Visit the Top of Germany, the Zugspitze, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
When we first moved to Germany, visiting Bavaria, and particularly the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area was at the top of my list. After about a year of living in Germany, we took a 3-hour drive from our home and found ourselves in the most picturesque mountain town. Let me tell you, Garmisch did not disappoint. I was in heaven! Our Airbnb had jaw-dropping views, we hiked the incredible Partnach Gorge and now the last stop on our itinerary was to head to the the top of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. Let me share our experience with you and provide all the information you need to plan your visit to the Zugspitze!
The Ride of a Lifetime
The cable car ride to the Zugspitze summit was a highlight of our trip. Ascending nearly 3,000 meters (9,843 feet) above sea level in a cutting-edge cable car was an unforgettable experience. The panoramic views were breathtaking (and that is an understatement)! I also loved that the cable car’s spacious design allowed us to comfortably enjoy the scenery during the 10-minute, 3-mile journey. Even the floor had a window for an extra view! My kids, aged 3 and 7, thoroughly enjoyed the ride too.
Where Germany meets Austria
Reaching the summit was a moment of awe. Standing at 2,962 meters, we were literally at the top of Germany. The 360-degree views of endless peaks spanning four countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy were stunning. It felt like being on top of the world!
The Zugspitze isn’t just a mountain though, it’s a historic landmark marking the border between Germany and Austria. Back in the day, crossing from one side to the other on this peak meant showing your passport, luckily that has changed now. During your visit, you can easily cross over to either side.
Both the German and Austrian sides boast modern cable cars. You can climb up from either side, and you can stand between two countries, surrounded by breathtaking views.
Up top, there’s more than just scenery to enjoy. You’ll find restaurants, seating areas, shops, a cozy little museum, and even telescopes to take in every detail of the stunning sights. And depending on the time of year you may even find some snow! My kids were thrilled to find piles of snow to play with in September!
Activities at the Summit
The Zugspitze isn’t just about the views. There’s a surprising amount of activities to enjoy. For the adventurous, there are surrounding hiking trails and you can even skip the cable car ride and hike to the top of the Zugspitze! During the winter months, you can go skiing and enjoy the beautiful landscapes.
Did you know that there is also a cogwheel train ride that is included in the purchase of your cable car ticket? You can choose either the option of riding the cable car or the cogwheel train up to the top of the Zugspitze and also choose which option fits best to descend back down.
Once at the top, there are also glaciers that you can view or take a cable car to explore them directly. For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, there are restaurants and a beer garden – because what’s a trip to Bavaria without beer? My husband and I enjoyed a beer with the scenic views while my kids chose hot chocolate and a waffle to share. It felt surreal! You will find that there is a little something for everyone.
At the peak of Germany’s highest mountain stands a golden cross, symbolizing its summit. This cross commemorates the initial ascent in 1851 by a priest and his companions. The original cross suffered damage during World War II supposably from soldiers using it as target practice, it has since been replaced.
On clear days, visitors can venture out to this iconic cross. There are steps and handrails available for those who brave the journey. During our visit, we watched many people make the journey to the top, it was pretty remarkable to see. But our family watched safely from afar. 🙂
As we said goodbye, our return journey on the cable car was just as memorable, offering one final glimpse of those mountain and lake views from above.
The journey to Zugspitze’s peak isn’t just another item to check off your bucket list; it’s an awe-inspiring, unique adventure. Should you ever find yourself in Bavaria, this incredible experience is a must-see!
And don’t forget, at the foot of Zugspitze, you will find the serene Lake Eibsee. This idyllic mountain lake presents a variety of activities depending on the time of year, from paddleboarding to leisurely hikes, or unwinding at one of the restaurants on the water. Trust me, you will want to stop here before leaving. We had a delicious lunch at the Eibsee Pavillion and enjoyed our time on the lake. It was the perfect end to our Zugspitze adventure!🏔️🚠
Helpful Tips for Visiting:
- Check the Zugspitze website for updated ticket prices. Currently, for the 2023-2024 winter season, adult tickets are €62 and children are offerred a special rate.
- There are family ticket options, tickets for skiers, and multi-day tickets available.
- The Zugspitze(non-skier)ticket includes one ascent and one descent with the cogwheel train or the Zugspitze cable car. It also includes a ride on the Glacier cable car.
- I recommend buying tickets ahead of time, especially during peak season, visit the ticket shop here
- Pup owners will be happy to know that a roundtrip ticket is available for 6€ for your furry friend.
- Opening hours vary by season and are sometimes affected by the weather or routine maintenance.
- Always check their website for the most current operating information.
Getting there & Parking:
- The Zugspitze website has all the details to get there by car or public transport
- We found the parking situation to be pretty straightforward. We easily found a parking spot.
- For more information on parking, you can check here.
- Dress warmly. Once you reach the top, it is very chilly no matter what time of year! Come prepared for a change in temperature.
- Plan to spend some time once you reach the top. There are restaurants and food vendors and it’s a beautiful place to relax.
- Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat if you like. It can be very bright on a sunny day.
- Don’t forget a camera and/or a fully charged phone for all the amazing photo opportunities.
- Most of all, have an unforgettable experience!
As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts or comments. If something sparks your interest or if you have any questions, please share them below. And if this piece resonated with you, please consider supporting my site through Buy Me a Coffee. Your support enables me to craft more stories to share with you all. 💕
Disclaimer: Please know that while I pour my heart and soul into providing you with the most accurate and up-to-date information, the world has its way of changing. The details and insights shared here were accurate at the time of penning them down. However, in time, some specifics might shift. Always double-check before making any plans. Safe travels and warm wishes.