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Reutte (Austria), Innsbruck (Austria), or Fussen (Germany) for Murren-like experience?

Waiting for next July's Delta SkyMiles to become available (a week or so more, woohoo!), so I'm making a couple of backup itineraries in case my original flights don't work with the number of miles I have. We are definitely starting in London, taking a short cruise on the Queen Mary 2 to Hamburg, staying in Berlin a while, then.....doing a 3rd location, which I want to be outdoorsy, museum-recovery-esque.

One possibility is to fly home from Munich. (Don't want to "do" Munich on this trip, just would use it as a flight hub.) We'd do 3-4 nights in the Bavaria/Tirol area, probably with a car. I'd like to just stay in one hotel and do a daytrip or two, possibly to Salzburg or the kings' castles area, as opposed to switching hotels. If hard pressed, I'd say the kings' castles would be a slightly higher priority than Salzburg although both seem very appealing. We have a lot of Best Western points that can be redeemed in any of the 3 locations mentioned, although we are not locked into those three areas by any means.

Family is two adults, two kids (will be 10/13, experienced travelers). We love the outdoors and really enjoyed Murren, Switzerland - that feeling of being "in" the Alps, fresh air, hikes, cows, quiet, etc. Which of the above 3 areas might give me a similar feel? I don't necessarily mean with the size of the town as I know Innsbruck especially is much larger than Murren, but more the feeling of being right by or right in or directly looking at the mountains, with quick/easy access to doing outdoorsy stuff, while still convenient enough to daytrip places if we want to. Thanks!

Posted by
1852 posts

I enjoyed Fussen more than Salzburg-it's a nice little walkable town with an interesting museum. I did not do any hikes so don't know about mountains.

Posted by
1062 posts

I am writing these lines from Innsbruck. Innsbruck is a small city with an urban feeling. It has some historical buildings - an Hapsburg royal palace and a Renaissance castle among them - with a mountain backdrop, but has not the feeling of a mountain place. But you can take a group of cable cars and be on top of the same mountains in 35 minutes from the royal palace, or head to one of its adjoining village, that have a mountain feel.

Posted by
3402 posts

Have u thought of Chamonix? Lots of options there but Murren is unique. I loved it.
Cannot think of any other village to recommend.

Posted by
1246 posts

we are not locked into those three
areas by any means.

I'll throw out another option that is in the less-preferred Salzburg direction. I love the area around Berchtesgaden. I stayed at Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden at the family-owned Anfanglehen, a family farm that has converted the farm house into a small guest house with a holiday apartment on the top floor. The owner does not speak a lick of English, so it may not be your first choice if you don't speak some German, but the website gives you an idea of how gorgeous the area is. Things to do there:

  • Berchtesgaden National Park has tons of outdoor stuff to do
  • Königssee is a grand lake surrounded by mountains in the center of the park. No motorized boats are allowed on it. There is a great hike for families there. Catch an electric boat across the lake to the Salet stop (55 minutes) with a stop along the way for someone to play a trumpet so that you can hear the sound bounce back to the boat off the mountains). At the Salet stop, take the 10-15 minute walk to a smaller picturesque lake (Obersee), hike along the right side of the lake (30-45 minutes, I think) to a snack hut on the other side of the lake, then hike through a gorgeous alpine valley surrounded by granite peaks and interspersed with cows who are living there for the summer to Röthbach Wasserfall (Waterfall) -- you can't get right up next to the waterfall but you have a good view of it).
  • Another great hike for families is from the iconic church at Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden through the Zauberwald (Magic/Enchanted Forest) to Hintersee.
  • The Berchtesgaden Salt Mine is fun to do if you have not done one in the past
  • I hesitate to mention Eagles Nest because that's what most people associate with the area, but I personally see the area's outdoor stuff as more enjoyable. There are amazing views on a clear day from Eagles Nest, though.
  • Gorges: Almbachklamm (1-3 hours, depending on path chosen) vs Wimbachklamm (only about 20 minutes but can be used to hike to other places)
  • The Roßfeld Panoramastraße. A road built at the direction of Martin Boarman so that Hitler could show off grand views of Bavaria to his guests. As a minor aside, you can see the spot where the fictional von Trapp family crossed the Alps in the SOM (with Eagles Nest in the background).
  • Day trips: Salzburg, Werfen Ice Caves, Hohenwerfen Castle with its falconry show
Posted by
10889 posts

