best way to view the alps from Austria or Munich?
As for Austria, my favorite thing that I did in my 5 weeks in Europe was the Ice caves in Werfen (about 45 minutes from Salzburg). This one is also free transportation with railpass. This is not for the weak of heart though. If you want an extreme adventure that will stay in your memory for the rest of your life, hike the whole way up. It will take a good 6 hours or more but you see some beautiful scenery along the way and it truly is an adventure. Or if you want the easy way, you can take the train into the town, wait for the bus and then you only have a 20 minute hike to a gondola which will take you to the top. This will also leave time to see the fortress which sits up on the top of a cliff above the city.
The castle, about the most crowded tourist trap in the whole of Germany, is more or less on the edge of the mountains, which are not that high in that area. The landscape is gorgeous indeed, but the whole thing is too much "Kitsch" imho.
For some real mountain scenery, I'd recommend catching a train from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There, go up the Zugspitze by cable car. The view is spectacular if, and only if, it's clear, so choose a day with fine weather. Otherwise it's not worth going up.
It might be best to get some competent advice from avid hikers in Munich. Try an outdoor store (Lauche and Mass for instance). They might be able to point you towards the parts of the Alps best for you and possibly sell you the hicking maps as well.
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