The town is easy to traverse; it is 3 square miles of charm. Obermarkt is the main pedestrian zone, crowned by the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, with its painted tower. The trompe l ‘oeil paintings on the church are called Luftmalerei in Bavaria and are also featured on the surrounding businesses and homes. Due to the artistry of an 18th century violin maker, Matthias Klotz, Mittenwald is famous for its violins and thereis a comprehensive museum, the Geigenbau-und Heimatmuseum. The Krausegarten is a spa park and also the location of outdoor concerts.
There are a multitude of hiking opportunities in the surrounding Wetterstein and Karwendel mountains, ranging from gentle walking paths to strenuous mountain terrain; some trails wind in and out of Austria. The Kranzberg chairlift and Karwendelbahn lift you to heights above the town. You can walk to the Lautersee or the Ferchensee, refreshing mountain lakes. The Leutaschklamm offers a short hike through a gorge with rushing water below and cascading waterfalls above.
Most of the hikes pass mountain or lakeside restaurants. For a refreshing alternative to water, soda, or beer, try Apfelschorle, a mixture of apple juice and sparkling mineral water. The local tourist office housed in MIttenwald’s town hall (Rathaus), has hiking maps and information.
Mittenwald is just11 miles from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, home of the 1936 Olympics. Here you can ascend the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. The trip involves taking a small train, cog rail, and cable car for impressive views. At the top, there is restaurant. The building housing it straddles the German-Austria border. Other hikes from Garmisch-Partenkirchen can be made by taking the Wankbahn cable car up the Wank and hiking down, stopping midway at the mountain restaurant for refreshment. A gentler walk can be made along the Philosophenweg or to the Pilgrimage Church of St. Anton.
A car is nice, but not necessary for making side trips from Mittenwald. One of the best “deals” in Germany is a Bayern rail ticket. This allows up to 5 people to take a day trip on regional trains in Bavaria for just 28 Euros. Youcan take the train into Austria all the way to Salzburg. Munich, the subject of a future “Speaking of Travel” column is an easy day trip, as is Oberammergau. A longer day trip by train can be made to Regensburg. There are restrictions on when the Bayern pass can be used, so check before purchasing one. They can be purchased at any train station and some kiosks.
The local tourist agencies, as distinguished from the town’s tourist office, offer a variety of bus trips from Mittenwald, including places such as Venice, St. Moritz, Lake Maggiore. A popular trip is to Neuschwanstein, the fantasy castle of Ludwig II. If the castle looks familiar, it may be because Walt Disney based the Sleeping Beauty Castle in DisneyLand on it.
Since it sometimes rains in the mountains, these bus side trips area nice option. Another popular one for a rainy day is to the Swarovski Crystal Factory outside of Innsbruck. It is not your typical factory tour. Rather, it features various artists’ visions inspired by crystals and is quite entertaining. The salesroom at the end of the tour is a shopper’s delights!
Mittenwald is about 2 hours by hourly trains from Munich Airport. The A95 Autobahn connects the two. Air Berlin offers some direct flights from Ft. Myers to Munich. There are some hotels in Mittenwald; guesthouses with small apartments abound. For more information about Mittenwald accommodations, visit the town’s official website at www.mittenwald.de. Click on the American flag at the top for English.
There are numerous restaurants in Mittenwald. Options range from traditional Bavarian fare to more diverse cuisine, from small cafes to fine dining. Our favorite restaurant was Da Mamma Lucia’s, featuring Italian cooking.