The once separate villages of Garmisch and Partenkirchen still remain a union after Hitler forced them to merge for the Olympic Games over 75 years ago. Even today you can get around the cobblestone streets of the town without a car, or take the rack railway up to the top of the mountain. Get a “spa card” for free rides around town on local buses.
The town is located very near the Austrian border at the base of the Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain at 9,718 feet (2,962 meters). Winter sports fans come just to ski its many miles of downhill runs and cross-country trails, ride its terrain park and take advantage of Germany’s first superpipe. The chairlifts are minutes away from the center of town by foot. To appreciate a bit of the town’s ski history, visit one of the world’s first Olympic Ski Jumps at Mount Gudiberg. If you’re not into skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing are good alternatives.
A hike through the national monument of Partnach Gorge will bring you through a narrow valley of waterfalls, giant icicles and limestone walls. The trail is open all year long; in the winter, the area is particularly beautiful as the tours are guided by torchlight.
The town itself has two distinct sides. The Garmisch half has a modern feeling with more bars and restaurants, while the streets of Partenkirchen are lined with historic buildings. If you like après-ski, as many of the locals do, try Peaches on Marienplatz. Residents and tourists come here to drink and dance as soon as the mountains close.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also a renowned center for health and wellness, named one of Germany’s top 15 spa resorts. The center of town is home to Michael-Ende-Kurpark botanical gardens, where barefoot paths massage your soles and the Market Gallery in the spa offers regular art exhibitions.
A city built with ski sports in mind, Garmisch-Partenkirchen remains famous for its quality slopes, as well as its beautiful scenery and healing atmosphere.