The Ultimate German Alpine Road Trip Through the German Alps

I want to transport you to the stunning German Alps, where nature’s beauty knows no bounds.

Imagine yourself surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lush green valleys, and picturesque alpine towns. Now, add to that image the thrill of a road trip on the German Alpine Road, and you’ve got an unforgettable adventure!

The German Alps are a true wonder of nature, and the Deutsche Alpenstrasse route is the perfect way to experience them.

I will share my Bavarian Alps road trip with you in hopes of inspiring you to plan your own.

Allow this article to be your ultimate guide, serving as a detailed German Alpine Road map, navigating you from the starting point to the end, while uncovering exciting activities to make every moment in the middle of your trip truly memorable.

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What is the German Alpine Road?

road with mountains on german alpine road

This iconic route spans 450 kilometres and winds through some of the most breathtaking scenery in Germany. From the Bavarian foothills to the soaring peaks of the Alps, the road offers a diverse array of landscapes that will leave you awe-inspired at every turn.

So, what can you expect on your road trip along the Alpine Route in Germany?

For starters, you’ll be treated to some of the most stunning views of the German Alps you can imagine. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore charming Bavarian villages, historic castles, and sparkling lakes. And, of course, you’ll be free to stop and explore whenever the mood strikes you.

Where is the German Alpine Road route?

The Deutsche Alpenstrasse or German Alpine Road is located in the southern part of Germany. Spanning 450 km from Lindau on Lake Constance in the west to Berchtesgaden on Lake Königssee in the east.

The road winds its way through and over high mountain passes. This alpine Strasse is close to some of the region’s most famous attractions, including the Neuschwanstein Castle, the Königssee Lake, and the Zugspitze which is Germany’s highest mountain peak.

Starting Point: Alpine Road in German Alps in Berchtesgaden

view of mountains at sunset on alpine road germany

Starting your journey along the Alpine Road in Berchtesgaden is a great way to experience the beauty of southern Germany.

The quaint town of Berchtesgaden is just a short drive from Munich, making it an easily accessible starting point for your adventure. Driving from Munich to the Alps near Berchtesgaden is about 154 km or 2 hours, or by train a little less than 2 hours.

As you leave Munich behind and head south towards Berchtesgaden, the scenery changes dramatically. The hustle and bustle of the city give way to the tranquil beauty of the Bavarian countryside.

The landscape becomes increasingly mountainous, and the air feels fresher and cooler.

I choose to stay in Ruhpolding, Germany. Ruhpolding is a tiny village close to Berchtesgaden National Park, Lake Chiemsee, and Salzburg, Austria.

The name of this tiny town might sound familiar to sports enthusiasts. It hosted the World Biathlon Championships not once, but four times.

Nestled in the German Alps, Ruhpolding couldn’t be any more beautiful.

Now, for what you can see and do in the nearby area. 

1. Berchtesgaden National Park – a natural heaven

emerald green lake with mountains

A visit to Berchtesgaden National Park is a must!

Covering an area of 210 sq/km, the park is home to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in the region!

The park is a popular destination for hiking, with numerous trails winding through the stunning scenery. However, the park is accessible to everyone.

green lake with tall german alps

The highlight of the park is undoubtedly Königssee, an emerald-green lake lined with dramatic alpine surroundings.

You can only access it from an electric ferry.

This quiet boat glides across the lake making 2 stops for you to explore. The first is St Bartholomew’s Church, and the second one is Salent.

2. Berchtesgaden – a charming alpine town

german alps with town in valley on german alpine road

Berchtesgaden is a charming town nestled in the shadow of the majestic Watzmann mountain range.

It exudes old-world charm and is a popular destination for tourists. Berchtesgaden is known for its beautiful natural surroundings, with hiking trails that wind through the mountains and forests.

The town also has a rich history and is home to numerous historic landmarks, including the Old Salt Works and the Royal Palace.

Come here and indulge in the local cuisine, which includes hearty Bavarian dishes like schnitzel and sausages and people-watch in the public square. I ate at Gasthof Neuhaus serving traditional dishes right near the market square.

3. Bad Reichenhall – a beautiful spa town

fresco art mural on building on the alpine road germany map

Bad Reichenhall is a charming spa town surrounded by majestic mountains.

