The Top 10 Things to Do in Garmisch, Germany

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is best known for the 1936 Winter Olympics, but a lot has happened since then. The two Bavarian towns joined shortly before the Olympics and together, Garmisch-Partenkirchen remain one of Europe's top winter sports destinations. 

Where is Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Located on the border of Germany and Austria, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the quintessential Bavarian town. Yodelling, slap dancing and Lederhosen are all featured in this German town to end all German towns. Garmisch (in the west) is trendy and urban, where Partenkirchen's (in the east) retains old-school Bavarian charm. 

The setting is one of a kind. It sits among the high peaks of the Alps near the base of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak. 

When to Go to Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Despite the town's is reputation for world-class skiing, it also features spectacular hiking in the summer months. It is a year-round destination, filled with tourists every month of the year.

  • 01 of 10
    Zugspitze and Bavarian Alps
    ••• GNTB/Hans Peter Merten

    While Garmisch-Partenkirchen is full of lovely things in its own right (see list answers 2-9), it is also a popular base to explore Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak. It is a favorite for skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer.

    Visitors can access its 2,962 meter (9,718 ft) summit by cogwheel train or cable car.

    • The cogwheel train stops at Zugspitzplatt, a plateau with glaciers and caves, before continuing to the top on the Gletscherbahn aerial cable car. Note that it can be quite crowded in peak seasons. The journey takes 75 minutes from Garmisch.
    • If you'd like to opt for views, there are two impressive cable car options: one from lake Eibsee and one from Austria, the Tiroler Zugspitze. The journey from Eibsee takes just 10 minutes. 

    Either way, the Zugspitze Ticket includes one mountain ascent and descent, allowing you to choose different methods of traversing the mountain to see every inch of this magnificent peak.

    Once you reach the top, you can admire a 360° panorama of...MORE 400 mountain peaks in four countries (on a clear day). Recharge with a bite and beer at one of the mountain-top restaurants, give a little prayer at Germany’s highest church, or explore an igloo village. No matter the time of year, bring a warm jacket. 

  • 02 of 10

    Yodel through Old Town

    Old Town Garmisch-Partenkirchen
    ••• GettyImages /Jon Boyes

    Old town Garmisch-Partenkirchen fulfils all your German fantasies. Picturesque half-timbered houses display murals typical of the area, particularly along Frühlingstrasse. Look for the Biedermeier frescoes on Gashof Husar and Polznkasparhaus, some of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in the town.

    Enjoy the Gemütlichkeit (cozy, friendly atmosphere) and embrace the need to yodel as you walk along the banks of the 114-kilometer River Loisach.

  • 03 of 10
    ••• Dennis K. Johnson / Getty Images

    Leave the Alpine cityscape for some eye-popping nature that goes down, not up. Partnachklamm is a narrow, 700 meter long gorge with walls rising up 80 meters. It was designated a natural monument in 1912. Waterfalls cascade around you, except in wintertime when they freeze in place like a scene from Game of Thrones, north of the wall.

    Visitors can walk the path on their own, or take a guided hikes. It is open from 9:00 until 17:00 all year (with extended hours in summer and excluding a short period in spring when melting snow makes the route impassable) and costs 4 euro.

  • 04 of 10
    Skiing in garmisch
    ••• GNTB/Geiger, Daniel

    Garmisch-Partenkirchen has been a favorite of ski champions from the 1936 Games to International Alpine Ski Championships. That doesn't prevent the common folk from enjoying it too.

    Runs on Zugspitze are open from October til May. This includes more than 60 km (37 miles) of downhill ski runs, 40 ski lifts, and 180 km (112 miles) of cross-country ski trails. If you are more of a spectator, visit during the week of races every January. 

    And the winter fun isn't just for those on ski or snowboard, there are also two toboggan runs to delight every age group.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    ••• Getty Images / Thomas Lohnes

    Hiking isn't limited to the easy walk along Partnachklamm. There are hikes of all levels with trails running from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to grandiose locales like a king's hunting lodge or ruins of a fortified castle or pristine mountain top villages like Mittenwald.

    Make use of cable cars to lower the difficulty of the hikes and always come prepared with a map, appropriate attire, and shoes fit for hiking.

    For those who are up to the challenge of alpine climbing, Wetterstein limestone cliffs are only 15 minutes away from the mountain terminal of the Alpspitzbahn lifts.

  • 06 of 10
    Werdenfels Museum in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
    ••• Werdenfels Museum

    Visit the Werdenfelser Heimatmuseum for the story behind this region. Held within a merchant's house, it is full of impressive private collections. Started in 1895, items include:

    • Sacral items
    • Peasant folk art by Alpine farmers
    • Early archaeological findings
    • Carnival mask room

    The Werdenfels Museum is one of the most renowned cultural sites in all of Bavaria.

  • 07 of 10

    Michael-Ende Kurpark pays tribute to one of Germany's most famous 20th-century storytellers. Ende wrote the timeless classic of The Neverending Story (follow up this journey with a trip to Bavaria Filmstadt where you can ride Falkor) and Garmisch-Partenkirchen was his town.

    Located in the middle of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, this park is a restful respite from all the more challenging activities. Walk through the flowers, find your way through the maze, or relax in the shade of ancient trees. For a bit of entertainment, watch the calendar for live concerts

    Step back inside to discover the Kurhaus. There is a permanent display on Michael Ende, as well as changing exhibits.

  • 08 of 10

    Make a Pilgrimage

    Garmisch-Partenkirchen during winter with church of Sankt Martin, Bavaria, Germany
    ••• Saint Martin. Danita Delimont/Getty Images

    Being so high up in the mountains can feel like being in a holy place. These three churches will confirm that feeling:

    • The New Parish Church, also known as St. Martin's, rises up from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to touch the sky. Built in 1733, it has an intricate Baroque interior.
    • Alte Pfarrkirche translates to "Old Parish Church", as it should with an origin in the 15th-century. Go inside and admire the Gothic wall paintings.
    • St. Anton is a pilgrimage church, dating from 1704. Located on the outskirts of Partenkirchen, it offers the best of mountain landscapes outside and heavenly ceiling paintings inside. On the building itself, impressive pastel frescoes are featured.
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Practice your Ski Jump

    Olympic Ski Jump Garmisch-Partenkirchen
    ••• Alexander Hassenstein/GettyImages

    The Olympiaschanze, or Olympic ski jumping hill, is a landmark for Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It was built in 1923 and has undergone multiple renovations that keep it operational and inspirational.

    This spectacular setting is ideal to enjoy the winter landscape, standing above the snow-clad valley like Olympians before you. The site was used as for the opening and closing Olympic ceremonies, and still runs a New Years ski jump every year.

    Visitors can explore the site by guided tour every Saturday at 15:00 and Wednesdays at 18:00. (Admission 10 euro). 

  • 10 of 10
    richard strauss festival
    ••• Bidla_Buh.

    Richard Strauss was one of the city's most famous residents. The 1908 Art Nouveau villa he called home is now a museum dedicated to his life as a conductor and composer. Also look for the main square named for Strauss. 

    The honors bestowed on Strauss expand to the whole city during the annual Strauss Festival in June. For five days, music rings throughout the mountains. (Next festival June 24th - 30th, 2017)