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Best Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Here are the best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a famous town of the Bavarian Alps. The town became Garmisch-Partenkirchen, or Ga-Pa for short, when two towns united in 1935 (Garmisch and Partenkirchen). Although it’s one of Europe’s top winter sports destinations, we’re going to show you what to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen even if you aren’t hugely into skiing or winter activities.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen sits at the base of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. Germany’s fourth highest mountain also overlooks Ga-Pa, Leutasch Dreitorspitze or “Three-Gate Peak” named for its triple summit. Garmisch-Partenkirchen also hosted the 1936 Winter Olympic Games, which was the first to include alpine skiing as an event.

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Garmisch Partenkirchen

Needless to say, if you love spectacular mountain views, skiing or hiking, this is the destination for you. In this Garmisch-Partenkirchen travel blog post, I’m going to show you how to plan an epic getaway there. This travel guide includes where to stay, the best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, local attractions, day trips from Ga-Pa, and the best restaurants and cafes.

Where to Stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Bader Suites

Justin and I stayed at the lovely Bader Suites in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I don’t think it’s possible to stay at a better place than this one! Bader Suites offers self-catering apartments in the town centre. They’re super modern, stylish, and comfortable. We stayed in one of their Classic suites that’s perfect for couples, and they also have larger suites for families and groups of friends.

Bader Suites
Bader Suites
Bader Suites
Bader Suites

Our room had a spacious living room, a full kitchen, a bedroom, a bathroom, and a balcony with views of the Bavarian Alps. Get cozy on the couch or dine at the kitchen table. There’s a large fridge and a kitchen where you can prepare any meals. I also adored the fancy coffee maker that makes the perfect espresso and coffee. Bader Suites provides some coffee beans to get you started.

Bader Suites
Bader Suites

The bedroom has a luxurious and comfortable bed, and there is an en-suite bathroom with a shower, a heated floor, and a heated towel rack. There is a wardrobe and shelves in the bedroom with lots of space for your clothes and belongings.

Bader Suites
Bader Suites
Bader Suites
Bader Suites

Justin and I loved sitting out on the apartment’s balcony. You can soak up the stunning surroundings of the mountains while sipping coffee or enjoying breakfast. It’s the perfect view to wake up to each day.

Bader Suites
Bader Suites

Bader Suites are self-catering, meaning that you can access the apartments and the parking garage using an app on your phone. It’s so cool! You can open the door to your apartment right from your phone. It’s modern technology that was easy to figure out, so don’t worry if you aren’t tech-savvy. And speaking of parking, there is a covered parking garage where you can leave your car.

We had such an amazing stay at Bader Suites. Even though the apartments are self-catering, there’s staff on hand in case you have any questions or concerns. They’re so friendly, warm, and helpful, so feel free to reach out to them during your stay. Book your stay at Bader Suites when you visit Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I know you’ll love it!

More Places to Stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Looking for more places to stay? There are many hotels and accommodations in Garmisch-Partenkirchen that will fit your needs and budget. Enter your travel dates into this handy map and click on each property to compare and learn more.

Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Zugspitze

Visiting Zugspitze is one of the best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s the highest mountain in Germany at 2,962 metres above sea level. Not only can you stand at the summit of the highest peak, but you can also soak up 360 degree panoramic views of 400 mountain peaks from four different countries on a clear day (Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland).

The website for Zugspitze offers tickets for three different mountain adventures. It can be a little bit confusing to decide what you’d like to do when you’re in Ga-Pa as there’s lots of choice. I’m going to show you what we did during our visit and some of your other options, too.

How to Visit Zugspitze, Germany’s Highest Mountain

Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain

Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain, home to three glaciers, and it is Germany’s highest ski resort. It’s located in southern Germany at the Austrian border (you can also visit from Austria). The Zugspitzplatt has 20km of slopes with guaranteed natural snow from mid-November to the beginning of May. If you love to ski, you must plan a holiday to Zugspitze.

However, Justin and I did not visit Zugspitze to go skiing. It is an amazing destination for those who simply love admiring beautiful scenery. There’s a large observation deck at the summit where you can walk around to admire the amazing scenery. Plus, you can check out Germany’s highest church, an igloo village, three toboggan runs, mountain restaurants, or relax on the deck chairs in the sunshine.

