Family Ski Vacation Zugspitze in Garmisch Germany
There are many fabulous ski destinations around the world to plan your family ski vacation, but the Zugspitze in Garmisch Germany may be the perfect place that has it all. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a top Bavarian Alps vacation destination located about 1 ½ hours train ride South of Munich Germany. It is just minutes away from the Austrian border in the Tyrol region. Garmisch is not only located in one of the most beautiful regions of Bavaria, but it is also home to the famous Zugspitze glacier mountain, which is the highest point in Germany. Garmisch is not only famous for the Zugspitze, but also for being home to one of the world’s best ski jumping facilities and home to the Winter Olympics in 1936 just before WWII. It was one of the most controversial Winter Olympic Games. The original stadium and facilities are an amazing historical landmark to visit. If that isn’t enough, Garmisch is one of the most beautiful mountain areas for hiking and site seeing. Take a trip to the Partnachklamm Gorge and witness some of the mot beautiful hikes of your life! Do we have your attention yet?
Garmisch is a small town that is actually made up of two towns Garmisch and Partenkirchen that are now considered one in the same. Garmisch is a great mix of old Bavarian charm, along with modern contemporary shopping and dining. The town has something for every taste and want. There are high end fashion stores and old traditional Bavarian craft stores. You can find some of the region’s best traditional Bavarian German food along side wonderful international restaurants. For accommodations there are quaint boutique Guest Houses (German version of a Bed and Breakfast), family run Bavarian hotels that feature organic foods and environmentally sound facilities (we recommend Hotel Garmisch_Hof), to up scale resorts with indoor pools and spas.
Garmisch is a great mix of old Bavarian charm, along with modern contemporary shopping and dining. Click To Tweet
The easiest way to get to Garmisch is to just hop on a train from Munich Hbf (the Munich main train station). The train ride from Munich to Garmisch is absolutely breathtaking and goes through some amazing small towns and villages that are camera worthy. Besides there is no more relaxing, easy, and inexpensive way to travel in Europe than by train. (The best blog ever for train travel is Man is Seat 61). The Garmisch Hbf (main train station) is in the heart of town and is easy walking distance to most hostels, guest houses, and hotels. If you stay at one of the larger resort hotels, which are generally just on the edge of town, they will send a minivan or shuttles to come get you. It only takes all of 10 min to drive from one end of town to the other. There is also a really good bus system that is cheap and easy to navigate to get you anywhere you don’t feel like walking to. You really don’t need a car in Garmisch, just a nice pair of waking shoes.
The highlight in winter is the famous skiing in Garmisch. There are actually two main areas right in Garmisch, the Zugspitze glacier which is fabulous to visit year round and Garmisch Classic which is the lower mountain ski area which is more alpine skiing. Both are easy to access and you can get passes so you can ski both. If the weather is good get a day of glacier skiing in and enjoy beautiful alpine runs the next day (or you can actually do both the same day). If you are skiing multiple days we recommend getting the Top Snow Card ski pass, which gives you access to both the Zugspitze and Garmisch Classic, but you also have access to several Tyrol Austrian resorts near by. So depending on the snow and weather you can always find a good run.
Note: Important tip: When you get a ski pass be sure to turn the card back in at the end of your skiing and you’ll get several Euro refund. The ski passes are RFID card (electric cards) so they recycle them and pay you for doing so!
The nice thing about skiing the Zugspitze/ Garmisch Classic is it’s very family friendly. Made up of mostly easy to intermediate runs (Note: in Europe “Blue” runs are easier and are equivalent to green and easier blue runs in the United States. “Red” are intermediate which are equivalent to solid blue to easy black in the States. Blacks are just that awesome advanced runs!).
Garmisch is a great place for beginners to take a ski lesson while more advanced skiers can find some nice long advanced runs that are fast and offer good terrain. The lift and gondola system makes it very easy to get to the slopes. (Caution for skiers / boarders from the States: In Europe the lift lines can seem a bit of a funnel of a heard of cattle. People “WILL” ski on top of your skies so don’t freak out about getting a scratch or think people are rude. It’s just the way it is so adapt). You’ll see a mix of lifts, gondolas, and tow lifts. European resorts are not afraid of tow lifts even on advanced runs.
One thing the Germans have down in Garmisch is the whole skiing process, from renting skis to getting on a lift. Everything is very efficient. Garmisch is a great place to rent gear if you want to travel light. There are a lot of very affordable ski rental facilities and you can even rent top of the line demo skis making it nice to try some different type of skis depending on the conditions or type of skiing you want to do. If you want to learn to ski or want to take an advanced class there are a lot of ski school options available. We recommend just going to the Skischule located directly next to the Hausberg gondola. They have a great ski school and excellently ski rental facility. There are also nice heated lockers upstairs where you can store the whole families shoes for 1 Euro a day or even leave your whole ski, poles, boots, etc (we’ve squeezed two adult and two kids sets) in a heated locker for 8 Euro for a 24hour period. Although you will find most all hotels have nice ski storage and boot warmer facilities on site for free.
On a side note: Probably one of the best restaurants you’LLC find on any ski resort in the world happens to be up on Garmisch Classic. Honestly it could be one of the best in all of Garmisch. The Drehmuser 9 is worth a trip up the gondola itself. Seriously some of the best food we had in all of Europe. Everything on the menu is absolutely delicious and well prepared. It is so good we actually tried just about everything and enjoyed it all. This is a large claim but true. The schnitzel is the best I’ve ever had in Germany anywhere. The cheese and meat plate is simply awesome. Make your lunch here the main meal of the day and you won’t regret it!
Be sure to take time Apres Ski to walk around central town Garmisch and definitely the old town area of the Partenkirchen. Note that most restaurants start serving dinner around 7PM. If you happen to plan your trip during the Christmas and New Years Holidays you will be impressed with the wonderful Christmas Market that goes on in central Garmisch by the park. Enjoy gluwein and yummy traditional holiday foods while socializing with people from around the world.
The Christmas Market is one of Bavaria’s best and will make the most amazing holiday memory ever. Definitely do take a day off to hike the Partnachklamm Gorge and take the train up to the Zugspitze. Garmisch has so much to offer and is a great ski vacation for the whole family. You’ll enjoy every aspect of Garmisch both on and off the slopes!