The Allgau (The Allgäu Alps)
A naturally rich and fertile land of rugged Alpine peaks, babbling brooks and lush forests: this is the romantic setting for the world’s most famous castle – and the inspiration for the iconic Disney citadel – Schloss Neuschwanstein.
About this Germany walking region
The diverse and picturesque landscape of Southern Germany’s Allgäu Alps stretches for 150km/93mi between Austria in the south, the Upper Bavarian Alps to the east and Lake Constance (or Bodensee) to the west. Once belonging to the ancient province of Swabia, this enchanting mountain range has a very particular character, including its own local food specialities and a unique dialect.
While the region is largely considered to be German territory, there are sections on the southern side which do run into Austria and around two fifths of the mountains are officially in Austria.
The Allgäu Alps may lack the height of some of their rivals, but few other ranges can boast the same level of natural diversity and this is one of the reasons why this is probably the most visited range in Germany (or at the very least equal to the Wetterstein Group around Mt. Zugspitze). There are hidden delights waiting to be discovered along every step of the 7,000km/4,350mi of walking, hiking and rambling trails here.
Because of the range’s lower altitude, you won’t find any glaciers, however there are a number of permanent snow fields on the north faces. Walk on for a few miles from these fields and you can find yourself in open, sun-drenched valleys which have been used for cattle grazing for centuries. Whichever part of this region you visit, glorious Alpine scenery and sweeping panoramas await. Walkers can choose between peaceful and gentle valley walks, undulating mid-altitude trails and some more challenging summit hikes – all of which offer different perspectives on this natural paradise of misty forests, flower-carpeted meadows, rolling green hills, sparkling streams and the stunning snow-capped Alps.
This land really is the stuff of fairytales and it is therefore rather apt that the model for Walt Disney’s iconic citadel – the fabulous castle of Neuschwanstein – resides right here within the magical mountains and lakes of the Allgäu’s eastern border.
Over on the Allgäu’s western border lies the beautiful Lake Constance (or Bodensee), where the medieval city of Lindau sits perched on a tiny island, another key attraction of this region.
Walking in the The Allgau (The Allgäu Alps)
One of the characteristics of the Allgäu Alps is that many of the mountains have grassy slopes on one side and craggy rock faces on the other. This type of landscape can primarily be found around the village of Oberstdorf, Germany’s most southerly community, which is at the heart of the Allgäu’s most-visited hiking area. Oberstdorf is a great place to base your visit, as is the Kleinwalsertal (an enclave in the Walser Valley between Austria and Germany and only accessible through Germany). Both of these places offer a great range of hiking trails at varying altitudes. Walking routes are well-marked and plentiful and if it’s something more challenging you’re after, you can take your pick between the Fellhorn, Höfats or Daumen Ridges, which all offer stunning summit hikes.
The mountains and lakes may be what draw most people to the region, but there is a whole lot more waiting to be discovered in the Allgäu. Ancient ruins, castles and churches, diverse wildlife, a charming ‘old-world’ culture with delicious culinary delights waiting to be sampled….what’s not to like here?