The Garmisch-Partenkirchen winter season commences with the Christmas holiday season (late December) and ends in late March/early April.
What you can do in Garmisch in winter will largely depend on the snow conditions.
We visited Garmisch-Partenkirchen from December 20th until January 4th during an unseasonably warm winter. We savored the Christmas Markets, hiked many lower-elevation trails, visited Partnach Gorge and Lake Eibsee, relished mountainside lunches in nearby huts, and ate our way around town.
In this Garmisch winter guide, we’ve highlighted what to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen during the holidays, when skiing isn’t your sole priority.
If there isn’t a lot of snow, don’t be dismayed. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a great base for visiting historic towns like Mittenwald and Oberammergau, palaces like Linderhof and Neuschwanstein, and even thermal spas like Kristall Therme Kochel am See and Königliche Kristall-Therme am Kurpark Schwangau.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Travel Guide
- Current Conditions: Garmisch Webcam
- When is Winter: Late December – end of March/early April
- Germany Winter Holidays: December 25th (1. Weihnachtstag), December 26th (2. Weihnachtstag), January 1st (Neujahr), and January 6th (Heilige Drei Könige)
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen Christmas Markets: Late November – Late December in Garmisch, Late December – mid-January in Partenkirchen
- Winter Hikes (no special equipment needed): Kramer Plateau Trail, Philosophenweg, Eibsee Circuit Trail, and Partnach Gorge
- Important Ski Events: New Year’s Ski Jumping on January 1st, Kandahar men’s downhill ski race in late January.
- Tip: Always carry cash with you. Many establishments are cash-only.
- Where to Stay in Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Olympiahaus (budget), Bader Suites (upscale apartments), or Werdenfelserei (luxury)
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Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Map
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Season
The winter season roughly runs from late December until the end of March, or early April.
Between November and mid-December, many hospitality establishments close seasonally for company holidays (“Betriebsferien” in German).
In mid-late December, these establishments open-up again for the Christmas holiday season. In Germany, the holidays continue through January 6th, which is the Epiphany (“Heilige Drei Könige” in German).
It’s important to secure dinner reservations in advance during the holidays.
The Garmisch Christmas Market (Christkindlmarkt am Richard-Strauss Platz) usually runs from late November until late December, closing just before Christmas. The winter market in Partenkirchen (Hüttenzauber Ludwigstraße) usually runs from late December (after Christmas) until early January.
On New Year’s Eve (“Silvester” in German), visitors can partake in a Bavarian New Year’s Eve party at Bayernhalle or a guided torch hike with dinner. Register for these events at the GAPA tourist office. Some restaurants and hotels, like 4ECK and Hotel Graseck, host multi-course celebratory dining experiences.
Each year, Garmisch-Partenkirchen hosts the New Year’s Ski Jumping tournament on January 1st, which is a very important event in the Ski Jumping world.
After the Advent season (after January 6th), Garmisch-Partenkirchen gets quieter. Some establishments reduce their opening times.
At the end of January, Garmisch-Partenkirchen hosts the annual Kandahar men’s downhill ski race.
Throughout February, Germans flock to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the school holiday (“Winterferien” or ”Semesterferien” in German). The holiday week is staggered: each German State is assigned a different holiday week throughout the month. Expect a lot of families with school children in Garmisch in February.
In March, children are back in school. This is generally a quieter month and a great month for skiing and winter sports activities.
If the snow conditions are favorable, the winter season will continue until Easter. The Easter holiday usually takes place anytime between late March and late April. Upcoming Easter holidays:
- March 31, 2024
- April 20, 2025
- April 5, 2026
- March 28, 2027
- April 16, 2028
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Christmas Markets
Garmisch Christmas Market: Christkindlmarkt am Richard-Strauss Platz
The Garmisch Christmas Market is located in the pedestrian zone of the Garmisch town center.
The main market is set up at Richard Strauss Platz in front of the tourist office.
