Dec 2018 – So the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is basically synonymous with Americans in Germany. It seems to literally be the only Bavarian town, aside from Berchtesgaden, that we have ever heard of. Ettal, Mittenwald, Füssen, and all the others, you take a seat while everyone only goes to Garmisch.
Don’t get me wrong: Garmisch is a beautiful and very quaint ski town; however, after a couple of weekends spent there, there really isn’t much more to see. Several areas around Garmisch are very much worth a visit in all seasons. As I already said, we’d been there many times with mine and Kate’s first time occurring in 2009 (then boyfriend-girlfriend lolz awww). The biggest draw to Garmisch, in terms of a consistent snow season is easily the Zugspitze: an enormous bowl-like ski area just below Germany’s highest peak. The Garmisch-Classic area is also an option; however, I can’t describe it because we have yet to visit it.
There are two methods to make the trip up to the Zugspitze: the Seilbahn and the Zahnradbahn. They both cost the same and kids six and under get a free ride as long as they’re not using the ski-lifts at the top. As you know from my Feldberg post, lying about their ages can sometimes cause you problems…you choose what’s best for you.
So the Seilbahn is quick…maybe a 20-minute ride straight up the rock face with a wonderful little *bump* during a support beam traverse. If you really really hate heights, you may have a problem with this form of transit. The alternative is the Zahnradbahn which departs directly from the Garmisch Hauptbahnhof. The bahn takes over an hour, depending on where you get on (Bahnhof, Grainau, etc.) Honestly, you should choose which one best suits both your schedule and your stomach.
We intended for just the kids to play on their skis a little on this trip. Once at the top, you can either visit the ski area or you can gawk and take photos of the country’s highest Gipfelkreuz (summit cross). There are 3 or 4 places to get good hearty food and wonderful Bavarian beer. Sidenote: don’t order a Pils because the Bavarians will get all butt-hurt that you didn’t call it a Helles. Just a head’s up… So, my issue with taking kids up to the Zugspitze to work on skiing: extremely limited space for your kids to practice.
“Pizza, Karaline. Pizza! PIZZA WATCH OUT!!!”–Kate just loving life
There isn’t really a dedicated learning area and there isn’t a ski school, either. While there is a ski rental place, I wouldn’t go all the way up there to rent and then not have any space to practice. What they do have is a pretty great slope meant for sledding…so if you’ve got one, consider bringing it.
The Zugspitze is a unique place to visit. The views, on a clear day, are pretty incredible. The peak pales in comparison to the altitudes of the Jungfraujoch (Switzerland) and Mont Blanc (France), but it’s still worth a visit even if you don’t plan on hitting the slopes. For adults, it’s kind of expensive to go up to the top, but you get to walk away saying you’ve been to Germany’s ceiling as far as summits go. There’s also something called the Top Snow Card which provides multi-day deals for the entire region (10 different slope areas) allowing you some flexibility if you want to try more than one area.
The only places out in town we’ve stayed at are the H+Hotel and this rental, Yeti Loft Apartment. H+Hotel’s rooms were a little dated but they were large and a good breakfast was available at no extra cost. Yeti’s was great for 4-5 adults and a few kids and had an unbelievable panorama view of the Wetterstein alpine range. Each had great locations near downtown Garmisch and were pretty reasonable in terms of cost.
My recommendation for the Zugspitze: visit at least once. Take the kids and their skis if you feel insane, but the snow is better suited for sledding and play. Check it out, also, just to snowboard or ski the actual slope area. This is the only place at which I’ve ever exceeded 50mph on a board…
Bis zum näschtes mal!-The Snowboard Dad in Europe