Medieval Castles, calm blue lakes, breathtaking views of the Alps and wonderful landscapes are the perfect combination to awaken all your senses while experiencing an astonishing walk through the city full of history of Bavaria, located in the southern part of Germany. This footpath is not only about amazing natural views but also about the castles of the King who has given the way its name, the King Ludwig II of Bavaria ,who is also known as the “Mad King Ludwig” or “Fairytale King” because of his eccentric lifestyle and his obsession for fairy-tale-like castles.
King Ludwig’s Way trail
King Ludwig’s Way is a 120 km trail that can be completed between six or seven days. Although it may sound long, with some stamina and a strong will to have a new experience, it’s the perfect option for the ones who want to connect themselves to nature and admire the panoramic views of the distant Alps. This walk through the city of Bavaria begins at Leoni, near Starnberg on the edge of the Starnbergsee, and ends at Füssen, close to the Neuschwanstein castle, one of the most impressive castles in Europe, which is definitely the cherry on top after this long journey.
This trail is separated in different stages or daily sections of 20 km of walking that can be completed in a week long-stroll. However, the first section is more relaxing and shorter as it consists of only 7 km from Leoni back to Starnberg. At this place, you can have a panoramic view of the fifth longest lake of Germany, the Starnbergsee, a lake that goes very well together with the contrast of the light blue of the sky and the lively green of the forest. On the lake shore, you can visit the tiny Votive Chapel, which was erected near the place where the King’s remains were found after his mysterious death.
The second stage is from Starnberg towards Diessen, which is located on the edge of the Ammersee, a vast lake nearby the hilltop monastery town of Andechs. During this part of the trail, you can enjoy a relaxing walk via the Maisinger See nature reserve where you can wend the way through the woodlands of the ravine before visiting the bucolic and pretty village of Aschering. But in here you don’t only enjoy the natural views and the architectonic style of the church and monastery that will have you craning your neck but also, as this place is really famous for its brewery, you can make a little pause to give the beer a try.
After visiting the small village of Aschering, the next stop is set on the southern shore of the Ammersee, to be specific, the small town of Diessen (easily reached by ferry). Also known as Diessen am Ammersee, it has a charming waterfront park that you can visit before going to some of the town traditional restaurants or Gasthofs in where you can taste the delicious and varied Bavarian cuisine. Although the town is small, there’s a lot to try and see, don’t forget to visit the city’s cathedral! On the way out of Diessen, there’s a baroque building that you cannot miss: the Marienmünster church. It has an impressive architecture and is painted and decorated so beautifully inside that is hard to take your eyes from the rich decoration and that white and gold contrast of the church.
The route continues through idyllic woods and open pastures to Wessobrun where you can find the rural popular village of Wies with its ornately decorated baroque monastery and church and walk through serene pine forests to Steingaden. If you continue via St Leonhard-im-Forst, you can reach the highest point of Hohenpeisserd hill, which has one of the most splendid views of the distant Alps and small villages of Wessobrun. From this point on you can choose to continue on foot down to the pretty municipality of Peiting, or to take a train.
There’s a lot to see while walking from Peiting to the next stage of the route: Wildsteig. From the stunning gorge of the Ammerschlucht, also known as the Bavarian “Grand Canyon”, to the beautiful Rottenbuch Abbey church, which is located in the municipality with the same name.
As you approach Buching, the towers of Neuschwanstein Castle can be seen on a distant hill. Although there are buses up to the castle, the most fitting way to arrive is via the awe-inspiring ascent through the steep and narrow Pöllat Gorge. But one thing is for sure, neither way you choose to get there, stunning and fairy-tale-like castles will be waiting for you to make you travel back in time: The Hohenschwangau Castle, where King Ludwig spent his childhood; and the Neuschwanstein Castle, which inspired Disney’s sleeping beauty castle, situated on a rugged hill near Füssen.