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.
About Garmisch-PartenkirchenGarmisch-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 StayAlthough 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 DoIn 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:
- 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.
Culture, Food, Shopping, And More
CultureLike 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.