For sheer drama, you can’t beat the Allgäu region. Stretching along a spine of mountains from Lake Constance to famous Neuschwanstein Castle, this is an area of soaring peaks and verdant valleys, of flower-filled meadows and medieval villages, where the views are technicolour and the activities invigorating.
Bordering Switzerland and Austria, this area of southern Bavaria keeps things low key, despite being one of the most popular destinations in Germany, thanks to the fairytale castles of eccentric King Ludwig II.
Winter sees the alpine attractions of the ski resorts, with 56 ski areas and 3,500 km of cross-country skiing. In summer, life revolves around the pristine lakes – there are 30 of them – offering wild swimming, sailing and watersports, while autumn provides perfect hiking weather along 100 km of trails, with panoramic mountain views. No matter when you visit, the friendly, historical villages offer charming lodges and delicious dining options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to rustic cheese producers and home-brewed craft beer.
But the highlight is without question Neuschwanstein, built in the late 19th century, perhaps the most famous castle in the world. Its soaring turrets inspired no less than Disney himself, who used it as his model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland. The backdrop of Alpine peaks provides an extraordinary setting (snap the perfect Insta shot from the nearby Marienbrücke – Queen Mary’s Bridge), while the interiors are as lavish as you’d hope.
Why is Allgäu perfect for families?
This area is all about making the most of the outdoors, with a huge range of activities that promises to convert even the most die-hard couch potatoes. From the family-friendly thrills of scaling along a high rope course, to getting a chilly adrenaline hit from “Gumpenjucken” – leaping off a waterfall and into a mountain stream – kids of all ages are well catered for.
And it's a hands-on sort of place. There are cows to stroke, cheeses to make, beers to brew, lakes to be leapt into. You can spend your night in a bivouak at the Breitenberg, or up in the leafy boughs in a treehouse. There is rafting for the whole family on the river Iller, and mountain biking that covers everything from easy tours to MTB downhill races. You can try water skiing on the Alpsee in Immenstadt, or hike the Breitachklamm gorge, the deepest in Europe. Or you can find a sunny terrace on a mountain ridge and spend a very relaxing afternoon taking in the views, sampling the local delicacies and congratulating yourself on finding this hidden treasure of a destination.
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Where to stay in Allgäu?
We´ve personally visited every one of our sustainable and stylish properties, finding the very best family hotels and villas.