With stunning mountain views, authentic Bavarian restaurants and ample hiking trails, Garmisch-Partenkirchen [ just an hour southwest of Munich ] is perfect if you are looking to unplug, de-stress and connect with Mother Nature.
Accommodation: A cozy, lodge-style rental home found through Vacation Rentals By Owner [ VRBO ].
Pretty cool: Channel your inner Cinderella and castle-hop through the palaces of the former Bavarian king, Ludwig II.
• Hohenschwangau Castle, the former Bavarian royal family’s summer residence.
• Neuschwanstein Castle, deservingly the most popular of them all, expands high on the cliffs and is just a steep walk [ or horse-drawn carriage ride ] from Hohenschwangau Castle. King Ludwig II’s magnificent masterpiece, although never finished, is breathtakingly beautiful – from the vibrant, ornate interior to the grande, gothic-style exterior.
• Linderhof Palace, where the decor and design was inspired by Ludwig’s idol, French king Louis XIV. The lavish decor consists of mostly porcelain and gold. Bring sunglasses – the gold is THAT overwhelming [ kidding … well, actually not really ].
Don’t miss it: Wake up early, bundle up and grab some coffee before heading up to Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze. Mostly commonly visited by train or cable car [ versus hiking ], the views of Germany and Austria from the Zugspitze are not to be missed. We took the train from the Garmisch train station to the Zugspitze glacier [ 2,600 meters ], where we got off the train to admire the mountain views. Pop your head into Germany’s highest altitude church, which sits on the glacier, before a steep cable car ride to the Zugspitze summit. Once at the summit [ 2,962 meters ], the panoramic views showcase the beautiful mountains of Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Don’t skip out on a celebratory German beer or meal at the summit’s restaurant before making your descent back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
If there’s still a couple hours of daylight left in your afternoon, walk the trails along the Partnach Gorge. The walking path is extremely narrow, and you should expect to duck your head a time or two as you navigate through the cliffs. The gorge is chilly, damp and a bit dark, but it proves that Mother Nature is incredible with crystal-clear water, waterfalls and magnificent cliffs.
Wish I had more time for: Four days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is perfect. One day was even spent in Munich at Oktoberfest!
Must try food/drink: Spaghettieis, which is ice cream made to look like spaghetti. Also, Sauerkraut, potato salad and knödel [ dumplings rolled into a ball, then boiled ]. Don’t miss out on the other German cuisine mentioned in previous posts [ Freiburg, Munich, Celle and Berlin ].
Here’s a hint: There are several transportation options for ascending and descending the Zugspitze. Even through reviews and research, it was difficult to determine the “best” route. We finally decided to ascend by train and descend by cable car, as online reviews indicated the views from the cable car are awesome. However, the cable car was so packed by the end of the day that most people were stuck in the middle and couldn’t see out the window. The couple in front of me filmed the entire descent on their iPhone. To some, I am sure that was quite annoying. But at least for me, it was the only way to see the mountains and lake below, so I didn’t mind it! Next time I visit, I will try it in reverse – cable car up the mountain and train down.
[ Next stop ]: Headed to the Munich airport for a quick flight to Rome. I just couldn’t justify spending 13 hours on the train …
Have you visited Garmisch-Partenkirchen? Share your experience in the comment section below.
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