Nature of the Ride: These mainly easy to moderate rides mainly follows the famous
(and ill-defined) "German Alpine Road", along the
edge of the Austrian and German Alps. The Alps and pre-Alps provide
a handsome backdrop to your journey, while you actually ride on
flat, slightly sloped, or rolling valley terrain. Beautiful lakes,
broad, rushing rivers and mountain resorts punctuate your visit.
Incredible castles, created by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, leave
lasting impressions of a bygone era.
you have already seen parts of Europe by bicycle, you probably will
not want to make these routes a bicycling only experience: In the
author's opinion, the landscape along the roads and bicycle paths
is sufficiently interesting and varied for only a few days of riding.
Rather, for a great vacation, combine your cycling with boat trips
on delightful and famous lakes, with hikes into the mountains, with
town sightseeing on foot, with tours of the fairy-tale castles,
and with a concert or two in Salzburg.
As you ride along the roads and bike paths the countryside may remind
you of New England or the Mid_Atlantic USA, with woods and forests,
ponds, and scattered farms. The details, however, all differ, and
so does the distant backdrop that you glimpse from time to time:
Germanic Culture enfolds you: schnitzels, strudels, dark bread
and great beer at meals, and sturdy well-built houses and hotels,
typically decorated inside with white walls and timber trimmings,
and occasionally painted on the exterior or bedecked in window boxes
full of flowers. Low-backed chairs and benches of light wood, covered
with pink-salmon or light green cushions, and of spaciously separated
wooden tables, illuminated by overhead, dangling, lighting fixtures
forms the interior decor of restaurants..
You bike mainly on bicycle paths, that, particularly
in Austria or near the Austrian border in Germany, may suddenly
end to the author it seems almost without rhyme or reasonso
also on roads or highways that may have moderate to heavy summer
holiday traffic. So you need to feel comfortable riding in traffic,
even though you will ride in it rarely.
Below: Road and guest houses above Berchtsgaden**,
normally-smoth pavement of the cycle paths may come to an end (also
without apparent reason), becoming a gravel-surfaced or pebble-surfaced
path. You will need a sturdy bicycle with at least 28 mm tires.
You will find your cycling speed is reduced by one-half on the gravel.
There are several intersecting long-distance bike routes that cross
the region. These routes have signposting that ranges from fair
to excellent, but, in any event, the signs are small, and on your
trip it is likely that you will become lost a few times. Fortunately,
in the author's experience, the numerous local bikers are quite
helpful and speak English. Pedestrians are helpful too, but may
not know the bike routes. Maps, even biking maps, don't necessarily
have the scale to help you.
When to Go: May
to October. The best chance for dry weather, but also for heat waves,
in the summer. August is the height of the tourist season, and in
some towns you may not be able to find accommodation at all, or
in your price range. August 15 is the holiday of the Assumption
in mainly Catholic Bavaria, and accommodations can be particularly
hard to get.
Attractions: The biggest tourist attractions along these routes, are the three
castles of the mad Bavarian king, Ludwig II.
Below: Neuschwnastein**, viewed from the facing mountain.
most famous one, Neuschwanstein**, is the castle, perched on a spire
above a valley, that you have seen featured on countless jigsaw
puzzles. The photos are all taken from a mountainside where you
are unlikely to go (unless you make a special 2 hour hike), so the
views that you actually see are less striking, but still well worth
seeing. The inside is well worth visiting, but there can be a wait
of an hour or more later in the day, so do arrive early. If you
stay in the area, at Schwangau or Füssen, this should be no
problem. When you visit, take the 15 minute walk behind the castle
around to a bridge, from which you can take an excellent photograph.
Neuschwanstein is reached in the second week of the itinerary given
Nearby Neuschwanstein** is Schwangau*, a castle built by Ludwig's
father, that is also worth visiting while you are in the area.
The second most famous of Ludwig's castles is called "Schloss
Herrenchiemsee"**, and you will pass near it on all of the
suggested itineraries. It is an "over the top", unfinished,
smaller copy of Versailles. King Ludwig figuratively "worshiped
the ground" walked on by the Sun King, Louis XIV of France.
This castle has some of the most ornate, Versailles-like rooms you'll
ever see, filled with copies of the art work of Versailles and portraits
of King Louis XIV. But to visit, you'll have to take a short boat
ride into the middle of the Chiemsee lake, leaving your locked bicycle
behind. Then you will walk about 15 minutes from the dock of the
"men's" island through the woods to the castle. Incidentally,
the mad king spent a fortune to build it (he didn't have enough
funds to complete it), but only spent 10 days there, and never invited
any guests at all.
