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. It’s also the gateway to Germany’s highest mountains, including Zugspitze (2,962 meters).
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.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Travel Guide, Upper Bavaria, Germany
- Where: Upper Bavaria
- When to Visit: Summer, Winter, or Fall
- Must-See Attractions: Partnach Gorge, Höllental Gorge, and Lake Eibsee
- Best Restaurants: Zum Wildschütz, Gasthaus zur Schranne, and Joseph Naus Stub’n
- Best View of Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Wank Mountain
- Day Trips: Oberammergau, Linderhof Palace, Neuschwanstein Castle, Mittenwald, Lake Drachensee
- 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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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.
7 Best Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
1. Partnachklamm Gorge
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 tunnels and galleries and along ledges 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 pay-and-display car park (5 EUR for 24 hours). From here, it’s a 20-minute walk to the gorge entrance.
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 – 8 pm, October – May: 8 am – 6 pm
Dogs | Leashed dogs are allowed in the gorge.
Entrance Fee | There is an admission fee to enter the Partnachklamm gorge.
- Adults: 7.50 EUR
- Locals and Guests with Valid Visitors Card: 6.50 EUR
- Children (ages 6-17): 3 EUR
- Children (ages 0 – 5): Free
- Persons with Disabilities: 5 EUR
- Dogs: 2 EUR
Other Considerations | Drones, bicycles, baby carriages, canoes, and wheelchairs are not allowed in the gorge.
Learn More: Partnachklamm Gorge Hike
2. Alpspitz Ferrata
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.
Special Equipment |
- Via Ferrata Kit: PETZL, Kit Via Ferrata Vertigo
- Hiking Poles: Unisex Black Diamond Hiking Poles
- Climbing Gloves: Unisex Black Diamond Crag Half-Finger Gloves
When to Hike | Summer and Early Fall. Only hike this trail on clear 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. Check current pricing.
Learn More: Alpspitz Ferrata Hiking Guide
3. Höllentalklamm Gorge
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.
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.
Learn More: Kreuzeck to Höllentalklamm Day Hike
4. Lake Eibsee
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 Lake Eibsee anytime of year.
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.
Read Next: Best Hikes around Garmisch-Partenkirchen
5. Ludwigstraße Street
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.
For the quintessential Bavarian experience, eat dinner at Gasthof Fraundorfer.
6. Eat Lunch in a Mountainside Hut
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is to dine al fresco in the mountains. The mountains around Garmisch-Partenkirchen are home to many mountain huts (Hütte), alpine pasture huts (Alm), and mountain restaurants (Berggasthof).
Always bring cash, as credit cards are not always accepted.
Here are some lovely huts you can visit in summer and winter. Do check each hut’s website for up-to-date opening dates/times.
These establishments typically have rest days (“Ruhetag” in German) and company holidays (“Betriebsferien” in German). For example, many huts have a Betriebsferien between November and mid-December
Tannenhütte is a modern, self-service hut on the southern slopes of Wank. The hut is perched above Partenkirchen and overlooks Loisach Valley and the Wetternstein massif.
Order your food inside and then find a place to eat, either inside or outside. You’ll be given a buzzer, which will alert you when your food is ready. Cash and credit cards are accepted.
The Kaiserschmarrn was delicious.
We hiked to Tannenhütte from the Gsteig Kapelle chapel in Partenkirchen. If you’re driving, we recommend parking at the Höfle Car Park and hiking up to Tannenhütte via Pfeiffer Alm and the Sonnenuhr Viewpoint. To reach the hut, cross the Hacker-Pschorr-Brücke suspension bridge.
You can read about the full circuit trail in our Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Travel Guide.
It’s also possible to hike to Tannenhütte from the Wankbahn via the Wallfahrtskirche St. Anton chapel.
Tip | For an even better view, extend the hike to the unmanaged Eckenhütte viewpoint (12 minutes).
Opening Times | Up-to-date opening times are published on the Tannenhütte homepage.
Payment | Cash or Card
Kaiserschmarrn-Alm is a charming hut in Graseck which serves mouthwatering Bavarian food. There is indoor and outdoor seating.