The square is lined with 16 huts selling Glühwein (mulled wine), Maroni (chestnuts), crepes, waffles, Knödel (dumplings), Raclette, South Tyrolean specialities, and various wood and wool products. The popular local restaurant Zur Schranne also has a stand.
Location | Richard Strauss Platz (in front of the tourist office) | Google Maps
Dates | November 24 – December 23, 2023
Opening Times | 12 pm – 8pm
In addition to the Richard-Strauss market, there are also a few other stands set up throughout the pedestrian zone in the old town of Garmisch. Their opening times/dates vary from that of the main market.
Winterzauber am Mohrenplatz
There’s an ice-skating rink lined with a few stands at Mohrenplatz in the pedestrian zone. It’s especially atmospheric in the evening.
Location | Mohrenplatz | Google Maps
Dates | Early December – Early January
Opening Times | Daily starting at 12 pm
WürschtLMO and Heimo’s Glühweinstand
Two stands, one selling Bratwurst and the other selling Glühwein, are located at Bischofseck in the Garmisch pedestrian zone, in front of the ESPRIT retail store.
Location | Bischofseck/Am Kurpark | Google Maps
Dates | Mid-November – Early January
Opening Times | Daily from 11 am – 8 pm
Partenkirchen Winter Market: Hüttenzauber Ludwigstraße
Between late December and early/mid January, there’s a small winter market consisting of five huts, a large nativity scene, and a small stage, in front of the Pfarrkirche Maria-Himmelfahrt church on Ludwigstraße.
This intimate market serves as a cheerful neighborhood gathering place. The stands sell mulled wine, punch, and Bratwurst.
Location | Pfarrkirche Maria-Himmelfahrt, Ludwigstraße | Google Maps
Dates | Late December – early/mid January
Opening Times | 3 pm – 8 pm
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Events
New Year’s Ski Jumping
The New Year’s Ski Jumping is an annual event which takes place on January 1st at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympic Ski Jump.
It’s part of the Four Hills Tournament (“Vier Schanzen Tournee” in German), which comprises four ski jumping events in Austria (Innsbruck, Bischofshofen) and Germany (Oberstdorf).
If you’re enthusiastic about ski jumping, consider attending. Purchase your ticket online in advance. Ticket sales start around September.
The atmosphere is family-friendly: no rowdy behavior.
Food and drinks are sold at very reasonable prices in the standing area.
Kati is obsessed with ski jumping, so seeing this event was a dream come true. I, on the other hand, was bored after the first 10 minutes.
5 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Hikes and Walks
There are many winter hikes and gentle walks around Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The Kramer Plateau Trail, Philosophenweg, and Eibsee Loop Trail are all cleared in winter. The Partnachklamm Gorge trail is also open in winter.
Because of the warm conditions, we didn’t need any special equipment. However, if there is snow, it’s a good idea to pack microspikes and hiking poles.
- Recommended Microspikes: CAMP Snowline Chainsen lightweight mircospikes
- Recommended Hiking Poles: Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles
All of these Garmisch winter hikes lead to mountain restaurants and huts, which are open in winter. Make sure to check out the opening times before setting off. Many mountainside huts and restaurants have rest days (“Ruhetag” in German) and company holidays (“Betriebsferien” in German). Also, always bring cash, as credit cards are not always accepted.
The Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Trail) is a leisurely walk which links Garmisch-Partenkirchen with Farchant. It’s accessible all-year-round and cleared in winter. The path is easy, smooth, and barrier-free (wheelchair and stroller friendly).
It’s called Philosopher’s Trail, because the trail is lined with benches, which display quotes of famous philosophers.
This Garmisch-Partenkirchen winter walk starts at the Wallfahrtskirche St. Anton (St. Anton pilgrimage church), above Partenkirchen. There is no car park near the chapel. The closest car park is the Festplatz Car Park, located near the Schützenhaus. Exact Location: Google Maps.
Alternatively, you can park at the free car park “Parkplatz Natur- und Erholungspark Kuhflucht” in Farchant. Exact Location: Google Maps.
