Forest of Glass in the Mountains Beyond Munich

view from Weissenstein ruins, Pfahl, Bavarian Forest, Bavaria, Germany
••• Ernst Wrba/Getty Images

Munich is many things, but unusual is not often one of them. Oktoberfest, after all, has become a worldwide export, and with more than 13 million visitors in 2014 alone, it's clear that the city's medieval squares, baroque palaces, and plentiful green spaces are not secrets either. Just outside the city limits, however, in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, sits one of the strangest places on the planet – you can decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing when you visit.

An "Air Health Resort" or a Haunted Hideaway?

Officially, Regen is known as an "air health resort" – in other words, a retreat where people, often those with respiratory conditions, head to enjoy the fresh air of the Bavarian Alps. Like many towns outside of Munich, of course, Regen provides a welcome respite even if you simply want to get out and disconnect. A more sinister story lurks in the forests around Regen, however – another forest entirely, in fact.

Weißenstein Castle and the Forest of Glass

Castles are relatively common in the Bavarian Alps around Munich, so on the surface, Weißenstein Castle might not seem like anything special – perhaps a more scenic version of Munich's best hotels. A few things seriously stand out here, however, and not just the fact that the castle is nearly 1,000 years old. For example, visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a white-haired woman wandering around the castle at night.

Skeptics equate this to looking at the façade of the castle, which is also white, with weary eyes.

Is Weißenstein Castle doesn't creep you out, you won't have to go far to find something that delights and amazes you. Nearby sits a veritable forest of glass (known as Gläserner Wald in German), which is not as terrifying as it sounds – the sculptures here aren't sharp and won't hurt you.

They are, however, particularly beautiful, as many of them are tinted and create colorful impressions on the snow.

Another non-creepy place you can visit in Regen is the Fressende Haus museum, which sits just behind the castle. Here, you'll see re-creations of the lives of the people who used to call this place home and use its fertile soils to grow their food.

How to Visit Regen

Regen is an easy day-trip from Munich, no matter how you choose to get there. The train is the easiest way to get there for most travelers to Germany and requires one stop. After traveling on a twice-hourly train from Munich's Hauptbahnhof to Plattling, you'll transfer to one of the hourly trains from Plattling to Regen. The total journey time is just under three hours, depending on how you work your connection in Plattling.

Alternatively, if you've decided to rent a car in Munich, the trip takes just under two hours using a combination of Autobahns A9, A92, and B11. Another option, if you prefer not to travel via train but don't have your own car, is to hire your own driver, whether as part of a group tour leaving from Munich, or one who has his own car.