Garmisch-Partenkirchen offers a lovely alpine setting and some fun and interesting hikes, such as this through Höllentalklamm:

https://www.grainau.de/en/hoellentalklamm-gorge-en

You can ride a cablecar up anybof several peaks ( Alpspitz, Wank, and others) for views and then walk down. On Wank you can watch the paragliders take off. The Alpspitz has an airy viewing platform:

https://zugspitze.de/en/summer/mountain/garmisch-classic/alpspix

And I think there is a Rodelbahn somewhere.

Our room with balcony at Hotel Schatten had nice mountain views, and cows walked down the street each day on their way to the grazing area.

Posted by
27 posts

I have stayed in all the places you are contemplating. I love Innsbruck, you can take the tram to get up to the top. They have a Best Western Hotel Golden Adler. Yummy breakfast. Best venison, even better then in Murren! If you have car you can drive to the mountains and all the little town's in between, very scenic drive! We did stay in Ruette instead of Fussen. Fussen is much cuter but a lot more tourist. We ate at a BnB called Alpenblick. Awesome schnitzel bigger then your plate. You could hear them pounding it flat in the kitchen. Second night ate at the hotel we were staying at....very disappointed. So much so that my husband and son walked the 2 meters to Alpenblich to get schnitzel. They were closing the kitchen but made the schnitzel for my son anyways! They also gave my husband a dunkel beer to take back to me! All they had at the place we were staying in was Bitburger beer. I like Salzburg but not quite the all feeling.

Posted by
825 posts

We stayed in Fussen (family of two adults and two kids as well) with a car, and we really enjoyed it. It hits all your marks (that feeling of being "in" the Alps, fresh air, hikes, cows), and although not sure I would describe it as quiet, but rather more as serene. You will not necessarily be looking directly at the mountains while in town, but are in very close proximity with quick access. We liked heading out of town in the morning to the mountains, and then coming back to a busier town with quick access to restaurants and ice cream.

Posted by
650 posts

@Dave - Berchtesgaden sounded intriguing - they actually have a 5-star rated Best Western there that looked amazing...but each room only holds 2 people, and they didn't have connecting rooms. We might consider it though given your description. I just hate the feeling of being isolated from my spouse in the other room. But I also hate paying for room(s) when I can get them free. :)

@Lola - the Höllentalklamm hike sounds AWESOME - that is exactly the kind of thing we like to do! Thank you! Any more cool discoveries like that?

@jenmosher - great to hear from someone who's stayed in all three. Among Innsbruck, Reutte, and Fussen which was your favorite? Which was least favorite? Which do you think has the easiest access to hikes?

@maryam - where did you go when you went "to the mountains?" Any favorite hikes or activities?

Posted by
2391 posts

I’ve only visited Innsbruck but note that this is a city, it’s a tad gritty and has a large immigrant population. It’s not Heidi and her goats.

You can take a series of conveyances up to the north mountain but it’s like $40 a time.

Posted by
27 posts

Hi Kelly,

As Tom mentioned Innsbruck can be gritty. It is a college town. The old town is super cute. Close to the tram for getting up the mountain. We did go to Hall for the slap dancing performance. But that has become commercialized. In recent years we have noticed an increase in immigrants. Mittenwald would be better more of the mountain feel. Fussen is super cute but also super expensive! That is one of the reasons we stayed in Ruette. A lot cheaper. 5 minute drive and we were at the castles. There was also a trail you could take too. We also checked out Ernwald castle ruin. My son enjoyed this part. It is a hike to get to and there are other hiking trails that finger off the main trail. We went when there were no crowds. We were literally the only people there. I have a feeling it might be more popular in summer. They have a sword in the stone for trying to pull out. You could also try Ettal. There is a trail/hike that takes you Linderhoff. (Another Ludwig castle) Garmisch Parkinson would also be a great place too. My mother in law who grew up in Germany absolutely loves this area.

