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Brown cattle on the pasture and sedate farms suggest Bavarian-Swabian farming idyll in the north of the Upper Allgäu. To the south, the rugged peaks of the Allgäu High Alps loom. There, one desires with all one's fibers, the bird's eye view: over the Illertal, to the wide valley basin of Oberstdorf, to the steep two-thousand-meter peaks, deeply cut ravines and the patchwork carpet of green Alps. That would be pure bliss.

Reading sample from DuMont Picture Atlas: Mountains and Lakes in the South

This article is from the book Mountains and lakes in the south from DuMont Reiseverlag. There you will find 208 pages of ideas for your vacation in the mountains and on the lakes in southern Germany. The editors have collected their favorite destinations in the mountains, dream hiking and biking tours, and the best pictures for you.


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In the early morning dew to mountains

At the valley station of the Nebelhorn cable car in the Oytal valley, crowds of people throng to the gondola that leisurely floats up the mountain. The Nebelhorn is one of the most striking and attractive peaks in the Allgäu High Alps. Since 2016, the Nordsteig trail has also been attracting non-mountain enthusiasts to the summit. Without any safety equipment, you can walk along the almost vertically sloping northern flank and take a risk-free look into the depths.

To a long history economic, mountaineering and tourist use also looks back on the northernmost mountain of the Allgäu Alps, the Grünten. Already in the Middle Ages, hewers dug into its flanks in search of ore. In 1852, Carl Hirnbein built the first mountain hotel in the Allgäu here, today's Grüntenhütte, still a nice place to stop.

From Oberstdorf, you can comfortably take the cable car up to the 2224 m high Nebelhorn © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Thomas Roetting / Sylvia Pollex

Nature conservation in private hands

In 1998 the entrepreneur acquired Manfred Kurrle the former hunt of Prince Regent Luitpold, which lies twelve kilometers south of Oberstdorf, and transformed it into the Allgäu High Alps Nature Conservation Foundation. It is a fantastically beautiful stretch of land, framed by Trettachspitze, Mädelegabel and Hochfrottspitze, a wonderful hiking area. Cautiously alpine huts like the over two hundred year old Breitengehren-Alpe or the Buchrainer-Alpe were renovated, which now continue to be supplied with water, electricity in this dream landscape.

Who feels the trees

Art is in the air above the pretty spa town of Bad Hindelang. Ostrachtal was and is home to particularly talented wood sculptors, including the Eberhard family. Franz Eberhard is credited with reviving the Fasnet masks in the mid-19th century. He "snipped" several prototypes of the larvae most commonly used to this day for the Hindelang Butzentreiben. Christoph Finkel's work in Vorderhindelang has nothing in common with larvae or Herrgott carving. If anything, the technique used to create his wooden objects could be classified as woodturning. For his thin-walled wooden art objects, he fetches them from the mountain forest in spring with a horn sled - ancient trees felled by storms or avalanches that become breathtakingly beautiful bowls.

The cattle return home

The Viehscheid in one weekend in September - the exact date depends on the weather - is one of the best known and most picturesque festive events in the Allgäu. For the spectators, who become more numerous every year, this may be true; for the alpine herdsmen, who drive the cattle down to the Scheidplatz after about a hundred days of mountain summer, this means the energy-sapping conclusion of a busy season. The days before, they have brought the cattle from more remote pastures back to the alpine pasture and prepared it for winter. Finally, they have decorated the animals with bunches of flowers and herbs, some also with mirror shards to keep away mischief, and put bells on them. The big, heavy bells are worn by the cattle only on this occasion. Led by the wreathed cow with the most splendid floral decoration, they then descend into the valley, where the animals are returned to their respective owners at the Viehscheidplatz. The return of the young cattle, which have spent the summer on a Galtalm, is the occasion for the big Viehscheid festivities with beer tents, music and dancing. The descent of the dairy cows from the alpine pastures, where cheese and dairy products were made, takes place a few days later in a rather unspectacular manner.