Getting to Zugspitze

Zugspitze parking lot at Eibsee
Parking area at Eibsee

It’s easy to get to Germany’s highest peak, aka the top of Germany, via public transportation from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Zugspitzbahn station is only steps from the main DB train station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This is where you can catch the 90 year old cogwheel train and proceed to visit the summit of Zugspitze using public transport.

A roundtrip ticket includes a journey aboard the historic cogwheel train from Zugspitzbahn station via Grainau and Lake Eibsee to the Zugspitz Plateau. Then, you’ll take the Gletscherbahn cable car to the summit. After spending time at the summit, you can descend on the Zugspitze cable car back down to Lake Eibsee and take the cogwheel train back to Ga-Pa.

Traveling up to Zugspitze from the cable car
Traveling up to Zugspitze from the cable car

If you have a car, you can drive to Grainau / Lake Eibsee and park your car at the large parking lot there. There’s only a small parking fee, which could be waived if you visit later in the day. Then, you can take the Zugspitze cable car up to the summit and back down at the end of your trip. We chose this option as we only had a couple of hours to visit.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to visit. Check the official website for the operating hours and when the final cable car descends down the mountain. Justin and I ended up taking the last cable car of the day back down, which was at 16:30 when we visited towards the end of April. If you have time, you can also hike around Lake Eibsee, one of the many beautiful lakes in the region.

What to Expect When You Visit

Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Zugspitze

First, this mountain is really high up! The Zugspitze cable car ride takes about 15 minutes to travel from Lake Eibsee to the top, but it moves relatively quickly. There was a passenger on our cable car who became a little overwhelmed by the height as we ventured to the top. I felt completely fine though!

Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Zugspitze
Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Zugspitze
Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Zugspitze
Lake Eibsee

When you walk up to the top of the summit, there are various viewpoints and vantage points facing all directions. Make sure you take the time to wander around to see them all. You can easily spend hours soaking up all of the stunning views.

Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Zugspitze
Beautiful Bavarian Alps
Bird on Germany's highest mountain, Zugspitze

With that said, you might feel a little bit scared to get up close to the edge. This is not unusual. If you are afraid of heights, you may experience this. Enjoy the breathtaking views from where you feel the most comfortable.

Highest point in Germany
Mountain views from Zugspitze - things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Lake Eibsee from Zugspitze - things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Here’s something that we didn’t expect: we heard these loud booming noises from the top that sounded like gunshots! After this happened, Justin and I seemed to be the only visitors concerned about this while others carried on like usual. We finally discovered that these noises were detonated explosions to control avalanches. So, if you hear something like that, don’t worry!

Check the Weather Before You Go

Justin and I ended up delaying our trip to Zugspitze on two occasions before we ended up going! We were supposed to go on Tuesday, Wednesday, and finally delayed until Thursday. We really had to adjust our travel plans on the fly, but it was worth rearranging our schedule to visit this mountain.

Mountain views from Zugspitze - things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Lake Eibsee from Zugspitze - things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

You can check the weather and live webcams on the Zugspitze website. If it’s overcast, cloudy, or you can’t see the top of the mountain, you won’t be able to see anything from the top. If you can, I suggest waiting for a clear day with good weather so you can enjoy the best views.

When Justin and I went to Switzerland a few years ago, we went to the top of some mountains even though it was a cloudy day. While the journey to the top was fun, we saw absolutely nothing at the top! It was so foggy. Stay on top of the weather forecasts (which can change quite frequently!) and plan your trip accordingly.

Visiting AlpspiX with the Garmisch-Classic Ticket

I briefly mentioned above that the Zugspitze website has tickets for three different mountain adventures in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Zugspitze is the main mountain and the one that I recommend that you visit. If you have time for others, you can opt for the Garmisch-Glassic Ticket (in summer) / AlpspiX (all seasons) or the Mount Wank ticket.

In the summer, the Garmisch-Classic Ticket allows you to travel on three cable cars between Alpspitze, Kreuzeck and Hausberg. The Alpspitzbahn cable car travels up to Osterfelderkopf (2,050 metres high) where you’ll find the AlpspiX viewing platform.

