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meriberi Nov 29th, 2011 11:00 AM

Alps: Bavaria vs. Salzkammergut?
As some of you know from my previous questions, we are planning a trip to Austria and Czech Republic for mid/late May 2012. We plan to spend a lot of time in Vienna, Prague, CK, and Salzburg, but we also want to see the Alps - we're especially interested in majestic views, light hiking, quaint villages, a Mad Ludwig castle or two, and fun stuff like luge or salt mine rides. (My Texan DH would also like to play in the snow atop a mountain somewhere, but I'm not sure if that will be possible in May). So my question for all you Austria/Bavaria experts is this: if you had 3-4 days to enjoy Alpine beauty, would you rather:

1. stay in the Salzkammergut and see St. Gilgen/Wolfgang, Hallstatt, Berchtesgaden, and Herrenchiemsee,


2. head west to the Garmisch area and see Mittenwald, Zugspitze, Oberammergau/Ettal, and Fussen?

(I'm sure someone will say "Both!" - we could, but we'd have to shave time off of Prague and Vienna. Guess we have to decide which matters more to us, but for now we're thinking just one dose of Alps for now).

What do you think?

Thanks for your help!
- M

JC98 Nov 29th, 2011 11:38 AM

If you have 4 days, I think you can do both. We had 3 days, and we did both. :)

bobthenavigator Nov 29th, 2011 01:03 PM

Tough call, but I would do the Autrian segment since it falls better into your overall trip.

bettyk Nov 29th, 2011 01:25 PM

Agree with Bob. The Salzkammergut fits better with your overall itinerary and the area is lovely. We've been to Hallstatt and St. Gilgen many times in the alst 10 yrs and never tire of their beauty.

pja1 Nov 29th, 2011 05:26 PM

As Bob said, tough call. You say "We plan to spend a lot of time in Vienna, Prague, CK, and Salzburg," How much time is alotted for Salzburg? The Salzkammergut and Berchtesgaden area are within an hour of Salzburg. That said, Salzkammergut/Berchtesgaden does fit your plan better. The Berchtesgaden area has some great "Alpine beauty".

If interested, we have many pi'cs of these area's at:


ira Nov 30th, 2011 05:44 AM

What bob said

meriberi Nov 30th, 2011 07:52 AM

Thanks for your quick and helpful responses as always! Salzkammergut it is! Now we just have to decide if we want to rent a car and base somewhere like Berchtesgaden or St. Gilgen, or limit our options but also our stress and train everywhere out of Salzburg. #1 goal is to stay put in one place where we can see the most without having to change hotels. Viamichelin and, here I come!

More importantly (lol), any chance DH could find a patch of snow to play in atop Eagle's Nest or Schafberg or some other tall mountain in May? He went bananas when we visited Mt. Rainier (Wash.) in July - played in the snow for hours, LOL.

nicksgirl88 Nov 30th, 2011 08:18 AM

Hi meri-
We were at the Eagles Nest in May a couple of years ago and there was snow at the top.

We loved Berchtesgaden, and the salt mine tour is fun.

Don't miss a cruise on the Konigsee...gorgeous.

AisleSeat Nov 30th, 2011 10:13 AM

I am with the "both/and" crowd rather than the "either/or" crowd. Although the area is in the mountains and thus a little slower going on the roads, the distance from Fussen on the west end of the area and Herren Chiemsee on the Eastern edge is probably not over 100 miles.

Spend the first day driving from Salzburg to Mittenwald, Garmish, Ettal, Oberammergau, spending the night somewhere along that path. Day 2 drive to Schwangau to see the castles. If time permits come back toward Oberammergau by way of the WieseKirche. While in the Oberammergau area see Schloss Linderhof. Then Back though Garmish to Bertschesgaden and Konigsee. Take a loop from B'gaden to Prien to see Herren Chiemsee, then back to Salzburg or what ever else is on your list.

Cowboy1968 Dec 1st, 2011 06:06 AM

Salzburg is more or less the hub, both for the Berchtesgaden and Salzkammergut regions. Few people who ARE in Salzburg would think about changing hotels to go to either destination. It's just such a short distance.
Also Herrenchiemsee castle is a simply/easy half to full day trip (also by train).

