At almost 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain. We took the Eibsee cable car up. Unlike our mountain top visits in Switzerland, we had perfect weather.
As we ascended we saw the villages below becoming smaller and smaller and had a nice view of Lake Eibsee. When we arrived at the top of Zugspitze it was freeeezing – only 1 degree (c) and windy! There was snow all around. We walked around a bit on the terrace and had some hot chocolate (which wasn’t too hot!) to warm up. The panoramic views were amazing. In spite of the cold, we had a great time. I definitely recommend going to the top!
You can take the cogwheel train to a glacier and switch to the glacier cable car to the top or take the Eibsee cable car straight up. Skiing is also available.
Zugspitze boasts both the highest chapel in Germany and the highest internet cafe!
Dress warmly (we didn't) so you can enjoy exploring!!
Roundtrip ticket: 50 € Adults, 35 € Ages 16-18, 29,00 € Ages 6 -15
The shaded paths of the Kurpark are another cool and relaxing escape from the summer heat. The place felt like a Tardis, and seemed to get bigger every time I walked around it. It contains a few statues, a small carp filled pond, the Kurhaus, and a small open air stadium where they put on free performances for the visitors. When I was there they had on a traditional Bavarian band playing classical music that sounded very much like Strauss, although it could have been anything. What fascinated me most was that the small quartet were all dressed up in their best Sunday Bavarian liederhosen, just as were many of the audience.
The pilgrimage church of St. Anton nestles prettily in the forests just above Partenkirchen. It can be reached in a number of ways, including a steep walk directly up the side of the hill, but the easiest is the gentle slope up from St Anton Str. This takes you past ten little shrines, each one marking a station of the cross, before you reach the pink and white church at the top. The views from the top are excellent, giving a peak at the mountains through the trees, and it is pleasant to loll about in the surrounding shady forest paths on a hot day.
Dividing the two villages in half this fearsome, if shallow, Alpine river comes tearing down from the mountainsides leaving the evidence of its devastating path in its wake. By the thundering waterfalls, like the one pictured from near my hotel, lie piles of mountainside debris like tree trunks ripped straight out of the ground and deposited miles downriver. In the summer the river looked harmless from the town bridge, but in the spring the snows of the mountains melt and cause water levels of the Partnach rise dangerously.
The Partnach Gorge is just incredible, and the perfect antidote to a stinking hot day like the last day I was in Gap. The water thunders through the crack in the granite rock and creates its own natural air conditioning system, funneling the cool mountain air and running it over the thrashing waters of the Partnach river. You can feel the temperature dropping as you approach the gorge, and when you are inside it is divine. Of course in winter the chill air will likely sap you to the core, but I've heard the views are even more spectacular then.
The power of the water crashing through the gorge is immense. It creates a deafening noise that would probably drown out a gunshot. The thundering water that has carved a trough in the pure granite of the mountain also tears down whole trees and leaves them stranded helplessly in the turbulent eddies. It is simply amazing to witness this wonder of nature, and it isn't spoilt much by the tourist hordes that cram into the tight tunnel through the gorge. In fact catching sight of another human on the path serves to highlight the grandness of the gorge and put its size into perspective.
The walk to the gorge is a delight in itself too. You can join the Partnach river near the station, and walk the path down to the old Olympic Ski Jumping Stadium. From there it is another 20 minutes walk to the gorge through beautiful yellow and green buttercup meadows so typical of the Bavarian Alps. After the gorge you can relax on a riverside beach of shingle, or take a walk up to the top of the Graseck and take the gondola ride back down. This is what I did, although next time I go on a 30+ degree day I'll take the gondola UP the Graseck and walk back down...
The gondola ride itself costs 3.50 euros either way and takes you over the gorge in a scary old cabin that rocks like a cradle.
The highest point in Germany, at just shy of 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), is easily reached in about 75 minutes. At 44 euros for a return ticket the cost is quite high, but I found it worth the money. I know others would disagree, but perhaps I am paid too much or have low standards. This was the highest I've been, though, and my first time up a snow covered mountain in the summertime. The previous highest point I'd managed was about 2,400 meters on Mount Bromo volcano in Indonesia, and I don't believe that has ever seen a snowflake in eternity. You can also walk up the mountain for free, but if you are short on time the train is a convenient, if sometimes confusing, alternative.
