Visitors flock to Munich for Oktoberfest, but those who spread their wings a little further find medieval villages, forests of autumnal golds and cities waking from summer slumber
Southern Germany is famed for its castles and two of the most fantastical are near Füssen, below the Bavarian Alps. Start at Schloss Neuschwanstein (above), King Ludwig II’s 19th-century pile, also the model for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Next, hop across to the Neo-Gothic Schloss Hohenschwangau, where Ludwig grew up.
In 1730, a farmer in Steingaden witnessed the miracle of his Christ statue shedding tears. Pilgrims poured into town in such numbers over the next decade that a new church was built to house the weepy work. The Wieskirche is Unesco-listed and one of Bavaria’s best-known Baroque churches. Inside the circular structure, eight white pillars are topped by gold capital stones and swirling decorations.
From the vineyards of Wurzburg to the foot of the Alps, the 250-mile-long Romantic Road is a popular journey through southern Germany that ends at Ludwig II’s crazy castles. The route can be done by tour bus, but a car will give you more flexibility to see the ostentatious palaces, Bavarian churches and chocolate-box medieval towns and villages, such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
The dreamy haze of the Bavarian Forest National Park extends for around 24,250 hectares along the Czech border. Its thick forest is home to deer, wild boar, foxes, otters and birds, and is crossed by marked hiking and cycling trails. For information, go to the park’s website or the visitor centre close to Neuschönau village.