The Bavarian Alps is the destination that made all my winter dreams come true this year.
Weirdly I wasn’t even expecting it to be that snowy, but I was so wrong. It was one of the most beautiful areas I have ever visited. Mountains, pine trees, pretty little villages and grand castles all covered in a thick layer of glittering, marshmallow snow. It looked like a Christmas card.
I was in heaven.
We took a day trip with Gray Line tours that took us to Linderhof, Oberammergau, and finally Neuschwanstein Castle. It was a fabulous way of being able to see all these spots in one day, the tour leader was really knowledgeable, and the coach was super comfy. I had read that it could be hard to get hold of tickets for Neuschwanstein unless you got there super early in the morning, but tour groups seem to be able to get hold of them far easier, so it seemed like a no fuss way of doing the trip and we had someone to drive us!
Linderhof was one of the 3 castles/palaces that King Ludwig II of Bavaria built, but the only one that he saw completed (in 1878). The palace itself was smaller than I expected, but it was really overly decorated and super flamboyant on the inside. I mean, the craftsmanship in all areas was absolutely astonishing, but the style was not to my taste, to put it mildly!
The grounds however, were absolutely stunning. Lakes, streams, gardens, and little buildings, all sparkling white.
And huge trees that completely dwarfed you.
I loved the little lampposts dotted around that literally made me feel like I stepped into Narnia, and I was kind of hoping that someone would come round with hot chocolate and turkish delight. But sadly they didn’t.
I snapped away in the short time we had to explore the grounds, as if I would never see snow again, before we jumped back on the bus and set off to our next stop.
Oberammergau is a town in Bavaria which is famous for quite a few things, including their passion play (the town made a vow to God that if they were spared during the bubonic plague they would perform the play every 10 years – and they were, so they do), painted murals on buildings, and wood carving, which we got to see in action in one of the shops in town.
He was making Christmas tree decorations, but the little shop also had some incredible cuckoo clocks, which are another thing that this area is known for.
This was a very brief stop, but the perfect place to pick up a souvenir from the region.
Our next and final location was Neuschwanstein Castle and it really is a fairytale dream. You’ve definitely seen photos of it on social media as it is ridiculously photogenic!
I was a little sad though, because we happened to visit during restorations, so the front part of the castle was covered in scaffolding, and due to the snow and ice, we couldn’t get to the viewpoint on the other side of the castle. It had been fenced off as it was like a downhill ice rink, and the bridge was closed by the police, so we couldn’t get a clear shot of the castle from the regular viewpoints.
We did, however, get to see the viewpoint bridge from the courtyard, set amongst the mountains and that was actually pretty beautiful too.
However, it was still amazingly magical to see it surrounded by snowy mountains. I can’t even explain how happy I was to see it in person. It looked so tiny from down in the nearby town but once you walk up the hill, it literally ‘towers’ above you.
The walk up through the forest was so gorgeous, with little streams, snowy trees and stunning views. We were so lucky with the weather as the sun shone all day in a cloudless blue sky. It literally made the snow sparkle and gleam and I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t take photos inside the castle, but it was pretty spectacular! It was unfinished at the time of King Ludwig II’s mysterious death so only about half of the castle was decorated, but the rest of it has been transformed into the gift shop and cafe etc. He even had a stage area with a full mural at the end of a huge hall so that he could perform plays. He lived a reclusive lifestyle and was obsessed with literary stories, so I imagine this was like a dream for him!
All in all we had a fabulous day exploring the snowy peaks of the Bavarian Alps and if you’re searching for a winter wonderland in Europe, then look no further, you’ve found it right here. Germany, you were amazing, and I can’t wait to go back.