The ski resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen stands at 708 metres above sea level in the southern German state of Bavaria. It is 90km south-west of Munich and 55km north-west of Innsbruck. The town is well-known throughout the country as the number one centre for winter sports thanks to its proximity to the Zugspitze (2,962 m) which is Germany’s highest mountain. The ski area around the mountain usually enjoys excellent conditions from November to May.
The town’s exceptionally long name comes from the fact that Adolf Hitler forced the two market towns to become one in anticipation of the 1936 Olympic Games which were held here. Today the traditional Bavarian charm of both towns is there for all to see but Partenkirchen has come out best as Garmisch has grown beyond its original confines to accommodate all the necessities of a large, modern ski resort.
Skiing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Two distinct ski areas can be identified from Garmisch-Partenkirchen:
Zugspitzplatt: The Zugspitz ski area is home to three glaciers where 20km of pistes allow for as many as 6 months skiing every year. The area is also very popular with snow-boarders. Whilst slopes are ideal for intermediate and advanced skiers, beginners are also well catered for. Of course the quickest way to get up the mountain is by cablecar but for novelty value alone you simply have to take a ride on the cogwheel train to the Zugspitze glacier ski area. Views from the top are simply sensational with more than 400 mountain peaks visible in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. The altitude for skiing on the Zugspitzplatt is from 2,720 m to 2,000 m
Garmisch Classic: Below the Zugspitzplatt is the “Garmisch Classic”
which is home to 40km of skiable slopes. The majority of the pistes are best suited to intermediate and advanced skiers though some easier (blue) slopes are available. Competitive ski enthusiasts will be familiar with the Kandahar ski-run which is a popular event during the annual World Cup circuit. The highest point in this ski area is Osterfelderkopf at 2,050 m.
Après-ski Bavaria Style
There are more than 1300 breweries in Germany, more than half of which are located in Bavaria. As such you’ll have no problem finding a few watering holes to enjoy your evenings in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The Irish Pub (Rathaus Platz 8) is one of the liveliest places in town. They serve a selection of Bavarian lagers and an excellent pint of Guinness. Live music nights at weekends attract a good mix of locals and tourists. Peaches (Marienplatz 17) is a popular spot which is a lively bar, pizzeria and dance club whilst John’s Club (Rathausplatz 7) is another well-known late-night spot which welcomes a mainly local clientele.
There are some excellent restaurants in Garmisch-Partenkirchen such as Koch’s Restaurant Café Bar (Bankgasse 16) which serves up superb German food in intimate surroundings. If you enjoy fine dining then be sure not to miss Reindl’s Restaurant (Bahnhofstraße 15) which has a long history of serving high quality cuisine in its elegant dining room.
Getting to Garmisch-Partenkirchen from Munich Airport
Road: Munich International Airport lies north-east of the city. By road it takes about 1 hour 40 minutes to reach Garmisch-Partenkirchen (140km) on the A95. Traffic on weekends and public holidays can cause significant delays.
Rail: There’s a train from the airport to Munich’s main railway station (München Hauptbahnhof) from where there are hourly departures to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The journey takes about 2 hours 30 minutes which includes allowance for a change of train in Munich.
Bus: There are buses every two hours which go directly from the airport bus station to Garmish-Partenkirchen without having to change in Munich. The journey takes 2 hours.
A number of specialist ski transfer companies offer services from Munich Airport directly to hotels in Garmish-Partenkirchen. This is a particularly good option when travelling with ski gear and/or with young children. Shuttledirect are highly recommended on this route. They provide transport for all group sizes including equipment.
Where to Stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Hotel Edelweiss (Martinswinkelstr. 15-17): For a welcoming stay in a typical Bavarian chalet with superb views of the Alps you need look no further than this 4-star option. Located within walking distance of the town centre, the Hotel Edelweiss offers high-class accommodation, beautiful gardens and a popular bar area where you can sample local beers with your fellow guests.
Staudacherhof Hotel (Hoellentalstrasse 48): You’ll receive a warm Bavarian welcome at this 4-star hotel which lies within a few minutes’ walk of the centre of Garmisch. Rooms are outstanding as is the in-house restaurant. The hotels spa and pools are the icing on the cake.
Hotel & Gasthof Schatten (Sonnenbergstrasse 10-12): This is one of the most popular 3-star hotels around. It is located a little out of town but is still easily walkable. It offers large, clean rooms with beautiful mountain views from balconies and a highly regarded hotel restaurant.
Atlas Sporthotel (Mittenwalder Strasse 13): This 3-star hotel located about 1.5km from the town centre is an option if you’re looking strictly for budget accommodation in the area. Somewhat dated and not in the league of the other recommendations but clean and functional enough if you’re simply looking for a place to sleep.