Below: On the Herreninsel** in the Chiemsee**, Ludwig's
copy of Versailles
same lake has another island, the Fraueninsel, that's worth a visit
while you are at it, and depending on where you take your boat,
may cost nothing more..
The third of the mad king's castles is the Linderhof*; this is
also filled with references to the Sun King. It is a much more livable
castle, but King Ludwig II visited only once or twice. It is a detour
of 20 kilometers each way off the itinerary, and could be skipped
if you have seen Herrenchiemsee and will see Neuschwanstein, but
if you are interested in castles it does complete the story. Nearby
is Oberammergau*, an attractive town, well-known for it Passion
Play performed from May to September every ten years (in years ending
The starting point of this trip, Salzburg***, was the birth place
of Mozart, and where he lived his early life. The Mozart birthplace
house was mainly destroyed by an errant bomb at the end of the Second
World War, but has been restored. The old city is on UNESCO's registry
of architectural treasures. There are many sights, worth at least
a day of touring on foot. In August the Mozart Festival has many
musical events every day, and it becomes difficult to obtain a hotel
One ending point of this bike tour, Munich*** Germany, has many
museums, including especially the Alte Pinakothek*** (Old Art Gallery),
and the Frauenkirche** (the Church of Our Lady). There are some
charming, artistic neighborhoods, such as Schwabing, and some seedy
neighborhoods as well, such as the one just south of the main railway
Below: The Inn river and Innsbruck***.
second suggested ending point, Innsbruck***, Austria, is a very
charming small city of great authenticity, nestled in a mountain
valley. If you are ambitious, and have the time before you, you
can continue your tour by bicycling over the Brennerpass, 33 kilometers
away, into northern Italynear or into the Dolomite*** mountains,
or on to Lake Guarda*** and Verona***.
If you make the entire cycle tour across southern Bavaria, you
will end at Lindau** on the Bodensee*** (lake). Lindau is a tiny
town of character on an island connected to the mainland by a bridge..
From here you can continue biking along the Bodensee
circuit, described on this site, and from there to the Rhine
and Alsace, France. If you ride that far, you will have crossed
all of Southern Germany.
Other Attractions worth of mention on this tour include Berchtesgaden**,
a very charming mountain town worth a several days stay, as you
visit the nearby attractions. One is the Königssee** lake,
Bavaria's wildest and most romantic (but don't expect American style
wilderness at all), where you will want to take a boat trip to the
Chapel of St. Bartholomä, hike in the forest, and perhaps even
take the ski lift to a viewpoint high over the lake. While staying
in Berchtesgaden**, you may wish to bike up to Obersalzberg, where
Hitler had a private domain, and continue to the nearby Kehlstein**,
with the famous "Eagle's Nest". You can climb further
on the Rossfeldringstrasse**, a toll road to sensational viewpoints.
The Chiemsee (see means lake) has some charming resort towns
along its eastern, northern and western shores, such as Prien, Chieming,
and Seebrück. The most frequent and least costly boat services
to the Herren and Frauen islands mentioned above are from Prien
and from Gstadt.
The towns of Bad Reichenhall and Bad Tölz are both charming,
with painted houses on wide streets.
And finally, you may care to visit the two alpine resorts of Garmisch-Partenkirchen
and Mittenwald. From Garmisch, the famous and expensive cog-rail
carries you up to the Zugspitze***, at over 9,700 feet, Germany's
highest point. Other tours by foot, lift, or mountain bike visit
make pleasing day outings. Mittenwald*, has fewer lifts and activities,
but is more authentic, with old painted houses.
Bike it: Organize the trip yourself. The author is not personally
aware of any English language commercial trips in the region.
Clicking on any photo
in this column enlarges it.
Clicking on a red bar
under a photo gives a bigger enlargement.
Street in the old city, Salzburg, Austria.
Salzburg Fort dominates the old city.
Saint Peter's church in Salzburg
Cemetery behind Saint Peter's.
Mozart's birth-house, Salzburg.
View of Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany from
View over the beautiful Konigssee.
Lovely foret filters Konigssee light.
View of Bavarian Alps from near Pidding.
Scarecrow seen near a village along the route.
One of several ponds along the Salz bike
Grave for a child, near the bike way.
Pole of the different town trades, near Traunstein.
High Bavarian Alps, behind the Chiemsee
Bikers, along the Chiemsee.
Town of Seebruck on the Chiemsee.
Fountain before Ludwig's castle on the Herreninsel
in the Chiemsee.
