Winter Wonderlands - From Munich to the Mountains of Lech Zürs

Lech Zürs am Arlberg, in Vorarlberg
Lech Zürs am Arlberg, in Vorarlberg | © Michael Magulski

Editorial Manager

Pairing two destinations in one trip is a great way to make the most of any holiday. If you’re after a cultural city break with a few days of fresh mountain air thrown into the mix, then we’ve come up with a great itinerary taking you from historical Munich to the snow covered slopes of Austria.

Travel can involve a lot of planning. Flights, transfers, hotels, food and schedules can get confusing, so why would you want to double the workload by extending a trip into a different country? Well, the benefits of such a dual trip far outweigh the risks if you’re smart about it. If you want to combine a classic city break with a winter sports adventure, a trip through Bavaria to Austria, with Munich as your starting point, can open up an unexpectedly enriching experience.

The perfect city break in Munich

Munich is one of the wealthiest parts of Germany so you might expect prices to be at a premium when compared to other parts of the country. It isn’t cheap, that’s for sure, but its not at the levels of other capital cities either. In winter the markets are a great way to soak up the atmosphere and pick up some local produce.

Beer houses are popular places to spend time serving relatively inexpensive food and drink. You might have visited such establishments during Oktoberfest, but they are open throughout the year too and in Munich you really want to visit Hofbräuhaus. There are hundreds of seats and you’ll find many visitors taking in the ornate ceilings while regulars collect their steins from personalised lockers.

Hofbräuhaus in Munich is one of the most famous taverns in the world

On the other end of the cultural spectrum there are dozens of art galleries and museums to explore. Head to Kunstareal (Art District) and visit a wide range of museums that cover modern, contemporary and classical art. Pinakothek der Moderne is one of our top picks for a comprehensive overview but try and spend a whole day in the area as you’re sure to stumble across something you like.

On one such stroll, we found the notorious urban surfers of Eisbachwelle braving the elements and practising their board skills. The manmade wave is close to the English Garden and has become a popular tourist spot in the city.

Urban surfing has become a popular spectator sport in Munich

Where to stay in Munich

You’ll want to stay in central Munich if you can, somewhere close to the markets, museums and traditional shops. The LOUIS Hotel, which opened in 2009, overlooks Viktualienmarkt and is also adjacent to some of the best Christmas markets in Bavaria. The building itself is several years older than the hotel, with the renovation being completed with travel in mind. ‘Louis’ is a fictional globetrotter who would find himself at home staying at the hotel, and you’ll find neat touches like luggage-shaped furnishings and closets in all of the 72 rooms here.

The LOUIS Hotel as seen from Viktualienmarkt

Nightly rates for The Louis Hotel, Munich, start from €269 for a double room, not including breakfast.

Heading to Austria

Its a scenic three hour drive from Munich to Lech Zürs am Arlberg, in Vorarlberg and there’s one stop you have to include if you want to see one of the best attractions in Europe. Neuschwanstein Castle was apparently the inspiration for Walt Disney’s distinctive theme park fortifications and it perches on the side of a hill surrounded by the Bavarian forest. As you continue driving you’ll see the cityscape turn into lush forests and you’ll eventually get to the impressive mountains of Austria.

The famous Neuschwanstein Castle as seen on the drive from Munich to Lech

Lech Zürs is the biggest ski resort in Austria and the fifth largest in the world. You can walk around the picturesque town with ease, even if you are staying in one of the hotels away from the centre, as there are a number of signposted trails. 87 ski lifts cover more than 300 kilometres of ski runs, and beginners can learn in safety on the nursery slopes whereas more experienced skiers can tackle the black runs.

There are plenty of activities for non-skiers and the après-ski scene is wonderfully eclectic. Try getting a table at Gasthaus Älpele for an authentic fondue experience, and if you’re in town for the winter you’ll even get to take a snowmobile through the forests for a truly magical evening.

Where to stay in Lech Zürs

Severin*s is a luxury independent boutique hotel on the outskirts of the Alpine resort of Lech. It has just 9 suites, all with open fires and balconies, as well as a separate 4-bed private residence. Thanks to traditional fittings such as its copper roofing, ancient Tyrolean timber and stone façade, the hotel harmoniously blends into its setting. There’s a large garage space in the basement which means you can conveniently store your ski equipment away from the slopes as well as your car if you’re driving. A large pool, excellent restaurant and sauna facilities mean you’ll have plenty to do here if you don’t fancy going out for any reason.

Nightly rates at Severin*s, The Alpine Retreat start from €690 for a Junior Suite on a B&B basis

Severin*s in Lech

As Munich is just 3 hour drive from Lech, private transfers for guests can be arranged between the two hotels. You can either fly back out of Munich or, alternatively Innsbruck or Zurich which are just 2 hours drive. The combination of city culture and shopping, with fresh air and exercise are ideal for anyone looking to make the most of travel this year.

5-night package including breakfasts, 3-course dinner at the Louis Grillroom, 4-course dinners at Severin*s (drinks not included) as well as transfers from Munich airport to Louis, on to Lech and back again to Munich is priced from €2245 in a double room for two people (€3908 for single occupancy)

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