Acclaimed as one of the most scenic drives in all of Europe, the Deutsche Alpenstrasse (German Alpine Road) stretches for some 480km (300 miles) between Berchtesgaden in the east and Lindau on Lake Constance in the west. The road goes through or past mountains, lakes, forests, and "castles in the sky." The best times to drive are in early spring or early autumn. In winter, mountain passes are often shut down, and even those highways that remain open can be dangerous.
If You Have 1 Day -- After your stopover in Munich, head south along Autobahn A8 (drive in the right lane if you want to avoid the speeders on the left). Turn south on Rte. B20 for Berchtesgaden, 158km (98 miles) southeast of Munich. After settling in and having lunch, take an afternoon excursion to Obersalzberg and Kehlstein (you can go by bus).
If you Have 2 Days -- While still based in Berchtesgaden, explore the Königssee, to the south (about 2 hr. by boat). This long, narrow lake, famed for its steep banks and dark waters, is one of Europe's most dramatic and romantic sights. In the afternoon, drive west along the Alpine road and then north on Rte. B20 some 20km (12 miles) to Bad Reichenhall, one of Germany's most famous spas. Return to Berchtesgaden for the night.
If You Have 3 Days -- Get back on Autobahn A8 toward Munich but turn off at Prien am Chiemsee, 85km (53 miles) southeast of Munich. The premier attraction here is the Neues Schloss, a fantastic castle begun by Ludwig II in 1878 on the island of Herrenchiemsee. You can find food and lodging at Prien.
If You Have 4 Days -- Get back on the autobahn to Munich, but take a cross-country route (472) toward Bad Tölz, which is one of Bavaria's leading spas, although it lacks any major attractions. Continue west from Bad Tölz along Rte. 472 to the town of Bichl, at which point you head south along Rte. 11 until you reach Benediktbeuern, a distance of 14km (9 miles) from Bad Tölz. Here you'll find Benediktbeuern, the most ancient Benedictine monastery in upper Bavaria. Records trace it back to the year 739. After a look, continue 6km (4 miles) south along Rte. 11 to Kochel am See, with its Alpine vistas. Follow Rte. 11 south to the express highway, Rte. 2, which you then follow about 30km (20 miles) to Mittenwald on the Austrian border. Plan an overnight stay.
If You Have 5 Days -- You'll want to spend as much time as possible in Mittenwald. Goethe called it a "living picture book" -- you may think it looks like part of The Sound of Music film set. It's also a major center for violin making. Give it at least a morning before driving northwest for 20km (12 miles) on Rte. 2 to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After checking in, head for the major attraction, the Zugspitze, the highest peak in German territory. Wear warm clothing. This could be the highlight of your trip to Bavaria.
If You Have 6 Days -- Leaving Garmisch-Partenkirchen, head north on Rte. 2 for 20km (12 miles) toward Oberammergau. Along the way, you'll pass Kloster Ettal, founded in 1330. Its original 10-sided church is a stunning example of the Bavarian rococo style. Some 10km (6 miles) to the west is Schloss Linderhof, one of "Mad" King Ludwig's royal residences, built between 1874 and 1878 on the grounds of his hunting lodge. These two attractions will take up most of your day, but you'll still arrive in the little old woodcarver's village of Oberammergau, 11km (7 miles) northeast of Linderhof, in time to wander about. Later, enjoy a hearty Bavarian dinner before turning in to your Alpine bed.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.