Another, unusual fountain in the Herreninsel
Sign for the Konigssee - Bodensee Radweg
(bike itinerary), not far from the Inn River..
View of the plain near the Inn River.
The Schillersee at dusk.
Statue seen in the resort town of Bad Tolz.
Organizing the Trip Yourself:
To print itinerary, select the
text below, and choose print selection.
Please follow this
link for an explanation of the author's traffic ratings.
Starting Point: Salzburg,
Austria, accessible by train via Munich or Italy, or via air.
Ending Points: Prien
a Chiemsee, Munich, Bad Tölz, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Füssen,
Immenstadt i.Allgäu, or Lindauall in Germany; or in Innsbruck,
Distance and time (without side
trips): 102 kilometers to 396 kilometers; one to two weeks .
Rentals: Bring your own
bicycle or consider renting in Munich and carrying your bike to
the starting point on the train. The following company claims to
rent 24 speed aluminum frame bikes suitable for a bike tour: Radius
Tours and Bikes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org: http://www.radius-munich.com.
Accommodation and Restaurants:
Prices of hotels for 2 range from modest in Guest Houses and Pensions
(about €35 per day, with a supplement of € 3 or €4
if the stay is only one night), to €100 in fancy resort hotels
or city business hotels. Campground high-season prices range from
€4.50 to €7.00 per adult. For campgrounds in Austria,
see this site: http://www.campsite.at/En.
For campgrounds in Bavaria, start with the commercial site: http://www.camping-germany.eu.com,
but you may find a better choice by contacting the tourist offices
Your cost to eat in a pleasantly decorated restaurant
serving typical regional cuisine, including a glass of wine or beer,
will range from €12 to €16 per person. Fancier restaurants
will cost more. Breakfast is normally included in the price of the
hotel. Service charges are also included, but you may wish to give
a small extra tip for excellent service.
In many resort towns hotel space is very tight in
August, and you may find no availability, or be forced into a higher
price category or to less desirable hotels. In Bavaria and this
part of Austria, local tourist offices typically know what space
is available in their town. You may want to drop in to the local
tourist office before looking for a last minute hotel. It can be
wise to call ahead to the local tourist offices in towns where you
may spend the night, and then call hotels one or two days in advance.
The following is a partial list of local tourist
offices (in German "Touristinformation", or "Verkehsamt"
(When calling from out of a country, dial 001 from the USA or 00
in Europe + the country code (43 for Austria, 39 for Germany), and
the phone numberwithout the initial 0):
|Bernau am Chiemsee
|Prien am Chiemsee
|Gmund am Tegernsee
|Immenstadt im Allgäu
In Munich, the tourist office at the main railroad
station provides a mullti-page booklet for €1 containing a
list of several hundred hotels.
To make train reservations by telephone within Germany,
the phone number is 0180-5996633.
Maps and Guidebooks: By all means obtain the relevant ADFC (German Bicycle Touring
Club) maps, available in the USA online at www.omnimap.com,
or in bookstores in Germany or in nearby Austria. For the part of
the trip that includes Salzburg, Berchtesgaden, and the Chiemsee,
you need map #27, "Chiemsee/Inn/Salzkammergut". For the
Inn River valley, Bad Tolz, Innsbruck, Fussen and Munich, you need
map #26, "Oberbayern/ München". For the trip from
Fussen to Lindau on the Bodensee, you need map #25, "Bodensee/Schwäbische
The ADFC maps are at a scale of 1:150 (1 cm = 1.5
km). They show the best roads for biking and most of the bike paths.
They indicate moderate and steep slopes. In short, they are essential.
They do, however, have some problems: first and foremost, distances
are rarely given, leaving it to you to estimate how far you will
bike. Some of your estimates are likely to be off the mark. Secondly,
they do not show the names of all of the bike routes, which can
make it much harder to follow the correct route, since you won't
know which signs to follow.
You might want to obtain the German language guide
booklet "Inn Radweg 2" from http://www.Esterbauer.com if you are riding to Innsbruck along the Inn River (and also information
on the Chiemsee). This has 1:50,000 maps and information on the
towns traversed. (In the other direction it provides information
on the Inn River bike path as far as Passau, the confluence with
the Danube and the Danube bike path,
described elsewhere on this site.)
You may also wish to carry a general tourist guidebook
Bike Routes: Despite
its name, the Bodensee - Königssee Radweg (bike route) does
not run all the way from the Bodensee to the Konigsee. ("See",
pronounced "zay", of course, means "lake" in
German. The Bodensee is known as Lake Constance in English. The route runs only from the Bodenzee to the southwestern edge of
the Chiemsee (pronounced as though spelt "kiemzay").
routes in eastern Bavaria, which are signposted, do not appear on
editions of the ADFC bicycling maps!
