Kurtis turns 40 next year (?!*!?) and we were talking the other day about our favorite trips of all-time, and where we should travel for his big milestone birthday.
In 2014, my husband’s (and brother’s) company took us to Ireland and London. It was such an amazing experience and you can read more about it here. But, once the week in Europe ended, we (me, Kurtis, my brother and his wife) all knew that while we were overseas, we had to take advantage of our time there. So, we booked a flight to Munich, Germany and planned a road trip through the Austrian Alps to ultimately take us to Venice, Italy for a few days. Our trip through this area started the last few days of April and ended the first few days of May.
I have to say, the semi-planned road trip from Germany to Italy was one of the best parts of the trip! Not only was the scenery gorgeous, but we loved being in the ‘real’ towns of each of these countries. Taking a step away from things that felt really touristy and actually immersing ourselves in the culture was so rewarding.
Everything about this region of the world just oozes charm, friendliness, culture and a coziness that is hard to explain. Everything I think of with the term ‘Absolutely Alps’. It may sound a bit cheesy but I get a lump in my throat and super nostalgic when I think about the days we spent driving through this countryside. It was unlike any other trip we’ve been on and includes memories I hope I never forget.
When the Alpine Tourist Commission recently released three road trip itineraries through the heart of the Alps (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), I have to admit it pushed me to want to go back to this area for Kurtis’ 40th birthday. And he agreed. It’s one of our favorite trips ever and definitely the perfect location for the ultimate road trip. I thought I’d share a bit of our experience today.
We started our trek from Munich and drove to Salzburg, Austria. The drive was beautiful and we gave the award for “world’s cleanest highways” to the Germans.
On our way to Salzburg, we detoured for several hours at Lake Königssee in Germany. My husband is a huge history buff and his hope was that we could get up to see the Eagles Nest. Unfortunately, the pass was a few days away from opening yet (it varies that time of year depending on snow melt). Instead we took a boat ride to the other side of the lake, and to say it was gorgeous is an understatement. The water was so clear and the towering mountains were unbelievable.
Once on the other side of the lake, you could get out and spend as much time as you wanted in the area. There was a place to order food and drinks and just relax. We stayed for about an hour and enjoyed the gorgeous weather and fresh air. The beauty of the Alps is so hard to capture in photos but it truly is one of the most stunning places in the world.
Upon our arrival in Salzburg, we checked into our hotel (The Goldener Hirsch – loved it!) and we did our own little walking tour of the town. Salzburg is full of history and is the birthplace of both Mozart and The Sound of Music.
After doing a little shopping, we ate dinner in a quaint little restaurant built into the side of the mountain. We also tried to snack and try the local food everywhere we went along the way. We all really enjoyed all the food.
- Salzburg, Dorfgastein, Amoser Alm, Copyright www.peterrigaud.com – image via Alpine Tourism Commission
After a salt mine tour (recommended to us as a ‘must’), we began our trek through the Austrian Alps. We spread the drive from Austria to Italy into two full days, really taking time to stop along the way as something looked interesting to us. Before starting up the mountain, we stopped in the gorgeous lake town of Zell Am See for lunch. Definitely somewhere I would like to return and I would highly recommend this beautiful town!
The beauty of the drive up the Alps is undeniable.
As we climbed closer and closer to the summit, the snow along the road got deeper and deeper and the clothes got layered and more layered.
Excited we almost made it to the very top!
You can see this drive wasn’t short on hairpin turns! This is only a small fraction of the drive we took up through the Alps. Needless to say, once we got to the top (which felt like it took forever), the views were stunning!
Heading back down the mountain, we got to our stop for the evening, in the beautiful mountain valley town of Heiligenblut am Großglockner. I believe this town typically survives on the ski season so it was rather barren in the early spring. The views were absolutely stunning as we drove down into town.
We stayed the night in Heiligenblut am Großglockner at the cutest little bed and breakfast called Pension Edelweiß. It was the perfect stop for the night and it was fun to get to chat with the local family and hosts that lived in the B&B we stayed at.
We still agree that we had one of the best meals of our lives in Heiligenblut am Großglockner at Casa Restaurant. It was a simple meal of incredibly fresh salad along with goulash, but it was beyond amazing. Not only that, the views from the small town and restaurant were breathtaking.
As we continued our drive through the Alps and down to Italy the next morning, the views as we ended our time in Austria were so beautiful!
This is a trip none of us will ever forget and we all await the day we can return!
So, where will we go for Kurtis’ big milestone birthday? It’s still undecided, but I can promise another road trip through the Alps ranks high on our wish list, and we’d love to include Switzerland the next time around, as well! It would be easy to add this in to one of the agendas, and Switzerland is another bucket list country for us.
As part of the journey through Switzerland, we would love to visit the beautiful Lausanne, the Matterhorn and would love to see some castles (like Oberhofen Castle, as shown below). Kurtis and I are also major cheese fans, so obviously we’d have seriously plans to indulge all along the way. We’d also love to spend several days exploring Zurich!
- REGIS COLOMBO/diapo.ch
- Zermatt, Matterhorn
- Thun, Schloss Oberhofen
Want to learn more to plan your own ultimate Absolutely Alps road trip? Be sure to check out the 9 fun facts about the Alps, 9 best hidden gems in the Alps and 9 must-try dishes through the Alps. In the coming months, I’ll also be sharing some videos of the real-life “Alps Experience” so you can see just how amazing this region is. I can promise you’ll love this Alpine region through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland!
Have you traveled to the Alps? What were your favorite memories?
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