This 25-metre long steel platform extends out into the abyss where you’ll stand atop a thousand metre drop. There are glass panels at the very end offering unobstructed views of the Alpspitze, the Zugspitze, the Waxenstein, and far below into the Höllental

From Osterfelderkopf, there are numerous hiking trails in the area. When you decide to venture down to Hochalmbahn, you can take the cable car or hike down, which takes about an hour by foot. From Hochalm, everyone must hike down to the Kreuzeckbahn mountain station (about a 30 minute trek) where you can take the cable car back down to the bottom.

In the winter, you can still ride the cable car to Alpspitze for the viewing platform. There are also opportunities to go skiing from this mountain, too. If you plan to check out both Zugspitze and Alpspitze, you can purchase the “two peak pass” which offers a small discount if you visit both.

Mount Wank

For a family-friendly and quieter mountain experience, Mount Wank is a 1,780 metres high peak that offers beautiful vistas across its lengthy summit plateau. While it’s much shorter than its neighbours, Zugspitze and Alpspitze, Mount Wank has many gorgeous views and amazing hiking trails.

Take the Wankbahn cable car to the top and enjoy your time in nature. Mount Wank lies to the northwest of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s possible to visit from April to November, and then again for a rare winter experience over two weeks at Christmas.

Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm)

Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen : Partnach Gorge

Along with Zugspitze, one of the best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is experience Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm). It is one of the most incredible natural wonders of the region. From the towering cliffs to the pale blue waters rushing below, we loved every moment of our hike through the Partnach Gorge.

Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen : Partnach Gorge

Over several million years, Partnach Gorge was carved out by meltwater and debris. Today, you can walk through a trail along the narrow gorge past cascades, river rapids, and water basins. Partnach Gorge was declared a national landmark in 1912. It is one of the best (if not, the best) attraction in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and you must add it to your travel itinerary.

Getting to Partnach Gorge

Park your car at the Olympic Ski Stadium where you’ll find a large parking lot. There is a small fee to park your car. From there, you will need to walk to Partnachklamm. Unfortunately, there aren’t any closer parking lots, but walking there is all part of the adventure.

Walking to Partnach Gorge
Walking to Partnach Gorge

The walk from the parking lot takes about 25 minutes in one direction. You’ll follow a gently flowing river. Keep walking towards the gorge until you reach the cashier and front entrance. There’s also a very clean washroom here, which is very convenient.

Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen : Partnach Gorge
Best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen : Partnach Gorge

The gorge is open from 08:00-20:00 (October to May) and 08:00-18:00 (June to September). The last admission is 30 minutes before closing time. The walk along the gorge itself is very safe as there are railings on the way. It’s one of the most scenic hikes in Garmisch-Partenkirchen that you need to experience.

I recommend wearing proper running shoes as the rocks can get slippery and the can be uneven in places. However, it is a flat path and easy for almost everyone to visit. If you can walk the distance it takes to get to the gorge, you can easily walk the gorge itself.

Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Explore the Town

Walking around Garmisch's Old Town

One of our favourite things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was simply wander around the town. You can walk around the Garmisch (western) part of town and the Partenkirchen (eastern) part of town. Both areas are very walkable with charming alpine vibes.

Walking around Garmisch's Old Town
Walking around Garmisch's Old Town

In Garmisch, there’s a Bavarian style of architecture that looks right in place with a mountain town. The Parish Church of St. Martin is one of the main landmarks as you walk down the street. There are many shops and restaurants in Garmich’s Old Town. Don’t miss walking along the Loisach, a small river behind the main streets, where you’ll also come across a covered bridge.

Walking around Garmisch's Old Town
Walking around Garmisch's Old Town
Walking around Garmisch's Old Town

In Partenkirchen, Ludwigstraße is the idyllic main street, most notable for its colourful buildings with painted facades. Similar to the nearby town of Mittenwald, there are special mural paintings called “Lüftlmalerei” on the houses that line the street. Sometimes patron saints are depicted, and other times, the murals showcase the profession of the home owner.

Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Michael-Ende-Kurpark

Michael Ende Kurpark - Things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

In Garmisch, there’s a lovely little park called the Kurpark, or the Michael-Ende-Kurpark. The author, Michael Ende, comes from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. He is best known for “The Neverending Story“, a movie that I absolutely adored when I was a kid.

