Oberammergau and Lake Constance

Held only once every ten years, the Passion Play of Oberammergau, a spectacular event with a huge cast formed exclusively by the townsfolk of Oberammergau, is a spiritual treat to be savoured. The epic scale of the production, which lasts for five hours with a three hour intermission, is as breathtaking as the scenery here in the Bavarian Alps.

Equally spectacular is the setting for our preamble to the Passion Play, a four-night stay on the shores of Lake Constance, whose sparkling waters form an ever-present backdrop to our touring. From our base at a comfortable, family-run hotel in Bregenz on the Austrian shore of the lake, we visit a selection of outstanding gardens and impressive palaces.

Pick of the bunch has to be Insel Mainau, one of the most splendid garden sites in Europe. Getting there is half the fun as we cruise at a leisurely pace along the lake, and once there we have a dazzling array of gardens, parks and buildings to explore. Elsewhere we visit a couple of hugely impressive Baroque palaces, from whose gardens we can gaze down upon the bustling lake; a richly decorated monastery in an idyllic setting and, by way of contrast, a homely little private garden set in the hills that surround the lake.

On our way to Bregenz we call in at the unmissable fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein and on the final leg of our journey we end on a suitably spiritual note at the Pilgrimage Church of Wies, a Rococo masterpiece.

Itinerary 2022

Day 1

We depart from London on a direct flight to Munich airport (flight connections and regional flights may be available at a supplement available on request). On arrival we are met by a local coach and head south for Lake Constance, breaking our journey with a visit to the iconic fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein. This 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace, which sits on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau, was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886.

Following our visit we continue our journey to Lake Constance (der Bodensee in German) and our hotel in Bregenz, at the southern end of the lake, just over the border in Austria. Bregenz is an attractive town, known for its modern opera house built out into the lake and flower-filled spaces such as the lakeside gardens and the Thurn und Taxis park.

Meals included: Dinner

Day 2

Today, following breakfast, we depart for a visit to Tettnang New Palace (Neues Schloss Tettnang), one of the most beautiful palaces in the Bodensee region. With sweeping views over the lake, the palace rises majestically above the gently undulating landscape. It was started in 1712, at the height of the Baroque period, on the site of an earlier palace, and consists of an immense, symmetrical four wing complex. After a fire in 1753 the interiors had to be rebuilt and redesigned and the result is a stunning series of opulently decorated apartments and chambers. The most charming and original creations are the Grünes Kabinett (green room) and Vagantenkabinett (vagabonds room), with its depictions of travelling craftsmen and entertainers. Formal gardens complement this Baroque masterpiece.

By way of contrast, our visit this afternoon takes us to the historic town of Wangen im Allgäu, within whose mediaeval walls we will see some small but charming gardens. We will be joined here by a local guide who will take us on a walking tour of the town. We return to our hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 3

Today, following breakfast, we travel a short distance to the pier and join the lake steamer which will take us to Insel Mainau, one of the unmissable garden experiences in Europe. What better way to reach the island, which lies roughly two-thirds of the way up the lake from Bregenz, than by boat, on a leisurely cruise that calls in at various ports along the way.

On arrival at Mainau’s busy little harbour you are free roam within the magnificent terraced landscape and uncover a succession of botanical treasures - the palm house, the scenic arboretum, the butterfly house, the perfumed rose garden and the Italianate renaissance gardens. There are a variety of outlets for a coffee or an ice cream, a glass of beer or wine, a snack or a full lunch as you wish (not included).

While human settlement on Mainau can be traced back to Neolithic times and the island has passed through many hands since then, the park and garden as we see it today dates back to 1853 when Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden purchased the island. His son and heir bequeathed the island to his sister, Viktoria, Queen of Sweden, which is why you may see the Swedish flag flying from the Castle.

At an agreed time we will re-assemble and make our way to the appropriate pier (as shown on the departure board at the harbour) for our cruise back down the lake to Bregenz.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 4

After breakfast we drive along the shore of Lake Constance to the Meersburg New Palace (Neues Schloss Meersburg), the picturesque former residence of the prince-bishops of Constance. As at Tettnang, the palace here was built on the site of an older castle and over a period of 60 years emerged in 1762 as an incredible ensemble of four monumental buildings in extravagant Baroque style. We will see richly decorated interiors in the state apartments and ceremonial hall before exploring the pleasure gardens and enjoying sweeping vistas over the bustling lake.

In the afternoon we continue along the lake shore and slightly inland, where we find Salem Monastery and Palace, one of the most beautiful and culturally important sites in the Bodensee region. Gothic solemnity combines with Baroque splendour to create a majestic ensemble of buildings, idyllically set among meadows, orchards and gardens. The former Cistercian abbey dates from 1134 and enjoyed wealth and power throughout the Middle Ages, which is manifested in the awe-inspiring Gothic church. After a devastating fire in 1697 the abbey and main monastery building were reconstructed in Baroque style, complete with magnificent plasterwork and paintings.

We return to our hotel in Bregenz.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 5

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and head for Oberammergau to attend the performance of the Passion Play, which includes dinner and drinks at our hotel in the intermission. After the play ends we return to our overnight accommodation. Performance times: Part 1: 1.30pm – 4.00pm; Part 2: 7.00pm – 9.30pm.

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6

Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for Munich, breaking our journey with a visit to the Pilgrimage Church of Wies. Miraculously preserved in a tranquil valley, the Church of Wies is an exuberant masterpiece of Bavarian Rococo and a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. The hamlet of Wies was the setting in 1738 of a miracle in which tears were seen on a simple wooden figure of Christ. A wooden chapel was constructed and housed the statue for some time but the pilgrims who visited became so numerous that the local Abbot decided to construct a splendid sanctuary. The result, designed by the celebrated architect Doinikus Zimmerman, was one of the most polished creations of Bavarian Rococo, and a memorable note on which to end our tour.

We then continue to Munich airport in time for our flight back to London, where on arrival the group will disperse.

Meals included: Breakfast

What's Included

  1. Services of a professional tour manager
  2. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  3. Meals - All meals included with water
  4. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
  5. Field Notes
  6. Hotels - Accommodation in hand-picked hotels.
  7. Oberammergau Passion Play Tickets

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To book your tour without flights from the US, please call our team on 888-591-0830

2022 Tour Details

$2,815
  • 6 Days
  • 23rd Aug - 28th Aug 2022
  • Code: BOBL220823
  • Available
  • without flights
  • sgl supp: $400