Before I began writing this article, I had an extensive debate with myself whether or not I should tell the world about this hidden gem. Ever since first traveling to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 2012, the city has held a special place in my heart. Although Garmisch-Partenkirchen has its fair share of tourists year-round, the quaint downtown, towering mountains, and flowing streams have a way of making you feel like they are your own. Obviously, as you are currently reading this article, I decided to channel my “generous” Midwestern roots, and provide you with my in-depth guide to all things Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a mountain town located in Bavaria, southern Germany. Although they are now joined as one, Garmisch-Partenkirchen used to be made of up of two separate towns – Garmisch in the West and Partenkirchen in the East. Today, these two cities make up a quaint and authentic Bavarian town with a total population of approximately 26,000. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is easily reached with both car and train. Regional train services run every hour or two from both Munich and Innsbruck.
Where To Stay
Although my most recent trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen was a day trip, when I went with my family in 2012 we stayed at the Hotel Bavaria. In addition to having an authentic German interior and exterior, the hotel had an excellent breakfast buffet that served bread, marmalade, sandwich meat, juice, and other traditional German breakfast foods. Hotel Bavaria is conveniently located near the city center. From the hotel, visitors can reach the city center in 10-15 minutes by foot.
Top Things To Do
In the winter, people flock to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in order to try out the winter sport offerings. In addition to the classics of skiing and snowboarding, people are able to try their hand at snowshoeing, tobogganing, and other ice sports. And, for when you need to warm up and wind down after a long day on the slopes, Garmisch-Partenkirchen has both public and private saunas.
In the summer, snow is long-gone and the mountains provide a perfect place to hike, mountaineer, rock climb, and mountain bike. In addition, there are opportunities to golf, cycle, go on guided Segway tours, paraglide, and do water sports such as rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and canyoning.
Below is a list of my suggestions of things every traveler to Garmisch-Partenkirchen must see:
Partnachklamm, which was developed in 1912 and has since been declared a National Monument, is a gorge located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The gorge is open year-round (yes – even in winter), so regardless of when you plan to travel you can visit this beautiful spectacle. When visiting the gorge, you are able to see the roaring waters up close as you wind your way along the towering rock faces. The gorge can be a little wet at times, so make sure to pack a rain coat and adequate footwear.
Photo of the Partnachklamm Gorge
Whether you’re visiting in the winter or summer, a trip to one of Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s mountains is a must. In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, there are three main mountains that travelers and locals tend to visit. The three choices include:
- The Zugspitze, at a height of 2962 meters above sea level, marks the highest point of Germany. On a clear day, visitors are able to see Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. But, because the Zugspitze is the highest of the three mountains, there also tends to be a lot of cloud cover which can obscure the view from the peak. In addition, the gondola ride for this peak is the most expensive of the three mountains.
- The Alpspitz is the second largest mountain in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. On top of the Alpspitz is AlpspiX viewing platform, which gives you a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen below. But, people who are not fond of tall places beware – at a height of approximately 2000 meters, this platform may not be the best choice for you.
- The Wank is the smallest mountain of the three, but is still an excellent choice for visitors. Sitting closest to downtown Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Wank provides a great view of the downtown and surrounding areas of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The Wank is also a great option for people who would like to hike up, down, or round trip to the mountain top.
View from the top of the Wank
In 1936 Garmisch was the host of the 1936 Winter Olympic Games. Although the Olympics were held in 1936, the ski jump that was used was actually built in 1923. Because the mountain’s ski jump slopes weren’t steep enough for the Olympic standards, the city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen was required to build an artificial start tower that was 43 meters in height and 5 meters in width. Due to natural wear and tear, the jump has gone through many modernizations and had to be completely replaced in 2007. German language guided tours of the Olympic Ski Jump are available on Saturdays year round and on Wednesdays from May to October.
Culture, Food, Shopping, And More
One of the things that makes Garmisch-Partenkirchen truly unique is its quaint downtown area filled with authentic Bavarian culture, excellent food, and charming storefronts.
Like most cities, Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s charm comes from the local people, traditions, and customs that makes it unique. Garmisch has many traditions throughout the year (or every few years) which include the following three events:
- Fasching (Carnival), which occurs in early January each year and involves people parading around town playing music and causing mayhem in their hand-carved wooden masks.
- “Festwochen” Festival, which occurs in July and August and celebrates local traditions such as traditional costumes, music, dance, and of course BEER.
- Schäfflertanz (Cooper’s Dance) is an infrequent and extraordinary event. Unfortunately, as the event takes places only once every seven years, visitors will have to wait until 2019 for the next dance. Cooper’s Dance dates back to the beginning of the 16th century when barrel-makers took to the street to dance in traditional costume in order to bring hope and joy during the time of the spreading plague. Although the plague has died out in Germany, the tradition has not. Every seven years approximately 100 men made up of drummers and marching band, dancers, and standard bearers gather in traditional costume to bring fun and joy to the present-day residents and guests.
In addition to their local traditions, there are museums, theaters, and churches in the town that provide a great chance to experience the local culture of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
As far as food goes, Garmisch-Partenkirchen has just about anything you would ever want. From traditional Bavarian specialties, to international cuisines from all across the world, there is something to satisfy anybody’s taste. Of course, being in Germany, I recommend that you try the traditional German cuisine of Schnitzel at least once during your trip.
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to satisfy their shopping needs. Whether you are looking for the perfect memento or gear for your next outdoor adventure, Garmisch-Partenkirchen has a store for you. As you stroll through the city center, take time to admire the quaint stores and boutiques. Even if you aren’t much of a shopper, taking in the beautiful town and the vast amount of unique shops it holds is a must do during your visit to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
City Center of Garmisch-Partenkirchen
For more information about Garmisch-Partenkirchen and all the town has to offer, feel free to visit the town’s website at: http://www.gapa.de