After a great week in Munich we decided to get away from the big city and go find some fresh air in the Alps. Our home for five days was Ruhpolding, a charming village about 90 minutes outside of Munich by train.
Ruhpolding is a ski destination in the winter but there is no shortage of activities to take part in during the summer. Cycling, hiking and paragliding are all popular.
Getting Elevated in the Bavarian Alps
We didn’t go paragliding this time but we did gain some altitude on a couple of nearby mountain peaks, Rauschberg and Unternberg. Hiking to the top of either takes a few hours and it is also possible to reach the top via a gondola (Rauschberg) or a chair lift (Unternberg).
On our first morning in Ruhpodling Wes hiked Rauschberg solo while Annette and the kids took the gondola. The views from the peak were spectacular.
Don’t cross the fence – it’s a long way down!
A few days later we all hiked Unternberg together. This was a challenge for the kids but once we made it to the top (in about two and a half hours) they were proud of their accomplishment.
Hanging with the locals on Unternberg.
View from the top of Unternberg.
Both peaks have a restaurant (called “Alms”) at the top and the Unterberg Alm was the better of the two. This alm had an amazing view from all sides and had an extensive menu of local delicacies. We ordered a flammkuchen, a schnitzel, and a vegetable soup and they were all delicious. Of course they all offer local brews as well.
We took the hard way up, so we took the easy way down (maybe should have done that in reverse order!!).
A Visit to Freizeitpark Ruhpolding
Our inspiration to visit Ruhpolding came from the book “At Home in the World” by Tsh Oxenrider, an account of a family that undertook an adventure not dissimilar to our own. In the book the author described the amusement park (“freizeitpark” in German) that featured attractions that were more centered around physical activity than rides and this was something we wanted to check out.
The park was a couple of miles from our rented house and the first bus we could take would arrive about a half an hour after the park opened. Our daughter wanted to be at the park when the doors opened so she and Wes left the house early and walked to the park. The walk itself ended up being a treat, as there were ample opportunities to pick wild strawberries along the path to the park.
When we arrived at opening time we were the first ones in the park and we had it pretty much to ourselves for the first couple of hours. The freizeit park ended up being well worth the very reasonable admission fee (about 12 Euros per person). There was a fun mix of obstacle courses, slides, carnival games (free to play) and there was even a small roller coaster that the kids rode a dozen times (there was never a wait but the roller coaster only ran for 20 minutes each hour on the day we visited).
One of many rides on the roller coaster.
Making her way across the suspension bridge.
One of the fun carnival games.
Biking & Swimming
While in the area we were each given a Chiemgau card, which is offered as a free perk by many of the local hotels and apartment homes. The card allows free transportation on local buses and trains and free passes for a number of local activities.
One of the perks is free bicycle rentals, so we decided to go for a ride around town. After picking up our bikes we set out on a route that took us on a long ascent that proved a bit too much of a challenge for our crew. We soon noticed that many of the other bikers had electric assist, something that was not included with our free rental. So, we turned around and picked a flatter route running along a lovely stream.
The kids wanted to take a swim but were content with wading once they learned what glacier water feels like.
The Chiemgau card also gave us access to Vita Alpina, an aquatics complex with a huge indoor wave pool and several outdoor pools (we preferred the heated one).
Rollin’ on the Chiemgau Coaster
Our stay in Ruhpolding coincided with the grand opening celebration for the Chiemgau Coaster, a Mountain Roller Coaster. The coaster is just out of town and the kids were begging to go for a ride after passing by it several times.
We bought our tickets and after boarding our cart we were transported up the side of a mountain on a plastic sled with wheels. Once we reached the top of the tracks we went flying downhill through the twists and turns of the track. There’s a brake if one wants to slow down but we applied that sparingly.
On the way up.
A ticket to ride costs 3.5 Euros for kids or 4.5 for adults, or one can pay 17/22 Euros for an hour long pass, which is the way to go if the crowds are light and you want to ride more than four times. We just took a couple of rides but could have probably squeezed a dozen rides into an hour if we had wanted to.
Next up, France!
That wraps up our stay in Ruhpolding and in Germany. Our next destination is Paris, where we’ll make a short stop before we pick up our leased car and embark on our epic European Road Trip!