I never knew, until I told people where we were headed on our trip, that there were so many people in this world who have visiting the Alps on their bucket list. Now, the Alps covers a pretty wide range of territory, crossing eight different countries, so you have your choice of places to go if you want to visit the Alps. After spending a few days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, better known as Garmisch, Germany, I highly recommend it as a place to visit, whether it’s your destination or you’re just passing through.
Garmisch is a gorgeous little resort village at the foot of the German Bavarian Alps, close to the Austrian border. It’s a popular destination both for skiing in the winter, and during the warmer months. It is full of traditional bavarian buildings, and gorgeous mountain views. There are lots of good restaurants, featuring everything from traditional bavarian food to Italian, and shops in the town, which features a walking zone several blocks long.
One of the most popular activities in Garmisch is visiting one of two mountain peaks: the Zugspitze and Alpspitze. The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany, and has three glaciers on its planks. The Alpspitze isn’t quite as high as the Zugspitze, but still offers amazing views and lots of hiking. Both peaks have cable cars that take visitors to the top where you will find bars, restaurants, and hiking trails. We were advised that each peak needs a day for itself, and as we were short on time chose to only go the Alpspitze as it cost half as much as the Zugspitze and we were told it had better hiking trails at the top.
Once at the top of the Alpspitze we found absolutely breathtaking views. We chose to do a little hike (optional as you can just take the cable car back down), that offered gorgeous views the whole way, but was a a very steep decline so those with injuries may opt not to do it. There were several spots that were great for photo opps, and we enjoyed watching the parasailers take off. The scenery felt like we were in the Sound of Music. At the end of our hike we found a restaurant for lunch and drinks, and then took the cable car back down the mountain.
Included in the price of the ticket is the train to the Elbsee. I wish we had allowed ourselves more time here. It was a gorgeous sparkling lake in the valley of the mountains with hiking trails around it and a restaurant that sits right on the lake.
Garmisch is also an easy drive to several picturesque castles that are popular tourist destinations built by King Ludwig II, who really liked castles. These castles include the famous Neuschwanstein, the King’s House on the Schachen, and Linderhof Castle. The King’s House on the Schachen is actually in Garmisch, but we did not visit it and instead opted for the Schloss Linderhof, which Ludwig built to be a smaller model of Versailles.
The Linderhof Castle is only a 20-30 minute drive from Garmisch and is a beautiful and ornate castle, and one can definitely see why people got mad about how much money the King spent. It’s a small castle so the tour is quite short, but our 17 month old was not a fan of the tour. For small children it might be best just to tour the grounds and not do a tour. The grounds themselves are beautiful and worth a visit even without a castle tour. There are gorgeous gardens, and we really enjoyed the tour of the King’s grotto, or manmade cave. On display was the boat Ludwig used for taking friends on, and the murals in the cave.
Neuschwanstein is probably the most popular tourist destination in the area, but we were advised by several people that it wasn’t worth seeing as it gets so crowded and there isn’t much to see inside the castle. We still stopped by while traveling to take pictures of the castle from the road.
We found Garmisch to be a peaceful and relaxing Bavarian town and really enjoyed our time there. We visited in September and had nice weather with high temperatures in the 60’s while we were there. I would love to return and see how the town is in the winter and experience some Alpine skiing at some point in the future.