Sonthofen: The perfect gateway to the Allgäu Alps

From the outset, it may be hard to fathom what the small town of Sonthofen has to offer as a holiday destination. Look closer and discover why this town is perfectly located for adventuring in the wild, sampling local delights and taking in sumptuous mountain views.

A gateway town to the Allgäu High Alps in Germany, it caters to outdoor sports enthusiasts. Nature lovers can also delight in the accessibility of nearby mountain trails and waterfalls, meanwhile, foodies come to sample locally made beers, regional beef and spätzle. 

Things to do in Sonthofen

The German Alpine town of Sonthofen, with just 21,000 inhabitants, is wedged between towering peaks. Conveniently located two hours by train from Munich, it’s an affordable place to stay in winter for skiing, or in the summer for hiking and mountain sports.

Heimthaus Museum Sonthofen

This cosy house-museum host’s thousands of visitors each year. It has an extensive collection of local historical art, costumes, and gives an insight into life in an 18th-century farmhouse. There are exhibitions on Allgäu culture and life, a geological and early history collection, religious art, and history of Sonthofen itself. The museum also offers special exhibitions, lectures, and events all-year-round.

Hinanger waterfall

A mysterious spectacle, the Hinanger Waterfall is one of the most beautiful in Allgäu. Hinanger Bach flows through a ravine where several waterfalls have formed. This 12-meter-high waterfall originates from limestone rock at the highest point of the gorge. Beyond the waterfall are trails that skirt overhanging cliffs, lending to the mysterious atmosphere this place conjures. In the winter come here to see it form icicles and a monster ice column. 

Starzlachklamm

This natural wonder, close to Sonthofen, began life as the Starzlach mountain stream. It’s located between the Grünten and the Wertacher Hörnle at an altitude of 1070 meters. Here you can witness whirlpools, rock in agate formation and waterfalls. In the summer months, canyoning is particularly popular here, especially in the Starzlach Gorge.

Strausbergmoos

A bog might not seem an attractive choice for the sightseeing roster, but this is one lovely bog! On the Strausberg below the Imberger Horn is this enchanting, colorful moor area. The moor is a significant area for wildlife. It is a part of the larger Allgäu nature reserve and perfect for an afternoon stroll and wildlife sightseeing.

Fluhenstein castle ruins

The Fluhenstein castle ruins reside in a picturesque setting on the outskirts of Sonthofen. Originally built by Oswald von Heimenhofen in 1361. This was the old administrative base for Sonthofen and the surrounding rural communities for 300 years. It has undergone sieges by various armies, looting by farmers and underwent expansion and repair. It was finally abandoned in 1808 when the ruins were sold by the Bavarian state. It is now privately owned, but you can walk around, take a picnic and enjoy the scenery! 

Der Hirschbräu Brewery and Shop

According to Der Hirschbräu Brewery, ‘beer doesn’t ask questions, beer understands’. This brewery situated in Sonthofen has been in operation since 1891. The beer itself is available in 19 countries around the world and they have several international award-winning beers, including Double Deer and Hirsch Gold. They produce everything from classic brews, craft beers to aged beers. If beer is something you love, stop by the brewery and shop to sample the full range. Catch them at events and festivals throughout the year in the Allgäu region.

Wonnemar Leisure Pool and Spa

Close to the town center is the family-friendly Wonnemar Leisure Pool, this is a fantastic spot to enjoy mountain views from their outdoor pools. Little ones will also enjoy sailing the seas (or pool…) aboard the pirate ship in Wonniland children’s world. For a day of relaxation, there is a spa area offering thermal baths, massage treatments, and other wellness treatments. In summer there is a sunbathing lawn with a volleyball court. All year round there are restaurants in both the adventure pool area and sauna world section of Wonnemar.

Winter sports in Sonthofen

For winter sports Ofterschwang Horn is only ten minutes by local bus from Sonthofen town centre.

The village of Ofterschwang has chalet-style accommodation with spas, restaurants and bars.

The mountain offers skiing, snowboarding, walking trails and snowshoeing trails. You can hire what you need to partake in any winter sports. It is also a family-friendly resort with nursery slopes at the top of the first lift. From here you can also walk around a pre-designated trail and take in snow-capped mountain views.

