Nestled in a cul-de-sac under snowcapped peaks, sleepily alluring Mittenwald, 20km southeast of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, is the most natural spot imaginable for a resort. Known far and wide for its master violin makers, the citizens of this drowsy village seem almost bemused by its popularity. The air is ridiculously clean, and on the main street the loudest noise is a babbling brook.
The tourist office has details of excellent hiking and cycling routes. Popular hikes with cable-car access will take you up the grandaddy Alpspitze (2628m), as well as the Wank, Mt Karwendel and the Wettersteinspitze. Return tickets to Karwendel, which boasts Germany’s second-highest cable-car route, cost €22/13.50 per adult/child.
The Karwendel ski field has one of the longest runs (7km) in Germany, but it is primarily for freestyle pros. All-day ski passes to the nearby Kranzberg ski fields, the best all-round option, cost €24.50 per adult and €18.50 per child. For equipment hire and ski/snowboard instruction contact the Erste Skischule Mittenwald.
The only classic off-piste sight in town is the Geigenbaumuseum, a collection of over 200 locally crafted violins and the tools used to fashion them. It’s also the venue for occasional concerts.
Behind a very pretty facade, Hotel-Gasthof Alpenrose has cosy, old-style rooms, a cute restaurant and live Bavarian music almost nightly. Around 1km south of the Obermarkt, Restaurant Arnspitze serves award-winning gourmet fare.
Mittenwald is served by trains from Garmisch-Partenkirchen (€4.10, 20 minutes, hourly), Munich (€22.20, 1¾ hours, hourly) and Innsbruck (€11.10, one hour, seven daily), across the border in Austria. Otherwise RVO bus 9608 connects Mittenwald with Garmisch-Partenkirchen (30 minutes) several times a day.