Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s not Berlin. Or Munich. Or Frankfurt. But, this small Bavarian town has charm all its own. Home to the 1936 Winter Olympic Games, today the resort town is known for its outdoor activities, namely skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. In fact, this mountain town has some of the best ski resorts in Germany — Garmsich Classic and Zugspitze.
The history of this gorgeous town dates back all the way to 15 AD and is packed with places to experience … and explore.
A popular tourist destination year-round, there are plenty of hotels in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to make it an ideal holiday destination, no matter what the weather. Fortunately, there is also no shortage of things to do in this Bavarian town.
Become a Snow Bunny
Flanked by mountains, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the ideal place to strap on some skis and hit the slopes. The most famous mountain to cut into is Zugspitze, also the highest peak in Germany. Sharing a border with Austria, the views from the top are spectacular and overlook one of the country’s other highest peaks, Leutasch Dreitorspitze.
Hit the (Other) Trails
Aside from skiing and snowboarding, the gorgeous summers mean long hikes through untouched lands. Check out Partnach Gorge, that stretches more than 2,000 feet between limestone cliffs with the Partnach River cutting through it.
Alpine water means fresh and chilly — even on hot days! Garmisch-Partenkirchen is home to numerous lakes calling for a swim. Many of the more popular lakes have amenities like cabanas and little places to grab food. Check out the less-touristy Pflegersee, a lake tucked into the woods complete with a restaurant to enjoy the magnificent scenery when not indulging in the cool water temperatures during the summer.
Get Some History
Along the mountains south of town is The King’s House on Schachen. This castle dates back to the mid-1800s and was originally built for Ludwig II of Bavaria. Today, it is home to a breathtaking alpine botanical garden worthy of a walk through. For the adventurous, try the three-hour hike which delivers visitors to the castle.
For Olympic buffs, it is possible to explore the old grounds of the 1936 Olympics. Wander the chalet-laden streets or explore the former Ski Stadium which still has its ski jumps intact. In the winter, head here to strap on some ice skates or try your hand at curling.
Check Out the Birds-Eye-View
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is home to many spectacular peaks … and also plenty of cable cars and gondolas to deliver you to the top (or near top) of them. The most well-known option is the Wankbahn Cableway, which travels from Partenkirchen up almost 10,000 feet to its upper station. Then, head up another 3,000 feet or so to check out the view from the summit of the Garmisch Basin below.
Explore the Differences
Garmisch and Paertenkirchen are very different. Only brought together for the Olympics, today it is easy to see what sets the two apart from each other. The older town, Partenkirchen, is the more historic one and was originally a Roman town, Partanum. Here, you can step back in time via its quaint cobblestone streets, historic Bavarian buildings and traditional homes.
On the other side of the river is Garmisch, which is more modern and centered around the area’s main attraction — skiing. Newer bars and restaurants mingle with 16th century buildings, and cater to a more upscale crowd.