Majestic peaks surround Garmisch-Partenkirchen drawing visitors to the slopes of the Bavarian Alps.
While dozens of ski runs and resorts dot the landscape of the region in southern Germany that hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics and 1978 Alpine Ski Championship, you can find just as many thrilling and awe-inspiring activities in the summer.
Our family enjoyed an impromptu trip recently and we’re already planning our next visit because we just couldn’t fit all we wanted to do in one week. As we plan for our next excursion, we worked out a list of things we must try or do again.
1. Shopping & Dining
The downtown area showcases a great mix of traditional shops with hand-crafted treasures and trendy boutiques. With the hand-painted murals on numerous shops, restaurants and hotels, you feel as if you’re strolling an art exhibit as you walk the cobblestone and brick streets.
Dining options include everything from Pizza Hut to authentic Baltic menus and lots of ice cream shops and bakeries. As with most German dining experiences, give yourself lots of time to enjoy the food and conversations with table mates, because service is high-quality, it’s not quick. The restaurants we visited offered delicious options (including kids menus) and worth the time we spent there.
Street performers and dining locations often offer musical demonstrations in the evenings, but there is always activity buzzing through the town center.
Festivals are abundant in the area including, spring, summer and October festivals, knight tournaments, street art festivals and even a festival where they celebrate the cows returning from their summer pastures.
2. Outdoor Adventures
If you love thrill seeking, Garmisch delivers. As we explored the downtown area, para gliders floated on the breeze above.
We ventured out to Oberammergau to ride the Kolben Chairlift – 420 meters up – to play at the Mountain Adventure Playground. Along with the park and Piston Saddle Hut restaurant is the new Kletterparadies high ropes course with scenic challenges for all ages.
Adventurers can ride the chairlift back down, hike or take the 2,600 meter Alpine Coaster. The coaster boasts ‘the world’s longest weatherproof toboggan run with magnetic brakes’ that offers speeds up to 40 km/h and ‘73 curves, nine jumps, and seven waves’. It’s a fun ride that you will want to do more than once.
Water adventures await you with canoes, kayaks, still or white-water rafting. Throughout the region are dozens of trails to hike or bike, rentals are available, that offer incomparable views and lasting memories.
3. Historic Places and Tours
Garmisch puts you in the middle of many historic places open for guided group or independent tours.
Explorers who want to combine a hike with a castle tour should consider Neuschwanstein Castle from which inspired Walt Disney to create the Cinderella castle. Walking from the parking area to the castle takes about 40 minutes and, if you want to see the view from the top, be ready to climb 300 stairs.
Additional sites are in neighboring Ettal and include Linderhof Palace which was the smallest of three palaces from King Ludwig II. Local Benedictine monks offer tours of the Ettal Abby where you can shop their carved pieces and their beer, wine and liquors.
History and music enthusiasts may tour Mittenwald village, ‘Land of One Thousand Violins’ where tourists can visit the violin museum and dine local microbreweries. WWII historic sites are also accessible to view such as Berchtesgaden Eagle’s Nest, Adolf Hitler’s vacation home, or the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Just one stop of many
While our family is stationed in Germany, we plan to take every chance to explore.
These few years offer a multitude of opportunities to travel and experience culture and adventure.