Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a dramatic hiking destination in the Bavarian Alps in Germany.
Bordered by the Wetterstein Mountains to the south, the Ammergau Alps to the north, and the Ester Mountains to the northeast, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is blessed with an idyllic setting amid Germany’s highest mountains.
From enchanting gorge hikes to riveting ridge climbs, the hiking trails around Garmisch-Partenkirchen are memorable as well as exhilarating. We fell in love with hiking in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, because of the captivating scenery, the trail variety, and the storybook setting.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen hiking trails are well-signed, waymarked, and easy-to-follow. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be confused about trail direction. That being said, it’s always a good idea to carry a trail map. We bought this Kompass Hiking Map: Garmisch Partenkirchen Mittenwald 1:35:000.
Many hiking trails in the Bavarian Alps lead to mountain huts (Hütte), alpine pasture huts (Alm/Almhütte), and mountain restaurants (Berggasthof). These establishments usually only accept payment in cash. ALWAYS BRING CASH!
Below, you’ll find a summary of our favorite hikes in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and a map.
Also, check out Best Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for more travel insights, including where to eat in town.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hiking Guide: Best Trails + Map
- When to Hike: Summer and early Fall: mid June until late September. However, some trails are accessible all-year-round.
- Webcam: GaPa webcam
- Recommend Map: Kompass Hiking Map: Garmisch Partenkirchen Mittenwald 1:35:000
- Recommended Road Trip itinerary: 10-Day Bavarian Alps & Tyrolean Alps
- Where to Stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Olympiahaus (budget), Bader Suites (apartments), or Werdenfelserei (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Grainau: St. Anton (budget), or Hotel Längenfelder Hof (midrange-luxury)
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Garmisch-Partenkirchen Hiking Map
When to Hike in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
The hiking season starts in mid June and continues until late September. If weather conditions are stable, the season can easily continue until late October.
It’s also possible to hike around Garmisch-Partenkirchen in winter and spring, but your options are limited to lower elevation trails. The dazzling Partnach Gorge is open all-year-round, which is a must-do hike anytime of year.
Additionally, the Lake Eibsee Circuit Trail, Kramer Plateau Trail, and the Philosophenweg are all cleared winter hiking trails. Learn about these winter hikes in our Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Travel Guide.
7 Best Hikes around Garmisch-Partenkirchen
1. Partnach Gorge to Berggasthof Eckbauer
Partnachklamm (Partnach Gorge) is a deep river gorge in the Reintal Valley in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Millions of years ago, meltwater and debris hollowed out the rock, creating a splendidly narrow gorge, measuring 700 meters long and 80 meters deep.
A safe and secure path leads through the Partnach Gorge. Though very popular, it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss. The trail is suitable for young children as well as leashed dogs.
The Partnach Gorge hike starts at the Garmisch Olympia Stadium, where there’s a bus stop and pay-and-display car park (5 EUR for 24 hours). From here, it’s a 20-minute walk to the gorge entrance.
After purchasing your gorge entrance ticket, follow the trail along the river through the gorge (20 minutes).
The trail is short, so we recommend extending the hike the Berggasthof Eckbauer mountain restaurant. You can eat at Kaiserschmarrn-Alm, located near Hotel Graseck, or later at Berggasthof Eckbauer. Bring cash.
From Berggasthof Eckbauer, the circuit trail continues to the tiny church village of Wamberg and then all the way down to the Garmisch Olympia Stadium.
If you have less time, you can hike the Partnachklamm gorge out-and-back.
Trailhead | Garmisch Olympia Stadium | Google Maps
Distance | 12.1 km circuit
Time Needed | 4:10 hours
Difficulty | Easy
Elevation Gain/Loss | 449 meters
Learn More: Partnachklamm Gorge Hike
2. Kreuzeck to Höllentalklamm Gorge
Höllentalklamm (Valley of Hell Gorge) is a wild, narrow gorge located near Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the foot of Zugspitze. The Hell’s Valley Gorge is typically open from late May until late October, depending on snow conditions. If there is snow, the gorge is closed for safety reasons.
