This was a wonderful hike through some beautiful scenery - no wonder it was declared a national monument in 1912!
Before you leave, dress appropriately - sturdy shoes - it will be wet and slippery; a jacket - it will be chilly; and a rain coat or poncho - you will get wet. You might want to bring a flashlight if you have difficulties with dark tunnels.
We parked at the Olympic Ski Jump stadium where we walked through the stadium and out the other side to the start of the 25 minute walk to the gorge. There is a horse drawn carriage option - you'll see the horses outside the stadium. At about the halfway point of this walk you will come to a "T" shaped intersection with signs - turn left for the gorge. As you get closer, you'll pass through some small housing areas and some food and souvenir vendors. Just keep going...
At the entrance to the gorge (you know you are getting close when you see the high rocks), there is an entrance fee of €3 for adults and €1.50 for children - hold onto your ticket for your return back through the gorge (if you choose to come back that way).
Follow the path through the gorge, watching for others that are on their return journey. The path and tunnels are narrow and the longer tunnels can be dark so be careful on your footing. Tall people will most likely have to duck since the tunnels are not very high.
Once you are out on the other side, you can continue on for a strenuous hike back to the stadium or turn around and go back through the gorge the way you came. I don't recommend small children on the strenuous hike.
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!
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.
On our way to Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm), we passed the Olympic Ski Jump Stadium (we actually parked near it and literally walked through it!). Wow! I’d seen ski jumps on television but seeing the height from which the jumpers actually jump was amazing to me (62 meters from the ground)! The stadium was used in the 1936 Olympics.
There were actually four jumps – the baby, child, adolescent, and grand-daddy (okay, I made those names up). The jumps ranged in size from small to huge, with a large open landing area in the center of the stadium. There is open bleacher type seating on the landing end of the stadium.
I think it would be neat to actually watch a jump – this stadium has an annual New Year’s Day Jump.
The stadium has a guided tour each Saturday at 1500 (Adults €10, children €8).
The Garmisch Kurpark's main entrance is located next to the Congress Center at Richard Strauss Platz. The Kurpark is a public park area with spots for walking, garden chess, dancing, and concerts. There is a restaurant and museum (in the Kurhaus) on the grounds. Admission is around 1E, free in winter. From about May to October, there are frequent concerts or bands playing. Also, some of Garmisch's fests are held in the Kurpark. It is lovely to eat dinner on the restaurant terrace and watch the cute old couples dancing!
The pink spire of St. Martin's church is an easily-recognizable landmark in Garmisch. The church was built around 1720 in a Baroque Roccoco style. The interior is elaborate with golden saints and angels. The patron saint of Ga-P is St. Martin who was a Roman soldier who cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar and later saw a vision of Jesus in return for his kind act. Inside the church (and all around the town) you will see images of St. Martin. The grounds around the church are quiet and well-maintained--perfect for a stroll or biding time on a bench.
There is much to discover on a stroll through the side streets of Ga-P. I like to head to the older streets and admire the Bavarian detailing. Look for carved doors, shutters, and fences and for the traditional wall paintings called luftlmalerei. There are a few fountains and watering wells. Also notice the well-kept window boxes bursting with geraniums.
Treat yourself right at the Alpspitz-Wellenbad by indulging in a sauna while the kids play in the wave pool. No matter what the weather, I think that the pool is the place to go. In the summer people flock outdoors to lay on the grassy areas and swim in the outdoor pool. Good in any weather, there is another pool inside, a wave pool, a high-dive area, jacuzzis, and a restaurant. Pay a little extra to enjoy the upstairs sauna area. There are three saunas, steam rooms, warm pools (in and out), cold-plunges, and a cafe. It is incredible to soak in the warm pool on the terrace while snow swirls down around you!
Cost for pools only: 3.60E for 3 hrs, 4.60E all day, less for children.
Sauna cost (includes pool use): 10.80E
The Eibsee is to the west of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and was one of the stops for the cogwheel train to the Zugspitze, although you can take the train just to the lake and back. After our time on the Zugspitze, my husband and his sister hiked around the lake while I headed back to the hotel.
I was surprised at how quickly they finished the five-mile hike around the lake - it took them about an hour and a half to cover the relatively flat trail. The day was perfect and the mountains reflected in the still water of the lake.
