Germany’s Premier Ski Resort Town
If you’re a skier (or snowboarder) you’ve probably wondered what it would be like to ski in the Alps. What about in the town famous for hosting the FIRST ever alpine skiing event at the Winter Olympics in 1936? How about on the highest mountain in all of Germany?
Head to the picturesque ski resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen to ski the Alps in the historic and charming region of Bavaria, Germany.
I’ll tell you all about how to get there, what lift tickets you need, what the ski areas are like, where to stay, and everything else you need to know to enjoy a weekend skiing in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Ski Areas
How to Get to There
There are two ski areas in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Area: Garmisch Classic and the Zugspitze. If you don’t have a car both are easily accessible with public transportation, or even walking if your hotel is close enough to Garmisch Classic. There’s a public bus, ski bus, train, and cable car available to get you on those slopes.
How to Get to Garmisch Classic Ski Area
- You can take public bus #2 to the Kreuzeck/Alpspitzbahn stop (full bus schedule here)
- You can take the skibus to the Talstation Hausberg stop (full bus schedule here)
- You can take the Deutsche Bahn (train) to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen stop, then board the Bayerische Zugspitzebahn (cogwheel train) to the Hausberg, Kreuzeck/Alpspitzebahn stop (full details, including a combination train and ski pass here)
How to Get to the Zugspitze Ski Area
- You can take the Deustche Bahn to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen stop, then board the Bayerische Zugspitzebahn to the Zugspitzeplatt stop at the top of the mountain (full details, including a combination train and ski pass here)
- You can take the Eibsee bus to the Eibsee stop (full bus schedule here)
- Once at the Eibsee stop you can hop on the Bayerische Zugspitzebahn mentioned above at the Eibsee station and take that up to the Zugspitzeplatt
- You can also take the new Seilbahn Zugspitze cable car up to the top of the mountain. It was just finished in December of 2017 and gives you amazing views of the area!
At the bottom of the post there’s a Google Map with all of the important spots marked that will help these directions for each ski area make a lot more sense.
Lift Tickets in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
It would be really difficult to ski both Garmisch Classic and the Zugspitze in one day due to the distance between them. So if you’re just skiing for just one day or less you’ll buy a single ticket for one of the ski areas. You can see prices here for Garmisch Classic and the Zugspitze, with only a few euros difference between them.
Be sure to note the discounts for students and families.
If you’re skiing for more than a day your ticket will work for both ski areas, and I definitely recommend going to both if you have time. We skied for one and a half days, and if you do the same you should know the half day is your first day and the full one the second.
I’ll go ahead and explain the pros and cons of each ski area.
Garmisch Classic Ski Area
Garmisch Classic is the larger of the two ski areas with 40 kilometers of slopes and all levels and lengths of runs. They mostly consist of red and blue, with a few black routes. Garmisch Classic is fun for traditional skiiers, but also has a snowpark for working on your freestyle, children’s ski areas, and a cool BMW slalom course that takes a video of your run that you can download online later (I was embarrassingly slow and uncoordinated!). There are a lot of restaurants and bars for snack breaks across the ski area.
Check out the piste map for Garmisch Classic.
Since you can ski directly down to the base of the mountain you don’t waste a lot of time in your ski day planning for lifts that take you up or down when you’re ready to start or stop. And it’s the closest ski area to the downtown.
Of the two ski areas Garmisch Classic was the most crowded, and at the end of the day the conditions weren’t the best with moguls on the slopes. Overall the views weren’t that great compared to other places I’ve been, but I’m sure when the town is covered in snow it’s a little more picturesque. I did like the variety of runs and food options, though.
Zugspitze Ski Area
The Zugspitze ski area has 20 kilometers of runs consisting of longer red and blue routes. There aren’t any kid’s areas or fun courses, but the long runs let you really take in the beauty of the Alps. I mean, you’re skiing on the highest mountain in Germany so the views are unbelievable!
Check out the piste map for the Zugspitze.
What the Zugspitze lacks in variety it more than makes up for with the scenery and fewer skiers. At some turns on the slopes we were the only skiers visible and felt like the whole mountain was for us! There aren’t as many bars or restaurants, which is usually one of my favorite parts of skiing, but I truly enjoyed the Zugspitze far more than Garmisch Classic.
You should plan more time for the Zugspitze since it’s further away from the downtown and takes longer to get to the top via the new lift or train, but it’s not to be missed. If you only have one day to ski I would choose the Zugspitze ski area over Garmisch Classic.
Use of both the train and lift at the Zugsptize is included in your lift ticket.
Garmisch has been a ski resort town for years, and there’s plenty of accomodation to go around. If you prefer a traditional German gasthof, or maybe a house to yourself on Airbnb, or a typical modern hotel you can certainly find it.
Like I mentioned earlier, you might even be able to reserve something within walking distance to Garmisch Classic that would eliminate the hassle of parking or public transportation.
Where did we stay? Let me give you a little bit of background…
I usually tell you guys how much of an organized and planned traveler I am. Well this Garmisch ski trip was booked with only a few days notice…we reserved our hotel on a Wednesday and left on Saturday! And at the height of ski season there weren’t a ton of options left.
We went with the most budget-friendly choice, Hotel Atlas Sport, since we planned to spend most of our time on the slopes anyway. The hotel is basic, but it does the trick for a quick weekend ski trip.
If you want something a little more luxe, Atlas has 2 sister hotels in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Atlas Posthotel and Atlas Grand Hotel, that have bigger and nicer spaces. And Celentano, the restaurant in Atlas Posthostel was an amazing Italian spot for dinner regardless of where you stay.
Here’s a map of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area with all the important places I’ve mentioned, from train stations to restaurants. You can see how the two ski areas are separated and where they are in relation to the downtown.
That should be everything you need to know to plan a ski vacation in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany’s remarkable ski resort town!
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