Jaunts in Munich’s backyard
2020 was a year the world explored the backyards. So did we, just to be delighted by the incredible variety of our home region. In this post, we’d like to inspire your mini trips around Munich and in other Bavarian regions with an emphasis on lesser-known places.
Ammersee, the sixth-largest lake in Germany, is a popular destination for day-trippers from Munich. While many flock to the lake’s shores, only a few know that the region South of Ammersee is home to one of Bavaria’s largest stork colonies.
The unclaimed capital for stork watching is Raisting, a village between Ammersee and Weilheim. You can spot the majestic white storks (Ciconia ciconia) anywhere in the surrounding fields searching for food.
However, you will experience the best sights in the village when you look at the roofs. Countless nests with young animals shape the scenery.
Best time to visit: Late spring or early summer to get a glimpse of the stork babies.
Not far from Raisting, the landscape begins to change. Towards the south, the peaks of the Alpine upland appear on the horizon. However, even the Bavarian Alps’ lesser-known corners get crowded during the pandemic. Luckily, the community Benediktbeuren with its Don Bosco monastery offers a remedy if you fancy strolling through alpine meadows sprinkled with hay barns.
Good to know: There is a big parking lot close to the monastery. If the pandemic rules allow it, three restaurants including a cosy beer garden provide refreshments.
The Benediktbeuern Abbey was founded in 739 and, until today, is an active monastery. The 17th-century basilica built in the style of Italian early Baroque provides a great backdrop for the pictures of the meadows and moor.
The more southern you proceed, the bumpier the meadows get. Close to Mittenwald, a town located on the Bavarian border with Austria, the landscape changes into a Hobbiton movie set. The bright green hilly meadows – called hummocky meadows or Buckelwiesen with a panorama of the breathtaking Karwendel Mountains in the background create a kitschy Alpine impression.
The Würm glaciation formed the bumps tens of thousands years ago. Every bump creates a micro-ecosystem for its alpine flora. Sun-loving flowers thrive on the top, while shade-tolerant plants flourish on its bottom. Agricultural use throughout the 20th century made many hummocky meadows disappear, as their uneven shape made fast farming impossible.
Nowadays, a conservation effort protects the Buckelwiesen around Mittenwald. Visitors can admire them on an easy walk from Mittenwald to Krün/Wallgau or vice versa (around 10 kilometres, mostly flat).
Tip: If you decide to drive to Mittenwald, be ready for some nasty traffic jams along the way, especially during the weekends. The best way to avoid them is to get there as soon as possible (with or shortly after sunrise) or just take the train. There is a tourist bus service between the villages.
Das Blaue Land
Open Air Museum Glentleiten
To get an impression about life and farming in the Alpine region, visit the open-air museum Glentleiten. Besides the historically accurate houses and barns, the museum is home to free-range farm animals.
Murnau & Staffelsee
The idyllic landscape wasn’t only home to Alpine farmers. The town Murnau on the shores of Staffelsee lake significantly shaped the modern art movement of the early 20th century, especially expressionism.
The expressionist painters Wassily Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter spent several summers working together in the late 1900s and early 1910s in Murnau.
The Münter House is nowadays a museum. Anyone who takes a walk around the Staffelsee will understand why the artists loved the area. The lake’s calm surface stands in contrast with the mighty mountains in the background.
There are many hiking/walking paths for every fitness level. Check their website for ideas: https://www.dasblaueland.de/en.
When people of Munich talk about hiking, they often think of enjoying a cold beer at the shores of Tegernsee or Spitzingsee lake. This leads to huge crowds flocking to famous spots during sunny days regardless of the season. Overcrowded promenades, long waiting times in beer gardens, noise, and air pollution result from neighbourhood overtourism.
If you look for a quick nature getaway, consider less popular locations, such as in natural reserve Ellbach- and Kirchseemor close to the municipality Sachsenkam, around 20 kilometres north from Tegernsee. On the 10 kilometres loop around Sachsenkam, you will walk through wet boglands and past shallow bog lakes. For what is more the Reutberg monastery with its beer garden offers a fantastic panoramic view over the Alpine foothills. If you still crave for the shores of Tegernsee, a cool sundowner might be a better idea than lunch.
Enjoy your backyard and stay tuned for more tips!