Traveling to the Austrian Alps this summer? Landing in Zurich or Munich? This is a truly beautiful part of the world. If you have a few days to explore Appenzell, Upper Bavaira (Oberbayern), Vorarlberg, or Tirol, you should consider the following list of sites. 


  1. Ebenalp and Seealpsee. Take the train or drive to Wasserauen (usually plenty of parking along the road approaching the cablecar station). Take the cablecar (gondola) to the top of Ebenalp. Enjoy an incredible view and some refreshment at Berggasthaus Ebenalp and visit the Wildkirchli (Wild little church) nestled into caves in the cliff wall. For another great view, walk from Wasserauen to Berggasthaus Forelle (Mountain Guest House Trout). The walk is on an paved path, but it is all uphill and takes about one hour. This is the route the cows take when going up to the high pastures in summer. The view from Seealpsee is iconic.

  2. The Hoher Kasten. For another great view over Appenzellerland, take the cable car from Brülisau to the top fo the Hoher Kasten (the High Box). The panoramic view from here spans the Rhine River Valley, with Lichentenstein across the way in the east, to the Bodensee (Lake Constance) to the north, and the Appenzell mountain range (the "Alpstein") to your south and west. The view is simply stunning. There are a couple restaurant options at the top, and you can walk along the ridge line for more breathtaking perspectives over the valleys.

"Upper" (southern) Bavaria

People in the United States often confuse Germany with Bavaria. If you ask a German, there is a significant difference. But if your concept of Teutonic tradition includes massive beers, pretzels, leather shorts with calf warmers, tall mountains, and funny green hats with goat bristle brushes, then you're thinking about upper Bavaria (upper because it's at a higher elevation than northern Bavaria). The following highlights include tourist traps (mostly the castles) and places real Germans actually visit (the lakes).

  1. Neuschwanstein,  Hohenschwangau and Linderhof Castles. These are tourist traps, but tourists go there for a reason: they're beautiful and interesting. 
  2. The Eagle's Nest. It's another tourist trap, but it's interesting history.
  3. Tegernsee. This pretty lake sits south of Munich just as the elevation begins to change dramatically. This highlight here is the abbey brewery that makes some of Germany's most delicious beer. Don't miss the Braustüberl, right next to the abbey.

Voralrlberg and Tirol

Vorarlberg and Tirol may be my favorite places on earth. Beautiful mountains. Great food. Unparalleled skiing in winter and hiking in summer. Outstanding accommodations and service. And if you do some basic planning, you don't need to spend much money to enjoy yourself.

  1. Kitzbühel. Home of the ski world cup's most dangerous and exciting race, Kitzbühel offers world class hiking, mountain biking, and three golf courses in summer. 
  2. Lech am Arlberg. Hike the "Green Ring" (as opposed to skiing the "White Ring" in winter). Superb hiking, a new golf course, fly fishing, events every weekend from late June to September ... all in a breathtaking setting.