Mystical Mittenwald Germany, when I say this town to even the locals of Germany they say …where? There’s a good chance I am pronouncing it wrong, but it is also a tiny hidden gem mostly visited by Germans.
A year ago my husband somehow turned me into a biker which was a far cry from what I was used to. I’ve ridden in Mr. Softee trucks, limos, managed to steer horse carriages in Manhattan up 5th Avenue in 5 inch heels and a 4 inch skirt. I’ve driven taxis in New York when the cabbies let me, and even hitched rides on the back of fire trucks. In New York I always found a crafty way to get to my destination in a record breaking time.
I married an outdoorsy Canadian and bam here I am biking my way to lunch and to the store. Dave and I share a passion for travel and adventure. We met abroad in Costa Rica. We’ve drank wine in Spain, climbed the Great Wall, and fell in love all over again in Rome. I normally have a good say in our next trip, but finally I said “Babe this trip is all you.” I said I wouldn’t plan one detail, micromanage or decide any single factor. He decided his dream vacation would be to take his mom and I on a mountain range and bike through Germany and Austria for one week straight. Our flights were booked through Prague where we would first start our biking journey mid June. I began biking on a regular basis to prepare for what I called a hellish vacation. I seriously had to bike to my next hotel and I was only allowed a few outfits?!
As luck would have it, for me that is, a week before our trip Northern Germany and Prague had record breaking rain storms resulting in flooding. All tour operated bike tours were cancelled indefinitely. David was so depressed and too busy with work to re-plan a trip at short notice, I assured him wifey would handle it and off to computer surfing I went. Yep I was planning yet another trip. As much as I wanted to train it to Italy for some lakes and vineyards I had to stay on course with biking, mountains, and lakes to swim in around Germany and Austria.
I was looking for a few key basics in my trip
- A destination 5-6 hour train ride from Prague
- Mountain backdrops that leave you in awe
- Clean lakes and rivers for a summer dip
- Abundant biking trails for all levels, bike rental locally, and day trips we can do on our own
- Picturesque tiny authentic local towns
- Easy access to Salzburg (we had a few days booked there and planned to return to Prague from there)
My great search led me to a few towns we could get to in Germany that were known for biking:
Quedlinburg: A town in the Harz mountains, set with cobblestone streets and prewar buildings.
Meissen: A romantic tiny town north of Dresden near the River Elbe which was flooded at the time. Next….
Cochem: Think medieval and wineries.
We almost went here Rothenburg: Alongside the famous Romantic Road Rothenburg is beautiful and still has a partial intact medieval city. There are many great bike trails here as well.
There was just something missing, and that’s when I fell in love with Mittenwald. Fresh Alps Mountain air, you can literally bike across the border to Austria, an abundance of gorgeous lakes, tiny local bed and breakfasts, a mountain you can visit, and amazing local cuisine.
At last I had found my biking town!
The easiest way to get here is to take a train from Munich Germany. Trains leave regularly and its only an hour and a half ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in Germany. The town is very compact everything you need including the train station is centrally located. When you first arrive in the town you feel as if you have been time warped to a magical fairy tale. All the houses, restaurants, and family run hotels are picture perfect.
Lodgings book up fast so while it’s always advisable to book in advance, I normally book through bookings.com we did however find extra lodging for my mother in law at last minute. Staying in the town center is convienant yet if you want a breathtaking view of the Alps I suggest staying a bit above town. The walk is easy, it’s only ten minutes into the center of town. A great place to stay is Pension Schwalbennestl. Every room has a view of the mountain and breakfast is included. Rates run about $50 per night.
As far as the eye can see is an endless horizon of majestic mountains. I breath in the fresh dewy air and become enlightened by the natural beauty that surrounds me.
Our first night we took it easy from the commuting across Europe and walked through the postcard perfect town streets. A town so small it’s home to under 7,000 residents, yet so full of life and rich with culture. We passed many fantastic restaurants with live music and cute one of a kind shops. The most beautiful backdrop of the town is the mountain range that cascades behind it.
Women leisurely shop at the market, men enjoy their pint of beer, and children soak up the sun as they play in the river.
Our first stop was taking an incline up the mountain. If you are afraid of heights I suggest you get past your fear and go up the mountain, but close your eyes on the ride up, it’s a bit scary. Umm are we there yet?
I’ve never felt higher on earth literally than when we were on top of the mountain. The look out is insane, and the birds eat out of your hand. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic and you can hike along outer mountain trails.
The coolest aspect is the snow. Even in June while it was warm enough to wear shorts the snow tipped mountain top was gorgeous. I was jumping for joy!
The mountains are filled with wild flowers that dance in the breeze.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you watch as people trek out of a secret door. I excitedly go through the door and it becomes a dark corridor which reminds me of and episode of Lost. Where ever will this lead me?
I open a metal door and outside is the other side of the mountain, it’s pretty much incredible. You can even lay in the snow to cool off.
Before going back down the incline we grab some sausage sandwiches and German beer and sit on a patio watching adrenaline junkies grab plastic service trays and slide hundreds of feet down steep mountain slopes. After much hesitation I grab a tray, drop my bag, and race to the smallest slope before my nerves get the best of me.
The next day we woke up early to rent bikes for the day. They seemed a little pricey but there is only one bike shop that runs the show so no negotiating. Bikes were about $60 a day, but well worth the price. They were high end mountain bikes that felt like the Bentley’s of bikes. You barely had to peddle and they were so damn smooth.
We stopped at the local grocery store for fresh fruits, cheeses, sandwiches, water, and but of course wine. There is nothing better than seeing a wine you like to drink that you normally pay $20 for, at only a mere cost of $3.00 Euros!
When it comes to biking in Mittenwald the possibilities are endless. If you are a beginner biker and just want to explore the town, bike to a nearby lake only ten minutes away, or have children there are plenty of biker friendly paved trails. It’s easy breezy. If you are an avid biker the black trails will suit you at very experienced levels. You could easily stay in Mittenwald for over a week and have new trails each day. We chose the blue level which was a few steps up from easy.
There were a few hills I had to get off my bike and push. Most of the hills going up were at the begining so it was easier as the day went on to fly back down the mountain. We chose to do 30 kilometers our first day, and props to my mother in law for keeping up! I felt as if I was in Lord of the Rings, the trails were stunning, and for the most part we barely saw any other bikers. When we needed a rest break we would stop at one of the many clean lakes for a swim.
Running out of water was never a problem since there are fresh spring water outlets along the trails.
Perfect pit stop for a picnic.
We came across a field of sheep and I had to take a picture of the black one. I’ve always been the black sheep.
We accidentaly took a wrong turn which led us to the cutest chapel I have ever seen. We informally renewed our vows alone since we were the only ones in the chapel and gave a little donation for a postcard.
We biked until we could peddle no more….
and that led us to one great dinner. There are tons of choices to choose from, but the top rated venue earns it credit. Gaststatte Restaurant – Romerschanz, is a family run establishment off the main town center. The food is local home cooked cuisine at reasonable prices. You can get a seat outside and people watch while enjoying the great food and beer. It is custom Bavarian food with a cozy atmosphere.
The next day we biked an easy paved road to the Austrian border which only took us about thirty minutes. We crossed rivers and valleys and promised ourselves we would be back to visit Mittenwald Germany again.
Whether you are an adventure seeker or just want to relax and soak up the culture and nature this safe and charming town will suit your interest.