Bavaria in southern Germany transforms into a winter wonderland with the first snowfall each year. Ski resorts fringe the Alpine border towards Austria and Switzerland and promise the best of fun for winter sports enthusiasts. We’ve created the ultimate skiing guide to Bavaria and take a look at three of the best towns for you to clip on those skis.
The skiing: rookies to professionals
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is Germany’s winter sports capital. The two joint towns of 27,000 people hosted the Winter Olympics in 1936, and the event put it on the map for international skiing competitions. Nestled in the foothills of the Wetterstein mountains, they are overlooked by the mighty Zugspitze, the country’s highest mountain.
Nearly a dozen ski areas are within reach and offer a vast array of pistes and activities for both beginners and seasoned skiers and snowboarders. Garmisch Classic and the Zugspitze are the most popular ones.
Forty kilometres of well-maintained pistes traverse the Garmisch Classic resort. Several gondolas and lifts transport the crowds up and down the three peaks at an altitude of 700-2,050 metres (2,300-6,725 ft). The Hausberg offers the greatest variety for newbies and families with a large number of blue and red sections and a dedicated kids area at the summit station. Alpspitze is great for those who want to enjoy each ski-run and the panoramic views over the mountains. More experienced skiers tend to focus on the Kreuzeck section, which features more demanding runs, including the legendary Kandahar piste – the downhill record for the 3,700-metre-long run is less than two minutes.
In 2015, the Hexenkessel snow park opened with some jibs, jumps, boxes and rails to give freestyle snowboarders and skiers a space to work on their tricks.
Adult day pass: 43 €
Best lunch spot: Drehmörser 9
Equipment rental: A shop en route to the base station is open daily
The Zugspitze is home to Germany’s only glacier skiing area and snow is pretty much guaranteed for six months out of the year. While the area attracts a lot of beginner and intermediate winter sports fans who mostly resort to the organized piste network of 20 kilometres and the fun park, the Zugspitze draws thrillseekers on the search for virgin slopes and waist-high powder snow. Taking on the freeride zones does require an advanced skill set and Alpine know-how, though, and should not be underestimated.
A cogwheel train or a cable car takes you up to 2,720 metres (8,924 ft.) above sea level and straight into skiers’ heaven. The jaw-dropping view of the Alps from atop the summit station is unmatched in Germany.
Adult day pass: 45 €
Best lunch spot: Panorama 2962
Equipment rental: Shops are available in the town centre and at the Zugspitze summit station
Both the mountain huts and downtown restaurants wait with sumptuous food and potent drinks after a long day of skiing, but the crowds here tend to be more sober-minded than those you find in Austrian party resorts.
While Partenkirchen closes the shutters fairly early, Garmisch has a lively nightlife scene with bars and pubs. Those who do crave a full night out should look towards the venues in the town centre. John’s Club, Music Cafe, and Miris Hütt’n are all open until the early hours of the morning and host cocktail and beer-fueled parties.
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss during your trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it’s a hike through the Partnach Gorge. In the winter months, the glacier water that trickles down the rugged walls turns into a giant sheet of icicles. Put the village of Grainau and the nearby Eibsee on your list for more magical views. The circular path around the lake is ploughed in winter and allows easy access to the area. History fans should know that Garmisch-Partenkirchen originated in A.D 15 and the cobblestoned Ludwigstraße is a trace of the Roman Via Claudia Augusta that once connected Italy with settlements north of the Alps. The local Werdenfels Museum is worth considering to learn about the more recent history, folk art and cultural events between today and the 16th century.
How to get there
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is about 90 kilometres from Munich. You can either rent a car or opt for public transport. If you book ahead of time, trains tickets can be as cheap as 22 € one way and get you there within 75 minutes. If you’re on a budget, Flixbus coaches operate between Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen year-round and, if traffic allows, cover the distance in the same time for as little as 6 €.
Where to stay
The skiing: novices and advanced skiers and snowboarders
Oberstdorf is nestled against the Swiss border, halfway between Lake Constance and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The town of 10,000 people hits the news every year when it hosts the ski jumping world cup event, but also draws an incredible amount of non-professional skiers and snowboarders to the Allgäu mountains.
From Oberstdorf, you can reach six different ski areas with a combined 130 kilometres of slopes for both beginners and advanced winter sports fans. Nebelhorn and Fellhorn/Kanzelwand are the most popular ones, followed by Söllereck, Walmendingerhorn, Ifen and Heuberg.
