Germany: Photo essay of Bavaria’s Ammergau Alps and Neuschwanstein Castle in winter


This week we’ll take you through the part of Germany that most foreigners dream about: Bavaria.

Am I getting nostalgic because we’re about to leave? (Right now, I’m sitting in my empty living room with two chairs and a tiny TV as our furniture makes its way to Japan.) Or is it just that I’ve had more opportunity to play tourist than usual as friends hop over for one last visit? Either way, documenting our trip through Bavaria seemed like an appropriate way to bid farewell to our latest homeland.

Since we live near France, our trip began with a drive down through Baden-Baden and into the Black Forest (famous for fairytales and cuckoo clocks):


Black Forest on the way to Bavaria in winter

A Black Forest road on the way to Bavaria. (Photo credit: Jessica Lasch)


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As we drew closer to the Alps, my friend grew increasingly excited. However, there’s something they don’t always tell you about the Alps: If it’s cloudy, you can’t actually see them. They just look like foothills.

Luckily, the clouds finally began to lift, and we pulled off the road for this photo opp:

Alps over Weißensee

Alps appear beyong the Weißensee (White Lake) near Füssen. (Photo credit: Jessica Lasch)


Our first stop was Neuschwanstein Castle (noy-SHVAN-stine) – brainchild of the eccentric King Ludwig II and inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Because of icy conditions, no buses were running from the town to the castle, and only horse-drawn carriages were available. There were no English-speaking tours until the late afternoon (when people suggest you should reserve tickets in advance, start the process more than 24 hours out).

We weren’t deterred, because our true goal was the Marienbrücke (MAH-hree-en-brue-kuh) – Mary’s Bridge – known for providing the best view of the castle. Imagine our disappointment when we arrived at the castle and found out the trail was closed!


Neuschwanstein castle in winter from below

Neuschwanstein: What we saw


Castle Neuschwanstein at Schwangau, Bavaria, G...

Neuschwanstein: What we would like to have seen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The view from the castle draws to attention the flat plains that lead up to the Alps:


view from Neuschwanstein in winter

View from the castle (Photo credit: Jessica Lasch)


In town, we snapped this picture to show the abrupt transition from those plains to the German Alps:


The beginning of the German Alps

The beginning of the German Alps


The next morning, we awoke to bright sunshine in the quaint town of Oberammergau (whose devout townspeople made a pact with God about 380 years ago to perform a Passion of the Christ play every decade if God spared them from the effects of The Plague), close to Austria.



If this won’t get you out of bed, nothing will. (Photo credit: Jessica Lasch)


The Ammergau Alps are the closest range to Munich and therefore are a very popular destination for hiking, skiing, alpine walking, alpine skiing, spa hotels, touring, and making merry. This is one of the most recognizable peaks, right behind Oberammergau, called the Kofel:


Kofel peak near Oberammergau

The Kofel peak


According to our helpful innkeeper, after a full day of sightseeing there was but one thing to do: head to the local brewery, the Maxbrau, for local food and great beer. Of course, we happily complied (and weren’t disappointed).


Maxbrau cow Oberammergau

Don’t be surprised if you spot a cow on top of a building: it’s only an advertisement for Maxbrau


*Special thanks to Jessica for the photos, company and inspiration!

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  1. What a lovely post about Bavaria! I thoroughly enjoyed the guided tour and the photos were great, including Jessica’s. If I never get there at least I’ve seen a small part of it thru your expert guidance.

  2. It does resemble a “fairyland,” doesn’t it?

  3. Jenna, we spent nearly 3 months in Oberammergau this winter, and seeing the pictures of the Kofel makes me a bit homesick. Wish you all the best as you transition to Japan!

  4. One thing these photos don’t capture was the amount of snow we dealt with everyday. Who does a road trip in Germany in the dead of winter unless you’re going skiing?! Though, it did make for idyllic alps pictures and we practically had the entire town of Oberammagau to ourselves on that perfect sunny ski day.

    I’m still mad at the Marienbrücke for being closed. But, at least I got to watch a toddler overtake us on foot while we were riding in the horse drawn carriage up the hill. So, that was something.

  5. Wendy – Definitely!

  6. Kristen – Thanks 🙂 It’s probably worth mentioning that all of Jessica’s photos were taken using nothing but her Samsung Galaxy cell phone. I don’t think I’ll tell Ben that, or he’ll stop buying me camera accessories for holidays.

  7. Tricia – That sounds like heaven. We weren’t there even 24 hours – definitely a “fast travel” experience – but even so I enjoyed it completely. The air and even the water just seemed so fresh and pure. I feel healthy just thinking about it.

  8. Jessica – You’re so right.The Marienbrücke must pay.

  9. Neuschwanstein has always been a fascinating place for me, I even named one of my kitten’s after it when I was younger 🙂 I’m so glad I got to see the castle in person years ago. It’s very dramatic…and quite obvious how eccentric King Ludwig was. Our photos, however, don’t look as nice as these 🙁

  10. Thanks, Gayla. You must have had a nickname for little Neuschwanstein, right? What was it? Neu? Or Swan? Inquiring minds…

  11. It was a big name for a little cat, that’s for sure. I played around with nicknames and mostly used Neus. Sounds a bit like ‘noise’ 😉

  12. Gayla – Haha! Too cute.

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