Is southern Bavaria the least expensive of the great tourist regions in all of Germany, Austria and Switzerland? We think so and offer some numbers to back our claim.

Where, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, will the vacation traveler be certain of finding the following in 1998?

  • Great scenery
  • A plethora of natural and man-made wonders
  • A wide range of charming accommodations
  • Regional cuisine
  • World-renowned castles, churches and museums

Lots of places, of course. The Black Forest or the Mosel Valley in Germany, the Bernese Oberland or the Grisons in Switzerland, the Salzkammergut or Danube Valley in Austria and several other regions of the three countries boast all these features to at least some degree.

But the region that has them all in spades and offers the vacationer the lowest prices, is southern Bavaria. We are speaking of the area south of Munich that stretches from Berchtesgaden near Salzburg to Lindau near the eastern end of the Bodensee.

In it are found some of the best reasons for visiting Germany:

Best of all, compared to regions which equal its charm and popularity, southern Bavaria is a bargain. As you can see from the new Gemütlichkeit Hotel Rate Index, the principal tourism cities of southern Bavaria are much less expensive hotel-wise than their counterparts elsewhere in Germany and Switzerland.

Many use the Bavarian capital, Munich, as a headquarters when visiting the area. Others drive the busy, east-west, German Alpine Road, overnighting at the better-known towns such as Lindau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, or Berchtesgaden. Nothing wrong with such plans, but there is an even cheaper, more peaceful, way to see the region.

For those a bit more adventurous, there are dozens of places just slightly off the beaten path where plenty of comfortable accommodations can be found for well under $100 for two persons.

This month we have compiled a sampling of lesser-known villages and towns offering low prices for three-star accommodations. Some are so small you will need maps at 1:200,000 or 1:150,000 scale such as Die General Karte for Germany #25 & #26 or ADAC Karte Deutschland #15 to find them.

We have listed the local tourist authority for each. In addition to the usual information provided on things to see and do, they are the best source of listings for self-catering rentals (apartments, condos, etc.), which are the least expensive way to vacation in Bavaria. Last year, a member of our advisory board rented a studio apartment in Garmisch-Partenkirchen - probably southern Bavaria's most expensive destination outside of Munich - with small kitchen and balcony with mountain view. The price was $267 for one week for two persons.

The hotels listed have not necessarily been rated by Gemütlichkeit, we mention them only as possibilities.

Near Füssen

Nesselwang

About 17 km (11 miles) northwest of Füssen. Tourist Office Hauptstrasse 18, D-87484, tel. +49/8361/923040, fax 923044.

• The Hotel Post (Haupstr. 25, tel. +49/8361/30910, fax 30973) best doubles rent for about $83. The hotel has a beer garden and a beer museum.

Seeg

About 20 km (13 miles) north and slightly west of Füssen. Tourist Office Haupstr. 39, D-87637, tel. +49/8364/983033, fax 983040.

• The Pension Heim (Aufmberg 8, tel. +49/8364/258, fax 10 51) has long received Gemütlichkeit's enthusiastic recommendation. Double rooms about $72.

Halblech

About 13 km (8 miles) northwest of Füssen on Red Road 17. Halblech Tourist Office Bergstrasse, D-87642 Buching, tel. +49/8368/285, fax 7221.

• The 17-room Hotel Geiselstein, in Halblech-Buching (Füssener Str. 16, tel. +49/8368/260, fax 885) has doubles for about $70 and three-course meals under $14.

Eisenberg-Zell

About 12 km (8 miles) west and a little north of Füssen. Take the road to Nesselwang and turn right at Kreuzegg. Tourist Office, Pröstener Str. 9, D-87637 Buching, tel. +49/8364/1237, fax 987154.

• The Burghotel Bären (Dorf Str. 4, D-87637, Eisenberg-Zell, tel. +49/8363/5011, fax 73119) has a highly regarded restaurant and double rooms for about $80.

Near Garmisch- Partenkirchen

Kochel am See

Thirty-six km (23 miles) northwest of GP at the northeast corner of the Kochelsee. Tourist Office Kalmbacherstr. 11, D-82431, tel. +49/8851/338, fax 5588.

• The Seehotel Grauer Bär (Mittenwald Str. 82, D-82431, tel. +49/8851/861, fax 1607) is on the lake and offers double rooms for about $94.

Farchant

Four km (2.5 miles) north of GP on the main road to Munich. Tourist Office, Rathaus, Am Gern 1, D-82490, tel. +49/8821/961696, fax 961622.

• The Hotel Alter Wirt (Bahnhofstr. 1, D-82490, tel. +49/8821/6238, fax 61455) has doubles for about $78. The 14-room Hotel Garni Zugspitz (Mühldörfstr. 4, D-82490, tel. +49/8821/96260, fax 962636) is even cheaper, about $61 double.

Grainau

Six km (4 miles) southwest of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Tourist Office Waxensteinstr. 35, D-82491, tel. +49/8821/8970, fax 8488.

• The 15-room Hotel Wetterstein (Waxensteinstr. 26, D-82491, tel. +49/8821/8004, fax 8838) most expensive double rooms are about $83.

On/Near Tegernsee

Gmund am Tegernsee

At the north end of the Tegernsee 48 km (30 miles) south of Munich. Tourist Office Rathaus, Kirchenweg 6, D-83703, tel. +49/8022/750527, fax 750520.

• The Golf und Country Club Hotel Margarethenhof (Gut Steinberg, Gmund-Marienstein D-83701, tel. +49/8022/705060, fax 74818) is that rare European hotel actually on a golf course and as such double rooms at $200 are a good value.

Lenggries

Just south of Bad Tölz and west of the Tegernsee. Tourist Office Rathausplatz 1, D-83661, tel. +49/8042/82422, fax 7880.

• Both the Alpenrose (Brauneckstr. 1, D-83661, tel. +49/8042/91550, fax 5200) and the Altwirt (Markstr. 13, D-83661, tel. +49/8085/91550, fax 5357) offer double rooms for about $67.

West of the Inn River

Bayrischzell

An interesting little resort 37 km (23 miles) south and slightly west of Rosenheim. Tourist Office Kirchplatz 2, D-83735, tel. +49/8023/648, fax 1034.

• The Gasthof zur Post (Schulstr. 3, D-83735, tel. +49/8023/226, fax 775) has doubles for about $83.

Fischbachau

On a scenic yellow road just north of Red Road 307 between Schliersee and Bayrischzell. Tourist Office, Kirchplatz 10, D-83730, tel. +49/8028/876, fax 2040.

• In tiny Birkenstein, one km east of Fischbachau, the simple, 18-room Hotel Oberwirt (Birkensteinstr. 91, D-83730, tel. +49/8028/814) offers double rooms for about $53.

Near Berchtesgaden

Schönau am Königsee

Five km (3 miles) southwest of Berchtesgaden on the Königsee. Tourist Office Rathausplatz 1, D-83471, tel. +49/8652/1760, fax 4050.

• In Unterschönau, the Hotel Köppeleck (Am Köppelwald 15, tel. +49/8652/61066) has mountain views and double rooms for about $70.

Ramsau

Eleven km (7 miles) west southwest of Berchtesgaden. Ramsau Tourist Office Im Tal 2, D-83486, tel. +49/8657/988920, fax 772.

• The Hotel Oberwirt (Im Tal 86, D-83486, tel. +49/8657/225, fax 1381) has double rooms for about $70, a beer garden and three-course meals for under 25 DM ($14).

January 1998