The Nebelhorn ski region ranks in the top three of the highest ones in Germany and has developed to be one of the most versatile ones as well. Your arrival at the mountain station is met with jaw-dropping panoramic views of the 400 peaks around you. Thirteen pistes, including the record-breaking 7.5-kilometre downhill run, zig zag across the mountain range and offer terrain for skiers, freeriders and snowboarders. But even non-skiers and snowboarders get their money’s worth – you can rent the latest fun sports equipment, explore a couple of ploughed winter hiking trails or take on the sledge run.
Adult day pass: 33 €
Best lunch spot: Nebelhorn 2224
Equipment rental: The NTC sports rental is located at the Nebelhorn valley station
A trip to the Fellhorn/Kanzelwand ski area allows you to ski in two countries within one day. The pistes of the top resort spread across the German and Austrian sides of the Alps and are open to those who can comfortably take on a beginner’s piste. A total of 36 kilometres of blue, red and black snow-covered slopes ensure enough variety for those starting out and more experiences snowsports enthusiasts.
Several high-end lifts and gondolas – some of them are equipped with heated seating – take you from one spot to another. Other highlights are the fun slope on which you shoot down on 800 metres of steep turns, tunnels and other manoeuvres and a dedicated freeride park with obstacles and mogul slopes.
Adult day pass: 47 € (valid for the entire Oberstdorf / Kleinwalsertal region
Best lunch spot: Obere Bierenwang Alpe
Equipment rental: An equipment rental station is located at the Fellhorn valley station
While the huts, bars and restaurants in the ski resorts do serve a cold beer after a long day of skiing, the parties are unlikely to escalate into full-blown après-ski events. If you’re looking for all-night shenanigans, Oberstdorf might not quite be the top pick of destinations.
Other things to do
The picturesque town is the perfect gateway for hikes and long walks, but make sure you don’t miss out on the Breitnachklamm Canyon, the deepest one in all of Central Europe. A wooden boardwalk takes you through the gorge that has formed over thousands of years. Winter sports fans will also enjoy a trip to the Audi Arena ski jump, which is the scene of the annual Four Hills Tournament. Outside of the competition, you can watch ski jumpers doing training runs and enjoy panoramic views of the valley from the viewing platform.
How to get there
Deutsche Bahn trains connect Oberstdorf to the major German hubs – it’s about 4.5 hours to Frankfurt and 2.5 hours to Munich from here. Ticket prices vary depending on how far in advance you book, but can be as cheap as 55 € one way. It’s well worth checking if there are flights to either Memmingen (80 kilometres to Oberstdorf) or Friedrichshafen Airport (95 kilometres to Oberstdorf) available as well.
Where to stay
The skiing: families with kids
A good hour’s drive south from Munich, the Sudelfeld ski resort boasts 31 kilometres of spacious ski pistes and 19 gondolas and lifts that traverse the area and make sure you get the most out of your day in the mountains.
While the pistes cover all difficulty levels from absolute novices to advanced skiers and snowboarders, the resort is known to be particularly family-friendly. Not one but two supervised areas are sectioned off for kids with easy ski slopes, snow tubing, ski courses and plenty of events that keep the little ones busy while their parents explore the slopes.
Adults can take on the slopes between 850-1,563 metres (2,789-5,128 ft.) altitude on their own, or as part of an entry-level, advanced or professional ski and snowboard course as well. For a bit more of an adrenaline rush, both young and old snowsport fans should check out the newly developed snow park with a freeride cross trail, boxes, ramps and rails.
Adult day pass: 38 € (valid for the entire Oberstdorf / Kleinwalsertal region)
Best lunch spot: Speckalm
Equipment rental: Equipment can be rented at the Sudelfeld station or from shops in Bayrischzell and Oberaudorf
Similar to the Oberstdorf ski regions, Sudelfeld doesn’t offer much of a crazy nightlife. Huts and umbrella bars in the ski area are open until around 6 pm and serve cold refreshments. Don’t expect party music and people dancing on the tables, though. If you do fancy a night out, maybe look into catching a 30-minute-ride across the border to Austria for a few drinks at Stollen 1939 in Kufstein. The bar stocks more than 500 types of gin alone.
Other things to do
Speaking of booze: Bavaria’s only whiskey distillery Slyrs is a mere ten minutes away from Bayrischzell and offers tours and tastings on a daily basis. If you rather spend your time outdoors, both Tegernsee Lake and Schliersee Lake are great for a day’s worth of exploring the region.
How to get there
The Sudelfeld ski region is about an hour’s drive south of Munich or a 90-minute train ride. If you depend on public transport, a direct train brings you from Munich’s central station to Bayrischzell, which is recommended as a base for your trip. From here, regular shuttle buses bring you to the ski lift every day.
Where to stay
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.