WEEKEND: TRAVEL: The Peaks of Perfection; THE MOUNTAINS OF BAVARIA OFFER STUNNING VIEWS - FOR SUN WORSHIPPERS AND SNOW ADDICTS ALIKE

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Pinder

THERE aren't many places where you can soak up the sun one minute, and watch snowboarders swerve down mountains the next.

But in mid-June, the unusually late ski season was just one of the reasons why people were flocking to sample the delights of Bavaria in southern Germany.

After a short flight to Munich direct from Birmingham, I was transported to this fairytale region of castles and forests.

Our trip followed the Alpine Road, calling first at Schwangau, a sleepy town nestling in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. And you can discover a wealth of history at the famous Neuschwanstein castle, built by King Ludwig II.

It stands in a stunning spot, surrounded by forests, mountains and lakes, and helped inspire the fairytale castle at Walt Disney World.

You can step back in time and arrive in style by horse and carriage. We opted to walk off the dumplings and sauerkraut we had sampled the night before.

Walking around the castle is an amazing experience - with its lavishly decorated rooms, paintings and furniture, you get a real insight into the king's life.

Legend has it that King Ludwig II was one tree short of a forest and the government ordered him off the throne on the grounds of insanity. Elements of his eccentricity are apparent within the castle's walls. We walked through what I thought was a genuine grotto, just off the king's dressing room. I had it down as a natural formation of rock which had been adapted into the building, until I was told the king had made it himself out of papier mache!

Our next stop along the Alpine Road was the resort Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics. The former hometown of composer Richard Strauss, it also boasts Germany's highest mountain, Zugspitze - 2,964 metres.

Here you can join sunbathers by the Eibsee lake at the foot of the mountain, or take the cable car to the summit for the incredible views.

After a stop at the pretty village of Kochel am See, we visited the Franz Marc Museum, which shows how this Bavarian painter was inspired by the region. …