The country's most southern region has always been highly rated for alpine and cross country skiing, and also has excellent snowboarding terrain. The three main ski areas are the Nebelhorn, Fellhorn/Kanzelwand and the Söllerek. An electronic guest card, the Allgäu Walser card gives skiers and boarders access to all buses, as well as special offers.
The Nebelhorn (2224m), Oberstdorf's original ski area, which is reached from the centre of town by the Nebelhorn cable-car, provides the highest and most challenging slopes in the region, and the German ski instructors' exams are held here. The Fellhornbahn (Fellhorn/Kanzelwand) serves a much bigger area which in turn is linked with the geographically bizarre Kleinwalsertal enclave of Austria - a valley completely surrounded by Germany. From the scenically-placed and often sun-drenched Panorama restaurant at the top, right on the border, you can look down on German slopes on one side and Austrian on the other, although there is only one main run down to Austria. The long Kanzelwand run to Riezlern is in fact an intermediate super-highway (though it gets narrower later) which connects the two countries, enabling skiers from either side to explore each other's ski areas. Riezlern's main runs - and those of neighbouring Hirschegg, Mittelberg and Baad - are in fact on the opposite side of the Austrian valley. The main Fellhorn and Kanzelwand ski areas, some five miles out of town, can be reached by ski bus. A two-part ride in one of Germany's biggest cable-cars takes skiers and boarders to the top station at 2037m. Those who want to get out at the top of the first cable-car can stop at a mountain restaurant and still enjoy the network of chairs and above-the-treeline intermediate skiing, before either skiing down again or pressing on to the top, from where they can continue all the way down to Kleinwalsertal.
The Nebelhorn ski area (it means "misty mountain" and sometimes lives up to its name as any bad weather coming through the valley normally strikes here first) is reached by cable-car from the town centre. You need to take three sections to reach the top, where black and red runs offer an excellent high-mountain experience with breathtaking scenery: they say you can see as many as 400 peaks between the Zugspitze and Switzerland's Mount Säntis. The Nebelhorn has some good off-piste opportunities, and it's also the start of some of the area's best ski-touring routes. The 7.5 km run from the top all the way down to the bottom is reputed to be the longest in Germany. The final section meanders through glades all the way down to the base station.
A third area, perhaps the most delightful though not the most challenging, is the Söllerek. It has the smallest vertical drop, but it's a beautiful sunny area for intermediates and families, with long gladed runs, particularly the twin runs off the long Höllwies draglift, where visibility in bad weather is always improved by being on forest trails. A children's fun area has been added at the bottom gondola station.
There are plans for a new six-seat chair on the Nebelhorn, and T-bars are gradually being converted into chairs. Some of the draglifts on the Fellhorn have been replaced with high speed detachable quads improving the capacity on the upper runs of the mountain. The Hollwies run at Söllerek has Germany's longest drag-lift.
There also is a short black run between section two and three of the cable car. Mogul skiers should make for the Fellhorn, and the Ifen area has three black runs. Apart from that, most of the expert skiing is found off piste. The best areas include the upper slopes of the Fellhorn and Kanzelwand. There's often good powder too at the Kellerloch section at Ifen and at the Walmendinger Horn. On the Nebelhorn, the Sommerabfahrt run from the summit station down to the middle station is steep and rocky. The off-piste tour from the Walmendinger Horn to Ifen, Kuhgehrenspitze and Hammerspitze is a wonderful day out for strong skiers involving steep runs, narrow ledges and couloirs, and a total vertical drop of some 10,000 feet. A similar tour takes advanced skiers and boarders from the Kanzelwand, taking in the Kanonenrohr and Fellbühl. The Bergschule Kleinwalsertal offers a different off piste experience every day.
The Gehrenhang at the Kanzelwand is a delightful open and sunny ride above the tree line for intermediate skiers, with a vertical drop of some 3000 feet. In addition, there are 2 ski areas in the Austrian part of the Walsertal, accessible by ski-bus. The Walmendinger Horn area has 9 km of red and blue runs serviced by one cable car, three chairs and three draglifts whilst the Ifen ski region offers 12 km of red and blue runs serviced by two chairlifts and two draglifts.
