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Zugspitze near Garmisch: How to get there, mountain railroads, tour tips

Zugspitze, Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG
Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG

Day trip to the Zugspitze: Germany's highest mountain

At 2,962 meters, the Zugspitze is not only Germany's highest point, but its proximity to Munich also makes it an extremely attractive excursion and hiking destination in the Munich area.

Zugspitze: The most important information at a glance

  • Distance from Munich: approx. 90 kilometers
  • Altitude: 2,962 meters above sea level
  • Mountain railroads: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn, rack railroad and cable car - in 45 minutes to the top station at 2,588 meters
  • Special features: Hiking and climbing, stop for refreshments at the summit restaurant, glacier ski area with 20 kilometers of slopes, toboggan runs for children and adults, historic rack railway
  • Requirements for the ascent: surefootedness and no fear of heights
  • Tourist traffic: On weekends when the weather is nice it can be very crowded.

Panorama, alpine pastures, mountain sports: the highlights for visitors

  • As the highest mountain, the Zugspitze offers a spectacular panorama in good weather conditions: On the ApspiX viewing platform, you can look out over the Zugspitze, the Waxensteine, the Alpspitz north face and down into the Höllental.
  • Not far from the top station, visitors* can enjoy local delicacies in the Panorama Lounge or in the Sonnalpin glacier restaurant.
  • Among the highlights of Zugspitze are the many sports on offer in summer and winter: Climbing, paragliding, trail running, skiing and snowboarding, tobogganing are just some of the many opportunities for sports on the mountain.

With the cable cars up the Zugspitze

Garmisch-Partenkirchen und Zugspitzgebiet, Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG
Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG

The historic Zugspitz cogwheel cable car was put into operation in 1930. It starts in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and stops at several stations along its route: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Hausberg, Kreuzeck, Alpspitzbahn, Hammersbach, Grainau, Eibsee. The terminus of the rack railroad is the glacier, the Zugspitzplatt. From there, the glacier cable car will take you to the summit.

The Zugspitze cable car starts at the Eibsee and takes you to the summit of the Zugspitze or directly from the summit to the valley. The valley station of the Tyrolean Zugspitze cable car, also a gondola lift, is located in Ehrwald/Obermoos.

The Zugspitz Gletscherbahn connects the Zugspitzplatt with the summit. It is a cable car that was put into operation in 1992. It covers a distance of 1,000 meters in length and 360 meters in altitude in just 4 minutes.

Hiking through the Reintal or over the Gatterl to the Zugspitze

, Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG
Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG

It takes about 11 hours through the Reintal valley - it is the easiest but longest route to the Zugspitze. From the ski stadium in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the route first leads through the wild Partnachklamm gorge, then along forest paths to the Bockhütte hut at 1052 meters.

It continues along an easy mountain trail to the Angerhütte (1370 meters), then somewhat steeper uphill to the Knorrhütte. If the tour to the Zugspitze is too much for you in one day, you can spend the night there. Alternatively, a little further on is the Reintalangerhütte, from where it continues onto the wide Zugspitzplatt.

After the Sonn-Alpin station it gets sweaty: over a scree field you reach the summit. The path is partly secured, especially in the upper area. Those who are not quite free from giddiness should end the tour at Münchner Haus.

A shorter alternative is the Gatterlroute: It leads from Ehrwald to the Knorrhütte. From there on, the tour is identical to the Reintal route. The Knorrhütte can be reached from the valley station of the Ehrwalder Almbahn. From the mountain station you continue to the Pestkapelle. There begins the climb to the "Gatterl"- a saddle, which is reached at the end over easy rocks. In this area there are wire rope belays. Then it goes over the Plattsteig to the Knorrhütte. If you still want to shorten the tour, which takes about 7 hours, you can use the Ehrwalder Almbahn to save just under 400 meters in altitude.