Michael Ende Kurpark - Things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Michael Ende Kurpark - Things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

There are so many features and statues at the Michael Ende Park that pay homage to the writer and his works. For instance, there is the Momo amphitheatre, a trojaborg labyrinth with a tree in the middle (planted by Ende himself), and mythical creatures all over the park.

Michael Ende Kurpark - Things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Michael Ende Kurpark - Things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Michael Ende Kurpark - Things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Whether you go for a wander around the park or choose to relax here, it’s a delightful place to visit. There are many plants and gardens to enjoy. Plus, there’s the Kurhaus Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a small museum/cultural centre within the park (it was closed when we visited).

Richard Strauss and Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Just beyond the park, you’ll find Richard Strauss Platz. It is a public square with a fountain created by Oberammergau sculptor, Hans Schwaighofer. The fountain is dedicated to Richard Strauss and features three main characters from his operas, Salome, Elektra and Daphne.

The famous composer, Richard Strauss, lived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for many years. He built his summer villa residence here but soon made it his home base before going on tour. He composed many important works at Villa Strauss.

Nowadays, you can visit Villa Strauss and the Richard Strauss Institute at the Villa Christina in the Kurpark Partenkirchen. The Richard Strauss Institute is also home to the Richard Strauss Festival, and his symphonies and chamber works are performed here several times a year.

More Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

After spending two days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, we only really had time to experience the above activities (Zugspitze, Partnach Gorge, walking around town, and visiting Kurpark). However, you may find yourself with more time in Ga-Pa. Here are even more things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen that I am sure you will love.

Sunrise at Geroldsee

This was on our list but we ran out of time. Watching the sunrise at Lake Geroldsee and taking photos there is one of the best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Geroldsee is a short drive from GaPa. It’s a picturesque moor lake with scenery of the Karwendel and Wetterstein mountains in the distance. There are little wooden huts surrounding the lake, making it picture perfect.

Eckbauerbahn

From the Olympic Ski Stadium, you can take the Eckbauerbahn cable car to the top of another mountain for fun in all seasons. The Eckbauer is a popular hiking area in the summer and the winter with beautiful mountain scenery all around. The cable car takes you 1,237 metres above sea level, and you can hike the various trails for all skill levels.

Olympic Ski Jump

Olympic Ski Jump

Garmisch-Partenkirchen was home to the Olympic Winter Games in 1936. For fans of the Olympics or sports in general, it is possible to take a guided tour of the Olympic Ski Jump. You’ll need to register in advance with the tourist office. Even if you aren’t taking a tour, you can admire the Olympic Ski Jump on your way to the Partnach Gorge like we did.

Hacker-Pschorr Suspension Bridge

I only learned about this spot on the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Instagram account! We didn’t have the chance to visit this time around, but it’s on my list for next time. The Hacker-Pschorr Suspension Bridge runs 30 metres above the Faukenschlucht Garmisch-Partenkirchen, near the Tannenhütte, and it is 57 metres long. Add it to one of your future hiking trips in Ga-Pa.

Kuhflucht Waterfalls

Love chasing waterfalls? The Kuhflucht Waterfalls are a group of three waterfalls near the base of Zugspitze. They total a drop of 886 feet, making them among the highest waterfalls in Germany. Take the Woodland Experience Trail and the Königsweg Trail for a 45 minute leisurely hike to the waterfalls. The upper Kuhflucht bridge offers incredible views of the waterfalls.

Philosopher’s Walk (Philosophenweg)

The Philosopher’s Walk, Philosopher’s Trail, or Philosophenweg in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a great place to go for a hike in town. Along the trail, there are benches with quotes from famous philosophers. Think about the quotes as you walk along this peaceful path. The trail starts at the pilgrimage church of St. Anton and ends in Farchant.

Best Cafes & Restaurants in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Looking for the best restaurants in Garmisch-Partenkirchen? We dined at several establishments, cafes and breweries while we were in town. Here are our top picks.

Shaka Burgerhouse

Shaka Burgerhouse

Shaka Burgerhouse is a casual eatery with delicious food and drink. The menu has mostly burgers, and there’s a separate veggie section with a vegan burger and a vegetarian burger. The vegan burger has a veggie patty, caramelized onions, and the usual burger toppings. Pair it with a beer and you’ve got a great option for lunch or dinner.