At the Söllereck area, a four seater gondola provides easy access to the top - and 4kms of blue and 7kms of very easy red runs. For those wanting to explore the other areas, there are a couple of baby lifts and the Seealpe draglift on top of the lowest section at the Nebelhorn, and a nice easy cruise from the Fellhorn summit via the 'Zweiländer' chairlift to the Felhorn cable car middle station.
There's also a practice slope near the bottom of the cable car station. Another blue run is located on the Austrian side at the bottom of the Kanzelwand Gondola. Further into the Kleinwalsertal, another smaller mountain, the Walmendinger Horn offers a further 9km of blue and easy reds. The Fellhorn/Kanzelwand has a practice lift at the Fellhorn base area and some easy draglifts at the Kanzelwand base in Rietzlern. There's a blue run from the Fellhorn summit to the middle station which traverses the main ski area, but it would be best to take the cable car back down from there. The Nebelhorn offers very little for the beginner other than a few short runs from the top of the first section of the cable car - ideal for novices who want easy skiing with some decent altitude and scenery thrown in.
On the Fellhorn there's a snowpark just below the mid-station, and across in Austria's Kleinwalsertal, there's a "boardergarden" high on the slopes of the Walmendingerhorn above the resort of Mittelberg.
At the summit of the Felhorn, the new self service restaurant provides a large, wind-sheltered terrace as well as indoor seating, with spectacular scenery: a panoramic view across the Austrian and Bavarian Alps. The modern free flow self service offers a wide variety of ready made and freshly prepared dishes. On the Nebelhorn, the Edmund Probst Haus was originally built as a mountain refuge in the 18th century. Now it is a local mountain inn, with waitress service, serving simple Allgäu dishes and snacks. The Haus am Söller, just above the top gondola - (you take the drag lift and ski down to it) has a large menu offering local cuisine freshly cooked by the owner. Try the enormous portions of 'Kaiserschmarr'n' if you dare..On the Walmendinger Horn, good service and excellent food can be found at the Sonna Alpe at top of chairlift 22. Alpine charm and rustic food is available at the Bühlalpe at the top of chairlift 27 - and the Max Hütte further down on the same lift.
It first achieved fame as a spa resort and a Nordic skiing centre. (It has an exceptionally good cross-country network of 85km, and world class ski-jumping, hosting an annual four-hill ski jumping tournament.) It's a full-on, attractive, bustling mountain community - one of the largest in rural Bavaria, and nestling in Germany's highest valley. It has a delightful pedestrian precinct and an extensive array of attractive shops and hotels, plus a first class spa (Vital-Therme Oberstdorf) and swimming pool complex. But as the locals are keen to point out, there's a lot more to the place than the "Three Ks" - Käse (cheese) Kühe (cows) and Kuren (spas).
For local and game specialities, try the Königliches Jagdhaus in Ludwigstrasse. There's more fine dining, in a small and intimate setting, at Maximilian's Restaurant in Freibergstrasse. Baccus Stuben, in Freibergstrasse, specialises in mid-price regional specialities and fine wines.
The Hotel Mohren in the town centre has another mid-price restaurant with international cuisine in the Marktplatz in the centre of town. Lovers of Italian food will make for Bei Alberto in Ostrasse: from pizza to fine Italian dishes.
For those on a budget who nonetheless enjoy a rustic setting, the Brutschers Waldesruh Stuben in Alte Walserstrasse specialises in local Allgäu specialities. Families on a budget could also try the Gasthof Wienerwald in Ludwigstrasse - good for chicken and 'Schnitzel' dishes.
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For the more daring, there's hang gliding, and paragliding. With 140 km of walking trails, the area has been described as the "biggest pedestrian precinct in Bavaria". You can snowshoe-hike too. There are two toboggan runs, each 3km long. There's a local history museum - or if that idea doesn't interest you, how about the schnapps museum!