Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an attractive alpine resort town in Upper Bavaria, Germany, close to the border of Austria.

Dramatically nestled between the Ammergau Alps, Ester Mountains, and Wetterstein Mountains, this Bavarian Alps town is an absolute stunner. Not surprisingly, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a favorite ski and hiking holiday destination among Germans.

Garmisch’s popularity is well-earned, as it harbors many natural wonders including the ethereal Partnachklamm gorge, the wild Höllentalklamm gorge, and the dreamy Eibsee Lake

Additionally, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an unsurpassable base for exploring the most celebrated attractions in the Bavarian Alps, including the towns of Oberammergau and Mittenwald and the fairy tale castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof. 

Here’s our guide to the best things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen with insider tips on how to best experience all the top attractions.


Essential Guide to Visiting Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Lake Eibsee, Garmisch, Germany

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen Map


Where is Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is located in Upper Bavaria in Southern Germany.

The two adjoined towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen are situated on the confluence of the Loisach and Partnach valleys between the Ammergauer Alpen, Estergebirge, and Wettersteingebirge. The latter mountain range boasts the highest peaks in the country, including Zugspitze (2,962 m). 

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is only a 1-hour drive from Munich, a 26-minute drive from Ehrwald, and a 1-hour drive from Innsbruck.


5. Best Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen


1. Partnachklamm Gorge

Partnach Gorge Hiking Trail, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

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 above the Partnach River through the Partnach Gorge, offering wondrous perspectives of this natural landmark. 

Trees top the rock walls, while moss and other flora line the walls. In summer, parts of the gorge are remarkably verdant. In other places, water sprays and trickles down from above, creating a staggeringly beautiful scene. 

The hike to Partnach Gorge begins at the Garmisch Olympia Stadium, where there’s a bus stop and paid car park (5 EUR for 24 hours). From here, it’s a 20-minute walk to the gorge entrance. 

Learn More: Partnachklamm Gorge Hike

When to Visit | The Partnach Gorge is open all-year-long. However, authorities may close the gorge, if it’s unsafe (e.g. too much snowmelt in Spring). 

Opening Times | June – September: 8 am – 6 pm, October – May: 8 am – 8 pm 

Dogs | Leashed dogs are allowed in the gorge. 

Entrance Fee | There is an admission fee to enter the Partnachklamm gorge. 

  • Adults: 6 EUR
  • Locals and Guests with Valid Visitors Card: 5 EUR
  • Children (ages 6-17): 3 EUR
  • Children (ages 0 – 5): Free
  • Persons with Disabilities: 4 EUR
  • Dogs: 1 EUR

Other Considerations | Bicycles, baby carriages, canoes, and wheelchairs are not allowed in the gorge. 


2. Alpspitz Ferrata

Alpsitze Via Ferrata ascent in summer, Bavarian Alps

Alpspitze (2628 m) is an eye-catching, pyramid-shaped mountain in the Wettersteingebirge. You’ll notice this mountain immediately if you’re driving into Garmisch along the B2. 

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. 

Though the via ferrata ascent route is “easy,” it requires stamina, surefootedness, and a head for heights. Additionally, the challenging Ostgrat ridge descent requires comfort in scree and high-alpine limestone terrain. 

Learn More: Alpspitz Ferrata Hiking Guide

Special Equipment

When to Hike | Summer and Early Fall. Only attempt this on clear and dry days. 

Opening Times | The Alpspitzbahn cable car is open daily in Summer:

  • June: 8:30 am – 5 pm
  • July – September: 8 am – 5:30 pm
  • October: 8:30 am – 5 pm

Cable Car Pricing | Purchase a Garmisch-Classic ticket, which includes 1 ascent and 1 descent. 

  • Adults: 31 EUR
  • Youth (ages 16 – 18): 25 EUR
  • Children (ages 6 – 15): 15.50 EUR

3. Höllentalklamm Gorge

Höllentalklamm Hike, Bavaria, Germany

Höllentalklamm (Valley of Hell Gorge) is another must-see gorge in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Compared to Partnach Gorge, Höllental Gorge is steeper, wilder, wetter, and harder to get to. Is it worth it? YES!!! Is it worth seeing both gorges? ABSOLUTELY!!

An impressive trail follows the tumbling Hammersbach River through the narrow gorge. Rugged stairways, illuminated tunnels, and secured ledges steer visitors through the 1-km-long Höllentalklamm. 

Expect to get joyfully wet. Water drips and sprays from above – a welcome refreshment on hot summer days. Wear sturdy shoes with grip to avoid slipping. 

The most direct approach to the Höllentalklamm gorge is from the hamlet of Hammersbach in Grainau, just southwest of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It takes 1 hour to hike 2.9 km (360 meters elevation gain) to the gorge entrance. 

That’s certainly one way to do it. But, there’s a far better approach.

Starting at the Kreuzeck cable car mountain station, you can hike over the Hupfleitenjoch saddle to Höllental valley. Eat a rich lunch at the modern Höllentalangerhütte and descend the valley and the gorge all the way to Hammersbach. 

Learn More: Kreuzeck to Höllentalklamm Day Hike

When to Visit | Summer and Early Fall. 

Opening Times | The gorge is open 24 hours during the snow-free season. 

Dogs | Leashed dogs are allowed in the gorge. 

Entrance Fee |  There is an admission fee to enter the Höllentalklamm gorge.  Show your alpine club membership card to receive a discount. 

  • Adults: 6 EUR
  • Children (ages 7 – 17): 2 EUR
  • Children (ages 0 – 6): Free

Other Considerations |  Bicycles, baby carriages, canoes, and wheelchairs are not allowed in the gorge. 


4. Lake Eibsee

Lake Eibsee Sunrise, Upper Bavaria, Germany

Eibsee is a mountain lake at the foot of Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. The lake is located in Grainau, a 15-minute drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. 

With its mountainous backdrop and emerald-green waters, Eibsee is often lauded as the most beautiful lake in Germany. 

During your visit, you can walk the 7.6 km circuit trail around the lake, rent a SUP or pedal boat (May – October), eat at the Seerestaurant & Café Eibsee-Pavillon, and even stay at the lakeside Hotel Eibsee. 

Here’s our complete guide to visiting Lake Eibsee, including tips on the best photography spots. 

When to Visit | You can visit Eibsee all-year-long. 

Opening Times | There’s no “opening time,” but you can only park at the paid Eibsee car parks between 5 am and 10 pm. 

Dogs | Dogs are allowed. 

Other Considerations | Flying drones, car camping, wild camping and fishing are strictly prohibited. 


5. Ludwigstraße Street 

Ludwigstrasse, Partenkirchen, Bavaria

Garmisch-Partenkirchen exhibits stunning Lüftlmalerei (“air paintings”), which adorn the facades of houses, businesses, and churches. These art murals depict fanciful scenes from fairy tales, ordinary life, and the Bible.

Lüftlmalerei can be seen throughout the town, but Ludwigstrasse boasts the most impressive display of these traditional art murals.


Where to Stay


Garmisch-Partenkirchen 

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. 

Midrange-Luxury | Quartier – Lodges Biohotel is a modern hotel with nature-inspired minimalist interiors. Suites feature untreated stone pine paneling, natural bed linen, and metal-free beds. Breakfast is included. The hotel restaurant serves contemporary regional specialities, Tuesday to Saturday, 2 pm – 9:30 pm. 

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). 

Look for accommodation in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.


Grainau 

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 can rental as early as possible.

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