When: August 2017
Hotel: Brabander Alm (Austria)
Why Germany: After a successful first two days (recap here), it was time to hit the road for an itinerary that included castles, swimming pools and a walk through a famous gorge with pretty blue water.
The Trip: After staying close to Stuttgart, it was time to hit the road – and no trip to Germany is complete without visiting Neuschwanstein Castle or Bavaria, which I believe to be the prettiest part of Germany. The plan was to see the castle (from the outside only), then go on a toboggan ride that runs along the Tegelberg mountain before heading to Austria for two nights.
Neuschwanstein Castle is a 3-hour drive from Stuttgart and is in an absolutely gorgeous area of Bavaria. There are two options – see it from the outside, or take a tour inside. The castle was never finished and given the ages of Nolan and Char, seeing it from the outside was enough. (If you do want to visit Neuschwanstein, make sure to book tickets online).
There are two ways to get up the castle – the long, paved, continuously uphill path or the faster but steeper option. Even though it is a beast, I definitely recommend the faster option. It is reached at the back of a parking lot and is definitely tough – but I think that it’s better than the paved option, which just seems never-ending.
When you get to the castle, there are multiple outlooks and you can go in the courtyard of the palace to get great views of the outside. From there, you can make your way to the St. Mary’s Bridge where you get the iconic view of the castle. It had been three years since I went, and was shocked to see the line to get on the bridge. It’s probably good they are regulating it, but just be prepared for a long line (when I went back in 2019, we walked on as usual with no waiting).
Just down the road from Neuschwanstein is the summer toboggan run, which stretches over 2200 feet and is a fun, inexpensive way to enjoy the surroundings and lets the kids do something they really like. If you have more time, there is also a playground and restaurant among other activities.
There is no way to buy tickets ahead of time, and we got there not long before it closed so we didn’t have to wait in line to ride either.
The rest of the road trip was going to be split between Reutte, Austria and then we were going to Garmisch on the way home, so I picked an inn in-between the two places. I settled on Brabander Alm, a great 2-bedroom apartment that fit all of us easily and had really pretty views.
Not to mention, there was a restaurant on site so we didn’t have to search for a restaurant when we arrived later in the day.
The next day we were up early and to my niece Charlotte’s dismay – we were heading up yet another mountain to more castles. This time, however, there was also a Guinness Book of World Records suspension Bridge thrown in for some fun.
Highline 179 was completed in November 2014, and connects the ruins of Ehrenberg Castle with a Fort on a neighboring mountain. However, this suspension bridge has an open design to give the feeling that you are “floating” and is suspended almost 350 feet above ground. As we found out, it is NOT for the faint of heart.
I knew that afternoon we would have to give the kids a bit of a break, and while European hotels aren’t known for having pools, there are still plenty of swimming options. I initially thought possibly one of the outdoor lakes nearby, but they were a bit of a drive and the Alpentherme Ehrenberg was close to where we were and the apartment – not to mention a grocery store, so we could pick up snacks for dinner.
Turns out – this was a nice break we all needed, with heated indoor and outdoor pools – plus a water slide that rivaled what you would find at a water park. It was a good way to relax but also let the kids have some fun that didn’t involve climbing up a hill.
Final Impressions: Days 4 and 5 were filled with activities but not so much so that the kids got antsy or bored, plus there was a good mix of site-seeing and fun activities. The suspension bridge was more scary than fun as it turned out, but ending the day with a swim was a good way to balance it all out.