It took me a bit longer than 75 minutes to reach the top. I think the announcement system broke down just before the cog wheel train reached the Grainau stop. You see I was supposed to get out there and transfer to another train for Eibsee. As this isn't explained anywhere and only ever announced on the speaker system in the train, if the system fails to work properly, or the announcer speaks during a noisy spot on the journey, you are going to have to wait another hour or so as the train returns to GAP and comes back again.
At Eibsee you have to leave the station and walk through the woods to take the aerial tramway to the top. If you look really, really carefully you might catch sight of a small sign pointing you in the right direction. Failing that follow the mob and hope they know where they are going. They didn't when I followed them and I ended up walking the long way around the car park. Once you reach the terminal you can jump into the cabin and rise rapidly and breathtakingly up the steep side of the mountain. Try and get on first, though, as they cram the cabin more tightly than a London tube carriage at rush hour and you may end up with a layer of people between you and the cabin's dirty window panes.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have missed the trip to the Zugspitze for twice the price, but the service leaves a lot to be desired.
Rise on the mountain begins from picturesque the Eibsee lake with clean green water. It is in a coniferous wood at height of 972 m. The area of this lake is about 2 square km, and the maximal depth is 32 m. There are several wood islands. You may float by boats.
The picturesque Eibsee is located at the step of the highest mountain of Germany - the Zugshpitze. Walk around the lake perfectly supplements excursion on a cable car.
The fantastic panorama of the Alps from the Grossglockner mountain up to the Bohemian Forest opens from the viewing platform.
Unfortunately the cloud covered the top of Zugspitze when we climbed it up and we couldn’t see the surroundings very much.
But when we were descending the fantastic panorama was seen clear enough.
You can watch my 4 min 01 sec Video Descending from the Zugspitze out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
A viewing platform settles down almost at the top of the mountain.
The Zugspitze is the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains. The mountain has two tops. The higher top of 2964 m is in Austria. The lower top of 2962 m is the highest top of Germany.
You can watch my 1 min 29 sec Video At the top of the Zugspitze out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
When being in Garmish-Partenkirchen It is necessary to visit the top of the highest mountain of Germany.
Rising on a cable car takes 10 minutes and costs 43 euros. The award will be magnificent views over the Bavarian and the Austrian Alpes.
You can watch my 2 min 57 sec Video Climbing up the Zugspitze out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
We didn’t make it onto the streets of Partenkirchen due to a thunderstorm, but we did manage to walk around Garmisch for a while.
You will see some typical buildings on the town centre. In particular the “zum Schloapferer” house is worth a look as it goes back to the 15th century at least. It’s on Am Kurpark.
Lüftlmalerei is the local name for the traditional exterior murals on the buildings.
My photos show some examples. Pity it wasn’t sunny! In the background of the main photo you can see the storm clouds gathering over Zugspitze.
This is one of the mountains around Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The Wankbahn cablecar starts right on the edge of town. Its a short trip up that way, but 3-3.5 hours walking.
Height is 1,780m (5,840 ft).
Its well worth the trip. Great views over the surrounding peaks and down into Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You also have the choice of two places for food and drink. No doubt full to overflowing on a sunny summer Sunday, but fine midweek.
Dani and me hiked down. It took us 2 hours against 2.5 suggested by the signs. Steep at the top, but gentle towards the bottom.
A wee bit of advice. The hike up and down usually starts in the car park at Hõfle, but that’s not where the cablecar starts. Obviously the Wankbahn car park was where we ended up, as the car was there.
A hiking trail runs all the way around the lake, and it took us just under 2 hours - without hurrying (no reason to).
The views of the lake and mountains are amazing, particularly those of Alpsitze and Zugspitze. It’s all well signposted. You wouldn’t need trekking boots, but high heels wouldn’t do. Decent trainers would be fine in dry weather.
We recovered gently back where we started at the Pavilion - but in the Biergarten this time.
The Zugspitzbahn train stops there, so you could just go up to Eibsee for lunch and the walk. I think that would be the expensive option, but fun. You can also drive there, or get the local bus.
One of those things you’ll always remember.
It’s the highest mountain in Germany at 2,962m (just under 10,000 ft). You can climb to the summit - my current house guest did it earlier this year, but found it “very scary”. Pretty much for mountaineers only.
I’d love to do that (I think) but meantime I’ve been up the easy way.
