Calling all mountain lovers! Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany has to be your next destination!

Chock full of things to do Garmisch Partenkirchen makes this the ideal place to explore southern Germany and nearby Austria.

Expect this area to be a popular spot for sports enthusiasts all year round. Winter sports dominate with world-class skiing and spectacular hiking and biking in the summer.

With a rich history, culture, and natural setting, this quintessential alpine town makes a great base to explore lower Bavaria.

So let’s jump right to it with the Garmisch things to do, to be followed by everything you need to know about visiting here.  

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About Garmisch-Partenkirchen

meadow with spring flowers and mountains with brown wooden hut in garmisch

Grüß Gott, or God Greets you, is the common greeting you will hear in this region. Garmisch and Partenkirchen were once two separate towns but joined together shortly before the 1936 Winter Olympics when they were the host.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, known as Ga-Pa for short or simply Garmisch, has two distinct feels still to this day. Garmisch, in the west, is trendy and urban. While Partenkirchen, in the east, retains its old-world Bavarian charm.

Local Bavarians are very proud of their culture and traditions. Expect the majority to wear lederhosen (for men) and dirndl (for women). If you find yourself on the trails in the mountains you are likely to hear the echo of alphorns being played and yodelling in the local beer hall. It’s all part of the quintessential alpine experience.  

17 Things to Do in Garmisch Partenkirchen

1. Zugspitze

mountain peak with snow

An absolute must is to visit Germany’s highest peak – Zugspitze at 2,962 metres. Popular all year round with skiers in the winter followed by hikers in the summer – this is one of the biggest draws of this area.

If you are looking to just take in the dramatic scenery at the summit, there are two ways you can do that. Take the Bayerischen Zugspitzbahn, a cog railway or the Gletscherbahn cable car.

Or, you may choose to purchase the Zugspitze Round Trip which combines both for the total mountain experience. At the top, the Zugspitzplatt, there is a plateaued area for viewing, for exploring the glaciers and a few restaurants.  Is it worth the high cost of admission? Absolutely! On a clear day, you can see up to 250 kilometres away.

Visiting information:

  • Address: Olympiastrasse, 31
  • Opening Hours: daily 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Tips: check the live webcam for weather before you go and dress warmly

2. Lake Eibsee

lake with mountains

Walk around Lake Eibsee, one of Germany’s most beautiful lakes, and take in the magical views. The deep emerald green colour is incredible. Lake Eibsee is easy to visit either before or after taking the Zugspitze cable car. 

Another beautiful lake at the foot of Zugspitze mountain is Badersee.

3. AlpspiX

metal platform over mountain

AlpspiX consists of two crossed steel beams that cantilever in an X formation from the edge of a cliff. It allows you to stand in the mid-air, atop a vertical drop of about 1,000 metres.

Here you will have panoramic views of Alpine peaks: the Zugspitze, Waxensteine, and the impressive Alpspitze north face. Plan your visit and combine it with visiting Zugspitze as it’s in close proximity.

Visiting information:

  • Address: Bergstation Alpspitze
  • Opening Hours: daily 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (Oct-Feb), 5 pm (Mar-Jun), 5:30 pm (Jul-Sep)
  • Time required: 1 hour
  • Tips: dress warmly

4. Garmish Gorge – Partnachklamm + Höllentalklamm

gorge with water fall as one of the best things to do in garmish

Only three km southeast of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is Partnachklamm, the Partnach Gorge. This dramatic and rocky gorge on the Partnach river is 702 m long and reaches depths of more than 80 m.

Just six kilometres southwest of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is another notable gorge, Höllentalklamm. This gorge is also known by such names as the Hell Valley gorge or Hollental Valley. Trails lead to and around the summit of 1,045 m, including a track that can be followed through numerous tunnels and over bridges to the end of the gorge.

Visiting information:

  • Address: Partnachklamm: Karl and Martin Neuner-Platz | Höllentalklamm: Hotel Hammersbach in Hammersbach
  • Opening Hours: daily 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (Oct-Feb), 5 pm (Mar-Jun), 5:30 pm (Jul-Sep)
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Tips: rainwear and sturdy shoes

5. Olympia Ski Stadium

long ski jump

The Garmisch Olympia Stadium hosted the 1936 winter Olympics games and today it attracts many. Visit the top and get a view of what the athletes see just before they descend down the ski jump, not to mention the epic panoramic views.

Hike along the bobsleigh run at Riessersee in the summer weather. This track was known for the longest time as the most dangerous in the world.

Visiting information:

  • Address: Karl-und-Martin-Neuner-Platz
  • Opening Hours: daily 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Time required: 1-2 hours

6. Garmisch Gondola Rides

Taking a gondola ride is the best way to see the incredible landscape. There are several options for doing this in the Garmisch Partenkirchen area. Choosing one or two along with a nearby activity makes for an amazing experience you won’t soon forget.