Posted by
11309 posts

I don't think you get a similar feel in any of these choices.

I stayed in Reutte when I visited Neuschwanstein. As a treat for my daughter, we stayed in Gutshof zum Schluxen. Rick described it as a working farm and I figured my kids would enjoy the animals. The hotel itself is very nice. The overall style is like a chalet. The rooms are comfortable and nicely decorated, service is consistent with luxury hotels and the hotel breakfast was one of the best I've had in Austria.

That said, Gasthof zum Schluxen was the most expensive lodging of our trip and the "working farm" aspect was way oversold. My kids enjoyed feeding acorns to the reindeer across the street from the hotel. There were small cages in the back with, I believe, hens and rabbits in them. When my kids got even close to the cages, a person from the hotel chased them off.

If not for that hotel, I'd not have chosen Reutte. It's generally a bedroom town with not much else going on.

There is a hiking trail between Reutte and Neuschwanstein. We were there in mid-October and it was too cold to do any planned hikes. We did wander up past Marienbruecke before the castles opened. We stopped when the signs on the trail said essentially "danger of death". I didn't want to lose any children that trip. It was foggy in the morning. We went back up after seeing the castles and got spectacular views.

You might consider Berchtesgaden or Oberammergau as Alpine options. When I went to Berchtesgaden, it was cloudy which negated any scenery. We spent part of the day touring the salt mines - which the family enjoyed.

When I travel, I often focus on/stay in one country. My first trip to Germany the only foray outside German borders was to Salzburg. A friend had recommended it highly. IMO Salzburg is one of the prettiest cities in Europe and has a great, walkable center. It's a city, however, not rural. I've been to Innsbruck and consider it not worth a stay unless as a base for skiing. Salzburg is much nicer. Hall in Tirol, about 30 minutes east of Innsbruck, is worth a few hours stop - but I wouldn't choose it as a base either. It's a small town, again not a rural area with cows and Alps.

Posted by
2023 posts

Mitttenwald is a lovely little town surrounded by pretty scenery. We spent five nights there, and it was an excellent hub for day trips. It is nothing like Murren though. You are not up in the Alps and the mountains are not so close that you feel you can reach out and touch them. I can’t think of any place I have been in Bavaria that is like Murren.

Posted by
825 posts

In Fussen, we stayed at Gästehaus Schöberl, and it was great (we reserved the family room). Places we headed out to that we enjoyed: base of Tegelberg cable car which allowed for hikes and summer luge runs, and lots of cows with bells. From the base of the cable car, we also hiked to Neuschwanstein Castle and hiked up via the river gorge side which was gorgeous and not terribly crowded but did not go into the castle (there is also a hike of 3 hours from the castle to the top of the cable car which we contemplated but did not do). We also did a scenic loop drive to Linderhof Palace which was nice, and we day tripped into Austria a few time to climb Zugspitze and Ehrenberg Castle. To get to Tegelberg cable car and Neuschwanstein Castle, we used the hotel provided Fussen Card which allowed for free transport on the buses. We drove to the other spots.

Posted by
740 posts

None of the three places mentioned will have a Murren feel, and Reutte should not be considered. I like Fussen and Innsbruck, the latter too large for me as a base. Mittenwald is smaller and attractive, the mountains up close. From there it is quick drive to Garmisch for the Hollental or Partnach Gorge, and Mittenwald itself has a decent gorge within hiking distance just to the south. Less than an hour from Innsbruck/Ambras Castle. Ettal Abbey and Linderhof are close by.
If you like hiking, a great day is to start very early from Schloss Elmau Hotel and hike to Ludwig’s Schachen House, return for a swanky late lunch or beer at Schloss Elmau. You can also reach Schachen House from Garmisch, a longer route.

I usually stay down in the valley. For a more mountainy/bovine feel I once stayed up in Alpbach for a week. From there Innsbruck/Ambras are close by for a visit, the Kundler Klamm, Tratzberg Palace (pretty interior), Hall in Tirol is a splendid little place, Kufstein with its castle and old town well worth a visit. The travel time back to Munich Airport is about the same time as from Mittenwald or Fussen.