Tip: Very few, if any,
tourists in Bavaria (or elsewhere) get started before 9:00 AM; the
first sightseeing busses arrive around 10:00 AM; and the mad-rush
starts about 11:00 AM.
Tip: General information
on cycling in Germany and commercial tours, for those who are fluent
in the German language, is available from: http://www.adfc.de.
All routes: From Salzburg,
Austria to Prien a Chiemsee, Germany via Berchtesgaden: 102
kilometers. Train connection in Prien, or continue. 2
nights (or more) in Salzburg; 2 nights (or more) in Berechtesgaden;
2 nights on the Chiemsee at one or a combination of Chieming,
Seebruck or Prien.
In Salzburg, one tourist office is at the train station, another
at Mozart Platz (place) one block from the river below the fort
and near the cathedral. The tourist office distributes a free
regional bicycle map.
There are two good routes out of Salzburg towards Berchtesgaden:
The shortest one is to cross west from the old city through the
pedestrian-biking tunnel in the hillside just north of the Festspielhaus
(Festival Playhouse). You emerge to a bike lane by the sidewalk;
the road turns slightly right (do not turn sharply right). Continue
to the second (?) stoplight, and turn left on Moonstrasse (bike
lane). Follow this straight for several kilometers until you eventually
cross the autobahn superhighway. Take the next left and follow
into Grödigl. Now, bearing right, follow signs to St. Leonhard.
You will intersect highway B160, where you turn right. With a
very short exception, a sidewalk bike way or a wide shoulder "bikelane"
goes all the way to Berchtesgaden, about 27 kilometers from Salburg.
The other route follows a bike path along the west bank of the
Salzach river south from Salzburg. Just after crossing over the
autoroute(before a little stream) turn right on a road near the
stream. Cross highway B159 and continue to St. Leonhard. Turn
left on B160, and continue as above to Berchtesgaden.
The Berchtesgaden Tourist Office provides an excellent map of
the area, and is very helpful in finding lodgings.
There are two possible general routes from Berchtesgaden to the
Chiemsee: The first, via highway 305 and 306 direct to Siegsdorf
is more hilly, and runs through narrow mountain valleys. It bypasses
several interesting areas, and is not shown as being good for
cycling by the ADFC map.
The second route follows highway B20. If you are starting from
the center of Berchtesgaden, you can just continue on Mazimilian
Strasse, which later joins B20.
When the bicycle lanes end along the highway, you sometimes have
the choice of taking detours on side roads or riding on the main
highway. At one point the bike lane angles off to the right behind
a small lake. At the first Y you bear right (the left branch goes
to the house) and ride on gravel and dirt roads through the forest;
although slower, this was very pleasant. When you emerge from
the woods, on a paved bicycle path alongside the road, as you
ride down hill you will come to a Y in the path. The left branch
is for Bad Reichenhall, the right one for Gmain (and Marzoll?).
Even though it is slightly longer, the left branch into Bad Richenhall
passes through the scenic town, while the right branch leads to
a maze of unmarked roads where you can not help but get badly
You curve to the Northeast, along a lake and the Saalach river.
You cross this on a bridge, following something called the Saalinen-Radweg,
there are signs with "Salz" as their major label as
far is Traunstein. If you should become lost along the river,
ask cyclists for directions to Pidding.
From Pidding, ride to Anger, to near Teisendorf, and then via
Wolf and Lauter to Traunstein. Some of the riding is on gravel
paths, and some in over rolling hills, but unless time is a key
element, you will find these byways much more rewarding than the
From Traunstein, all the main bike routes all follow the south
shore of the Chiemsee. To be sure, this is substantially the shortest
way, and it is entirely on bicycle paths, but the author rode,
and suggests you ride, the northern shore, for three reasons:
You don't ride beside the Autobahn expressway; you pass through
several charming towns; and you have wonderful views of the lake
framed by the Alps in the background. If you do decide to ride
the northern shore, proceed west from Traunstein on minor roads
to Chieming, or if time is short, via Nussdorf to Seebruck. You
can choose, then, to follow either the lakeside gravel bike path,
or the adjacent road bearing light to moderate traffic.
Continuation from Prien am Chiemsee
To Munich (München in German) Direct, 81 kilometers. 1 night or more in Munich.
If you are riding directly back to Munich, from the northwest
corner of the Chiemsee lake ride due north to Höslwang,
and then turn west-north-west towards Munich on minor roads
and bike paths.
