Zugspitze: On top of the highest mountain in Germany
Zugspitze from Eibsee Lake
Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany and on the border with Austria, is a magnificent mountain with a grand view over the lower mountains and valleys that surround it. I had the opportunity to visit Zugspitze last summer and I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.
Who should visit to Zugspitze?
The idea of going up the highest mountain in Germany probably conjures images of a lot of work and the need for a great level of physical fitness. Zugspitze, however, allows the non-climber to experience the beauty of the view without the dedication of the climb. For non-climbers, like me, you have the option of taking the Cogwheel train part way up and then the Glacier cable car or simply take the Eibsee cable car all the way up.
I took the Eibsee cable car and it was an amazing ride. The Eibsee cable car takes you from the ground all the way up to the top of the Zugspitze in a manner of minutes. It was a clear day and you could see for miles as the cable car ascended the mountain.
Zugspitze is great for people of all ages and most physical abilities because the cable cars really take away almost all physical exertion. However, I would not recommend Zugspitze for people who are even a little nervous around heights as the cable cars do sway as the go up the mountain. Furthermore, it would be difficult with a wheelchair as I recall that were steps involved. I would recommend anyone interested it traveling to the top of Zugspitze with a wheelchair to contact Zugspitze first.
How to get to there
Zugspitze close to the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and if you are in traveling in southern Germany you can take a train. From Munich, the trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a little under one and a half hours and costs approximately 38 Euros round trip. From Augsburg, it is a two hour trip with one change and costs approximately sixty-seven Euros. Booking ahead will often lower the price of train tickets in Germany, check out the DB Bahn website for booking and details.
Once you arrive in Garmisch-Partenkirchen station it is a short walk to the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn station from where you can purchase a ticket to Eibsee. Once you arrive in Eibsee you will need to decide if you will continue up the mountain by train or by cable car.
If you are driving to Zugspitze you can drive though Garmisch-Partenkirchen and directly to Eibsee. This is the method I chose to get to Zugspitze from Augsburg and it was quite a drive, albeit very beautiful. I recommend carefully planning your drive using Google maps or another source to assist you. One of the benefits of driving is that you can stop at some of the adorable towns on the way. I suggest a quick stop at the monastery town of Ettal for a quick bite to eat and a peek inside the monastery.
Going up Zugspitze
Once you are at the top…
Once you are at the top of Zugspitze you can explore the observatory, also known as Munchner Haus. Munchner Haus has terraces with fantastic views of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and even Italy. There are great photo opportunities. Take a few photos of the summit cross before wandering over to the Austrian end of the structure.
Munchner Haus also hosts a historical exhibition about Zugspitze and Germany’s highest chapel.
When you need a break, there are four restaurants with amazing views; the Glaciergarden, SonnAlpin, Gipfelalm, and Panorama-Lounge 2962. I tested out the Panorama-Lounge for the traditional German mid-afternoon ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ (coffee and cake).
What to do around Zugspitze
Once you are safely returned from the top of Zugspitze, there is still plenty to do. There is a beautiful walking path around the Alpine lake Eibsee. The whole walk take approximately two hours, however, even a partial walk around the lake will offer fantastic views of the lake and Zugspitze. It is an fairly easy walk and you will see eve strollers on certain areas of the path. However, be aware that on certain parts of the path there are not many benches available.
Another option is to explore Garmisch-Partenkirchen, site of the 1936 Winter Olympic Games. Garmisch is the modern part of the town whereas Partenkirchen has an older feel.
Check the weather before you plan your trip as it can change suddenly in the Alps. Be sure to take warm clothing as it can get cold at high altitudes. I was wearing a jacket in mid-August and there was snow on the terraces. Up to date weather information can be found at the Zugspitze weather page.
Are you interested in learning some German before your trip? Check out this article on where to learn German online.