Germany’s highlight: Bavaria's Kempten

Germany’s highlight: Bavaria's Kempten

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

This time of year is magical in Germany. It feels as though the entire country transforms into a winter wonderland. Although the lively Christmas markets that mark the festive holiday season may look different this year, there is still plenty of frosty fun and shenanigans to be had. While many people travel to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps to well-known ski havens such as Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Berchtesgaden, why not head to the heart of the Allgäu to Kempten?

Once known as Cambodunum, Kempten is one of the oldest cities in Bavaria. Housing thermal baths from the ancient Romans and stunning works of architectural art, you could spend your time perusing through the city center and not get tired. Snow-dusted hills surrounding the city provide ample opportunity for a fantastic day outdoors. Approximately two hours southeast of Stuttgart and a little over two and a half hours south of Nuremberg, Kempten is the perfect spot for a quick weekend getaway.

For those wanting to stay closer to town, Kempten provides a wonderfully rich historical narrative. From the towering, rounded spires of the Basilica of St. Lawrence to the crumbling castle ruins encompassing the city, it’s easy to fall in love with the area. The Archeological Park Cambodunum whisks visitors back in time 2,000 years with the well-preserved remains of the ancient Romans. The cobblestone streets and central square are lined with traditional Bavarian buildings, creating a romantic, fairytale feeling. The Altstadt is usually transformed into a charming menagerie of alpine huts and twinkling lights for the Kempten Christmas Market during the holiday season.

However, if you’re looking for a little more adrenaline or thrills, Kempten is an excellent spot for snow sports. With gently rolling hills and meadowland covered in fine, white powder, cross country skiing is one of the more popular athletic events to check out. If you’ve fancied a go at trying biathlon, the Kempten region offers beginner’s courses in the dual-sport of rifle shooting and cross-country skiing. There are also plenty of toboggan runs to race your friends down. Do you need a little more speed? Head 14 kilometers east to Schwärzenlifte Eschach. This family-friendly resort is great for first-timers and intermediate skiers. While the runs may not be as challenging as those in Tyrol or the Black Forest, this ski area is significantly less busy and less expensive than its glitzy counterparts. If you’d rather avoid the snow, head to the heated pools and saunas of CamboMare, an indoor aquatic paradise in the winter.

Although Kempten is a magical place to visit any time of year, it is even more enchanting during the winter. Take a stroll through the city's historical heart or gear up for a snowy adventure in the great outdoors. Escape the ordinary (and the crowds) for a quick getaway or a long weekend. It’s worth a trip off the beaten path.

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