To the Innsbruck, Austria via the Inn river: 112 kilometers 1 night along the Inn
River in Kufstein, Wörgl, Rattenberg (or elsewhere), Austria;
1 night or more in Innsbruck.
Or to Bad Tölz: 76 kilometers, train connection
to Munich, or continue. 1 or 2
nights at Schliersee, Tegernsee and/or Bad Tölz
From Prien, ride straight west, past the rail
station. Then turn left, and ride in rolling terrain in the
back country to Umrathshausen. Do not make any turns off the
main road, despite cycle signs pointing to various routes. When
the road ends in the valley, just above the Autobahn expressway,
turn left and in 4 or 5 kilometers pass under the Autobahn to
Frasdorf. You bear right and then stay straight through town.
You don't Y off to the right. You come to a bicycle path along
the Autobahn which is always descending and very smooth. Follow
signs for the "Bodensee Konigssee Radweg" (bicycle
path) At Rohrdorf the BK Radweg follow back roads to Neubeuern.
For Innsbruck, Austria Just before the
Inn river bridge, turn left on the unpaved "Inn Radweg"
(Inn Bicycle Path path). Follow this, on gravel and paved sections,
For Bad Tölz, Cross the Inn River on the bridge,
continuing to fall signs for the BK Radweg on minor roads. If
you lose the marked bike route, from Bad Feifnbach follow signs
for "Au". If you miss the route crossing again, from
Au take the road which gradually climbs from town to the west
towards Niklasreuth (highway 814??). You will pick up the BK
Radweg again. After Fischbachau, you ride on minor roads, then
can choose between the Radweg (which follows dirt roads) or
the main road To Schliersee, Gmund am Tegernsee, and Bad Tölz.
Continuation from Bad Tölz
To Munich (München): about 60 kilometers to the
main train station
Cross the bridge from Bad Tölz over the Isar River,
and turn right through the riverside park. Continue northward,
choosing between the Isar Bicycle Path and the secondary road.
In either case, at the east-west tiny canal just before Wolfratshausen,
you must cross the canal, turn right along it, and then in
the forest, turn left to reach the bridge to the east bank
of the Isar. (You could choose to follow minor roads on the
West bank if you have a specific reason for doing so.
At one point the paved path leaves the river, and on a slow-going
dirt road you make a switchback in the forest. From the map
it appears you can bypass this section by staying on the road,
which may be much faster. After this, you emerge from the
rough road to a hard-pack road on the ridge above the Isar
river, and enter Munich's suburbs. You may again choose between
unpaved bicycle path or take the much faster main road, not
very busy, near the tracks in Harlaching, still near the Isar
River. After you pass under two railroad tracks, you should
definitely get on the bike path along the river, which is
now paved and very pleasant. Ask directions for the Munich
"Hauptbahnhof" (main railway station) if you think
you have gone too far. Most people will speak some English.
After passing under another railroad bridge, take the next
left at the Wittelsbacher Bridge over the Isar, and follow
this road, which veers to the right, to the main railway station
(The road often changes its name: Kapuziner Strasse, Herzog-Heinrich
Strasse, Kaiser-Ludwig-Platz, Paul-Heyse Strasse. When you
come to the bridge in central Munich under the rail tracks,
the station entrance is a block to your right. Ask for help,
if needed, from other cyclists or pedestrians.
Continuation west from Bad Tölz
(The author has not ridden this part of the itinerary, but
visited much of the area previously by car.)
To Eschenlohe: 43 kilometers, train connections to Munich
or Augsburg or Innsbruck or Italy, or continue.
Follow the Bodensee-Königssee Radweg to Eschenlohe.
Continuation from Eschenlohe
To Garmisch-Partenkirchen (via Eschenlohe): 15 kilometers,
train connections to Munich or Augsburg or Innsbruck or Italy,
or bicycle to Innsbruck (66 km) or return to Eschenlohe and
continue. 1 or more nights in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Follow the road on the east side of the valley south.
To Füssen: 55 kilometers, train connection to Augsburg
or Munich, or continue. 1 night
in Füssen or Schwangau.
Follow the Bodensee-Königssee Bicycle Route westwards.
If coming from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you may choose to pass
on minor roads through Ettal and Oberammergau, back to the
BK route, or even to pass by Mad King Ludwig's Linderhof Castle
(highway 23) and into Austria, before riding back to Füssen.
On the BK Route, before the town of Oberreithe, it can be
a very nice detour to follow the Könglich-bayerische
Radtour (and the Romantische Strasse bike route) north for
about 5 kilometers to see the historic Wies church, before
returning to the main route.