GERMANY’S HIGHEST PEAK (AND BEER GARDEN)
At 2,962 metres (precisely) above sea level, the Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany and offers of course plenty of opportunity for skiing and snowboarding! Don’t worry, if you’re not a skier, snowboarder or simply not in the mood you can try a spot of sledging down one of their slopes for a bit of quick fun!
The Schneeferne Glacier gives the opportunity to be able to ski/board for almost 7 months of the year which is pretty incredible if you compare to our short 2-3 months if we’re lucky over in the east coast of Australia. They have approx 20kms of pistes and downhill runs which vary from 2000 and 2700 metres! Although you cannot ever compare the view, the food and of course the experience you would get in the German Alps!
Zugspitze is located in Bavaria (Southern Germany) and its on the border of Austria. You can spend a quick half day, full day or couple days at Zugspitze depending on what you’re interested in doing. Definitely worth a quick drive down or train down from Munich if you have the extra time, as the view alone is worth the trip up! On a clear day you’re able to see a full panoramic vew of the alps in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy – absolutely beautiful as you can see below.
We stayed the night prior in Grainau, a beautiful small town nearby to as you can see below in the ‘official map’ from the Zugspitze site. Accommodation is very reasonably priced, however if you decide to come in the peak season (winter, for snow obviously) i’d suggest to book in advance as its a very popular area for many Germans, Austrians and us tourists.
Heading from Munich by car is only a short hour drive, and its very unusual that when i think about it very small amount of people who we know have actually gone south to visit Zugspitze, Eibsee, the beautiful town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and many other amazing places nearby. If you’re coming by train you’re looking at 1h40m which is pretty reasonable, but i would suggest making an entire day out of it as by the time you arrive, eat, relax, explore and return you may find that your entire day is already gone if you’re not staying within the same area.
Our advice is try spend 2-3 days within the same area, simply because it truly is so remarkably beautiful with so much to offer; Zugspitze the highest peak in Germany, Eibsee this beautiful aqua lake below, Garmisch Partenkirchen one of the most quaint and picturesque towns you’ll ever visit (also where the 1936 olympics were held) and would be a great base to explore from. You also have the famous Neuschwanstein Castle and so much more – could rabble on endlessly but we will this for our up and coming post ‘Bavaria’ which will hopefully encourage, offer advice and show you what you could be missing out on if you don’t spend more time in Southern Germany and North Austria!
HOW DO WE GET UP THERE?
For us it was parking your car down in one of the park areas as you can see pictured above, however check Zugspitzes Official Page for more directions and parking costs prior to visiting to see what suits best for you.
You can go from Eibsee-Seilbahn which takes you to a cablecar from the Eibsee Station and rises up to 1951 meters to the mountains summit. This takes about 10-15 minutes and as you can imagine the views are pretty spectacular on the way up.
The Zahnradbahn is the cog wheel train you hop onto at Garmisch next to the train station, this travels along the valley to Grainau and on to Eibsee before heading to Zugspitze where it grabs onto cogs before it heads up. At Zugspitzplatt (Plateau), 2600 metres up in the mountain you hop off and switch over to the Gletscherbahn (Glacier train) aerial cable car (or gondola for Americans) for a quick ascend to the summit ridge of Zugspitze.
We would suggest to hop onto the Panoramic Camera to check the camera on the day because even in summer being as high as it is you may have times where its completely clouded over. But with this said, it can clear within minutes as well so it truly is pot luck.
You’ve finally made it up, we’re hoping its a beautiful clear day and you’re stunned in the panoramic views as we were! What we may not of mentioned clearly is, you’re on the border of Germany and Austria! Each side of the mountains top has a house which comes along with a small museum and restaurants (and beer garden!). Each area is easily accessible through that narrow walkway up top regardless if you have come up from the German or Austrian side to the summit.
Be sure to grab yourself some amazing food, maybe a cold or hot drink and have a look out at the Zugspitzplatt (Zugspitze Plateau) Glacier!
There are quite a few warning signs advising visitors of the dangers of doing this! We would suggest to consider if this is something you’re first comfortable with doing as of course there is a small chance you may slip and fall, also note that if you’re not wearing appropriate footwear i wouldn’t suggest doing so. With this said it isn’t hard in doing so as there are chains and ladders that easily help you across, but of course you have to be comfortable in doing something as this and it is as your own responsibility!
Say you did, congratulations you have officially stood on top of the highest peak in Germany!
WHAT TO BRING
Whether you’re visiting in mid-summer or even spring, the temperatures at the top of Zugspitze can be very chilly! Be sure to bring a nice jacket and of course a decent pair of shoes as remember, you are on a glacier slash mountains! Some small snacks, maybe a sandwich, some water and of course the most important part – your camera will a fully charged battery and plenty of space on your memory card to take some snaps (or selfies?)
For adults you’re looking at approx $55EU ($80 AUD) each. This includes one mountain ascent and descent, either in the form of the cog wheel train, a ride on the glacier cable car and the eibsee-seilbahn cable car. You can use the Glacier cable car as much as you like on the day you visit also. If you’re a little confused, just send them an email or ask on the day as they’re always very helpful – and yes, of course they speak English!
See the ticketing page here for more information as prices will vary from summer to winter of course.
WHERE TO STAY?
As mentioned earlier we stayed nearby in Grainau, however if you have a look around through Grainau and other surrounding towns you will find quite a lot of accommodation. This will range from your family owned B&B (our pick) to your higher end boutique type hotel. Our advice is, stay in a B&B (Pension/Gasthaus) as its usually more than likely that its family owned and the service, room, food and help overall cannot be compared to a major hotel – you cannot beat German or Austrian hospitality and of course always support local businesses everywhere you go!
WHEN SHOULD YOU GO?
Stating the obvious, go on a clear day and if your day isn’t clear when you had intended to go there are plenty of other surround beautiful landscapes to explore so don’t be too concerned. Summer months are probably the best and you can also climb across to the peak if you’re confident in doing so as well. Spring is also another great time to go, a little chillier, a little bit of snow but also some nice warmer clear days to hopefully allow a very clear view across the alps. Winter time the Alps will be covered completely in snow, which in itself is pretty spectacular so if you are there in winter do consider going up as you can also do some snow hiking or even skiing.
THINGS TO DO AROUND ZUGSPITZE
As mentioned above and amongst our other posts, there are so many attractions, sights, landscapes and things to do nearby which most people tend to miss unfortunately!
Neuschwanstein, better known as the ‘Disney’ Castle is definitely Germany’s most spectacular castle – approx 50km drive.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen & Partnachklamm (Gorge) is also nearby and would be one of our recommendations to visit or even base yourself from. Absolutely stunning town and area in fact!
Innsbruck (Austria) is just bit of an hour south as well, another gorgeous quaint town that you can do either a short day trip or 2-3 day visit including the Zoo.
Munich, whilst about 2 hours away it isn’t that far. For Munich we would definitely recommend some time as there is quite a bit to see.
Be sure to click on the links above to give you a little more information and hopefully encouragement to go visit these nearby cities and towns.