  • Hausbergbahn Gondola up the Hausberghöhe at 1,338m (4,390ft), from where the Kreuzwanklbahn whisks you to the Kreuzwankln at 1,550m (5,085ft)
  • Kreuzeckbahn Gondola for a picturesque journey from Garmisch up the Kreuzeck at 1,650m (5,413ft)
  • Wankbahn Cableway runs from Partenkirchen to the Wank at 1,755m (5,758ft)
  • Eckbauerbahn Gondola departs from the Olympic Ski Stadium and whisks you to the Eckbauerhöhe at 1,236m (4,055ft)

7. Kuhfluchtwasserfälle tallest waterfall in Germany

The Kuhfluchtwasserfälle, or Cow Escape Waterfalls are a grouping of 3 waterfalls that can only be seen by hiking in the nearby Farchant. These waterfalls are not only beautiful, but they are also the tallest in Germany at 270 m.

Visiting information:

  • Parking: in the town of Farchant in designated Kuhfluchtwasserfälle parking spots
  • Hiking time to the falls: 1 hour
  • Time required: 3 hours

8. Hiking

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Hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Garmisch. Whether you choose easy footpaths around a lake or ride up in a cable car and hike down there are so many options and trails that will suit a wide range of interests. Choose the right one for you based on difficulty and time and just go for it!

Some popular spots for well-marked hiking in Garmisch in winter and summer include Wank mountain, Eckbauer, Lake Riessersee, Lake Eibsee and Kramerplateau.

9. Biking

green valley with mountains and red train

Venture out and explore the Zugspitze region on a bike. Yes, that’s right! Rent an electronic bike and you can travel long distances, even up steep mountains almost effortlessly, leaving you free to enjoy the sights and scenery along the way.

Pedal through the picture-perfect countryside and discover the uniqueness of the local culture and nature that make the Bavarian Alps so popular. E-bikes are available for rent at many places throughout the region or right in the town of Garmisch.

10. Old Town

alpine town with colourful buildings and mountain

The old town of Ga-Pa, found on Ludwigstrasse, has picturesque half-timbered houses. Most of the houses feature murals which are typical of the area, particularly along Frühlingstrasse. Look out for the Biedermeier frescoes on Gashof Husar and Polznkasparhaus, these are some of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in the town.

Leisurely stroll the unique shops and cafés and enjoy the Gemütlichkeit – which is a German saying for a cozy, friendly atmosphere.

11. Michael Ende Kurpark

The famed author of the children’s book Never Ending Story was born in Garmisch Partenkirchen. Families will enjoy visiting the peaceful park in his namesake.

Visting information:

  • Parking: Fürstenstraße 11
  • Tips: combine visiting this inter-city park while visiting Old Town

12. Museum Werdenfels

Learn more about the history and local culture of Garmisch Partenkirchen. Some of the exhibits feature Zugspitz in the 19th century, what rural farm life would be like, and artwork by local artists. This museum also features rotating exhibits every 3 to 4 months.

Visiting information:

  • Address: Ludwigstrasse, 47
  • Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Cost: €4.50, children free
  • Time required: 1 hour
  • Tips: use the underground parking for 2 hours of free parking

13. Old Alpine Churches

white pilgrimage church in garmisch

Is there anything better than seeing a church steeple set up high in the mountains or deep in a valley surrounded by the Alps? These three churches are the most charming you’ll want to seek out. The Old Parish Church, also known as St. Martin’s, rises from Ga-Pa to touch the sky. The old parish church was founded in the 9th century and built around the 13th century. The intricate Baroque interior is incredible. Go inside and admire the Gothic wall paintings.

Another noteworthy one is St. Anton, a pilgrimage church, that offers the best of mountain landscapes outside and heavenly ceiling paintings inside. On the building itself, impressive pastel frescoes are featured. It dates back to 1704.

14. Philosopher’s Walk

An easy hike called the Philosophenweg or Philosopher’s Walk is a nice leisurely path that combines beautiful scenery and philosophy. Along the footpath are benches adorned with quotes from famous German philosophers like Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Platon.

Visiting Information:

  • Address: Sankt-Anton, 1 start at the St Anton church
  • Opening Hours: daily, 24 hours
  • Cost: Free
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Tips: combine this with visiting St Anton church, family-friendly (strollers are possible)

15. Werdenfels Castle Ruins

If you want to combine hiking and history you might want to add this activity to your itinerary. The ruins of Werdenfels Castle can be found between Garmisch and Farchant 80 m above the Loisachtal valley.

A once impressive castle from the 13th century is now a ruin.

This family-friendly hike in Garmish is only 4 km and has information boards along the route explaining its importance in history.

16. King’s House Konigshaus am Schachen

house on top of hill at sunrise hiking here garmisch things to do

Konigshaus am Schachen or King’s House on Schachen is a holiday residence for King Ludwig II to escape royal duties and be surrounded by one of the most incredible views in Garmish. The residence was built in 1872 and has views of the Wetterstein mountain range.

