Salzburg, Bavaria and Tirol highlights

I wanted to share a list of some of our favorite, not-to-be-missed sights and places that we enjoyed on our trip last week.  We travelled to Salzburg, including some of the mountains south of the city, then north and west to the Munich area, and finally south again to the area near Füssen (in Germany) and Reutte (in Austria).

Grubsteighof and the surrounding area  We had a fantastic time staying at this little guest house/organic farm.  The kids loved visiting with the cats, bunnies, goats and chickens, and we were invited to watch the cows get milked.  There was a nice play area for the kids, and the apartment we had was lovely with amazing views for daytime and for stargazing at night.  We also got to enjoy fresh eggs and milk from the farm anytime we wanted, and the farm was close to everything we wanted to see, as well as being a perfect jumping off place for wandering and exploration.  (As a note, we found them through booking.com and I can’t find a website that directly contacts the farm, so I’ll just provide that one.)  Our hosts did not speak a lot of English.  We managed to get by with their little bit of English and our “bisschen” Deutsch, but without ANY German, it might have been a challenge.

Salzburg  We had a really nice time visiting Salzburg.  We went for the Rick Steves’ walking tour one day which wore us out nicely, but I wish we’d had a second day to see even more.  (I particularly wish we’d had the time to go up Monchsberg.)  It was pretty touristy, but very pleasant and beautiful (we especially liked the fountain in Residenzplatz and the Salzburg Cathedral).  Like Vienna, many people speak English well, and our German was a bonus rather than a requirement.

The Audi Factory tour at the Audi Forum  For me, this was the unexpected highlight of our trip.  It was a little out of our way, but well worth the time, effort, and relatively minimal expense.  It was pretty fantastic to watch the process of making a car from blank sheets of metal through to the finished product, and amazing to see the innovations along the assembly line.  It was interesting enough to the kids, without being too long.  We all enjoyed it and learned a lot.  They do tours once a week in English (make a reservation ahead of time — ours was at maximum capacity).  No German is needed for the tour or the rest of the visitor portion of the facility.

Neuschwanstein Castle  This is absolutely not to be missed for anyone traveling in Bavaria.  The castle is fantastically picturesque, with an interesting history and gorgeous surroundings.  However, I wouldn’t recommend the actual tour to anyone with small kids.  The tour is short, but not good for anyone who won’t be captivated by a handheld audio tour.  We also enjoyed Linderhof, which was nearby, but if you only had the time or inclination to see one castle in Bavaria, I’d recommend Neuschwanstein.  It was also very tourist-friendly, with signs in both English and German.  If you decide to do a tour, you can also book your tickets ahead of time which substantially reduces your waiting time.  I had read several places that you could only book your tickets 24 hours in advance, but I reserved about a week ahead without any problem.

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