La Baita

La Baita

La Baita is the best pizzeria in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. They serve a vast menu of Italian dishes and wood-fired pizzas. They have a couple of vegan pizzas on the menu, including this one I ordered with an interesting topping – beans! It was surprisingly good, actually.

Wildkaffee Cafe

Wildkaffee Cafe

Wildkaffee Cafe is one of the best coffee shops in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. They serve their own roasted beans and blends. They offer delicious coffee beverages, desserts, and an array of sandwiches. My oat milk latte was really yummy.

Maronis

Maronis GaPa

Maronis wasn’t a restaurant that was originally on our list, but we found that many establishments were unexpectedly closed during our visit. As we wandered around town, we stumbled upon Maronis, and I’m so glad we did. This is a vegan-friendly restaurant serving both traditional dishes and Asian cuisine in a relaxed environment. Justin and I ordered a dish with broad beans, onions, and pumpkin seed dip on a fresh bagette. Then, I ate a vegetable stir fry as my entree.

Restauration & Bierbrauerei Garmischer Hof

Restauration & Bierbrauerei Garmischer Hof

One of our very favourite places to drink and dine was at the restaurant and brewery of the Bio Hotel Garmischer Hof. They brew their own beer on site, and the restaurant has lots of veggie options. Justin and I dined on their beer garden patio outdoors, which offers amazing views of the mountains. The stew with the hemp patties were delicious!

Restauration & Bierbrauerei Garmischer Hof

Day Trips From Garmisch-Partenkirchen

We recommend making Garmisch-Partenkirchen your base in Bavaria. Stay here and take day trips to the surrounding small towns and destinations. It’s nice to have one place where you’ve unpacked and can call home each night. Here are a few ideas for day trips from Ga-Pa, the perfect base to explore the German Alps and Austrian Alps.

Mittenwald, Germany

Mittenwald, Germany

Whether you travel by car or train, Mittenwald is only about twenty minutes from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If you adore cute villages, you need to visit Mittenwald. It’s such an adorable German village that’s known for its colourful frescos, brightly painted homes, and violin-making history.

You only need to spend a couple of hours here if you plan to wander around town, have a coffee, or stay for a meal. The town is surrounded by snow-capped alpine peaks. Naturally, you can take a cable car up to a scenic lookout point on the mountain, if you’d like to view the town from high above.

Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck, Austria

We didn’t visit Innsbruck on a day trip as we spent two nights there, but it can be done. By car, Innsbruck is only about an hour from Garmisch, and it is about an hour and a half away by train. If you left in the morning and returned in the evening, you could enjoy an amazing day in Innsbruck.

Innsbruck is such a charming Austrian city with a small town feel. You can wander around its Old Town, take the cable cars to the top of Innsbruck (Nordkette) or be transported to another world at Swarovski Kristallwelten. Check out our one day itinerary for Innsbruck that’s full of ideas and tips.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is a famous, idyllic castle in Bavaria that looks straight out of a fairytale. This 19th century place sits atop a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen. It’s about an hour’s drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

You can admire the castle from numerous vantage points and also take a guided tour inside the palace (though I’ve heard that the interior of the castle is underwhelming compared to its exterior). Justin and I didn’t visit Neuschwanstein Castle this time around because Queen Mary’s Bridge (one of the best viewpoints of the castle) was under repair, so we felt it would be better to return to the castle at a later date.

Getting Around

The town centre of Garmisch-Partenkirchen itself is incredibly walkable. You can walk to all of the restaurants and attractions in town. It’s also possible to take the train to Zugspitze. But, if you are looking to visit other area attractions (Partnach Gorge, Geroldsee, and other day trips), you will need to book a rental car.

Renting a car in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is easy and gives you the freedom to go where you want, when you want. When we were comparing car rental prices for this trip, we found that the car rental rates in Germany were cheaper than in Austria. Just make sure that if you plan to drive through Austria that your car rental allows you to cross country borders (most allow this, but it’s good to double check).

Here’s where you can compare rates and find the best rates on rental cars in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We rented our car from Sixt right in town. The man working at Sixt was really helpful and nice, and we wouldn’t hesitate to book our rental car there again next time.

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