Hiking to castle ruins in Reutte

Hiking to castle ruins in Reutte

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

When you think about castle ruins and fantastic places to go, is Reutte one of the first locations that come to mind? It definitely should be. The Austrian town of Reutte in Tyrol is just south of the German border and within 20 minutes of both the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. While tourists flock to these two famous castles and it is likely you’ve already seen them, go just a little further south to the stunning town of Reutte, where you can see several castle ruins and “float” across a highline suspension bridge. Intrigued? Read on for the perfect itinerary.

Where to stay
By far the best place to stay if you are visiting Reutte is at the Hotel Gasthof Klause. This location gives a whole new meaning to sleeping under a bridge, as it is located directly under Highline 179. It’s right in the middle of all the action, quite literally. With apartments that fit up to seven people, free parking and an option for breakfast, this location has it all. The rooms are modern with wifi and plenty of outlets while maintaining a medieval vibe, as the hotel is connected to the hermitage from the 17th century.

What to do
You don’t even need to drive away from the hotel to find a plethora of things to do, as it is located within the Burgenwelt Ehrenberg (castle world Ehrenberg). For starters, the hotel is connected to a medieval museum, which is unlike any you’ve seen before. The museum in Ehrenberg, located inside Ehrenberger Klause (the Ehrenberg Hermitage), is interactive and allows visitors to immerse themselves in the Middle Ages. Follow the story of Heinrich the knight and his ladylove, Maria. Try on knight’s armor or leather shoes. Watch an alchemist conduct an experiment and smell the spices that were used for trade. With 14 rooms, there is no shortage of historical information presented in an engaging and fun way.

From the museum, head to the hiking trail to get to the ruins (signs clearly mark the trails). For the ultimate hiking and bridge experience, start your expedition by hiking approximately one hour up to Fortress Schlosskopf. Since 1741, this fortress has been looming above Reutte. A short 41 years later, the impenetrable fortress was abandoned and left to decay. Today you can wander through the ruins and wonder what it was like to live in this rock monstrosity. The lookout towers offer fantastic views of the town below.

View from the Ehrenberg Castle ruins | Photo by Miroslawa Drozdowski 

From the fortress, hike about 30 minutes down the mountain toward the ruins of Ehrenberg Castle. Built in 1296, this medieval castle was once home to fortified walls, towers, emperors, kings, princes and tsars. In the beginning, the castle was left alone to rule in peace and was considered the most powerful fortress in northern Tyrol. However, once the religious wars started the castle was taken in 1546 and changed ownership many times. 1971 marks the last time the castle was turned over. It is now a restored ruin where visitors can sit between the castle walls and listen to the mountain wind tell the stories of rulers past.

For the adrenaline junkies, continue on your journey via the highline 179 suspension bridge. This bridge is the longest Tibet-style footbridge and hovers above the ground at 374 feet. You’ll feel a floating sensation as the bridge bobs and sways above the hotel and museum. If you keep your eyes up, you’ll be met with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains. The bridge is open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Tickets are 8 euros for adults and 5 euros for children ages 4 - 14. Don’t forget to buy your tickets before you make the trek to the bridge at the ticket center!

Suspension bridge at Reutte | Photo by Simon Dannhauer

After you cross the highline bridge, you’ll arrive at the Fort Claudia ruins. Completed in 1645, this fort was named after Claudia de Medici and was built level with Ehrenberg Castle on an opposing mountain in order to attack it. The fort was inhabited until the 19th century, after which it was abandoned. Hike down towards the hotel after exploring the castle and fortress ruins. It’ll only take about 45 minutes to get back.

Where to eat
After all that hiking, you’re likely famished and don’t want to drive anywhere. Not to worry! Restaurant Salzstadl is located just steps away from the hotel, and in the direction you were already going. Grab a table and get ready for a Tyrolean feast in an authentic tavern. This family-friendly location will have both adult beverages and a kid-friendly menu. Try an Austrian beer and don’t forget to carb load on käsespätzle after all that hiking. Finish the day with some apfelstrudel for the ultimate local experience. Don’t forget to add ice cream! When you wake up the next morning, a hearty breakfast is also served here for your convenience.

Though it seems like a lot to do, it is certainly within reason to see the ruins and cross the highline bridge all within a day. Other activities in the area include going to the Alpentherme Ehrenberg, hiking to the Stuiben Falls waterfalls, canyoning, going on a horse-drawn carriage ride, rafting, biking and even touring the brewery Vilser Privatbrauerei. Of course, if you haven’t been to Schwangau to see Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, now is the perfect time, as it is only about 20 minutes away.

With so many outdoor activities and a natural environment that will knock your socks off, adding Reutte to your travel list is a must do. From the hotel situated in a prime location to romantic castle ruins all around, you’re sure to have the most delightful time here. Whether with your family or on a getaway for two, the possibilities are endless. Google Reutte today and get planning!

A few logistical notes:

  • If TKS is your cell phone provider, you might not have any service here. While my husband and I were there, both of our cell phones would not work. Not really a big deal, until you need them for directions. Your best bet is to bring a map or load directions when you have Wi-Fi. This will save you from heated discussions in the car.
  • Even if the weather is gloomy, this location is still absolutely fantastic! We were there when the clouds were so low we climbed into them to see the ruins. There was a different kind of eerie beauty with the fog and clouds. Don’t cancel your trip because of weather; definitely still go!
  • The hike all the way up to Fortress Schlosskopf is moderately difficult. If you have small children, consider skipping this fortress and starting at either Fort Claudia or Ehrenberg Castle and then crossing the highline bridge.
  • Unless you want to pay in cash and adult prices for everyone in your party, get your tickets for the highline bridge at the ticket center next to the hotel.

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