A thrilling, well-secured path leads through the gorge, rewarding hikers with a full-sensory experience of one of Bavaria’s greatest natural wonders.
This Kreuzeck to Höllental valley hike strings together a panoramic peak, an incredible ledge trail, the Höllentalangerhütte mountain hut, and of course the Höllentalklamm gorge. It’s a short day hike which keeps on giving. The hike begins with the Kreuzeck Cable Car ascent.
Starting Point | Kreuzeck Cable Car valley station car park (pay-and-display) | Google Maps
Trailhead | Kreuzeck Cable Car mountain station
Distance | 13 km circuit
Time Needed | 4:30 hours
Difficulty | Moderate in dry conditions
Learn More: Kreuzeck to Höllentalklamm Day Hike
3. Lake Eibsee Circuit Trail
Eibsee is a mountain lake at the foot of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. The lake is located in Grainau, accessible by car, bus, or train.
With its mountainous backdrop and emerald-green waters, Eibsee is often lauded as the most beautiful lake in Germany.
It takes 1:30 – 2 hours to walk the easy circuit trail around the lake. Luckily, it’s possible to walk this trail all-year-round.
We hiked the Eibsee circuit trail clockwise, leaving the best part – the north shore – for last. If you have limited time, start counter-clockwise instead.
We wrote an in-depth guide to visiting Lake Eibsee, with information on parking, viewpoints and photo spots.
Trailhead | Eibsee Car Park (Paid) | Google Maps
Distance | 7.6 km circuit
Time needed | 1:30 – 2:00 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 75 meters
Learn More: How to Visit Lake Eibsee
4. Hochplatte Peak
Hochplatte (2082 meters) is a mountain in the Ammergau Alps of Bavaria. The Hochplatte peak hike starts at Ammerwaldalm in Austria, which is a 36-minute drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
This is a strenuous tour with a lengthy and somewhat airy ridge trail. Though all exposed sections are secured, this is only suitable for surefooted hikers with no fear of heights.
After conquering nearly 1000 meters in 3 hours, the hike continues from the Hochplatte summit along a narrow ridge to the Fensterl natural window. It’s a riveting trail with sweeping views and some fun scrambling sections.
From the Fensterl, the hike continues to the Roggentalsattel and down to Roggental valley, eventually rejoining the accent route.
This is a great hike to do on weekends during high season, because it’s still a secret.
Trailhead | Ammerwaldalm, Austria | Google Maps
Distance | 10.6 km lollipop-circuit
Time Needed | 5:30 hours
Difficulty | Difficult
Elevation Gain/Loss | 969 meters
Learn More: Hochplatte Trail Guide
5. Lake Drachensee
Lake Drachensee is a stunning mountain lake in the Mieming Chain in Tyrol, Austria.
The hike to Drachensee begins at the Ehrwald Almbahn valley station, which is only a 30-minute drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
We recommend hiking up to Lake Drachensee via Lake Brendlsee and then descending via Lake Seebensee.
From the Ehrwald Almbahn gondola mountain station, the trail meanders gently through forest before ascending the Ganghofersteig trail to the Brendlkar cirque and then eventually up to the Tajatörl saddle.
This long ascent is somewhat taxing, but there’s minimal technical difficulty. Hikers should nonetheless be surefooted and confident in scree.
From the Tajatörl saddle, the trail descends to Lake Drachensee and Coburger Mountain Hut. You’ll face Lake Drachensee the whole time – which is why it’s critical to hike this circuit clockwise.
From the managed Coburger mountain hut, the trail steeply drops down to Lake Seebensee and then returns to the Ehrwald Alpine Pasture along easy, forest trails.
Trailhead | Ehrwalder Almbahn mountain station | Google Maps
Distance | 14.9 km lollipop-circuit
Time Needed | 5:30 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 909 meters
Difficulty | Moderate – Moderately Difficult
Learn More: Lake Drachensee Hike
6. Wank to Esterbergalm Circuit Trail
Wank (1780 meters) is a panoramic mountain in the Ester Mountains (Estergebirge in German), easily accessible by cableway from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This mountain serves as a popular lookout point and leisurely walking destination.