There are seven lifts and 1.5km of ski routes on offer. Just don’t forget to try the local specialty of cheese spätzle with a local beer or hot chocolate post-ski! 

Summer activities in Sonthofen

The Alps are equally as exciting to explore in the summer months where it becomes a magnet for cycling, hiking and taking in nature, lush meadows and spectacular waterfalls.

There are unique things to do in and around this area too!

In Ofterschwang you can go downhill scootering, or switch that for a mountain bike for something more extreme.

Hiking is the best way to take in the beauty of your surrounds in summer. You can choose from lakeside strolls, high-altitude walks or something more leisurely.

Try canyoning and rafting at ‘Splashing-A’ water sports station. Golfers can also visit Sonnenalp, just ten minutes away, for the most incredible mountain views on an 18-hole course.

Day trips from Sonthofen

The small alpine town is the perfect base for seeing some of Germany’s most famous sights!

Neuschwanstein Castle

This magical castle was built by the Bavarian King Ludwig II, who was known as the fairy tale king. He loved the Allgäu region. He built the castle above the village of Schwangau, but never saw it completed.

His dream lives on, as Neuschwanstein Castle is now one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions. At only a 54-minute drive from Sonthofen, it’s worth the journey to see the castle that inspired Disney!

Oberstdorf

Oberstdorf is the place for winter sports in the Allgäu Alps. It’s also only a 22-minute drive from Sonthofen.

Every year this small village hosts the first part of the Four Hills Tournament (ski jumping) on Schattenberg hill. Cable cars take winter sports enthusiasts from Oberstdorf up to the Nebelhorn, the Allgäu’s highest skiing area.

In the summer, many hikers set off from Oberstdorf on a mountain hike that lasts several days. This leads over the Alps to Italy. Throughout the journey, there are mountain huts to seek refuge for the night.

Alpsee

This lake is one of the most picturesque in the world. So much so it’s a haven for landscape photographers!

It’s surrounded by dense green forests with lush mountain views. Walk around it, take a boat ride out onto the lake and enjoy the restaurants and bars dotted around its shores. You’ll also find winter and summer sports here, plus it’s only a 50-minute drive from Sonthofen.

Where to eat and drink in Sonthofen?

Although a small town, there are lots of lovely cafes, eateries and bars to discover with mountain views and cosy surrounds!

Sudhaus

This steak restaurant is owned by the family who runs the local brewery. There’s a lot of brewery connections in Sonthofen! They specialise in steak and tapas and have a brewhouse. Local steak is especially tasty from the Allgäu region, and this is a great place to sample it.

‘s Handwerk

With a focus on craft beer and craft food, this is a modern, laid-back option for some scrumptious local fare. They have beers from the local Der Hirschbräu Brewery, who also provide them with their own special brew – a red ale. You can come in for a coffee but brunch, lunch and dinner are also served here. It’s also conveniently located next to tourist information!

Bene – Kaffee & Laden

This cute little café is in the centre of Sonthofen. The cakes and desserts are very tempting. The apple strudel is served beautifully with lashings of vanilla cream. Coffees are traditional Italian serves and it has a warm and welcoming atmosphere to boot.

Where to stay in Sonthofen

The ultimate all-in-one holiday stop is the Baumit Sports Arena, with a hostel, climbing centre, eateries and golf course!

You can find campsites like IllerCamping who also run “Splashing-A” outdoor sports company. They welcome caravans, campers and seasonal campers and have six glamping units that can be pre-booked.

Another great option is to stay in one of the hundreds of apartments in traditional alpine houses dotted around Sonthofen.

Or for those looking for a hotel stay, Hotel Garni & Café Schmideler is a gorgeous offering with sauna, table tennis room and sunbathing lawn.

Shopping in Sonthofen

The peaks of the Allgäu High Alps frame the town, making this a picturesque setting to go shopping.

There are your usual high street stores, independent shops, boutiques and local markets to explore. With outdoor sports being king in this town, expect lots of sports outlets.

Do also take in shops like the Italian Deli, the World Shop and have a look inside the independent stores for bargain, high-quality footwear and clothes.

If you have transport it’s worth making a trip to the Kleine Galerie Imberg. This gallery, garden and shop with beautiful handcrafted wares also has a wonderful wildflower meadow to frolic in.