Today in the spotlight: The Alps
What used to be the favorite places to go for Europeans has now become the new hype-destination of the whole world. People travel to this impressive mountain range in the middle of Europe more than ever before.
This area has so much to offer!
Stretching 1200 kilometers (750mi) across eight countries, the alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range in Europe. They reach from France in the west to Slovenia in the very east. As the area is so big and there is so much to see it is very hard to pick the best spots when you have limited time.
I have been to the alps many times now and have a good idea of what is worth making it into your itinerary for the trip you have always been dreaming of. I will be focusing on the Germany/Austria/Italy part because it is the best area to explore when you are short on time and want to see as much as possible.
Here are some of my favorite places in the Alps. You definitely won’t want to miss these!
Lago di Braies, Italy
Most of you may know this place from pictures but might not know what is happening behind the scenes. Beautiful Lago di Braies is located in Italy, close to the border to Austria. You can reach it by car, there is a huge parking lot and an even bigger hotel right at the lake. It is not exactly remote but if you come early in the morning you are most likely to have the whole place of your own. The boathouse is the biggest attraction but you can also walk along the shore, there is a marked trail that will take you to the opposite end of the lake.
Map with directions to Lago di Braies: (46.6947103, 12.0756288)
Val di Funes, Italy
The beautiful valley of Val di Funes lies right in the center of the Dolomites. With huge mountains surrounding the area, you could probably take pictures in every direction here.
A special attraction is the small church of San Giovanni which is gracefully set against the majestic mountain scenery, with the Odle Peaks in the background. If you catch the timing right the mountains will be tinted with a reddish glow at sunset. Just note that the church is a part of a farm that is right next to it and you should not step on the farmers land.
Map with directions to San Giovanni Church: (46.6355219, 11.7224498)
Onto the next spot, and maybe the most famous little village in the world, or at least of the Instagram-world. You may have seen some pictures or heard the name of this place, but what is Hallstatt all about, is it really that beautiful? Well… Yes and No. The tiny village itself is beyond beautiful, as it is tucked between the mountains and with all its little houses and the church overlooking the lake. But once the sun is up and all the tourists have woken up it becomes very crowded. You usually don’t see them in the pictures, but I can guarantee you that the city is packed with Chinese people. Believe it or not but the Chinese actually copied the entire village of Hallstatt with all its details and now there is a second Hallstatt in the province of Guangdong in China. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth a visit, just make sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds.
Map with directions to Hallstatt: (47.5645948, 13.6479875)
Lake Plansee, Austria
Lake Plansee is located close to the border of Germany but still hidden in the mountains of Austria. It is the perfect place to just chill for sunrise as there are not that many people. There are a few very popular spots, like the boathouse or the hike up the mountain that separates the lake from the close by Lake Heiterwang. But you can basically just roam around the shore and will most likely find a nice place to enjoy the silence and take a few pictures. I recommend going there on a calm day without any wind, the reflections of the mountains are just insane when the water turns into a mirror.
Map with directions to Plansee: (47.473417, 10.789403)
The two Lakes Königssee and Obersee are located in the Berchtesgaden National Park which is in the southeast of Germany, near the Austrian border. The lake is similar to a fjord, being surrounded by the steeply-rising flanks of mountains. However, there is a small outlet with a church called “St. Bartholomew’s“ which can be reached by a small electric-powered passenger ship during the summer months. From there you can hike to an ice cave that can be reached within an hour. But be careful, it’s not recommended to enter the cave as it is very dangerous. (47.544535, 12.936524) Another option is to leave the boat at the next stop.
You will be dropped off at the end of Königssee and after a 15-minute walk on a marked trail you will arrive at the much smaller but in my opinion even more impressive lake Obersee. The first thing you will notice is a small boathouse. (47.519281, 12.981212) As if this was not enough there is a second boathouse when you follow the trail on the right-hand side for about 20 minutes. (47.512474, 12.994796) There is also a small restaurant where you can grab a beer and have a traditional German meal, which is highly recommended if you haven’t tried it yet!
Map with directions to Königssee: Königssee (47.555000, 12.976667)
Right at the base of Germanys highest mountain, you will find Lake Eibsee, which is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Bavarian Alps. Its crystal-clear, emerald green water and the Zugspitze (2962m/9718ft) in the background are the reasons why the lake is said to be the highlight of a vacation in this region. There are endless possibilities for photos and you will always find a calm spot where you can just hang out with your friends or go swimming in the summer. There is a trail along the shore of the lake providing you with the best views of the lake and its many little islands.
Map with directions to Lake Eibsee: Best view (47.461657, 10.978306)
When to go?
There’s no best time to visit the Alps, the region delights all year. However I would recommend going in fall (September- October), the weather is excellent for outdoor activities, and the crowd is sparser. You will also see the nice, warm and colorful autumn views in these months. The high tourist season is between June – August and usually sees excellent weather and sunny days.