The Tour des Alps: Munich to Geneva
|Alive With the Sound of Acceleration: The Swiss Alps (courtesy, Swiss Tourism)|
|Snow White, Eat Your Heart Out: Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle (PhotoDisc)|
If the Alps conjure images of snow-tipped mountains, wildflower meadows, and quaint market towns, you won't be disappointed: Storybook Alps still exist in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland—and this tour will take you through it all. Explore quirky and quaint alpine towns and high-peaked landscapes while tracing the spine of this iconic range from Munich to Geneva. Just be sure to stop for plenty of rugged hikes, breath-stealing bike rides, view-gaping, and sausage breaks along the way.
Days 1-2: Munich to Augsburg (44 Miles)
Munich is renowned as host of the world's largest beer bash, Oktoberfest, but with ten universities, 130 public libraries, 45 museums, 58 theaters, and three major orchestras, there's plenty to do year-round. Start with a tour of the neo-Gothic town hall at the Marienplatz, the town square, and the lively pedestrian mall in the city center. Under no circumstances should you miss the Deutsches Museum (Museumsinsel 1; +220.127.116.119.1; www.deutsches-museum.de), an exhaustive chronicle of technology and science with exhibits that range from 19th-century wooden bicycles to the Junkers F13, the first commercial airplane. On your way out of Munich, stop for beer and sausages at the Andechs Monastery (Bergstrasse 2; +49.0.8152.376.0; www.andechs.de), where Benedictine monks mastered the art of brewing in the Middle Ages. Bed down in Augsburg before picking up the scenic Romantic Road, a 200-mile medieval trade route that connects Wurzburg with Fussen.
Day 3: Augsburg to Reutte (80 Miles)
It would take about an hour and a half to drive directly from Augsburg to Fussen, but there's no need to hurry. Explore the renaissance town of Augsburg and dawdle as you travel south through pleasantly rolling hills. Steingaden is worth a stop to see Wieskirche (Pfarramt Wieskirche, Wies 12; +49.0.8818.104.22.168.0; www.wieskirche.de), an extremely well-preserved rococo church and UNESCO World Heritage site situated in a model alpine meadow. Near Fussen, plan a late afternoon visit to the imperial castles of Neuschwanstein (Neuschwansteinstr. 20, Schwangau; +22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199; www.neuschwanstein.de), King Ludwig II's spectacularly Disneyesque palace, and Hohenschwangau (Alpseestrasse 12, Hohenschwangau; +188.8.131.52.93.08.30 ; www.hohenschwangau.de), Ludwig's slightly smaller boyhood home—for the best views sans tourists, paraglide from Tegelberg with Canada-based Flying Max (250.342.0461; www.flyingmax.com). Tonight, cross the border into Austria's Tyrol region. Twelve miles south of Fussen lies Reutte, a holiday town scenically situated amid high alpine peaks.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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