Panoramic Views from Germany’s Highest Mountain, Zugspitze, at Garmisch-Partenkichen
May 24, 2017
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a popular German town just 80 minutes away by train from Munich. This is where Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze, at 2,962 metres, is located at. The town was also the site of the 1936 Winter Olympic Games. It is recommended to spend a few days discovering the wintry beauty of the Bavarian Alps, but I only had a day to spare.
Garmisch (in the west) and Partenkirchen (in the east) have been independent towns for centuries, and are still separated by a train station and the Partnach river, each maintaining its distinct personality. Partenkirchen is first mentioned in A.D. 15, and originated as the Roman town of Partanum on the trade route from Venice to Augsburg. Its main street, Ludwigsstrasse, follows the original Roman road. The narrow cobblestoned street is lined with historic buildings in the Bavarian gasthaus style, offering a glimpse into the old days.
Garmisch, on the other hand, is first mentioned some 800 years later as Germaneskau (“German District”). This area is vibrant and livelier, and exudes a more modern feel. Expect to see international brands, with quirky bars and restaurants lining the streets. When Partenkirchen is headed to bed, the party in Garmisch is just getting started.
These two towns were forcibly grafted together in 1935 under Adolf Hitler’s orders, to host the following year’s Winter Olympic Games.
Today, the merged town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen offers visitors a plethora of activities. The chairlifts are a short walk, or a five-minute bus or train ride, from any part of town. For downhill skiers, the Garmisch-Classic area has trails best suited for beginners and intermediates.
Unfortunately, I only had time to head up to the Zugspitze peak. There are two ways up from the town. You can either take a cogwheel train, which passes through a 3-mile tunnel up the mountain, or take an aerial tramway from Eibsee, which ascends nearly 6,400 feet in 10 minutes, making it the world’s tallest single-section lift of its kind. I took the latter up, and the former down, just to get different views of the mountainous terrain.
A day isn’t sufficient to explore this interesting town, so Garmisch-Partenkirchen will remain on my bucket list. I will definitely take a hike through the Partnachklamm, or Partnach Gorge, and stay in an igloo hotel with hot tub in future.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen station is on the Munich–Garmisch-Partenkirchen line and the Mittenwald Railway (Garmisch–Mittenwald–Innsbruck). Regional services run every hour to Munich Central Station (München Hauptbahnhof) and Mittenwald, and every two hours to Innsbruck Central Station (Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof) and Reutte. In addition there are special seasonal long-distance services, including ICEs, to Berlin, Hamburg, Dortmund, Bremen and Innsbruck.