The best way to hike to Kaiserschmarrn-Alm is via the Partnach Gorge. Starting at the Olympia Ski Stadium, walk to the Partnach Gorge ticket area/entrance (20 minutes) and then walk through the gorge (20 minutes). After exiting Partnach Gorge, follow signs to Eckbauer/Graseck/Kaiserschmarrn-Alm. It’s a 15-minute hike up to the Kaiserschmarrn-Alm from the gorge exit.
In winter, we recommend hiking back through the gorge after lunch (out-and-back hike). In summer and fall, we recommend extending the hike to Berggasthof Eckbauer and Wamberg (circuit trail).
Alternatively, you can hike to Kaiserschmarrn-Alm via Partnach Alm and the Eiserne Brücke
Bridge, but this isn’t nearly as scenic as the gorge route.
Opening Times | Current Opening Times
Payment | Cash Only
Almhütte is a mountain restaurant on the Kramer Plateau, famous for their Windbeutel cream puffs, which they start serving at 2 pm.
We weren’t huge fans of the Windbeutel, but we loved the hut’s cozy interior and the location. Next time, we’d try something savory.
You can drive all the way to the Almhütte. Park at the Wanderparkplatz Maximilianshöhe.
If you’re traveling without a car, walk from Garmisch to Bayernhalle and follow the Kramerplateauweg trail signs to Almhütte.
Read our Kramerplateauweg trail description in Garmisch in Winter.
Opening Times | 9 am – 6 pm daily (Closed on Wednesdays)
Payment | Cash Only
More Garmisch-Partenkirchen Huts
In summer, we highly recommend eating lunch in the modern Höllentalangerhütte in Höllental Valley. Follow our Kreuzeck to Höllental Gorge (Hell’s Valley Gorge) trail guide.
We also ate at the Berggasthof Pflegersee and Pfeiffer Alm, both of which were fine, but not outstanding.
7. Savor Bavarian Food in the Best Garmisch-Partenkirchen Restaurants
Zum Wildschütz offers delicious, authentic Bavarian food in a warm, rustic space with beamed ceilings and low-key alpine furnishings. Service is swift and friendly. Everything they make is outstanding: Krustenschweinebraten im Dunkelbiersaft (roast pork with crust in dark beer sauce), Knusprige Schweinshaxe (crispy pork knuckle), Ox’n Gulasch (beef goulash).
In summer, the restaurant spills outside into a Biergarten.
Tip | If you want to order the Knusprige Schweinshaxe, you must order it in advance – at least a day before in our experience.
Opening Times | Daily
- Monday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 11 pm
- Sundays and Holidays: 12 pm – 10 pm
Location | Bankgasse 9, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen | Google Maps
Reservations | Recommended – especially for dinner.
Gasthaus zur Schranne
Gasthaus zur Schranne is a traditional Bavarian restaurant serving hearty alpine food and drinks. We loved the lively atmosphere and the the wood-paneled, beer hall-like interiors. The service is attentive and fast.
Zur Schranne traces its history back to 1610, when it served as storage warehouse for corn. In the mid-19th century, the building burned down during renovations. It wasn’t until 1984 that Zur Schranne was rebuilt in accordance with the specifications of the Monument Protection Act of October 1, 1973.
Tip | There’s live music on Thursdays and Fridays between 7 pm and 10 pm.
Opening Times |
- Monday – Friday: 11 am – 9 pm
- Saturday – Sunday: 10 am – 9 pm
- Holidays: 10 am – 9 pm
Location | Griesstraße 4 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen | Google Maps
Reservations | Recommended, especially during high season.
Joseph Naus Stub’n in Hotel Zugspitze
Awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand, this cozy hotel restaurant offers mouth-watering, beautifully plated Bavarian meals at a moderate price. Ingredients are seasonal and sourced locally. The food is sensational. We ordered the divine Emmer Urkorn Risotto made with local Ettal cheese, fermented vegetables and pesto and the Mittenwald Rindfleisch Pflanzerl (meatball with mashed potatoes and braised cabbage).
Because Joseph Naus Stub’n primarily serves hotel guests with half board (lucky them), which means no table rotation and very few external guests, the atmosphere is relaxing albeit a bit sedate/subdued.
Check room rates for Hotel Zugspitze on Booking.com.
Opening Times | Daily, 6 pm – 10 pm
Location | Klammstraße 19, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen | Google Maps
Reservation | Request a reservation using this online form.
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.
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. 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.
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
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
- 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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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: