Mittenwald & Karwendelspitze

We’re positioned in the foothills of the Alps in the German town of Lenggries. Just south over the first range of snow-covered peaks is Austria. It’s a dramatic change in scenery and culture now that we’re this deep in Bavaria.

Our drive southwest to the Bavarian mountain town of Mittenwald (one of my favorites) took us along the shores of Sylvenstein Lake. The water was a frosty shade of blue-green glass and perfectly reflected distant peaks.

Many of the mountain roads in this region wound back and forth over the German-Austrian border. On the German side we were in Bavaria but a stone eagle marker alongside the road would announce our entry to the Tirol region of Austria.

Back firmly on the German side of the border, we parked and explored Mittenwald. I’ve visited this Alpine town several times over the years and it never fails to charm. If I had to recommend one Bavarian mountain town to visit, Mittenwald would be my suggestion.

Known as a center of violin-making, tiny Mittenwald packed a visual punch. You wandered down the pedestrian-only Obermarkt with colorful Lüftlmalerei covering the facades of buildings. A form of mural art native to villages in upper Bavaria, the scenes ranged from heroic mountain fables to favorite saints of the building’s owner.

We took a seat under an umbrella at Cafe Obermarkt. After ordering beers and the day’s special of Weißwurst, we watched the world go by. We also studied the Bäckerei across the street and later chose Apfelstrudel topped with cream as dessert.

The Catholic Church of St. Peter & Paul capped one end of Obermarkt. We pushed open heavy wooden doors and passed into its quiet nave. Bavarian churches tend to be understated on the outside but an explosion of Baroque inside. Each seat in the well-worn pews was marked with an ornate metal name plate, some dating back to the late 1800s.

After strolling the idyllic streets of Mittenwald, we headed toward the base of Mt. Karwendel. I wasn’t sure whether the Bergbahn was open yet but an attendant informed us a cable car was going up the mountain in two minutes. We quickly paid for our tickets and climbed steep steps into a suspended glass enclosure.

It was a slow, steady ride up past the tree line and into the snow with the cable car noticeably swaying as it passed over cable towers. Then the sheer rock face of the mountain filled our view as Mittenwald shrank far below.

At the top, we carefully stepped onto a metal platform with a spectacular view of the valley. The air was icy but with no wind, our coats kept us comfortable. Since the last time I’d been to Karwendelspitze, the Germans had built an observation tube that projected several meters over the edge. Peering through the thick glass, it was enough to make your knees a bit weak.

Of course we celebrated our journey to the top of the Alps with a tall Weißbier (me) and a bubbly glass of prosecco (mom). I then climbed up the snow-covered trail to the rim and took in a view of snow-capped peaks as far as the eye could see.

At one point on the trail, you crossed the border between Germany and Austria once again and I chose sides.


Thanks for coming along on the trip. If you have questions or suggestions, tweet @JasonRMatheson. Missed an entry? Click here.




I prefer to travel slow. Enjoy history, design, architecture, cars, sports digital. Auburn alum, Sooner born.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Phuket, The Land of Smiles

From Nikko to Aizu

The famous Toshogu Shrine is a must-visit if you’re exploring a Nikko-Aizu route

Yokohama’s Chinatown

People walk into Yokohama’s Chinatown area after sunset

On Heaving Anchors and Dropping Them Where You Want

Stockholm City Hall

Junior mountain bike…

7 Factors to Consider Before Travelling.

Road Trip Time: Antelope Canyon

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jason R. Matheson

Jason R. Matheson

I prefer to travel slow. Enjoy history, design, architecture, cars, sports digital. Auburn alum, Sooner born.

More from Medium

Brad Raffensperger’s Election Contradictions

Prime Editing: The Latest Advancement in Genome Editing

These Common Weeds Are Packed With Nutrients

The Van Capades Week 2

The completed van with the windows installed