This is the region where superintendent Kluftinger fights crime - the tough but fair star of the Allgäu crime novels which top bestseller lists around the country. A region whose greatest asset is its vibrant landscape, but also a region that is still known above all for winter sports. Yet, the Allgäu has much more to offer than that. Its wide, open valleys, gentle rolling hills, majestic mountains, shimmering brooks, rivers and lakes, picturesque villages and historical cities make it the perfect place to spend an active holiday or simply relax. Spring and fall are the best times to visit the region, when the natural world displays the full splendour of its colours.
An endless supply of Recreational activities
One of the region’s mainstays is its marketing as an alpine wellness destination. It offers near-perfect conditions health and recreation, since an abundance of remedies and treatments from a rich therapeutic tradition are everywhere to be found – from spas or hay and moor packs to the therapeutic use of water and including modern interpretations of the traditional teachings of prominent healers like Father Sebastian Kneipp or Johannes Schroth.
There is no shortage of attractions or recreational activities. In the Allgäu, there is a widely practiced tradition of hiking to the region’s peaks like the Grünten (1,738 metres above sea level) near Sonthofen, for example, as well as through natural landmarks like the Breitachklamm near Oberstdorf, the deepest rocky gorge in Central Europe. Or taking a walk to one of the countless small mountain pastures, where homemade cheese, butter and bread are made and available to buy. A new network of long-distance hiking trails (the hiking trilogy) spanning 876 kilometres takes hikers through a variety of Allgäu landscapes - green meadows, ever changing moderate altitudes offering plenty of variety, not to mention challenging tours over peaks.
In recent years, the region has attracted an increasing number of mountain bikers, especially in the area around Oberstdorf. That’s where beginners and risk-takers alike will find what they’re looking for – from trails with gradual inclines along wild mountain creeks or green alpine forests up to and including the trans-alp stretch across the Schrofenpass, where bikers have to shoulder their bikes over steel ladders and narrow rocky paths at lofty heights.
Variety and quality
Allgäu's cities like Kempten, Memmingen or Kaufbeuren are also worth a trip. City walls and fortified towers, picturesque residential streets, fountains in market squares, churches and monasteries, city palaces and patrician buildings still testify to the pride of the locals. Then there’s the most famous attraction of all: the fairytale palace Neuschwanstein near Füssen, which attracts nearly 1.5 million visitors from around the world every year. To date, a total of 60 million tourists have visited it.
Reaching even greater heights: At 1,011 metres Altitude, The highest tee in Germany
According to Simone Zehnpfennig of Allgäu GmbH, never have so many vacationers visited the region located in southern Germany as in this past year, during which over three million guests visited the Allgäu, while hostels with more than ten beds now report nearly 11.2 million overnight stays per year. “Our guests love the Allgäu. They value the quality of our hosts, our restaurant owners and recreational operators,” explains Bernhard Joachim, managing director of Allgäu GmbH. With this sustained growth, the Allgäu continues on its successful path: Over the last eleven years, the number of guests has increased by 57.4 per cent. Still, the statistics don’t reveal how many of these guests come to the region just to play golf. But ever since the golf clubs have started doing even more for vacationers, numbers have been on the rise.
Allgäu Golf Region
Hardly any golf region in Germany offers as much variety as the Allgäu. For example, if one considers a radius of 60 kilometres around Kempten, the largest city in the region at around 65,000 inhabitants, visitors can choose from nearly 20 golf courses that can be reached in a little less than an hour by car. What’s more, each one of these courses offers its own unique charm. The 27 hole course of the Waldegg-Wiggensbach golf club, for example, boasts Germany’s highest tee at 1,011 metres. The sloped play and ravines make a round of golf a worthy and at times alpine challenge that calls for the right tactics and rewards players with its spectacular mountain panorama. The Auf der Gsteig golf course in Lechbruck also boasts similar attractions. The 18-hole course is just an hour’s car drive from Bavaria’s capital city of Munich and delights visitors with the unique charm of a golf course in the Allgäu alpine foothills. Here, the panorama of the Allgäu Alps, the far-reaching view of the Lechsee that reaches as far as the hilly landscape of the East Allgäu as well as a hole with an direct view of the massive Tirol Alps. From Golfclub Hellengerst (also an 18-hole course) in the Upper Allgäu, players can even see as far as Switzerland on clear days. The exclusive Sonnenalp golf resort in Ofterschwang is only a few kilometres north of Obersdorf, famous for its rich winter sports tradition. Its 36 holes and an additional 9-hole course make the resort the largest of its kind in the Allgäu, not to mention one of Europe’s leading golf resorts. This year, the golf club is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The course run by the Fäßler family is part of the renowned five-star Sonnenalp hotel, also popular among international stars and up-and-coming celebrities. The courses in the Lower Allgäu have a completely different advantage: The clubs in Ottobeuren, Bad Wörishofen and Memmingen are not quite as high as the other Allgäu courses meaning most of them can be played year-round and, in some cases, even on summer greens. Then there are a few smaller 9-hole courses and short courses, some of which can be played without a club membership. One of these courses is the Schloßgut Lenzfried golf park in the middle of Kempten. With its large training area, it meets the requirements of a modern city course where students come to spend their free time and managers take their lunch break.
Most courses in the Allgäu blend in perfectly with the untouched natural surroundings - for example, in the midst of peat meadows, over rough nature or winding through stands of old trees and hedges. Cows looking on to the tee from the neighbouring pasture are no rarity and make a popular motif for an unforgettable photograph.
Text: Stephan Schöttl and Volker Hoffmann