We took the Zugspitzebahn from the Kreuzeck Alpspitztbahn station just outside Garmisch. The train starts from the Garmisch-Paternkirchen mainline station in town, and we jumped on at the 2nd station on the line. It’s a “private” line, in that it’s not part of the DB network.
At Grainau we changed to a cogwheel train to take us up to the last station up beside the glacier. The final 25 minutes was through a tunnel, and then you emerge at 2,600m. Amazing.
That “terminus” has a Biergarten and assorted other sundry bits of fun, such as sledging on the glacier. The main thing from there (apart from the stunning views) is the cablecar to the summit. A 2 minute hop, but it’s a long way down...
The summit is weird & wonderful. The views are wonderful. So is the air. The smell of Bratwurst at 10,000 ft is weird. Yes, more Biergartens. And restaurants. And souvenir shops. The summit is on the border with Austria, so you have one of each on each side. It’s like a wee shopping centre at 10,000 ft.
From there we took the cable car down the sheer north face to Eibsee. 10 minutes, straight down. Best not to think too much.
I plan other tips about Eibsee, but from there we just reversed the train journey back to our starting point.
Apart from the touroid kitsch, I loved it. The scenery is amazing. The transport is fun.
A few words of warning...
It’s not cheap. We were about €110 for 2 adults and a 14 year old. That was for a day pass, so we could have “gone round” twice had we felt like it. The pass is also valid for other things, like the cable car up the nearby Alpspitze.
Check the weather in advance. If it’s cloudy you may still enjoy it, but you may not see much. They’ll close the cable cars if the weather makes it unsafe. If you happen to be on the summit when it happens, you’re stuck there. Presumably they take care of you if that happens (staff will be stranded too), but it may be uncomfortable.
I’m told the last service going down each day can be a bit of a zoo, so best avoided. Go early anyway, to avoid the crowds.
The station we used (just outside Garmisch) was good because it has lots of free parking. I’m not sure how easy or cheap the parking is in the town centre.
Vertigo sufferers should find something else to do.
We departed the Garmisch-Partenkirchen from the Zugspitzebahn station on the cogwheel train to climb up to the highest point in Germany. After making several stops along the way to pick up other passengers, we started heading upwards, through man-made tunnels in the mountain, always heading up. On this part of the train ride, we saw a short video about the Zugspitze, its history, and the train we were riding in. Before we knew it, the ride was over and we were deboarding at the station on top.
The train doesn’t stop at the top. It actually ends at the Schneeferner Glacier where you can visit the highest chapel in Germany and try your hand at tobogganing (we were there at the end of September and there was still snow on the ground). After taking some pictures and enjoying the snow, we then boarded a large cable car that takes you to the summit. The cable car held quite a few people and it was not a place for someone afraid of heights to stand near the window (if you fall into that category, you probably want to be in the middle of the car surrounded by tall people).
The summit is actually shared between Germany and Austria. We came up the Germany side, but you can easily walk across to the Austria side and back. There are no border guards, only a sign on the other side to let you know you are on the Tyrolean side of the platform. Through Lermoos, Austria, there is another way to get to the summit via cable car.
The actual highest point is marked with a gold star and a perfect photo-op for the family. There is an automated camera if you want a group shot with the star behind you – you later pay for this photo when you pick it up. Lots of signs tell you what you are looking at – on a clear day you can see all the way to Italy. We were blessed to have a nice, clear day while we were up there. It was still chilly because we were so high up so remember to bring your jacket along – you may not think you need it while in Garmisch-Partenkirchen about to board the train, but you will want it up at the top.
We looked all around – there were lots of people there the same time we were – and it was a clear day so we could see quite far. There is a restaurant at the top with an outside café so we decided to grab a seat and have a snack. The café was grilling brats and serving beer and other beverages. We sat at a long table and made new friends from Hawaii while enjoying the view.
Inside the summit building there is a museum that tells you about the Zugspitze and the cogwheel train that brought you to the top. There are elevators and/or steps – to get you where you need to go.
Once we were ready to descend back we boarded a different cable car that took us straight down to the Eibsee where a train was waiting to take us back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The cogwheel train tour is expensive and we were told that the Austrian side was cheaper; but we were able to walk from our hotel to the train station in Garmisch so we opted to do it that way. And it was fun to go up through the mountain to get to the top!