This picturesque town is known for its salt production, healthy spa treatments and beautiful gardens.

Stroll the main street and admire the town’s historic buildings and tiny shops.

With its serene atmosphere and stunning surroundings, Bad Reichenhall is the perfect place to unwind and recharge while on your Alpine Road journey.

4. Inzell – an outdoor lover’s paradise

window box with red flowers in alpine town along deutsche alpenstrasse route

Inzell is a charming town known for its outdoor activities.

In the winter, downhill skiing and ice rinks in the surrounding mountains. In the summer months, hiking, cycling, and swimming in the crystal-clear lakes are popular.

Inzell is also home to numerous cultural landmarks, including the beautiful St. Michael’s Church and the old town square.

5. Salzburg – a romantic Austrian city

castle sitting up high on hill

No trip to the Alpine Road is complete without a visit to Salzburg, Austria’s charming city of music and culture.

Just a 40-minute drive from Berchtesgaden, Salzburg offers a stunning blend of historic architecture, cultural landmarks, and natural beauty.

The city is home to numerous attractions, including the Hohensalzburg Fortress, the Salzburg Cathedral, and the Mirabell Palace and Gardens.

Spending one day in Salzburg is not to be missed along the German Alpine Road.

Mid-Way Point: Alpine Road in the German Alps in Garmisch

meadow with spring flowers and mountains

Leaving Berchtesgaden and heading west towards Garmisch is a highlight of the Alpine Road Germany journey.

As you travel through the winding roads, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Germany.

This is the point of the Alpenstrasse that takes you through three spectacular mountain passes with panoramic views – the Griessneralm, the Wochenbrunneralm, and the Kitzbühlerhorn.

The route takes you through the picturesque towns of Reit im Winkl and Bad Tölz. Each offers its unique charm and worthy stops for a quick tour of the town.

As you approach Garmisch, the scenery becomes increasingly dramatic, with towering peaks and glaciers in the distance.

Garmisch serves as the mid-way point of the Alpine Road, so let’s explore.

1. Garmisch Partenkirchen – two towns into one

Historically, Garmisch-Partenkirchen were two separate towns but have now blended as one. Although you can see subtle differences as you move through the town.

Garmisch Partenkirchen is large and offers a lot of amenities like accommodations, restaurants and shopping. But it’s the Old Town where you’ll want to go.

Explore the quaint cobblestone streets and admire the traditional Bavarian architecture, including the beautifully painted facades of the houses.

Pop into the little shops where you can see the local handicrafts. I have several wooden Christmas ornaments that adorn my tree from Garmisch.

Enjoy a traditional Bavarian meal in an old-world tavern full of charm and warm hospitality. I especially enjoyed the afternoon tradition of kaffee und kuchen, coffee and cake and many of the cute cafes in Old Town offer it.

In Garmisch, the recommended areas to visit are Frühlingsstraße and the fußgangerzone (pedestrian-friendly) from Marienplatz up to Richard-Strauss-Platz.

And, in Partenkirchen, walk through the historic Ludwigstraße where you will find wonderful Lüftlmalereien (painted murals) telling a story of the past inhabitants’ lives.

2. Zugspitze – Germany’s highest peak

mountain peak with clouds along the deutsche alpenstrasse route

Ah, Zugspitze, the majestic king of the Bavarian Alps! Standing at an impressive height of 2,962 meters, it offers unparalleled views that take your breath away.

The towering peak commands attention, and those brave enough to ascend to your summit are rewarded with panoramic vistas of rolling mountain ranges, crisp alpine lakes, and picturesque valleys.

And if that’s not enough, you’ve got to see its awe-inspiring glaciers! My favourite memory was drinking a beer at the outdoor restaurant at the peak. What a view!

Sit back and relax while taking a comfortable tour bus to the highest peak in Germany, Zugspitze. Ride the new cable car and enjoy the breathtaking views over the peaks of the Alps, check prices and book your dates for this top-rated tour.

3. Innsbruck – an alpine Austrian town

colourful houses on bank of river with mountains in innsbruck along the german alpine road

Oh, Innsbruck, what a charming city you are!

