Located one hour south of Munich, in the midst of beautiful mountain views, the most famous town of the Bavarian Alps offers a wide variety of unique experiences but it is the snowboarding and skiing activities of this resort town (which hosted the 1936 Winter Olympic Games and is home to Germany’s highest peak) that take center stage. Just a few miles from the border with Austria, historic facades and lovingly painted houses give this town an unforgettable aura.
Independent towns for centuries, Garmisch and Partenkirchen were forcibly grafted together in 1935 to host the next year’s Winter Olympics and the famous composer Richard Strauss lived in Garmisch for more than 40 years. Visitors to this lively town can look forward to experiencing local culture with processions, national costume groups, “Goaßlschnalzer” (whip crackers), “Schuhplattler” (the Bavarian traditional folk dance) and stone lifters. Join in the fun with a guide to the best things here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Germany’s Highest Peak: 2,962-meters-tall (9,718 feet) with challenging slopes, glaciers, caves and plenty of drama. Known as the top of Germany, Zugspitze looms almost 3,000 meters up into the clouds making it the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains and the highest in the whole of Germany. There is plenty to see as you ascend before you even reach the top. You get there first by train from Garmisch to Grainau and then change to a cog-wheel train up the hill. You pass through a tunnel to Sonn Alpin and then on to a plateau where the highest chapel in Germany is visible.
Next, visitors hop on a cable car across the valley and up the slope where they can take in more majestic views and restaurants. You would do well to find out whether it is clear at the top before you ascend because a blue sky would afford a wonderful 360 degree view over 400 alpine peaks in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Once you reach the top it gets very cold so be sure to dress accordingly. Once you reach your destination, exciting glacier walks, hang gliding, rock climbing and tobogganing as well as other activities await.
2. Garmisch-Partenkirchen Ski Resort: An amazing skiing experience in the clouds
Filling the broad, flat valley bottom underneath the Zugspitze lie the towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen, separate towns that have merged to offer some of the best skiing in the Alps, with a wide variety of slopes and runs. Garmisch is Germany’s leading ski resort and has been noted for an almost perfect winter climate. This spot hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics and has numerous ski areas, some of which straddle the Austrian border.
Ski areas are separated into low altitude with mainly tough runs, and those on a glacier with gentler terrain. With access to castles, restaurants and beautiful German style buildings, enthusiasts will find 4 km (2.4 miles) of ski routes and 40 km (25 mi) of slopes. Germany’s first superpipe was established here and even freestylers will be pleased with Garmisch’s terrain park offering.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Ski Resort
Website: Garmisch-Partenkirchen Ski Resort
3. Olympic Ski Stadium: Journey through the historical ice stadium used in the 1936 Winter Olympics
Among the most popular sights in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in the shadow of Germany’s highest mountain the Zugspitze, an Olympic ice stadium was built in Garmisch, and a ski stadium was built in its sister village of Partenkirchen. With both stadiums still in use today, it first gained international fame with the 1936 Olympic Games, which were held here.
Today, famous for the traditional New Year’s Ski Jumping event that happens every year, visitors are welcome to access the ski stadium and the surrounding grounds free of charge at any time except during events. The new Olympic Ski Jump here is a gigantic marvel with an in-run tower running a length of 328 feet (100 m). In the evening, the in-run tower is lit up from the inside and is a sight to behold. It is no wonder that this masterpiece of architecture has been awarded the IOC/IAKS Award as well as the BDA Preis Bayern by the German Federation of Architects.
Olympic Ski Stadium
Website: Olympic Ski Stadium
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Hausberg is a relatively inexpensive place to ski and you can hire your equipment from the Ski Shop at the bottom of the Hausberg gondola without pre-booking with no problems. Ideal for beginners and experts, the mountain is full of great ski runs, mainly orange and a few blues and blacks as well as nice slopes, and it is a good spot for beginners to learn as there are plenty of flat transition areas.
With runs of varying difficulty (such as the world cup blacks), you can easily spend all day on the mountain without duplicating runs but if for some reason you feel like you need more, you can get to a whole other mountain if you sneak down the far side. Usually drawing a mostly German and American crowd, everybody is generally very friendly and there are wonderful restaurants dotted around the slopes as well as fast lifts, although it may get crowded on weekends and during German holidays.
5. Alpspitz: A more relaxed hiking and skiing experience
A close rival to the height and beauty of the Zugspitze is the Alpspitz. Coming from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you will soon notice its unique pyramid-shaped north face. Using the mountain railway to Kreutzeck, visitors can then proceed up by cable car to Alpspitze station.