Visiting information:

  • How to get there: can only be reached on foot by dedicated hiking trails reaching the summit of 1800 m
  • Opening Hours: Weather dependent usually early June to early October
  • Cost: €5
  • Time required: Full day
  • Tips: only be visited by a guided tour – daily at 11 am, 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm, eat at the mountain restaurant before you make the trek down the mountain

17. Linderhof Palace

Linderhof Palace is one of three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and interestingly the only one he lived to see be completed. Located in the village of Ettal, this palace was inspired by Versailles in France, although much smaller scale. But from the gardens to the interior Baroque style of architecture there are many nodes to France’s most famous palace.

Visiting information:

  • Address: Linderhof, 12
  • Opening Hours: Only visited by guided tours daily from 10 am to 4 pm
  • Cost: Winter €9 | Summer €10
  • Time required: 30-minute tour

Best Restaurants in Garmisch Partenkirchen

Garamisch Partenkirchn is full of restaurants from traditional German taverns to pubs, cafes and lots of Italian-influenced restaurants. Most hotels in Garmisch also offer a more refined menu. Fine dining in Garmisch is not exactly at the same level as in major European cities (with a couple of exceptions). My recommendation, embrace the Swiss-style taverns serving traditional German cuisine.

Here are some of the top-rated restaurants to try:

Day Trips From Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Mittenwald

town with colourful buildings and mountain

This quintessential alpine town is only 15 minutes from Ga-Pa.  The entire area surrounding is known for its incredible hiking and trekking trails. Here you will find cute painted houses with flower boxes, fields of wildflowers, mirror lakes and even some waterfalls. One of my favourite things to do in Mittenwald was to stroll through the tiny town and stop at one of the delicious cafés. 

Oberammergau

alpine buildings with mountain

This fairy-tale town is only 25 minutes from Ga-Pa.  Since 1520, Oberammergau has celebrated the art of wood carving. Spread throughout the small town you will see evidence of this amazing handicraft. Another prominent feature of this town is the sight of the frescoes in the Parish Church St. Peter and Paul, as well as the Lüftlmalerei mural paintings adorning the town’s buildings.

Neuschwanstein

white castle perched on mountain with trees

The iconic castle known as the castle of the fairy tale king is one hour from Ga-Pa. Set on a rock cliff against the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps stands the fairy tale, Neuschwanstein Castle. Construction of the castle for Bavarian King Ludwig II began in 1868, but it was never fully completed. Built and furnished in medieval styles but equipped with the latest technology of the day, it is the most famous castle in the world.

Munich

town square with city hall in Germany

From Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen is only one hour and is usually the starting point to visit this region. This city is brimming with attractions that could keep you busy for weeks. If you are there for a day, try and catch the city’s highlights, including the historic square of Marienplatz, Frauenkirche, Residenz, and the English Garden. 

Innsbruck Austria

Innsbruck Austria, a alpine town full of year-round activities.

Yes, only an hour away is Innsbruck! All around, towering over you, are the mountains. The jagged rock spires of the Nordkette range are incredibly majestic and are your backdrop for this beautiful alpine town. Being surrounded by ski slopes during the winter and mountainous hiking trails during the summer makes this a must-see destination for any adventurous traveller. Visitors to Innsbruck will be treated to a fairy tale old town chock-full of 13th and 14th centuries Baroque and Gothic architecture. 

Best Places to Stay in Garmisch-Partnerkirchen

Top Rated Hotels in Garmisch

  • Hotel Rheinischer – a family-run traditional Swiss-alpine-style hotel with a pool, spa, and of course a view!
  • Werdenfelserei – traditional alpine hotel with views of mountains or city with a pool, restaurant, and spa, wellness centre
  • Das Graseck – is an adult-only wellness centre focusing on your health and relaxation with a pool, spa, fitness centre and restaurant – close to the Olympia Station
  • Or, start your search here

Best Holiday Rentals in Garmisch

  • Whittled Wood – a 1-bedroom with a cozy fireplace and balcony
  • Snowfall Snug – a 3-bedroom modern chalet with sauna, includes a free shuttle to Skigebieten der Tiroler Zugspitzarena
  • Gapartments – 2 bedroom apartment with terrace with a mountain view

FAQ

Is Garmisch worth a visit?

Garmisch is worth visiting as it’s incredibly scenic with emerald lakes and mountains like Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest, as well as rich history and traditional culture.

What is Garmisch known for?

Garmisch is known as an active holiday destination for skiing and hiking. It was the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics and the first to feature alpine skiing.

How do you get to Garmisch?

From Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen take the direct train and arrive in 90 minutes. Or by car via A95 from Munich to the Eschenlohe exit arriving in 70 minutes.

How long to spend in Garmisch?

The ideal amount of time to spend in Garmisch is 5 to 7 days allowing enough time to visit Zugspitze, do some hiking or skiing and take day trips from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Travel Resources in Germany

To help with your trip planning or Germany travel inspiration, please check out these other articles.

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As a holidaymaker

From its day trips from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the action-packed things to do in Garmisch this is an amazing holiday destination. An area with a rich history, strong traditional culture and epic scenery Garmisch is the hidden gem of Europe!

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