There are bathrooms at the train station just in case.
The gorge is probably most impressive in winter when the rocks are covered with snow and ice and long icicles are hanging from them. The best time to visit is the late morning: Around 11:30-12:00 there is a rather short interval when some sunlight falls into the Southern/upper end and makes the ice shine and glitter (photos 4 and 5).
The idea of a winter hike in the icy gorge sounds scary at first. However, the trail is well taken care of and it is really tourist-proof, cleared and sprinkled with gravel. Most of the trail within the gorge runs under rocks and through tunnels so it is dry. At spots where water is dripping there can be some ice on the ground, so watching your steps is a good idea. The trail is not suitable for wheelchairs, prams and strollers, or bikes.
Shoes with good soles are necessary, more on the trails outside the gorge than inside, snow chains or spikes under the shoes are nice to have. Dress warm, inside the gorge it is notably colder than outside.
There is another advantage about visiting in winter: When there is ice, most of the water is frozen, so there is not much dripping. While you need rain gear in summer to avoid being soaked, in winter you won't be hit by more than a few occasional drops.
Getting there: Take the bus 1 or 2 (free with Kurkarte) to the ski stadium and follow the small road that passes the stadium on the right. There are signs pointing the way to "Partnachklamm". There is also a signboard at the beginning of the road by the stadium which tells whether the gorge is open or closed. From there it is a walk of about 20 minutes to the beginning of the gorge. This small road is in theory closed to traffic (so if you arrive by car, park in the big parking lot at the ski stadium) but I encountered a remarkable number of cars on the way.
Entrance fee: 3 € for adults, with Kurkarte reduced to 2 €, children 6-16 1.50 €.
Opening hours: 9.00-17.00
More information, geological and historical background in their flyer (in English)
More of my photos in the travelogues!
Being an Englishman it is very hard for me to visit, let alone write about, a mountain called Wank without giggling like a naughty schoolboy. Travelling on the Wank train, eating at the Wank house, and seeing a sign for the incredulous 1780 meter Wank was just too much. Apart from the puerile attraction of climbing the Wank, the mountain itself offers spectacular views of the town below, and seems to be the perfect height to view the entire town in one, without being so far away that you can't make out any detail.
You travel to the top on the Wankbahn, a gondola ropeway (cable car) that takes about 15 minutes and costs 16 euros return. The journey is fun in itself, and there are great views on the way up. Because it is a gondola system you are likely to get a cabin all to yourself, rather than getting packed like sardines on the Zugspitze aerial tramway. You can also stop off half way up if you want to take your time. The more energetic can also walk up or down.
The Wankbahn station is on the far side of Partenkirchen and not easy to find. I had a map and still managed to wander all over the place. It's vaguely signposted, but I constantly found myself at forks in the road that could have gone anywhere. Basically head down Bahnhofstrasse past the Town Hall in the direction of the white Wallfahrtskirche St Anton in the forest on the hill. Take a left down Philosophen Weg (a dirt path through the trees) and stay on the level until you see signs pointing up to the Wankbahn station.
Once you get to Garmisch, you must take the funicular to the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.
It can be a little expensive but it definitely worths every cent you pay.
If the funicular is for some bad luck reason not in service, try one of the many funiculars to other mountaintops. Just hiking or taking some good pictures will be more than enough.
Head down to the Olympia Eissport Zentrum and strap on your skates or catch a hockey game. It is a fun place to get a little excercise and imagine what the Winter Olympic Games of '36 might have been like in this little Bavarian town. On Tuesday nights there is disco-skating, complete with funky lights and packs of teens. Entrance is about 5E. The complex usually closes late April to mid-July, call ahead to check.
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.
A half hour tram ride via the Zugspitzbahn takes tourists to Eibsee, the lake at the base of the towering Zugzspitze. The view is breath-taking! Pack a picnic lunch, or enjoy the lakeside restaraunt. Hike or bike the various trails through the surrounding forest, walk the path round the lake, or relax on the shore. However you choose to spend your time here, the experience is unforgetable.
The lake is also accessible by car with nearby parking. Swimming in the lake is allowed, but there are no lifeguards on duty.
The tram ride costs 8euro per adult round trip.