For those that want to opt out of the cableway ascent, you can hike to Wank from the Höfle Car Park. The trail ascends to Berggasthof Gschwandtnerbauer mountain restaurant (1020 meters) and then climbs up the forest to the grassy summit of Roßwank (1:50 hours from the trailhead), which is a grazing area in summer.
Follow the Roßwank Rundweg trail to Wank for the best views of Loisachtal valley and the Wetterstein Mountains (25 minutes). The trail leads to the Wank Bergstation (cableway mountain station), the Sonnenalm (alpine pasture hut) and the Wankhaus (refuge).
This Wank circuit trail continues in the direction of Ameisberg and all the way down to Esterbergalm mountain pasture (1:15 hours).
The Esterbergalm alpine pasture hut (1264 meters) is open daily except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from June until the end of October. The farm dates back to the 1400s and is home to horses, sheep, goats, and Murnau-Werdemfelser cows. Order the Kaiserschmarrn!
From Esterbergalm, turn right and cross the meadow. Follow the trail south through the Kaltwassergraben valley. The trail rejoins the ascending route and descends back to Berggasthof Gschwandtnerbauer and the Höfle car park (1 hour).
Trailhead | Höfle Car Park | Google Maps
Distance | 16.3 km lollipop-circuit
Time Needed | 4:40 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 986 meters
Difficulty | Moderate
7. Alpspitz Ferrata
Special Equipment Needed
Alpspitze (2628 m) is a pyramid-shaped mountain in the Wetterstein Mountains which looms over Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
From afar, the peak looks like an impossible feat. However, the Alpspitze summit is relatively “easy” to conquer via an excellent via ferrata route, known as the Alpspitz Ferrata or Alpspitze Klettersteig.
Starting at the Alpspitzbahn cable car mountain station atop Osterfelderkopf, it’s possible to summit Alpspitze in 2 hours along a beginner-friendly, grade A/B via ferrata.
Hikers must use a via ferrata kit like this PETZL, Kit Via Ferrata Vertigo for the ascent. We also recommend wearing climbing gloves like these Unisex Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger Gloves.
Though the via ferrata ascent route is “easy,” it requires stamina and a head for heights. Additionally, the challenging Ostgrat ridge descent requires comfort in scree and high-alpine limestone terrain. Hiking poles like the Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles are essential for the descent.
If you haven’t hiked a via ferrata/klettersteig, we recommend joining a guided tour.
Starting Point | Alpspitzbahn valley station | Google Maps
Trailhead | Alpspitzbahn mountain station
Distance | 4.5 km circuit
Time Needed | 4 hours
Via Ferrata Difficulty | Easy (A/B)
Complete Hiking Circuit | Difficult
Elevation Gain/Loss | 593 meters
Learn More: Alpspitz Ferrata Hiking Guide
Where to Stay
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an alpine resort town in Upper Bavaria, close to the border of Austria. It’s a well-known destination for skiing in winter (late December to late March) and hiking and mountain biking in summer (June – mid/late September). Lying on the confluence of the Loisach and Partnach valleys, this fantastic base in the Bavarian Alps offers the most in terms of dining and shopping.
Budget | Olympiahaus is a traditional Bavarian guesthouse located at the historical Olympic stadium (where the ski jump is) and at the Partnach Gorge trailhead. The Olympiahaus features an on-site restaurant, breakfast buffet (optional), and free on-site parking.
Luxury | Werdenfelserei is a standout boutique hotel which artfully combines traditional and modern alpine design. Highlights of staying here include the Zugspitze-facing rooftop pool, on-site restaurant, spa and wellness area, breakfast (included), and creative architecture.
Upscale Apartments | Bader Suites offers tastefully-furnished apartments (1-2 bedrooms) with well-equipped kitchens in Garmisch, walking distance to the pedestrian zone. Each unit is outfitted with air-conditioning, a seating area, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom. Guests enjoy free underground parking (e-charging station available) and the use of lockable sports equipment and bicycle storage. Breakfast delivery boxes are available Thursdays-Mondays (8:30 am – 9 am) with pre-registration (let them know by 1 pm the day before).