The lead cow is adorned with a wreath - but only if there has been no accident to either man or beast during the alpine summer. an accident © picture-alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Reinhard Eisele

Info & recommendations for your vacation in Oberallgäu


The largest city in the Allgäu (70,000 inhabitants) only grew together from two settlements in 1818. Under Roman rule, it was a flourishing community as Cambodunum. Highlights include:
Town Hall Square with the gleaming white town hall crowned by a tower (1474): Magnificent Baroque and Rococo facades of proud patrician houses, including the London Court (1764) and the Ponikau House (1740), frame the Town Hall Square.
Erasmus ChapelThe Erasmus Chapel (13th century), the former ossuary, is the perfect setting for a multi-vision show on the history of the city.Thu.-Thu. 11.00-18.00, every hour on the hour.
Abbey town with monastery church St. LorenzAfter the devastation of the Thirty Years' War, the collegiate town was rebuilt in perfect Baroque style. Master builder of the four-winged princely residence. Guided tour April-Sep. Tues.-Sun. 9.00-15.45, Oct. 10.00-16.00, otherwise only Sat., Sun. 10.00-16.00, every 45 min.
The Roman CambodunumThe Roman Cambodunum was located above the eastern bank of the Iller on the Lindenberg. Its forum, embedded in a park, is freely accessible; the reconstructed temple district gives an impression of the layout of a Gallo-Roman cult site. Cambodunumweg 3; March-Nov. Tues.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Kempten - the largest city of the Allgäu knows how to convince with many highlights © Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com

Immenstadt in the Allgäu

At first glance, a lot of commerce and industry; the historic town center is clearly laid out. Located on the northeastern edge of the Nagelfluhkette Nature Park, however, Immenstadt is an ideal starting point for mountain tours. Especially worthwhile:
Old TownThe small old town around Montfort Castle is quickly visited. A visit to the graceful Madonna (1470) by Ivo Striegel in the baroque church of St. Nicholas and a stroll through the Marienplatz, where a market is held on Saturdays, will familiarize you with the most important sights.
Mountain railroad to the Alpsee Coasters: In the Alpsee mountain world at the west end of the Großer Alpsee, a mountain railroad leads to the start of the 3 km Alpsee Coaster, which meanders down the slope with numerous hurdles (www.alpsee-bergwelt.de; Jan-April Sat., Sun. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., May, Oct. dgl. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., June, July, Sept. until 6 p.m., Aug. until 7 p.m.).
Participation farm: The hands-on farm at the Allgäu Mountain Farm Museum is educational fun for young and old. (10 km northwest; Diepolz 44, www.bergbauernmuseum.de; end of March-beginning of Nov. daily 10.00-18.00)

Immenstadt - good starting point for mountain tours © Hagen Simon/Shutterstock.com

Bad Hindelang

The market town (pop. 5,000) has only had the word "bath" in its name since 2002. The eilklimatische Kneippkurort offers the health-conscious guest also moor treatments. Worth seeing:
Hunting lodge: The hunting lodge (17th century; Marktstr. 9) of the Augsburg prince-bishops is now used by the mayor as his official residence. Fascinating art objects are turned from the wood of the mountain forests by Christoph Finkel, born in Hindelang in 1971 (exhibition space: Hauptstr. 16, Vorderhindelang, www.finkel-bowls.com; Wed.-Fri. 14.00-17.00 or n. Arrangement).

Bad Hindelang - pretty vacation resort in the Oberallgäu © RudiErnst/Shutterstock.com


Oberstdorf with 9500 inhabitants is the tourist center of the Upper Allgäu. In 1888 a railroad line was built, which brought summer visitors to the area dominated by Nebelhorn, Fellhorn, Höfats and Mädelegabel enclosed high valley brought. Oberstdorf is also a curative climatic Kneipp spa. Highlights include:
Parish Church of St. John: The parish church of St. John the Baptist holds Gothic treasures such as the "Schöne Oberstdorferin", a Madonna created around 1490.
Museum of local history: In the museum of local history everything revolves around the once hard living conditions of the people of Oberstdorf and the development into a tourist resort. Oststr. 13, www.heimatmuseum-oberstdorf.de; Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-12 p.m., 2-5:30 p.m., in case of rain also Sun.
Natural peat swimming pool: Near Reichenbach (5 km north) hides a nostalgic natural moor swimming pool (Reichenbach 70, www.moorstueble.de; weather permitting, approx. June-Sept. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.).
Tandem paragliding flight: Experience the Upper Allgäu from above during a tandem paragliding flight from the middle station of the Nebelhornbahn.Vogelfrei, Infobüro Nebelhornbahn, Nebelhornstr. 67 b, www.vogelfrei.de

Oberstdorf - tourist center of the Upper Allgäu © kamienczanka/Shutterstock.com

Reading sample: DuMont Picture Atlas "Germany - Mountains and Lakes in the South

Cover photo: A hike through Stillachtal and Rappenalptal leads to Rappensee at an altitude of 2047 m © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Thomas Roetting / Sylvia Pollex

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