Sometimes I feel like running away. Away from people, noises, cars and anything made of concrete. Away from the city life.
When I was a kid these kind of escapes were pretty much on schedule – a weekly few hours walk in a nearby forest and an annual holiday “exile” in our dacha amidst fields and woodlands. Even though at that time I sometimes would have rather been anywhere else, a habit was planted for the rest of my life.
Since my childhood I changed many cities, but this necessity for regular nature escapes remained. Now, to whatever city I move, I quickly get on a mission to explore all possible nature getaways which can be enjoyed over a weekend, leaving longer holidays for more exotic destinations.
German South is blessed with mountains, lakes and beautiful historical towns in the neighbouring countries, many of which can be explored in a day or two. The beauty of the Alps is that they can be enjoyed in winter as much as in summer, offering fairytalelike views of snow-covered peaks and endless pine forests.
If you are residing in Stuttgart or surroundings, here is your perfect winter 2-day trip, reachable by train or car within 3 hours: Oberstdorf, Allgäu.
Oberstdorf is a typical German small town, which is well-known among the lovers of winter sports. Most travellers would stay in one of the hotels or houses around and head to the mountains every morning.
Oberstdorf is a paradise for skiers, but even if you are not a skier yourself (like me) there are many beautiful hiking routes for hikers at any level.
The most famous peak in the area is Nebelhorn – a small yellow Nebelhornbahn can take you all the way to the top at 2,224 m, where you can enjoy a magnificent view of 400 peaks. Just watch out for the weather conditions – you can see what is going on up there live on a webcam at the ticket counter. We were not that lucky and in those 2 hours that we took to reach the peak the weather changed from a completely clear sky to a furious snow storm.
If you prefer hiking rather than taking shortcuts or want to save money (Nebelhornbahn will cost you 32 euro up and down) you can walk all the way up, admiring small waterfalls and breathtaking views. There are 3 stations on the way to the top where you would normally change your cart: a hike to the first one takes 1.5 hours, a hike to the last one takes 4.5 hours. In winter however you can not hike beyond the first station. This part of the route is an easy, but a snowy hike.
There are plenty of other hiking routes around Oberstdorf, but your options will be more limited in winter, especially if you don’t have necessary equipment like proper snow boots. If you just have a weekend also keep in mind that one mountain will take you at least half a day to explore, because even if you cut on walking during tourist season you might find yourself stuck in a queue. This is probably the only benefit of traveling in bad weather – we managed to completely avoid all the crowds.
If you didn’t hike all the way up to Nebelhorn, there is a big chance that you will still have a few hours before sunset as well as enough energy to enjoy one more natural wonder in Allgäu – Breitachklamm.
This picture was taken during the evening tour, which is offered only in winter, twice a week (check the timings on their website)
Breitachklamm is a stunning gorge, which is covered with icicles and snow in winter. From Oberstdorf it is a 7 km hike (estimate 1.5 hours to get there on foot), or it can be easily reached by bus. Pictures can not present the magic of the place enough, as it was dark and rainy weather, but trust my word – this place is worth a few hours of your time.
The way to Breitachklamm will take you through the fields and rivers, with dramatic mountains as a backdrop, leading you to the quite fields behind the gorge.
Enjoy your winter hiking and please share your experience with other nature trips in the South of Germany!
How to get there (from Stuttgart):
– you can take a direct regional train or go with one change. The whole trip will not take more than 3 hours.
– by car you should be able to reach it within 2.5 hours, the traffic however can make it quite unpredictable.
Ticket options (train):
– Schönes-Wochende-Ticket if you are traveling on the weekend in a group of at least 2 people (44-56 euro for the day ticket depending on the number of people using it, the ticket can be used on regional trains in all directions)
Title image credit: sonic.kmight
Breitachklamm in the night image credit: lambda_X