Where the vibrant streets are lined with colourful buildings and quaint cafes. From the iconic Golden Roof to the magnificent Imperial Palace, this small alpine town offers a plethora of historic landmarks that transport visitors back in time.

And when it comes to outdoor adventures, you won’t be disappointed! Whether it’s skiing, hiking, or simply soaking up the stunning Alpine vistas, there’s something for everyone in Innsbruck.

The Old Town may be small, but it’s overloaded with charm.

Best Places to Stay in Garmisch-Partnerkirchen

Unfortunately, the place I stayed in Garmisch has changed ownership. So I had to search for something similar for you and found two that if going again, I would stay!

Stay outside of Garmisch Partenkirchen with one of these properties.

  • Whittled Wood – a 1-bedroom with a cozy fireplace and balcony
  • Snowfall Snug – a 3-bedroom modern chalet with sauna, includes a free shuttle to Skigebieten der Tiroler Zugspitzarena

Ending Point: Leaving Germany Alps to Lake Constance

meadow with hut and mountains on alpine road germany map

Leaving Garmisch behind, I set off on a scenic journey along the stunning Alpine Route Germany toward Lake Constance.

Here were the places I stopped along the way.

1. Oberammergau

building with fresco painted on it along the alpine road germany

The picturesque alpine village of Oberammergau is famous for its vibrant frescoes and world-renowned Passion Play.

Here, I strolled through the quaint streets, admiring the colourful facades of the houses and soaking up the warm Bavarian hospitality.

2. Neuschwanstein Castle

white castle perched on mountain with trees along the deutsche alpenstrasse route

Further west is the awe-inspiring Neuschwanstein Castle, a fairy-tale-like palace nestled amidst the lush greenery of the Alps.

This was the second time I saw this Disney-inspired castle, so for me, it was a quick drive by. But, if you’ve never been here before, you’re going to want to visit here for a few hours.

3. Fussen

colourful buildings in town center along the alpine road germany

The charming town of Fussen is full of colourful buildings and cozy cafes lining the streets. I spent a couple of hours wandering through the narrow alleys, soaking up the quaint charm of this delightful town. I would’ve liked to stay for longer.

Leaving Füssen I was immediately struck by the change in landscape.

The towering peaks and rugged terrain of the Bavarian Alps give way to rolling hills and verdant valleys. Now, the sea air becomes warmer and more humid, and the landscape becomes dotted with lush vineyards and orchards.

The closer I got to Lake Constance, the more the landscape began to shift toward a holiday feel.

The sun-drenched shoreline, the abundance of flowers and gardens and picturesque harbour towns gave way. I felt like I was in another country altogether.

At last, I arrived at the relaxing holiday spot of Lake Constance and the end of the German Alps road trip!

Where I stayed in Lake Constance

White hotel on waterfront with gardens in Lake Constance holidays

Highly recommend staying in Konstanz (or Constance) at the RIVA boutique hotel. This luxury waterfront property offers 5-star dining, spa and wellness and a gorgeous rooftop pool. 

FAQ: German Alpine Road

How long does it take to drive the German Alpine Road?

The German Alpine Road, or Deutsche Alpenstraße, is about 450 km long and can take around 7-10 days to fully experience. However, the driving time will depend on your pace and stops along the way.

How long is it to travel from Berchtesgaden to Garmisch?

The travel time from Berchtesgaden to Garmisch is about 2.5 hours and is almost 200 km in distance.

Which part of Germany has Alps?

The southern part of Germany has the Alps mountain range, particularly the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

What are popular road trips in Germany?

Explore the Germany Romantic Road, Black Forest High Road, and the Fairy Tale Road for picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and historic castles.

As a Holidaymaker

Driving the German Alpine route is a trip of a lifetime! Hopefully, this has inspired your next trip to Germany. 

To help plan your trip, and get to know Germany better as a travel destination, visit my Travel Guide to Germany. It’s here that you will find all of my articles too.

Before you go, I’ve got another exciting German road trip that led me to nine incredible places that are UNESCO-listed destinations starting and ending in Berlin. This was created when I lived in Berlin for three months, but have adapted it as a great 10 to 14-day trip. Be sure to check it out too!