Next, appropriate gear (such as a helmet to protect you from falling rocks) is required to hike the fixed rope route, a steep route involving iron ladders and steps, sometimes icy cliffs (especially in mid-summer) and drop-offs. Nevertheless, it is a particularly well developed fixed rope route with breathtaking views from the summit. Here, nature walks/walking trails, well equipped Klettersteig routes and wonderful scenery await.
Address: 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Website: Alpspitz (in German)
6. Partnach Gorge
With spellbinding wild waterfalls and water rapids, Partnach Gorge is one of the most beautiful gorges in the alpine region and was declared a natural monument in 1912. A series of tunnels and galleries carved out of the rock along one side allow visitors to duck behind waterfalls and walk along the rushing river. Open year-round except for a short time in the spring when melting snow makes the route impassable, the gorge is a worthwhile half day hike (not stroller friendly but great for kids as well).
From the parking site at the Olympic Skiing Stadium, the gorge can be reached by foot or by romantic horse-drawn carriage. Some of the tunnels running through the cliff walls require effort as there are dark, uneven surfaces, but the water is an intense blue and the air is so clean and fresh that it is worth the effort! The Partnach Gorge is the starting point for many hiking routes such as Hausberg and Kreuzeck. Take note however that no restrooms are open to the public after the stadium and a raincoat or umbrella as well as sturdy footwear would be good to bring.
Address: Wildenauer Str., 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Website: Partnach Gorge
7. Bavarian Alps
Gentle rolling plains leading into lakes surrounded by ancient forests merge into foothills and then the jagged Alpine peaks and snowcapped mountains. Running along Germany’s southern border with Austria with skiing as the main pastime, nothing much else represents Germany quite as closely as the rocky peaks and geranium-covered houses of the Bavarian Alps. Snowboarding, ice-skating, hiking and paragliding are also enjoyed here as well as the marvelous scenery including enchanting castles and traditional alpine villages.
Address: 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Website: Bavarian Alps
Fun for the whole family and with a ski area which is perfect for beginners or a short afternoon workout, the main ski slope here is about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) long and is easy to ski. An easy mountain that doesn’t cost too much to enjoy, the prices of the ski pass are reasonable and ski rental is available nearby. There is also the Alpine Coaster ride which snakes down the mountain and affords plenty of excitement and nice views.
At the Kolbensattelhütte, a wooden lodge at the top end of the cable car, you will find a sunny terrace and wooden interior with food and drinks served, again at reasonable prices. There is also a family recreation area with an exciting and diverse range of activities such as the mountain adventure playground and a variety of paths with amazing views to hike on. The mountain is also a great family skiing area in winter and a fun park for skiers and snowboarders.
Address: Kreislainenweg, 82487 Oberammergau, Germany
9. King's House on Schachen
Das Königshaus am Schachen passt zu König Ludwig II. Der etwas eigenwillige Märchenkönig liebte verrückte Ideen. So ließ...Posted by Schloss Elmau - Luxury Spa Retreat & Cultural Hideaway on Saturday, 20 August 2016
King Ludwig II’s mountain refuge on the Schachen Alp near Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a secluded alpine palace erected in 1870. The 5 rooms on the bottom floor exude their own charm and are built of cembra wood panelling and a mixture of stylistic elements. Visitors will also find the luxurious ‘Moorish Hall’ (the entire upper floor of the hunting lodge) bathed in a splendid array of gold, blue and red as well as the ‘Turkish Hall’ furnished with divans and a fountain in the middle of the room, as well as a chandelier of bronze weighing several tons that still illuminates the room today.
The ‘Turkish Hall’ is based on a hall of the Palace of Eyüp, erected by Sultan Selim III. The lodge can only be reached by foot via Elmau or through the Partnach Klamm and there is a botanical garden nearby containing about 1,500 different plants and alpine flowers.
King's House on Schachen
Address: Berg Schachen, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Website: King’s House on Schachen
10. Bavarian Zugspitze Railway
The beginning point of the journey is situated at a station 700 m (2,297 feet) above sea level in Alpine center Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This station is between the Olympic stadium and DB railway station, which is connected by the subway. The next station is near the top of the highest German mountain, Zugspitze.
With spectacular views and reasonably priced food and drinks at the top, marvel at the wonder of the tunnels while taking in the beauty of the mountains. The tunnels act as a defensive shield against avalanches and falling stones. The railway came about with increased tourism to the area prompting local businessmen and councilors to build transport links to make the top of the Zugspitze more accessible.
Bavarian Zugspitze Railway
Address: Obermoos 1, 6632 Ehrwald, Austria
Website: Bavarian Zugspitze Railway
Snowboarding and skiing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
So now you have your list of things to do and places to explore in the beautiful German resort town, now all that’s left to do is book your trip! Enjoy the stunning scenery and adventure that awaits you in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
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