We walked the Philosophenweg trail out-and-back. If you want to hike the trail only one-way, we recommend hiking from Farchant to Garmisch, because the views unfold better hiking south.
From the St. Anton pilgrimage church always follows “Philosophenweg” trail signs. The path wraps around the forested hillside of Wank. After passing the Schützenhaus restaurant, the trail swings northeast, parallel to the Loisach valley.
The trail maintains the same direction for a long time, overlooking the valley and the Ammergau Alps.
At the Werdenfelser Warmbad/Farchant and Walderlebnispfad/Farchant trail junction, bear right to Walderlebnispfad/Farchant.
Walk through the forest and then detour around the Ried ski slope (winter only). Follow the Esterbergstrasse road and then turn right and shortly thereafter left (around the playground) in the direction of “Kuhfluchtwasserfälle” waterfall.
The trail continues to the Kuhfluchtgraben stream. Here, you have an opportunity to hike up the Kuhfluchtwasserfälle Waterfall (15 minutes one-way). The trail follows the stream past a Kneipp course up to a bridge and higher up to a viewpoint bench.
Return to Partenkirchen along the same route.
Trailhead | Wallfahrtskirche St. Anton
Distance | 11.8 km out-and-back
Time Needed | 3:45 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 349 meters
Difficulty | Easy
2. Tannenhütte and Eckenhütte Circuit Trail
The Tannenhütte – Eckenhütte – Gschwandtnerbauer circuit trail is a low-elevation hike on the southern slopes of the Wank, above Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Tannenhütte is a modern managed hut with a sunny terrace, which offers a satisfying selection of Bavarian food and drinks. Their opening times change throughout the winter season, so do check their website before hiking up.
Eckenhütte is a private unmanaged hut on an alpine meadow above Tannenhütte. It serves as a fantastic viewpoint of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Wetterstein massif.
You can hike up to Tannenhütte from the Wank cableway valley station, the St. Anton Pilgrimage Church, the Gsteig Kapelle chapel on Doktor-Wigger-Straße in Partenkirchen, Chalet Adriana at the end of the Schalmeiweg, or the Höfle Car Park.
If you’re traveling with a car, we recommend starting this circuit trail at the small Höfle Car Park. Exact Location: Google Maps. To start the hike, follow signs to Pfeiffer Alm and later Tannenhütte.
We started the hike at the Gsteig Kapelle chapel in Partenkirchen, just up the road from the famous Ludwigstrasse. Exact Location: Google Maps.
The path leads directly from the chapel up to Humplmayrweg road and then continues east in the direction of Pfeiffer Alm. The trail tacks up the hillside and then ascends to the Sonnenuhr viewpoint. At each junction, follow the sign to Tannenhütte.
From Sonnenuhr, turn north towards Wank and locate the sign to Tannenhütte. Cross the Hacker-Pschorr-Hängebrücke suspension bridge and follow the obvious trail to the Tannen hut (self-service/credit cards accepted).
From Tannenhütte, you can detour up to the Eckenhütte (12 minutes one-way).
Return to Tannenhütte and cross the suspension bridge once again. At the junction, turn left, following the Sunnaweg and Gschwandtnerbauer trail signs.
The way rises up steadily along a fence and then levels, traversing patches of forest. After 45 minutes, the path (now more narrow and rugged) descends to the Gschwandtnerbauer mountain restaurant (open in winter).
From Gschwandtnerbauer, follow the forest road down to the Höfle Car Park. The hike up Schlattan road to Pfeiffer Alm (open in winter). From here, follow the path below Pfeiffer Alm to complete the circuit.
Trailhead | Höfle Car Park
Distance | 9.9 km circuit
Time Needed | 3:30 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 550 meters
Difficulty | Easy
3. Kramer Plateau Trail
The Kramer Plateau Trail (Kramerplateauweg in German) is a mostly flat walking path which connects Lake Pflegersee with Herrgottschrofen in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The Kramer Plateau Trail is appealing because it’s open all-year-round. We hiked it in late December. Though the Kramerplateauweg is a “cleared winter hiking trail,” you may experience ice/snow along the trail.
