By writer and educator Naomi Kaye Honova
What to do in the Oberallgäu
Our family fell in love with the Oberallgäu region of southern Germany on a farm stay visit in 2020. The friendly and laid-back atmosphere, the endless cultural and nature adventures and the picturesque landscape make it a perfect destination.
Why? The region has a combination of stunning nature, numerous cultural activities, delicious local cuisine and well-maintained visitor infrastructure, meaning - in my opinion! - the Oberallgäu may be the perfect region to explore. Whatever the season, this picturesque part of the southern German greater Allgäu region offers it all, from hiking, distillery tours and local history museums.
Another huge perk of the Oberallgäu region is that there’s truly something for everyone. If you’re a solo traveler or you’re coming with several young children in tow, there’s no end of possibilities in this rather magical part of the world.
Here are my top tips for things to do in the region, whether you're visiting in spring, summer, autumn or winter.
This gorgeous but friendly-sized mountain, located in the Oberstaufen area, is the perfect destination nearly year-round for some German mountainside fun. In summer, visitors can take the cable car up the mountain and explore the many trails, as well as buy fresh cheese and other dairy products from the local cows. Kids will love the summer toboggan run at the bottom of the mountain. In winter, skiing is the name of the game with a ski lift available, but it’s also just a lovely experience to go up and play in the snow or enjoy the views with a Haferl of coffee in hand.
Don’t miss visiting the Bergbauernmuseum in Immenstadt, the mountain farmers’ museum with plenty of hands-on exhibits and tours that showcase the Allgau farm life. Visitors can interact with farm animals and try their hands at cheese making or collecting wild herbs. The museum offers courses for both adults and kids on topics like wood-oven baking and felting.
For a really special, and rather hippie-esque experience, head to the teeny-tiny village of Hopfen to visit the Artemisia herb garden and cafe. The gorgeous and extensive herb garden is open to visitors year round and you can opt to take a tour or one of their courses to learn more about the uses of local herbs for cooking or healing. The adorable Teestube (tea house) offers teas from the herb garden and a variety of vegetarian main dishes and desserts to enjoy.
If you’re heading to the Oberallgäu, a trip to the Breitachklamm is an absolute must-do. Central Europe’s deepest gorge amidst rocks, it boasts stunning scenery whether covered in fresh snow or during a gorgeous summer’s day. Whether you want to take a longer trek or a short stroll, there’s a lot to see here. An info station at the beginning of the trails is a good way to start your visit, and there’s helpful info stands placed throughout the gorge to teach visitors about its natural history.
The Oberallgäu is renowned for its delicious cheese, so if you’re a fan of all things cheesy, head to one of the many small family-run Sennereien (creameries) throughout the region to pick up some fresh slices or maybe even an entire wheel of dairy goodness. Check out the website of the Allgäuer Käsestraße, which details 13 particularly notable creameries (a personal favorite is the Baldauf Sennerei in Lindenberg). Some creameries offer tours; call ahead and ask. Bonus- many have some adorable Alpine cows roaming around the premises.
History and nature buffs alike will want to explore the ancient castle ruins of Alt-Trauchberg near the village of Kleinweiler; the ruins are some of the best preserved in the entire region. The initial castle construction took place in 1166 and was mostly destroyed in the late 1700s. Visitors can hike up using one of two trails, depending on how much they feel like walking. It’s free of charge and is usually accessible year-round.
No matter the weather, from pouring rain to a gorgeous sunny day, the Aquaria pool complex in Oberstaufen makes for a great afternoon (or honestly, you can happily spend the whole day here). Aquaria offers tons of pools to swim in, water slides, children’s areas, a sauna and some gorgeous views of the mountains to take in. There are also some thermal springs to help calm sore muscles and melt stress away. You can even book a massage or spa treatment during your visit, and there’s a bistro to assuage your rumbling stomach after hours of swimming and relaxation.
For the ultimate Oberallgäu dining experience, put Kräuterwirt towards the top of your visit to-do list. Located in the charming village of Stiefenhofen (worth a stroll, perhaps after a big dinner!) this homey Wirtshaus specializes in hyper-local cuisine. The restaurant has its own herb garden where all the herbs used in the cooking are grown, and sources meat, fish and produce from nearby producers. You’ll delight in unusual specialties like beef back ribs with berry confit and root vegetables, or perhaps grilled flounder with chili-lavender butter and tomatoes may tickle your palate.
Germany is famed for its Christmas markets, and one of the most magical ones has got to be the Bad Hindelang Christmas market. If you’re in the Oberallgäu during the Christmas season, it’s absolutely worth a visit. Fairy tale Christmas parades take place twice weekly during market time, and a stunning opening ceremony with fairies and glittering lights puts everyone in good spirits. Typically, they usually offer a “children’s market” as well with arts and crafts and perhaps a visit from some well-loved Christmas figures. Adults will love the Gluhwein (mulled wine) and all sorts of sweets and treats, and there are many delightful handmade crafts and specialties for purchase.
In quaint Sulzberg, the lovely Rottachsee lake is a perfect day trip in the peak of summer. Visitors to this picturesque lake with a mountain view can enjoy swimming, sailing, fishing, stand-up paddling and any other number of water activities. Families with kids will appreciate the play area and the snack kiosk, and beach volleyball fans note that there is a beach volleyball area lakeside for a round or two.
For tips on where to sleep, check out our Oberallgäu properties (found in our Bavaria collection, or sign up to become a member and get personalised recommendations for which Oberallgäu place to stay is perfect for you.
Thank you so much for sharing, Naomi!
Naomi Kaye Honova is originally from the US, but has made Germany her home for the past decade with her husband and young children. Naomi has a background in writing, history, dance and social work and is passionate about travel, being in nature and delicious food and drink. She is a freelance writer and educator and lives in Bavaria.