1. It’s heaven for hikers
Bavaria’s rich and varied topography makes it ideal for hiking – and Ruhpolding has some of the finest routes in the region. From easy strolls through grassy mountain pastures, to invigorating yomps over Alpine peaks, there’s a trail to suit every level of fitness.
Love a challenge? The return trek of Mount Rauschberg (1,671m) is an invigorating full-day climb through untamed Alpine forests and flower-filled pastures – with a cable car to save your knees on the descent. For easier jaunts, try the 3.9km Fairytale woodland walk (from Staudigl hut in Vorderbrand), or the 5.5km Saga Path (from Eggl Bridge) whose signposts reveal Ruhpolding’s ancient folk stories.
“Insider tip: At the summit of Rauschberg, save some energy for the ‘Artistic Mile’ – a series of sculptures by artist Walter Andreas Angerer.”
2. It’s brilliant for biking
You don’t have to have thighs of steel to explore Ruhpolding on two wheels: with super-smooth roads between villages, and undulating trails through its fields and forests, the region is ideal for a leisurely pedal. For added oomph, hire an e-bike: it’ll make any inclines an absolute breeze.
Mountain bikers should head straight for the hills: the Bavarian Alps has trails of all lengths and difficulties, at altitudes ranging from 600m to over 1,800m. Check out the Chiemgau MTB Marathon trail, too, for 104km of adrenaline highs and incredible views.
“Insider tip: Really can’t stand cycling up-hill? Head to Lake Chiemsee, where you’ll find flat trails that are suitable for all the family.”
3. The skiing is spectacular
In winter, those same peaks receive a generous dusting of snow, making Ruhpolding a prime spot for skiing and snowboarding – with cross-country trails and ski touring for every ability. Every January, polar athletes come from all over the world to compete in Ruhpolding’s BMW IBU Biathlon World Cup: proof that its winter sports conditions really are world-class.
Throw in great après ski and opportunities for snowshoeing, sleigh rides and toboggan runs, and you have the recipe for a great winter break.
“Insider tip: You’ll need to book your holiday early if you want to catch the Biathlon World Cup: Ruhpolding’s hotels and B&Bs sell out fast.”
4. But you don’t have to be too energetic…
You don’t have to be a trekker or cyclist to enjoy Ruhpolding’s untamed beauty: you can feast your eyes on the mountainscapes without even having to lace up your hiking boots. Vita Alpina’s outdoor thermal baths are perfect for doing just that: come rain or shine, the steamy baths will soothe your muscles in spectacular surroundings – while the indoor pools and waterslides will keep the kids entertained all day.
Seeing the mountains up-close needn’t be a challenge, either: two cable cars will whisk you to the summits of Unternberg and Rauschberg, where cosy mountain restaurants and easy walking trails await. The ride up Unternberg is breathtaking, with a patchwork of treetops and pastures laid out at your feet: keep an eye out for golden eagles and chamois as you go.
“Insider tip: Get complimentary entry to over 30 attractions in Ruhpolding, Inzell and the surrounding areas, including Vita Alpina, with a Chiemgau Karte (Chiemgau Card) - free for Ruhpolding guests.”
5. It tastes incredible
Say hello to your new favourite hobby: ‘alm-hopping’. Bavaria’s alms, or mountain hut restaurants, are dotted throughout the highlands – tiny, family-run establishments where the food is always fresh, the schnapps is always flowing, and muddy boots are always welcome.
Whenever you reach one, pop in: you’ll be greeted like old friends by your hosts – often dressed in traditional lederhosen – and fed a feast of hearty cuisine. Local favourites include buttermilk, home-baked bread with handmade cheeses and smoked bacon. It’s hearty, hike-fuelling food – just the ticket when you’re out in the hills.
“Insider tip: Café Chiemgau’s butternudeln – soft dumplings cooked in butter – are (whisper it) the best in Ruhpolding. Master confectioner Wolfgang Heigermoser has spent years perfecting his recipe, alongside a fantastic array of pastries, pralines and tarts. Visit cafe-chiemgau.de.”
6. The lakes are lovely
So crystal-clear are the lakes in Ruhpolding Valley, and so spectacular are the peaks that surround them, that the area is dubbed ‘Little Canada’ – and it certainly likes up to its moniker. The Lödensee, Mittersee and Weitsee lakes are an idyllic trio, joined by a single bike path which weaves between the water and the woodland.
“Insider tip: Don’t forget your cozzie – the lakes are some of Bavaria’s warmest, and wild swimming is welcomed here.”
7. It will rejuvenate your body…
It’s not only the mountains that will energise you in Ruhpolding: the region has a wealth of wellness-focused hotels and spas – the ideal tonic for mountain-weary legs. Hotel Ortnerhof, Hotel AlpenSonne, Steinbach Hotel, Hotel Ruhpoldinger Hof and Hotel zur Post all have excellent facilities. Take your pick from traditional wood-fired saunas and steamy outdoor hot tubs, soothing massages and hammam-style rituals – with many spas using only natural products. At the Ortnerhof Hotel, try a rejuvenating foot massages – perfect after a long day of hiking. There's also the newly renovated spa area at HELD's Vitalhotel; a great option for some rest and relaxation.
“Insider tip: Try a herbal massage at the Steinbach Hotel spa: using locally-gathered herbs, this aromatherapy treatment harnesses the health benefits of Ruhpolding’s natural surroundings.”
8....and relax your mind
Sometimes, the power of a natural place is so profound that it stops you in your tracks: it makes you feel alive, invigorated, at-one with your surroundings. Whether you believe in natural energies or not, you can’t deny that some places are just special – and in Germany, they’re know as kraftorte, or power spots. Hildegard Ringsgwandl, a kraftorte practitioner, has identified a number of kraftorte in the Ruhpolding area: the chapel on the church hill, the huge stone at Märchenwald forest, and the druid stone between Urschlau and the Röthelmoos Alm. Go there, and feel the power for yourself.
“Insider tip: The druid stone is split in half and has carvings on its inner walls. You can go inside it or slip through it, which used to be seen as a symbol of letting go of the old, regeneration and a kind of rebirth.”