The trail meanders along the forested foot of Kramerspitz (1985 m), the mountain which flanks the Loisach River Valley, opposite the Wetterstein mountains. At certain points along the trail, views open up to the valley and the Wetterstein peaks, including Alpspitze, Vorderer and Größerer Waxenstein, and Zugspitze.
There are numerous ways to hike the Kramer Plateau Trail. Those traveling by car can start the walk directly at Almhütte on the Kramer Plateau. Those traveling by foot from Garmisch, can access the path from the Bayernhalle conference hall.
Trailhead | Almhütte
Distance | 8.9 km circuit
Time Needed | 2:50 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 173 meters
Difficulty | Easy
What We Did
We walked from the Garmisch town center to Bayernhalle, where there’s an info board and map, marking the start of the trail. A paved path leads up to a signed junction. From here, we turned right in the direction of Pflegersee. This access trail soon joins the Kramer Plateau Trail and then leads through forest to Lake Pflegersee (45 minutes).
After lunch at the lakeside Berggasthof Pflegersee, we followed the higher Kellerleitensteig trail. This path is also easy, but involves more steps and elevation gain/loss. See map for clarification.
Eventually, the Kellerleitensteig twists down and rejoins the Kramer Plateau Trail. From here, we continued to Almhütte, passing the Kriegergedächtniskapelle memorial chapel and a small biotop along the way.
The Almhütte is open daily, except on Wednesdays, from 9 am until 6 pm. This charming alpine pasture hut is the perfect place to warm up on a cold winter’s day. Payment is only accepted in cash or with a German EC card.
Note: The Kramerplateauweg continues west to Herrgottschrofen (a rock with a carved out chapel with a Jesus statue). We continued along the trail for a while, but returned to Almhütte, and then followed the “nach Garmisch” trail sign back into town.
4. Partnach Gorge Winter Hike
The impressive Partnach Gorge (Partnachklamm in German) is a deep, narrow gorge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s open all-year-round.
If conditions are cold enough, the water freezes, creating a magical frozen landscape of cascading ice.
When we visited Partnachklamm in January, the landscape wasn’t frozen, but nonetheless sensational.
Partnach Gorge Winter Opening Times
The Partnach Gorge winter opening times are from 8 am until 6 pm. The last time you can enter the gorge is 5:30 pm.
In December and January, sunset is sometime between 4:30 pm and 5:00 pm, well before the closing time.
On Christmas Day (December 25th) and New Year’s Eve (December 31st), the gorge is only open until 2 pm. On both days the last admission is 1:30 pm.
Partnach Gorge Starting Point
To reach the gorge, head to the Olympic Ski Stadium, home to the unmissable Olympic ski jump. If you’re driving, park at the pay-and-display car park directly at the stadium. It’s not possible to drive, or take a bus to Partnach Gorge.
Partnach Gorge Winter Trail
Starting at the Olympic Ski Stadium, follow signs to the gorge entrance (20 minutes). Pay the entrance ticket at the Kasse and walk the length of the gorge (20 minutes).
The Partnach Gorge trail is safe and secure, passing through galleries and tunnels and along ledges. Because of the misty conditions and spraying water, sturdy shoes are essential to avoid slipping.
Upon exiting the gorge, we recommend hiking up to the lovely Kaiserschmarrn Alm for lunch (15 minutes).
From the Kaiserschmarrn Alm, you can continue to the Das Graseck Hotel and Almwirtschaft Hanneslabauer and circuit back down to the Kasse (ticket area) via a steep paved road. If it is frosty, this road can be very slippery and potentially dangerous.
Rather than opt for the road, we recommend returning to the gorge exit/entrance and walking back through the gorge, so that you can experience it twice.
Just make sure to hold onto your entrance ticket, so you can reenter the gorge.
Trailhead | Olympia Ski-Stadion
Distance | 6.8 km out-and-back
Time Needed | 2:30 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss | 261 meters
Difficulty | Easy
Extending the Hike
From Das Graseck Hotel, it’s possible to continue to Berggasthof Eckbauer. We’ve detailed this route in our Partnach Gorge guide.
