This one-day drive, which starts at Bad Reichenhall, takes in a number of interesting towns, a variety of landscapes, and Ludwig II's least-known castle, on its way to Germany's largest fortress.
Perhaps you're exhausted by Salzburg overcrowded venues and feel in need of a quiet day in the country, or maybe, as we were, you're in Bad Reichenhall with a free day on your hands.
Whatever the motivation, this excursion through the southeast Bavarian countryside traverses a variety of landscapes on its way to Germany's largest fortress, to several interesting small towns, and, via boat, to Ludwig's least-known castle. The two main attractions along the route are Schloss Herrenchiemsee, on an island in the Chiemsee, and the medieval town of Burghausen with its giant fortress.
The starting point is the Bad Reichenhall rail station. (Those headquartered in Salzburg can drive the Autobahn toward Munich and take the Bad Reichenhall exit just over the border into Germany.)
Essential to the journey is a map of the area scaled at 1:150,000 or 1:200,000. We used the ADAC Maxi-Atlas (the Falk Maxi-Atlas is the same) at 1:150,000. The roundtrip is about 130 miles and, with stops for sightseeing and refreshments, plan to spend a full day.
At the rail station set your odometer to zero and turn left leaving the parking lot. Go straight at the Autobahn sign, heading toward Lofer on highway #21. At 12.3 kilometers (we are including our odometer readings but, for a variety of reasons, your route may vary from ours; thus your readings may not match those shown here) turn right and cross the Salzach River and follow the signs to Traunstein.
Shortly thereafter turn right onto highway #305, the Deutsche Alpenstrasse. As the road begins to climb note the sheer rock face on the right.
At 19 km the houses of the village of Weissbach are spread over a meadow and three kilometers beyond is Gletcher Garden, a "natural museum" of glacial erosion. There is a place to leave the car for the 15-minute walk to the garden.