Germany, Austria, South Tyrol: cool places for hot days: escape the heat here
The sun is beating down, the air is still, the temperatures are climbing to dizzying heights: In the extreme heat of this summer, many people are looking to cool down. We present the coolest and coolest places for hot days – from Germany to Austria to South Tyrol and Croatia.
At first we longed for it and now it’s too hot for us: The summer of 2022 is about to set new records and the burning sun triggers many thoughts of escaping. To places that promise refreshing coolness. And of course beautiful. Luckily there are quite a few of them within easy reach. We show the seven coolest places that can be reached fairly quickly without a plane and stress, but can be reached reasonably quickly by car or train at the last minute.
1. Partnach Gorge near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Upper Bavaria
At the foot of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, lies one of the most spectacular mountain gorges in the country: the 700 meter long and up to 80 meter deep Partnachklamm. The narrow gorge has been accessible to visitors for more than 100 years.
At that time, a steel suspension bridge was built 70 meters high in the rocks, as well as a tunnel and path along the Partnach torrent. Today, two safe paths and nine tunnels lead through the gorge with its gurgling waterfalls, rapids, pools and bizarre rock formations.
Those looking for a thrill go up the suspension bridge and look down where the milky-green Partnach shows its wild side. Cool temperatures prevail in the narrow gorge even on midsummer days. Added to this is the refreshment from the surrounding rock walls, from which it is constantly dripping.
- Hotel tip: “Das Graseck” is a 4-star boutique hotel and is characterized by its quiet location above Garmisch – accessible by gondola or on foot.
- Prices: 2 nights in a double room with half board from 404 euros per person.
2. Glacier hike on the Zugspitze in Upper Bavaria
Once again Garmisch, but this time it goes up to the Zugspitze, to the Northern Schneeferner Glacier. At an altitude of 2962 meters, where it is always below ten degrees even in midsummer. The average daily temperature over the year is even -2 degrees.
Nowhere else in Germany can you get closer to the eternal ice than up here. And it’s very easy and safe: first by train to the summit station, then via the interactive glacier adventure trail. You can either walk this yourself on the one-hour round tour with five explanation stations that report on geology, wind and weather, ice and snow at the touch of a button. Or take part in the guided hikes with a trained glacier guide, which start daily at 11 a.m. and 1.30 p.m.
The adventure trail leads over gravel paths, a viewing platform at dizzying heights to the eternal ice of the glacier and is considered harmless and hardly strenuous. Especially for children, the glacier trail is also equipped with a small via ferrata and a suspension bridge. Next to it there is another free highlight: a toboggan run made of natural snow and Zipfelbobs. While the offspring frolic in the snow, parents can enjoy the panoramic view of more than 400 Alpine peaks in four countries – from Germany to Austria, Italy and Switzerland.
- Hotel tip: “Berghotel Hammersbach” (4 stars) is located in the Zugspitze village of Grainau, attracts with country house style and a large wellness area.
- Prices: 2 nights in a double room with breakfast from 178 euros per person.
3. Breitachklamm, Oberstdorf in the Allgäu Alps
In Tiefenbach near Oberstdorf, superlatives roll over one another: the Breitachklamm is considered the deepest and most impressive rocky gorge in Central Europe and one of the most beautiful geotopes in Bavaria. A lot of advance praise. But you only have to come from the Austrian Kleinwalsertal and follow the Breitach to stop, be silent and be amazed. Because the rocks drop vertically here by up to 100 meters.
Below, the spray from the roaring water splashes in all directions. The Breitach tumbles thunderously over rocky banks, gurgles in deep pools and sprays fine drops with which the light plays its games. Well-developed hiking trails lead through the gorge for around one kilometer. There are different trail variants: from one to two and a half hours, from easy to medium difficulty.
- Hotel tip: The “Hotel elements Oberstdorf” (4 stars) is in the Trettach Valley, in the middle of the Allgäu Alps National Park with a view of the Christlessee.
- Prices: 2 nights in a double room with breakfast from 269 euros per person.