Posted by
1246 posts

Kelly--

It sounds like Berchtesgaden may get saved for a future trip, but i will add that I think you'll get a more Mürren-like experience in the village of Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden than in the town of Berchtesgaden itself. Depending on where you are in the town, you can have a good view of the Waltzmann (a mountain), but it otherwise feels like a town, though a Bavarian one (or at least that's my thought from wandering around it; I didn't stay there). Ramsau is more naturish and has a better view of mountains. It also has one grocery store (like Mürren). Rooms are fairly inexpensive. I stayed in a 2-bedroom Ferienwohnung (holiday apartment) for 75 euro per night. To me, it would be worth it to pay for accommodations in Ramsau over having a "free" accommodation in Berchtesgaden.

Posted by
52 posts

I'd suggest Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm) in the Italian Dolomites (Süd Tirol). Rick suggests Castelrotto (Kastelruth) as a base, but we stayed in the Seiser Alm at Bella Vista (Compatch). I'm using both the Italian and Austrian names. There are lots of Pensions (half-board, which includes breakfast and dinner), which are ski chalets in the winter. These can be accessed by bus or car during certain hours, because the meadow is auto free, or by gondola, which is how we got there.

The area is littered with lifts to higher portions which you can walk down from or walk across the entire Alps. Also, goldolas take you down to different towns in valleys below. The area is more Austrian than Italian, as it was annexed after Austria lost WWI. This mostly has a Germanic feel, but the meals are a great combination of German and Italian food. Hiking, there are Chalets about 1 hour apart for beer or lunch. Rifugio (Hütte) are hike-in mountain hotels, special places you can spend the night in the Alps, but these need to be reserved in advance. We were there in June and the wildflowers were out in profusion.

Bolzano (Bozen) is 4+ hours by train to München.

Posted by
650 posts

Thank you all so very much - this has been extremely helpful. What I think the general consensus here is that I should avoid Reutte. Ramsau or Fussen might meet our needs, with Innsbruck as a backup. I hear those of you who said perhaps I should pay for a hotel in the "perfect" location - I totally agree with you in theory, but practically I can't turn down $1,200 of free hotel rooms (3 nights x 2 rooms x $200/room estimated per night) so I will probably stick to a Best Western location for this part of the trip. I know those of us who use points are somewhat of a minority on this board, but both myself and my husband travel for work quite a bit and have a lot of hotel points and air miles, so that is what makes us be able to travel a lot of the time, esp. with having to pay for the kiddos as well.

Posted by
658 posts

Best Western: I have stayed at the Goldener Adler in Innsbruck a few times. The hotel has been in operation for over 600 years, and I seem to recall it was previously family-owned. However, like other small hotels, they have thrown their hat in with a larger organization to help take advantage of new technology, etc. Best Western in Europe does not seem to bear any resemblance to the motels of the US. There is, however, a handy toll-free phone number in the US where you can comfortably speak with someone about things like needing a quiet room. And if you have accrued and can use up points, great! Hope you find what you are looking for and report back a year from now!

Debbie

Posted by
650 posts

@Lola, thanks for that recommendation - after investigating it, I believe it has de-branded from Best Western, as I cannot find it either on the US or German BW websites. I found this website - https://hotel-obermuehle.de/en/ which looks like as of March 2019 it underwent renovation and is changing? That's too bad, because it looks amazing!

Posted by
17290 posts

Any opinions about Reutte?

I was not at all impressed with Reutte. Maybe Pinswang (outside Reutte) is prettier, but the center of Reutte was not at all attractive. I thought that Pfronten (actually a collection of villages), just west of Reutte, over the border in Germany, was a lot nicer place.

Still, I don't think any of these places compare to Mürren. I've never been to Mürren, only seen pictures of it, but in my mind the closest thing in the area would be some of the villages in the upper Kleinwalsertal of Austria.
Kleinwalsertal, a part of Vorarlberg, is only accessible from Oberstdorf, Germany. Actually, the entire Illertal (from Immenstadt up to Oberstdorf) has kind of a Swiss Alpine flavor, but that's particularly the case for Kleinwalsertal.