Luxury Mountain Getaway | Das Graseck is a mountainside hotel set above Garmisch-Partenkirchen, accessible by the hotel’s own cable car. It’s a unique getaway perfect for those seeking a quiet wellness retreat. The spa is adults-only. The room rate includes breakfast and dinner.
More options: Hotel Schatten (budget), Central Garden-Mountain Apartment (midrange), aja Garmisch-Partenkirchen (midrange-luxury), Obermühle 4*S Boutique Resort (luxury), Private Spa & Garden Alpi (luxury).
Look for accommodation in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Grainau is a village within the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located at the foot of the Zugspitze massif. Though quieter and more secluded than neighboring Garmisch, Grainau is perfectly positioned for exploring Lake Eibsee, Höllentalklamm gorge and Höllental valley, and the high summits of the Wettersteingebirge, including Alpspitze.
Budget | St. Anton is a top-rated guesthouse with Lüftlmalerei (art murals) and traditional furnishings. Set in a wooded area with mountain views, this charming accommodation looks like a scene from Hansel and Gretel. Double rooms and apartments are available.
Midrange-Luxury | Hotel Längenfelder Hof is a lovely, family-run hotel surrounded by meadows and facing the Wetterstein Mountains in Grainau. This idyllic 4-star hotel features spacious chalet-chic rooms, a wellness area, an indoor swimming pool, rich breakfast buffets, and complimentary afternoon tea and cake.
Luxury | Eibsee Hotel is a 4-star hotel located on the shores of Lake Eibsee, at the foot of Zugspitze. Stay here for the idyllic location, lake and mountain views, and wellness facilities (indoor swimming pool, multiple saunas, sun deck, garden, hotel-guest-only beach). Welcome extras include free use of kayaks, canoes, and SUPs, the Guest Card Grainau, and free on-site parking (including day of departure). Breakfast is included and half board is available.
In winter, guests have access to a free ski shuttle, Snowshoes, ice skates and toboggans, and a 20% discount off ski equipment.
More options: Hotel Garni Zum Franziskaner (budget) and Hotel am Badersee (luxury).
Look for accommodation in Grainau.
Bavarian Alps Travel Essentials
Bavarian Alps Road Trip
The best place to start a Bavarian Alps road trip is in Munich, where there’s an international airport. Here’s our recommended Bavarian Alps & Austrian Alps itinerary.
We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in Germany. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Tip: If you can only drive automatic transmission cars, as opposed to manual transmission cars (stick shift), book your car rental as early as possible.
Bavarian Alps Hiking Gear
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C Hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle
Guided Adventures in Bavaria
- Day Trip from Munich: Full Day Tour to Germany’s Highest Peak: Zugspitze
- Day Trip From Munich: Zugspitze Tour: Groups of 4 or More
- Day Trip From Munich: Neuschwanstein Castle Full-Day Trip
Self-Guided Multi-Day Adventures in Bavaria
- 8-Day Cycling Tour: Munich to Venice on a Touring Bike – Active
- 11-Day Cycling Tour: Breweries of Bavaria Bicycle Tour
- 8-Day Cycling Tour: Across the Alps on a Touring Bicycle: Garmisch to Lake Garda
- Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest
- Hiking Guide: Walking in the Bavarian Alps: 70 Mountain Walks and Treks in Southern Germany
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Tamron 17-70mm 2.8 Di III-A VC RXD
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
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Germany Travel Guides:
- Germany Travel Guide
- Black Forest Travel Guide
- Upper Middle Rhine Valley Travel Guide
- Moselle Valley Travel Guide
- Ahr Valley Travel Guide
- Eifel Region Travel Guide
- Cologne City Guide
European Alps Hiking & Travel Guides:
- Day Hikes: Best Day Hikes in Austria
- Thermal Spa in Ötztal: Aqua Dome Thermal Baths