4. Passer Gorge in Passeier Valley, South Tyrol
The power of the Passer river has produced a natural beauty: the Passer Gorge in the Passeier Valley, between Moos and Sankt Leonhard, around 20 kilometers north of Meran. Hiking is the motto here, around 7.8 kilometers. But in the shade, through cool forests, along the icy waters of the Passer, which has formed many pools and whirlpools and spectacular rock formations, past waterfalls.
It rushes down several steps 342 meters over the rock faces of Stuls. The three-hour hike is one of the waterways that are laid out around Moos and show how water and ice formed the valley. The perfect way to exercise in the heat without having to sweat too much and get to know nature at its best. Refreshments at huts included.
- Hotel tip: The “Castel Rundegg” (4 stars) is a stately property from the 17th century and is located in the villa district of Merano.
- Prices: 2 nights in a double room with breakfast from 272 euros per person.
5. Atta Cave, Attendorf in Sauerland
Constant coolness: In the southern Sauerland, near Attendorn, not only refreshment is the order of the day, but permanent cooling. Because in Germany’s largest stalactite cave, the Atta Cave, the temperature is constantly nine degrees Celsius. Through an 80 meter long access tunnel, you descend into a bizarre world of stalactites (dropstones hanging from the cave ceiling), stalagmites (dropstones growing from the ground) and stalagnates (dropstone shapes that have formed from stalactites and stalagmites).
These natural and fantastic looking structures only grow an average of 8 to 15 millimeters in 100 years. Of the more than six kilometers long cave system, 1.8 kilometers are accessible. A guided tour through the easily accessible Atta Cave, which is also called the queen of the stalactite caves because of its beauty, lasts 40 minutes.
- Hotel tip: The “Hanse Hotel Attendorf” (4 stars) combines Sauerland tradition with futuristic architecture and calls itself “diversely different”.
- Prices: 2 nights in a double room with breakfast from 165 euros per person.
6. Krimml Waterfalls, Hochkrimml in Salzburger Land
Natural spectacle, natural remedies and one of the ten most popular sights in Austria at the same time: In Hochkrimml, in the Hohe Tauern National Park in Salzburger Land, the largest waterfalls in Europe not only take your breath away, but also enable people with health problems to breathe freely again. Because the extraordinarily fine spray mist of the most impressive falls in the Alps is attested that its tiny and negatively electrically charged water droplets can alleviate symptoms of hay fever, allergy sufferers and asthmatics.
Incidentally, the full-body moisturizing also provides tingling refreshment in the midst of the wild and romantic mountain landscape. The Krimmler Ache falls about 380 meters over three waterfall levels. The natural wonder can be easily observed from viewing platforms at different heights. And after the highest waterfall level, there is a hike through the high valley to the 600-year-old Krimmler Tauernhaus – with a view of the snow-capped peaks of the surrounding three-thousanders.
- Hotel tip: The national park hotel “Klockerhaus” (4 stars) is located directly at the entrance to the Krimmler waterfalls at 1070 meters above sea level, with a natural bathing pond and mini zoo.
- Prices: 3 nights in a double room with breakfast from 243 euros per person.
7. Waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
16 turquoise lakes, connected by a network of rivers, waterfalls and caves, in the midst of a wildly romantic landscape with forests and karst hills: No wonder Winnetou felt so at home here, since several of his films were shot in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is true that swimming in the many bodies of water in Europe’s oldest national park has not been allowed for many years for environmental reasons, but thanks to the many wooden footbridges across the lakes you can get very close to them.
Just the noise, splashing and the many fine water droplets in the clear air refresh body, soul and spirit. The most spectacular waterfall can be reached from the park entrance towards Galovac Lake. The path leads past numerous small cascades to the “Veliki Slap”, which means something like the “Big Waterfall”. At around 78 meters, the “Veliki Slap” is also the largest waterfall in Croatia. It lies in the lowest part of the lakes and its roar and gurgle can be heard from afar. A little tip for water lovers: you can swim in the river just a few kilometers north of the national park.
- Hotel tip: The “Pansion Winnetou” is located 4 kilometers south of Entrance 2 to the Plitvice Lakes National Park and delights guests with its rustic furnishings.
- Prices: 7 nights in a double room from 280 euros per person.