From Berggasthof Eckbauer, you can descend to the Olympia Ski Stadium with the Eckbauerbahn gondola, by foot via Wamberg, or by sled, conditions permitting.
5. Lake Eibsee Winter Circuit Trail
Lake Eibsee is a mountain lake at the foot of the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.
The lakeshore is located just meters away from the Zugspitzbahn, which ushers skiers to the Zugspitze ski area.
An easy, wide path wraps around the whole lake. It’s 7.6 km long and takes 2:20 hours.
The Eibsee Circuit Trail is cleared in winter.
In January, we walked from Lake Eibsee to Lake Badersee and Grainau and onwards to Lake Riessersee and Garmisch. This isn’t a must-do walk by any means. The highlight was the Seehaus Restaurant at Lake Riessersee and the scenic descent from Riessersee to Garmisch.
Trailhead | Eibsee Car Park (P1 or P2)
Distance | 7.6 km circuit
Time Needed | 1:30 – 2:00 hours
Elevation Gain/Loss: 75 meters
Difficulty | Easy
Learn More: Lake Eibsee
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Day Trips
One of the advantages of staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is its close proximity to historic towns and castles.
Mittenwald is a historic town about 18 km east of Garmisch. There are frequent bus and train connections between the two towns.
With its fabled setting at the foot of the Karwendel Westkamm chain, Mittenwald is one of the dreamiest alpine villages in the Alps. The Altstadt is made-up of a pedestrian zone (Obermarkt street) lined with beautiful colorful buildings with intricate Lüftlmalerei (“air paintings”).
On Christmas Day, we visited Mittenwald in order to hike to Hoher Kranzberg (easy winter hike) and stroll through Obermarkt.
Oberammergau is a charming town in the Bavarian Alps, north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s one of the best places to admire Lüftlmalerei (“air paintings”) in the region. Some of the houses depict scenes from Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.
Oberammergau is famous for staging a passion play every 10 years, since 1634.
Walk through the town, grab a pastry from Aurhammer Bäckerei, or lunch at Ammergauer Maxbräu beer garden.
Schloss Linderhof is an intimate palace nestled in the Ammergau Alps in Upper Bavaria. It was built by the legendary King Ludwig II of Bavaria between 1868 and 1874.
In many ways, Linderhof is an ode to Versailles and French monarch Louis XIV, who Ludwig II idolized. The gilded baroque interior is ornamented with Gobelin tapestries, richly upholstered armchairs and sofas, extravagant canopies, and colorful ceiling paintings.
In order to see the interior of the palace, visitors must join a guided tour. Tours last 25 minutes and are conducted in English and German.
Before, or after the guided tour, you can explore the park grounds surrounding the palace. Don’t miss the Moorish Kiosk.
Tickets & Pricing | Linderhof Ticket Shop
Arrival | We recommend arriving at Schloss Linderhof 20-30 minutes before your guided tour. That will afford you sufficient time to walk to the palace and even tour the palace grounds.
Parking | 3 EUR (when we visited). Cash Only | Google Maps
Where to Stay
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.
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.
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.
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).
Grainau is a village within the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located at the foot of the Zugspitze massif. It’s quieter and more secluded than neighboring Garmisch. While a great option in summer, Garmisch is probably the better base in winter.
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.
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.
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
- Travel Guide: Lonely Planet Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest
- Hiking Guide: Walking in the Bavarian Alps: 70 Mountain Walks and Treks in Southern Germany
- Hiking Map: Werdenfelser Land, Staffelsee – Kochelsee – Walchensee – Zugspitze 1:50 000
- Hiking Map: Hiking Map Freytag & Berndt WDK 4: Garmisch Partenkirchen
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- Best Hikes around Garmisch-Partenkirchen
- Kreuzeck to Höllentalklamm Gorge Hike
- Alspitz Ferrata
- Hochplatte Hike, Ammergau Alps
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: