The many facets of an alpine gem
Culture and the Great Outdoors, Sports and Relaxation – Garmisch-Partenkirchen may surprise with its diversity.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen has no need for modesty in self-description. Superlatives aptly describe most everything about this alpine jewel. Its location is unique, nestled in a valley surrounded by magnificent mountains and the rocky peaks of the Zugspitze massif. Towering high above with an altitude of 2,962 meters, Germany’s highest mountain imposes its might far beyond the boundaries of the two towns grown together. Internationally acclaimed winter sports events spread fame to the far corners of the earth. The legendary Kandahar unfurls its white slopes for the who’s who of the alpine ski sports for the Downhill Ski World Cup. The world’s finest ski jumpers stretch their wings each year for the famous New Year’s Jump. Not only the exciting event itself this year will have spectators holding their breath, but the newly constructed, futuristic jump is sure to be the talk of the year.
In spite of these spectacular mega-events, the host town of the 1936 Winter Olympics doesn’t wait around for the dust to settle. The FIS Alpine Ski World Championship 2011 is getting ready for take-off. With a combined effort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is giving its all to make it a memorable event. In addition to renovating the ski lifts, the traditional Kandahar slope is being reconstructed and new snow making machines are being installed all the way down into the valley.
Sports and fitness aren’t reserved, however, only for the professionals. Whether alpine ski is your fancy, or cross-country skiing, ice-hockey, white water rafting or paragliding, there is something for everyone at any season of the year in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This picture perfect town, lovingly spread out in the wide valley where the Partnach and the Loisach streams flow together, provides the landscape, equipment and know-how to make every excursion unique and memorable. In the summer, hikers and back-packers make it the starting point of many a tour. A well-developed and tended network of paths stretch for more than 300 kilometers, leading hikers and day-walkers up, down and around the market community. Feet happy - heart happy: fabulous panorama views and the chance to be in touch with alpine nature all-included. One of the many beloved variations of the classic hike is a long trek stretching over several days with overnight stays in rustic alpine huts. Rock faces of all levels of difficulty invite rock climbers to try their stuff. Mountain bikers can cycle their way through thick and thin, finding gear-changing challenges and gentle refreshing declines along the well-marked road and path network. Water sports enthusiasts meet their master fighting the white waters of the Loisach with canoes, kayaks and Canadian canoes. Some of them may find the simple pleasures of swimming a few rounds in the Alpspitz-Wellenbad swimming pool or in a crystal clear mountain lake more to their liking.
A highlight for the whole family is taking a walk through the Partnach Gorge. With waterfalls and frothing currents at every turn, the path cut into the cliffs is one of the most favorite stretches in the summer as well as in the winter. Like tiny balls of fire falling from the heavens, the water droplets feeding the mountain stream catch the summer sun, thrilling visitors as the fine spray from the rushing waters cool from below. Winter time brings with it its own mesmerizing quality: frozen waterfalls and colossal icicles turn the 800 meter long gorge into a winter wonderland. The Partnach Gorge marks the trailhead to a large number of trails leading up and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen, for example the trail to the historic Royal House on Schachen Mountain, the well-preserved construction once serving “Mad“ King Ludwig II as a refuge and sovereign starting point for alpine upland mountain excursions.
On the one hand it is the fascinating nature, on the other hand it is the traditions and customs that make Garmisch-Partenkirchen so popular with guests from all over the world. For notwithstanding its international flair and know-how, Garmisch-Partenkirchen has been able to preserve its Bavarian charm and rich traditions. Highly recommended are the walks along the streets Frühlingstraße in Garmisch and the historic Ludwigstraße in Partenkirchen. From many building façades that adorn the streets, mural fresco painting tell stories of the former owners, the region and its customs in a language universal to spectators.
The market community’s cultural opportunities and events also enjoy world class reputation. The Richard Strauss Festival in the summer is one of the highlights of the calendar year and dedicated to the famous composer who chose Garmisch-Partenkirchen as his adopted home and who was inspired by the Zugspitze to write his classic “Alpine Symphony.“ The “Heimat” Weeks, honoring the traditions, customs and folk music of the homeland, are another high point of the summer. Here, guests are invited to experience the deep rooted love of the locals’ home and hearth.
Hospitality in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is proverbial. In traditional Bavarian pubs and rustic bars, locals and visitors scoot together - language barriers fall away in a wash of good cheer. The variety of delicious food starts with famous Bavarian delicacies and ends with world class haut cuisine. The decision making doesn’t stop there. Choose from over 1,000 different accommodations: countrified inns, bucolic farm houses, cozy bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals…or go the whole hog with a luxury first class hotel. The market community of Garmisch-Partenkirchen with its healing climate can also boast a front runner mark in the league of spa resorts and health and well-being hot spots.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is not the only gem for miles around, it is surrounded by one pearl after the other. From here you can visit Oberammergau, famous for its Passion Play; the petite royal castle, Schloss Linderhof; as well as the world famous fairy-tale castle, Neuschwanstein. The capital city of Bavaria, Munich, is only 40 minutes away by car.
One thing is for sure: Germany’s highest mountain isn’t the only carat in the gem. This vacationer’s diamond is studded with possibilities and luminous variety: pristine nature, sporting opportunities, a year-round cultural prospectus and the good old Bavarian quality of life.