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Oberammergau or Garmisch-Partenkirchen?

My husband and I are heading to Germany for a ten-day vacation beginning at the end of June. We'll spend two days in Munich and then head south for two days, but due to the overwhelming number of options and short time, we couldn't decide on an itinerary and are looking for tips.

For context, we'll be traveling by public transport, using backpacks for flexibility, and we don't mind getting tired on vacation or walking long distances. We love the outdoors but because we only have two days, we don't want to spend long hours hiking (so no Partnachklamm), we're more interested in sightseeing, walking around towns and maybe short hikes in nature. Also, we'd like to swim in an Alpine lake and ride a mountain coaster. Zugspitze/Alpspitze or Passion theater are not on our list.

Our plan is to take an early train from Munich to Füssen on the 26th, visit either Hohenschwangau or Neuschwanstein (not both), swim in the Alpsee, and spend the night in Füssen. We're undecided on the next day. On the 27th:

We could go to Oberammergau (1,5-2hr), walk around the town, ride the Alpine coaster, (maybe stop at Ettal on the road? is it too ambitious?) and head to Garmisch-Partenkirchen to spend the night. The thing is that we'll be walking around with backpacks all day and it might not be allowed in the abbey, the coaster, etc. Alternately, we could leave our stuff at Füssen to be able to travel light and go back there to spend the night but that would mean a longer bus ride. We'll be taking an early morning train to Munich and then to Nürnberg on the 28th so we thought GaPa or Füssen might be better to sleep in as bigger travel hubs.

Or we could visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen (1,5-2hr), (optional stop at Ettal on the road), ride Sommerrodelbahn, hike around Reissensee maybe? and spend the night there. But is GaPa worth visiting if you're not going to visit Zugspitse or Partnach? Which city has a more typical Bavarian town feel? Which has better views of nature? I'd appreciate any insights, thanks in advance!

Posted by
5157 posts

There is lots to do in GaPa. My only concern about Oberammergau is how busy it is this summer with the passion play.

Posted by
502 posts

Oberammergau is quite small and is pretty and certainly has that Bavarian feel you are looking for. But for me a few hours was enough. I would stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I have been to both Oberammergau and GP twice but each time we stayed in GP and used it as our base. For me it was more scenic and there seemed to be plenty to do in the nearby area. Once I stayed on the Partenkirchen side in a B&B and once on the Garmisch side in an apartment right next to the babbling Loisach river. Right beyond GP is the Eibsee, a pretty Alpine Lake and all around the area there are lots of nature trails and hiking routes, short and long. I have also been to the monastery in Ettal. The church is pretty but that was also a very short visit and if you are travelling by public transport it doesn't seem worth it to go there unless you have a particular interest in that church. The town itself is very small. I would recommend a visit to Linderhoff Palace (very pretty and more to see) or to Mittenwald rather than Ettal. Mittenwald is easy to get to by a short train ride from GP. Famous for violin making in Bavaria.

Posted by
3265 posts

I have a personal preference for O'gau, but that's because I lived there for a while. However this year the place will be packed with Passion Play visitors. Just getting a meal requires advance reservations. Wandering around is easily done, though. Forget finding a hotel room (although you might be able to find a Zimmer for one night). Ettal monastery is lovely, and the distillery and brewery tours are interesting; but they are only offered a few days per week, and may not fit your schedule. A visit to Linderhof is a great idea. It's a cute little place in a beautiful setting. But you will have already seen one of Ludwigs "castles" the day before.

All in all, I think G-P is probably the more practical choice for just a one day/night visit.

Posted by
2717 posts

Personal favorite by GP is Mittenwald. Like a post card come to life.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for all the great tips, they've been really helpful. I just checked to find that 99% of all rooms in G-P and O'gau are booked on our dates, probably due to the Passion Play. We'll probably base ourselves in Munich and do a long day trip to Füssen and another to G-P area, that should save us the hustle of checking in and out too.

I was hoping to see the brewery and taste beer in Ettal but our schedule doesn't fit brewery tours, so Ettal is off the list. We'll probably skip O'gau altogether to avoid crowds, and instead visit Eibsee and/or Mittenwald along with G-P on our second day. Linderhof is also an option but we tend to get desensitized to palace splendor so we'll decide on the day whether we'd like to see another Ludwig palace.
Thanks again!

Posted by
845 posts

Check Mittenwald for hotels. It's a short hop up the tracks from GP.