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Ski slopes of Zugspitze | © RoAll / Pixabay
Ski slopes of Zugspitze | © RoAll / Pixabay

The Ultimate Ski Guide To Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Picture of Anwesha Ray
Updated: 4 December 2017

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, is Germany’s favorite ski town for experts as well as amateurs. This stunningly beautiful town has a history of alpine skiing that no other ski resort in Germany can match. It shot into fame when it hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1936, and was also the venue for the Alpine Ski World Cup in 1978 and 2011, as well as World Cup events since 1970. We bring to you all the relevant information you need to plan a thrilling ski holiday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Classic skiing

Garmisch-Partenkirchen boasts over 60 kilometers (37 miles) of ski slopes of varying difficulty, impeccably-groomed slopes, 17 cutting-edge ski lifts, and welcoming ski huts for breaks.

Ski slopes: something for everyone

Garmisch-Partenkirchen has three skiing mountains—the Hausberg, the Alpspitze, and the Kreuzeck. The Hausberg (1,340 meters/4,395 feet) is perfect for children. Little guests interested in trying their hands at skiing for the first time would have a blast at Kinderland next to the top station of the Hausbergbahn cable car, under the watchful eyes of instructors.

The Alpspitze Peak offers slopes of varying difficulty, and the view from the summit invariably renders travelers speechless. From the Alpsitze cable car station at 2,050 meters (6,726 feet), skiers have access to the spacious, well-groomed slopes of Osterfelder and Längenfelder, and eventually Kreuzeck (1,651 meters/5,415 feet) on gondolas. There are several ways of getting to Alpsitze via hiking, car, and public transport. The Kreuzeck slopes are mainly for experienced skiers.

The Kandahar ski slope: do you dare?

For the ultimate thrill of following the ski tracks of Olympian contenders, ambitious skiers head to the spine-tingling Kandahar ski slope (World Cup piste number 5). The piste drops 940 meters in altitude in around two minutes, giving an unforgettable rush to skiers. You have the option of surpassing the more challenging sections of this slope to take a more leisurely, longer route down. This slope is not suitable for beginners. The drop comes to a halt at the base station of the Kreuzeckbahn cable car.

Cross-country skiing

Approximately 28 kilometers (17 miles) of cross-country ski tracks await you in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. These tracks are free to use and groomed daily. You can conveniently reach the starting point of these slopes by hiking, public transport or car. The three-kilometer (1.86-mile) track from Mount Hausberg to the Olympia Skistadion (Olympic Skiing Stadium) is a very popular track among less-experienced or leisure skiers, while the tracks in the Kaltenbrunn Cross-Country Skiing Center are ideal for experienced skiers looking for thrilling adventures.

Skiing in Zugspitze: the top of Germany

A ski holiday in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is not complete without a trip to the imposing Zugspitze peak towering over the town. Zugspitze, the top of Germany and a fascinating glacier, is a favorite destination not only for winter sports enthusiasts but also for nature lovers. Zugspitze can be reached from Garmisch-Partenkirchen by a combination of cogwheel train and cable car, constituting one of the most scenic journeys in Germany.

The 20 kilometer (12.4 miles) of ski slopes at Zugspitze are perched at an altitude of 2,000 to 2,720 meters (6,560 to 8,925 feet) above sea level, offering challenges of varying difficulty. The region remains blanketed in snow for almost six months of the year, while basking in gorgeous sun even in winter. There are four restaurants in Zugspitze, offering delicious food and panoramic views.

The best time to go

Ski conditions vary from year to year, depending on the arrival of snow. Normally, Garmisch-Partenkirchen sees its first snow in early November, and by the first or second week of December, the ski season is in full swing, continuing well into April. Usually, ski season in the Zugspitze kicks off earlier (say, mid-November) and continues till end of April or beginning of May. Webcams and live snow updates help you to plan your holiday efficiently.

Where to stay

Garmisch-Partenkirchen has a wide range of accommodation options, including resorts, hotels, shared accommodations, and homestays, catering to all budgets and tastes. Many accommodations include ski lift passes in their room rates. Here are a few accommodation options favored by tourists:

Splurge: Dorint Sporthotel Garmisch-Partenkirche, Gasthof zum Rasse, H+ Hotel Alpina Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Das Graseck.

Mid-range: Hotel Zugspitze, Atlas Grand Hotel, Hotel Rheinischer Hof.

Budget: Hostel 2962.

You can also choose to stay in one of the nearby picturesque towns, for example, Grainau, Mittenwald, Füssen, Innsbruck (Austria), Murnau am Staffelsee, etc.

Where to eat

Restaurant Alpspitz, perched at an altitude of 2,033 meters (6,670 feet), is the highest restaurant in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area. It is a part of the Alpspitz cable car station and promises delicious Bavarian specialties and views that you can’t take your eyes off.

Kreuzeckbahnstraße 12, 82491 Grainau, Germany, +49 8821 58858

A favorite place for skiers as well as day trippers to unwind and recharge is the Skibar Kandahar 2 bar in the valley station of the Kreuzeckbahn lifts. The bar is known for its great beverages and snacks, soothing music, warm atmosphere, and spectacular views. It is conveniently close to the starting point of the cogwheel train (Bayerische Zugspitzbahn) that chugs to the Kreuzeckbahn cable car.

Am Kreuzeckbahnhof 1, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Right in the middle of all the action, another hugely popular mountain restaurant to satiate your hunger pangs is Restaurant Drehmöser 9, offering delicious regional specialties and beverages. You can choose to sit out in the sun terrace and munch while enjoying jaw-dropping views of the Alps.

Drehmöser 9, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, +49 8821 7972020

The main town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen also has a vast number of restaurants, cafés, and pubs to cater to all tastes.

Good to know

In case you forget to pack some of your ski gear in your holiday excitement or would rather not haul heavy equipment all the way, you can rent ski equipment at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.