In your search for snow, neither Berchtesgaden nor Garmisch/Füssen are the best bet in May.
As you are already in Salzburg, go where no American tourist has gone before -- south of the Hallstatt/Eagle's Nest line! Just kidding. But the tall mountains with snow on 'em are SOUTH of Salzburg, not east or west.
Except for Mittenwald, all the other places are in the valley or at the foothills of the Alps, at altitudes of some 1,200-1,600 ft. Not enough for snow in May.

But when you have a car, AND the road is open, you should do the Grossglockner Alpine Road. Otherwise you will find many routes towards the Tauern range of the Alps where your husband will see some real snow, and not just a measly patch of leftover as on most of the lower summits or hills.

meriberi Dec 1st, 2011 01:52 PM

wow, the grossglockner looks awesome! I don't think it fits well into this trip, though :( However, in searching on that I found some alternate "alpine routes" suggested by treplow:

Any comments on the Reit im Winkl or Bischofshofen-Saalfelden routes as daytrips from Salzburg?

pja1 Dec 1st, 2011 02:25 PM


We drove the "German Alpine Road" incl. Reit im Winkl and weren't really impressed. Riet im Winkl is a cute village, but the road... not that impressive regarding dramatic scenery.

Very close to Salzburg (actually at Berchtesgaden,) maybe try the Rossfeld Panorama Road.

If you really wanted to do it, the Grossglockner could be done as a day trip from Salzburg. Figure about 2 hours to reach it, a couple hours driving it and about 2 hours backtracking to Salzburg.

Based in the Berchtesgaden area, we did an easy day trip to Zell am See. It's about 1:30 min. drive each way.


Cowboy1968 Dec 1st, 2011 02:33 PM

As pja says, the German Alpine Road stays in.. well, Germany, and the only bit which Germany got of the Alps is the foothills / front range. The real mountains are in Austria or Switzerland.
In May, you should not see much snow on that "German Alpine Road" which is a federal highway that has somewhat nice scenery, but nothing too breath-taking.
Reit im Winkl or Bischofshofen are at the very edge of the foothills and no places to see snow in May.
You can switch Google maps to show the topography so you can identify the higher elevations.. maybe that will give you some ideas..

swandav2000 Dec 1st, 2011 09:51 PM

Hi meriberi,

Just a few comments on the train/car thing.

If you decide to use the trains, you'll be helping out the environment, of course! It's not that often that folks from North America or even Australia can substitute the train for a car, but when travelling in Germany and Austria, you can, painlessly. It's an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint -- and help preserve the beauty you came to see.

We're seeing quite a disruption of weather patterns in the Alps over the last several years.


meriberi Dec 2nd, 2011 07:17 AM

We much prefer train travel anyway, for the reasons you gave but also because it's much more relaxing to let someone else drive while we enjoy the view! I've heard the train from Salzburg to Innsbruck is very scenic, but that's quite a distance since we're not planning a stay in Tirol; if you know of any other scenic train routes I'd love to hear 'em!

Thanks for all these tips, y'all!

swandav2000 Dec 2nd, 2011 08:13 AM

Ahh, I'm so glad; I really enjoy travelling in that relaxed way - and people watching and snacking, etc.

Well, one of my favorite train routes goes from Innsbruck to Zürich through the Tirol, so I don't think that'll help you much.

I live in Garmisch, and I normally just take the train either north to München or south to Innsbruck.

Now, if you were coming in the summertime, I could tell you about some drop-dead gorgeous bike paths . . .!

I hope you have a great trip!


meriberi Dec 2nd, 2011 08:23 AM

Is late May too early to experience your drop-dead bike paths?

deladeb Jan 30th, 2012 11:51 AM

Swandav, For us summer travelers, can you suggest some of those drop-dead bike paths? Thanks

meriberi Jun 6th, 2012 08:25 AM

FYI, we went with Salzburg and the Salzkammergut and it was awesome :) Great Alpine views from our balcony (Haus Arenberg in Salzburg), and we loved the views of Wolfgangsee and Hallstatt when we drove around the countryside. The views from the Jennerbahn in Berchtesgaden were also breathtaking. We did find a small patch of snow on the beautiful hike up to the Eisriesenwelt in Werfen, so my husband posed for a picture ;)

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