Quick check: The most important information about the ascent:

  • Altitude profile: approx. 1,400 vertical meters
  • Duration: approx. 11 hours from Reintal, or approx. 7 hours from Gatterl
  • Requirements: Surefootedness and head for heights

For experienced: Ascent from Höllental and Stopselzieher

Alpspix und Gipfel-Erlebnisweg, Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG
Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG

The tour over the Austrian Schneekar and Stopselzieher is with a good 5.5 hours the shortest way to the Zugspitze, but also very demanding:

From the Eibsee or alternatively from Obermoos, the paths go steeply to the Wiener Neustädter Hütte at 2213 meters. There then begins the via ferrata (difficulty levels A and B) - appropriate equipment is urgently required. Spectacular is the passage of the Stopselziehers - a natural rock tunnel. Through terrain that is secured in many places, the route then leads to the ridge and summit.

The most eexciting ascent is via the Höllental:

From Hammersbach, the trail leads through the impressive Höllentalklamm gorge, but this can also be bypassed on the Stangensteig trail. At the Höllentalangerhütte, climbers must decide whether to reach the summit in one day or two.

In any case, you should be fit, because after the hut it gets tricky: The "ladder" and the exposed "board" are key passages. The latter is equipped with steel pins as footholds. Over scree it goes to the Höllentalferner, where you need crampons in parts. In addition, you should definitely walk there on a rope because of the danger of crevasses. The summit is then reached via further climbing passages and the ridge. The tour has difficulty level C in some places and is only suitable for experienced mountaineers.

Quick check: The most important information about the ascent:

  • Altitude profile: Stopselzieher approx. 1,730 vertical meters, Höllental approx. 2,200 vertical meters.
  • Duration: approx. 6 hours from Stopselzieher, or approx. 8 hours from Höllental.
  • Requirements: Climbing experience, sure-footedness, no fear of heights.

With children on the Zugspitze: Info for families

Alpspix und Gipfel-Erlebnisweg, Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG
Foto: Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn AG
  • Can I climb the mountain with children? The ascent on foot takes about 7 hours and requires a good physical condition (so if in doubt with small children, rather use the cable cars or plan a two-day tour). For the subsequent summit climb, the children must be sure-footed and free from vertigo.
  • Which highlights should the children not miss? The historic cogwheel railroad, summit adventure trail for kids, ski kids' land and watching athletes* climb and paraglide.
  • Is there a tip for our family hike? A spectacular panorama without much effort is offered by a ride with the Zugspitzbahnen directly to the summit.

Climbing, paragliding, trail running

 Athletes also find ideal conditions on the Zugspitze:

  • High-alpine tours, via ferratas and climbing gardens offer a special kind of mountain experience for every level of difficulty.
  • There are take-off sites for paragliders on Zugspitze at Osterfelderkopf and Kreuzeck. For experienced flyers, the take-off from the Alpspitz summit is a real highlight.
  • Well-developed trails and hiking paths are the ideal running location for trail runners and all this in front of the breathtaking natural scenery of the Zugspitze.

Winter fun on the Zugspitze: skiing and tobogganing

Garmisch-Partenkirchen und Zugspitzgebiet, Foto: Tiroler Zugspitz Arena/U. Wiesmeier
Foto: Tiroler Zugspitz Arena/U. Wiesmeier

The Zugspitze is also a worthwhile destination in winter, especially for winter sports enthusiasts. If the weather plays along, skiing fun at Zugspitze even goes from November into May.

There are three slopes for tobogganing fun: the toboggan slope at Schneefernerkopf, the Sonnenklar toboggan run and the Wetterwandeck toboggan run. A toboggan run is even possible in summer if there is enough snow: from June to September there is a toboggan run from the Gletschergarten restaurant in the direction of the Zugspitze glacier - the equipment can be rented.

How to get from Munich to Zugspitze

  • By train: From Munich main station by train to Weilheim, continue by train in the direction of Mittenwald to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and take the Eibsee bus to Zugspitzbahnhof - Grainau (travel time: 3 hours).
  • By car: Via the A95 motorway to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In town, the Bavarian Zugspitzbahn is signposted (journey time: approx. 70 minutes).

Nearby destinations

  • The nearby Eibsee is one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria due to its clear, shimmering green water
  • Waterfalls, narrow stone paths and winding rock faces: the Partnachklamm gorge near Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a special kind of natural experience
  • The Königshaus am Schachen was built from 1869 to 1872 according to designs by Georg Dollmann and served King Ludwig II as a place of recuperation during his stays in the mountains

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