The village of Scharnitz lies to the north of the Seefeld plateau on the border between Austria and Germany. Originally fortified by Romans protecting the trade route between the present-day Tirol and Bavaria, the name Scharnitz was given to the woods stretching from the Inn valley through to the outskirts of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany in the Middle Ages - and, as such, is the oldest place name on the plateau.
As the narrowest - and most easily defended - point on the trade route, the area was a strategically important one. In the middle of the 17th century, a fort was constructed to protect the Tyrol - the Porta Claudia - and the ruins are still visible above the village. In fact, since 1967, the Porta Claudia has been featured on Scharnitz's coat of arms.
Since Austria joined the European Union the village has lost its role as a customs control centre. Nowadays it has another "border" to look after, as it is better known for being the gateway to the Karwendel Alpine Park, which stretches from Scharnitz through to the shores of Lake Achen on the northern side of Innsbruck.
As such, it's a favourite destination for walkers and mountain bikers from the Tyrol and Bavaria, as well as holidaymakers who want to get away from the bustle of town life. Yet the train station on the main line between Munich and Innsbruck means that the small village is easily accessible.
For such a popular day-trip destination, Scharnitz has a limited amount of guesthouse and apartment availability. More information about Scharnitz accommodation.