelsee you will drive on the popular Kasselberg street. Over 9km (6 miles) and with 14 turns, it is popular by motorcycles. Keep in mind, there is a speed limit of 60km/h and it gets crowded over weekends or on public holidays.

Sylvenstein Dam (Sylvensteinspeicher) is an earthen embankment dam in the Isar valley, which impounds the Sylvenstein Reservoir. Crystal blue water makes this lake to one of the best lakes in Bavaria. You can swim, hike, get on a SUP and enjoy beautiful views.

Our tip: If you bring some extra time, you can view both lakes (Walchensee and Kochelsee) at the same time. You can hike to the Herzogstand mountain which is right between those two lakes. What a stunning view!
If you are not into hiking, you can take the Herzogstandbahn, a cable car, which brings you there.

#7 The Region of Tegernsee, Schliersee and Bayrischzell

The region has named this area as “gourmet land”. Taste some of the many regionals products, which are almost on every corner. You will find many great restaurants and cafes around Tegernsee offering beautiful views over the lake and the Alps mountains.

Enjoy beautiful walks around the lakes, hiking, swimming, picnicking, and so much more. This area is very enjoyable and is very popular by locals and by tourists..

Did you know this region produce also whisky? Yes, whisky. At the Slyrs distillery in the village of Neuhaus you can learn more about the original Bavarian single malt. You can do a tasting of this fine beverage.

Our tip: Head to the Wallberg-Panoramastrasse to enjoy the spectacular view over Tegernsee. You can get there by car and it will take you up to 1117meters high and it is a great drive (drive carefully, the streets are narrow). Have 6 euro ready to pay the entry, including parking fee.

#8 Chiemsee – Herreninsel with a palace

Once you continue your Germany road trip and will drive further to the east, it will take you through some beautiful and picturesque villages of Bavaria. Drive towards Oberaudorf, Nussdorf am Inn and Neubeuern. Enjoy views of the splendid houses with decorated balconies, many ornate Oriel windows (bay windows) and painted facades.

When you reach Chiemsee, we recommend getting on Chiemseeschifffahrt (a boat), which goes to the Fraueninsel and Herreninsel. Two main islands of the lake and you will find a palace on Herreninsel. The palace belonged to Ludwig II of Bavaria but it was never completed; the king inhabited it only for nine or ten nights before he mysteriously died of drowning at age 40.

Our tip: You can buy different boat tours, the price varies between 10-14 euro for a return trip. You can check all relative information on the Chiemsee Schifffahrt page.

#9 Berchtesgadener Land

Your Germany road trip through the German Alpine road comes to its end in the Berchtesgadener region. Driving towards this region offers spectacular views of the alps.

Berchtesgaden is a town very close to Austrian borders. Discover interesting sights such as the historic Rococo town center with its town houses, monastery church and royal palace.

Obersalzberg is a mountainside retreat above of Berchtesgaden town. It is best known as the site of Adolf Hitler’s former mountain residence, popularly known as the “Eagle’s Nest.”

The Eagle’s Nest on top of Mount Kehlstein (1,834m/6,017 ft) provides an impressive scenic view. The road is closed to private traffic – special busses chauffeur visitors up to a viewing platform from where a 124 meter (407 feet) long tunnel leads to a brass elevator going 124 meters (407 feet) up into the Eagle’s Nest.

Our tip: Before heading to your last stop of your Germany road trip, loop to Rossfeld Panorama Strasse. It is a Germany’s highest scenic road route. For the scenic route you need to pay a toll, which costs 8euro per car including driver and passengers, or 4,50euro for motorbike including driver and passenger. You can enjoy the view all the way to Salzburg.

#10 Königsee

This is a true nature masterpiece. Emerald green color, overlooking the eastern wall of Mount Watzmann and in the heart of the Berchtesgaden National Park. This lake deserves all the attention, popular for sunrises and silence.

You can board an electric passenger boat, which will take you along the lake and provide you with an exceptional experience. Once on board, you will notice all the noise and bustle is left behind. Truly an unique experience. The boat takes you to the famous pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomew.

Our tip: Rent a paddleboat and enjoy the national park nature and beauty in peace and by yourself.

Germany road trip final words

The best thing about the German Alpine road is you don’t have to drive the whole 484km, you can easily pick the areas you are most interested in and then carry on with your journey. Bavaria has so much to offer.

Munich is a great starting point for your road trip, as you are within a few hours in Austria, Northern Italy, Switzerland, France and in the Czech Republic. Add some of our TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS Germany road trip to your bucket list and enjoy spectacular views, beautiful lakes, fantastic nature and hospitality of Bavarian people.

Get in touch with us

We hope our Germany road trip: The german alpine road guide inspires you to pack the bag and visit this beautiful area. The beauty of this region is simply stunning. Enjoy your road trip adventure.

Are you planning a trip to Bavaria and you are not sure what to see or where to go? Get in touch with us, we will gladly help you.

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We are looking forward to hear from you.

With love, Teri and Felix

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