5 Best Things to Do Near Garmisch
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a city nestled in Bavaria, about an hour south of Munich. It’s located at the base of the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany. With it’s mountain location, there are so many fun activities, especially if you like snow sports! Even if skiing and snowboarding aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other things to do and see in Garmisch. We have visited Garmisch with kids in the summer, fall, and winter and each season offers plenty to do to keep everyone entertained. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, you can enjoy these suggestions, it’s truly a place you can enjoy year-round. Here’s our top 5 best things to do near Garmisch!
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VISIT THE ZUGSPITZE
The Zugspitze is the highest peak in Germany is a sight to see. I would be happy to go anytime of year to take in the view. We did this in winter, and while most people went up there to ski or snowboard, there are still things to do if you don’t want to do either. We took the train up, but there is also a gondola on the other side of the mountain. We enjoyed the train ride and seeing the snow-covered forests and beautiful Eibsee below. Once we got to the top, we decided to rent a toboggan and let the kids do a little bit of sledding. Parts of it looked a little scary but we managed not to sled right off the top of the mountain.
There’s also a restaurant up there for a warm place to hang out and grab a bite. You will see many people just lounging in sun chairs enjoying the rays outside. From the train station you can take a cable car up a little higher so you can actually see the summit. There are a few viewing platforms which also make the perfect spots for family photos. It is expensive to go up to the Zugspitze (46 EUR per adult, 23 EUR per child 6-15, 37 EUR per youth 16-17), I would say the only time it is not worth the money is if the visibility is bad. If it is cloudy up there you won’t be able to see a thing. So check the weather and make sure you go up on a clear day!
This gorge hike really should not be missed! It is an easy hike, really more of a walk. You can do this hike with children, just keep a close eye on them as the railings have large gaps little ones could fall through. I would not recommend a stroller, even though I saw a couple people try. We had our 18 month old daughter in a hiking backpack which was easier for us than trying to have her walk. The only challenge was my husband had to duck down quite a lot to keep her from hitting her head on some of the overhanging rocks.
The river that cuts through the gorge is a beautiful icy blue. The caverns it has carved are beautiful to look at as you walk. In the winter there are also torch light tours of the gorge at night. I have never done one but it sounds like it would be a lot of fun. Pictures from the winter show ice and snow covering the rocks, looks like you would be walking through an ice palace!
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OBERAMMERGAU ALPINE COASTER & PLAYGROUND at Kolbensattel
Above the town of Oberammergau, 30 minutes from Garmisch, is an alpine coaster! If you’ve never experienced these, you are missing out! The alpine coaster boasts 73 turns and is 2.6 km long. Ride the chairlift up to the top, then get in line for the thrilling ride down. On the day we visited (a Sunday in summer) the line was over an hour long! If possible, visit during the week.
Also at the top are swings that look like you’re swinging out over the mountains, a fun playground with a zipline, and of course a Bavarian restaurant serving up food, cold beers, and hot drinks. The town of Oberammergau is also worth a stop. It is a cute Bavarian town famous for it's Passion Play every other year. We enjoyed walking around, looking at the murals, and stopping in the different shops. There is a Kathe Wolfhart store there as well. It is a popular store selling all types of Christmas ornaments and decorations.
EIBSEE-Lake at the base of the Zugspitze
Eibsee is a gorgeous alpine lake at the base of the Zugspitze. It is a stunning blue color, perfect for swimming in the summer or just admiring during the rest of the year. You can hike all the way around the lake on the Eibsee Rundweg, a 7.5 km route. We chose to hike a short distance to a small beach and then we hung out there for the rest of the day. There were many people swimming, lounging, and stand up paddle boarding at Eibsee.
Our kids had fun swimming and looking at the tiny fish in the water. The Eibsee restaurant is near the parking lot. It has good German fare and of course beer. I would still recommend bringing snacks and lunches so you can hike to a beach and be able to stay there longer. Without snacks, you may have to hike all the way back to the restaurant. Bearable for adults, but torture for kids.
Are you visiting during winter? Not to worry, you can still enjoy an Eibsee winter by walking the snow-covered path or snowshoeing around the lake. Often the lake freezes and creates a picturesque winter scene.
Eibsee parking can be a challenge if you aren’t prepared. The lot was very full on the day we went, it is a popular spot. Try to get to the parking lot early in the day, and bring money to pay at the pay station.
The fastest way to get from Munich to Eibsee is via car. The drive is normally just over an hour. It looks like there are some road closures right now that are making the drive closer to 2 hours.
Our favorite life jacket for kids:
This is more of a Garmisch day trip (1 hour drive) but it is well worth it! This is Germany’s most famous castle. It was built by “Mad” King Ludwig II. He started the construction but unfortunately didn’t live to see it completed. Actually, the interior is still not fully complete. Neuschwanstein castle is amazing to see from the outside, it truly looks like a fairy tale scene. If you want to tour the interior, buy tickets online in advance. The tickets are timed and it is best to pre-purchase them so the tours do not sell out. Pre-purchasing the tickets will also keep you from having to wait in line for what could be hours depending on the day.
Also worth visiting is the neighboring Hohenschwangau castle where King Ludwig II grew up. I actually preferred this tour because it explained a lot about King Ludwig’s life. This is also a timed tour. You can purchase combined tickets for both castles if you are interested.
To get up to Neuschwanstein from the ticket office, you have two options: hike or horse carriage. The path is paved but is uphill the whole way. We did push a stroller up one of the times we visited. It’s not ideal but it is doable. You can’t bring a stroller inside Neuschwanstein though, you will have to park it before starting your tour. We have never taken the horse carriage mostly because of the wait time. Do not miss hiking to Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge) for a stunning view of the castle! The bridge is high and a little terrifying if you’re afraid of heights like me, but it is worth it.
If you want even more beautiful castles and insight on King Ludwig, visit Schloss Linderhof near Oberammergau. It is much closer to Garmisch. While not as grand as Neuschwanstein, it is still a stunning palace with Versailles-like gardens to wander.
Read more about travel in Germany here.
Have you visited Garmisch before? Tell me in the comments below!