The Zugspitze is the Highest Mountain in Germany

Zugspitze Day Trip To The Highest Mountain in Germany

The Zugspitze is the Highest Mountain in Germany and the twelfth tallest peak in Europe.

With a summit rising to 2962 meters above sea level, the mountain features some of the best alpine vistas imaginable. As well as the unbelievable views there are three accessible glaciers ideal for winter and summer sports and exploration. Skiing, Hiking and much more awaits on and around the Zupspitze, so its no wonder it has become such a popular day trip destination from Munich.

The Zugspitze name derives from Zugbahnen, meaning “train paths” or “avalanche paths” and was likely so called because villagers in the past would’ve identified the dangerous paths around the peak which would often have been succeptibale to avalanches during the winter months.

In this article we provide our best tips on how to get to the Zugspitze from Munich as well as our favouritue things to do there and some other “insider” information. We hope you enjoy the read.

Where Is The Zugspitze?

Sitting right on the border between Germany and Austria as part of the part of the Wetterstein range of mountains, the Zugspitze is just 6kms from the Bavarian ski resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the south of Bavaria.

The Zugspitze is a popular destination for sight seeing day-trippers as well as for adventurous hikers and skiers and is just under 100kms from Munich from where there are multiple transport options to the mountain.

From Austria the mountain is also redily accessible with the Zugspitze to Innsbruck route being the most popular at only about 70kms.

The Zugspitze is The Highest Mountain in Germany and this is a Panorama shot from the summit
The Zugspitze is The Highest Mountain in Germany | Panorama shot from the summit!

What To Do At The Zugspitze?

Access to the top of the mountain can be achieved from either Germany or from Austria, and at the summit, you can catch a 360 degrees panorama of not only the German and Austrian alpine peaks, but also of the Italian and Swiss mountian ranges as well.

During summer, the green lush wilderness hovers the calm Eibsee (Alpine Lake). In winter, it is joyous to find the Bavarian traditional houses peeking through the mystic blanket of snow.

But besides enjoying the stunning views of the Alps from atop the Zugspitz, what more can you do? Well, actually there are many exciting things to do, including loads of activites for kids.

For a relaxing day trip, here are our suggestions to get the best out of your exploration of the Zugspitze:

Get To The Top Of The Zugspitze?

It may sound silly, but actually making the ascent to the top of the Zugspitz is a whole adventure within itself. The journey up the mountain from the German side of the Zugspitze is a treat.

Zugspitze Cogwheel Train

Taking the famous white-blue cog train will delight you on to a nostalgic journey resonating from the 1920’s. There are just a few cog trains still in operation in Germany, and only about 50 worldwide so this is a ride in history.

The Zugspitze Cogwheel Train stops at several stations on its 19km route from Garmisch-Partenkirchner Station to Zugspitzplatt at the top of the mountain, and takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

The stop/start journey that the train takes as it meanderes through the snow-clad mountains is exhilirating, and the thrill of the ride through the dark tunnel whilst realising that you’re actually travelling through the inside of a mountain can be heart pumping to say the least.

Zugspitze Cable Car

Alternatively, travel on the modern glassed Seilbahn (cable car) to be engrossed by the breath taking views as it traverses the north flank of the Zugspitze.

Openned in December 2017 this state of the art Cable Car takes thrillseekers to the top of the highest mountain in Germany in record time and takes only about 10 minutes to reach the summit. The trip is taken in unparalleled style and comfort but whilst its not exactly cheap it can maximise yout ime at the top of the mountain,

Zugspitze Glacier Cable Car

The Gletscherbahn on the top of the mountain takes passengers from the main station at the top of the mountain – Zugspitzplatt, to the summit of the mountain which is a further 360 meters higher.

Zugspitze highest mountain in Germany featuring the seilbahn cablecar travelling through the clouds
The Tallest Mountain in Germany | Zugspitze Seilbahn Cablecar

Places to Eat And Drink on the Zugspitze?

To start, why not warm yourself up with a coffee or hot chocolate at the cafeteria or enjoy a Bavarian culinary delight at one of the restaurants. Check out the Zugspitzte Restaurant list here.

For a snack and a beer (of course), you can head to the München Haus, which has been a respite for serious mountaineers since 1825 and which still offers basic accommodation today.

From the München Haus you can be adventurous and explore the glacier trail either by yourself or with a tour. In winter, you can rent a toboggan or bobsleigh to ride down the different slopes customised for beginners, children, and “pros”. 

Zugspitze Igloo Village

Are you perhaps feeling creative? Then why not check out and take advantage of the many activities offered by the Iglu Village

Here you can build your own Igloo or even carve a snow sculpture with a guide. If you have money to spare you can also feast on a hot cheesy fondue or stay overnight in a swanky Igloo.

Visit Austria on the Zugspitze

For something silly, you can jump back and forth from the Bavarian/German to the Austrian/Tirol border as many times as you like! If you are the more sensible type, you can simply walk across to the other side and contrast the view on the Austrian side. There, you’ll see little towns scattered throughout the landscape below.

Finally, if you arrived by cog wheel train, and not by the Seilbahn, you can ride up to the summit with the Gletscherbahn for your last look before ending your trip. If you are lucky, on a clear day, you may even be able to catch the beautiful sunset!

Getting to Zugspitze

Being only 90 kilometres away from Munich, the base of Zugspitze can be easily reached by car or public transportation. Depending on how much time you have on hand, there are different options available. Here is a quick guide including the quickest and the most cost-effective way to the Zugspitze, including getting to the Summit of the Zugspitze

Quickest Way To Get To The Zugspitze: By car + Seilbahn (cable car)

Arriving by car and then taking the Seilbahn is the quickest and most expensive way to reach the summit. A ride on the cable car (without queue) would only take 10 minutes, but it will cost 78 Euros for an adult buying 2 single tickets. Parking cost is 6 Euro for the first four hours, then 1Euro for every hour after.

Most Cost-effective way of Getting to the Zugspitze: Combo of Cog train + Seilbahn

The Zugspitze combo is the classic round trip with the combination of a cable car, cog train and the Gletscherbahn. The package price varies depending on the season, but is definitely cheaper. You can pre-purchase the ticket online here.

If your journey starts at Munich, you can purchase Garmischer Zugspitze Ticket from the München Hauptbahnhof (Munich Main train station), which is the greener and more cost-friendly way.  You can also buy this online through the DB website, with the search word “Zugspitze” for summer or winter tickets.

This combo ticket includes the return train ride from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, plus a one-way ascent and descent with the Seilbahn, cog train and glacier lift (Gletscherbahn).

With this ticket, you can umsteigen (change) at Eibsee, taking the Seilbahn direct to the summit, or continue with the cog train to the Zugspitze Plateau. From there, you can arrive at the summit with the Gletscherbahn.

Note: There are summer and winter pricing, and also Angebote (offers) for families. You can see the updated pricing here.

Zugspitze Germany: Bavarias Mountaintop Playground

Now that you have the essential information on how to Get To The Zugspitze and what to do once you’re there, we hope you are ready for an adventurous trip to the “Top of Germany”.

Once you have visited the Zugspitze once, perhaps you can even plan a further trip with hiking, skiing and even climbing!

In my case (Fred here from Absolute Munich), using the cog train, I’ve hiked to the multi-pitch climbing area. Here’s an exclusive view after climbing 400 meters from starting height at Riffelriß 1680m! 

Zugspitze Germany Climbing view of the Eibsee
Zugspitze Germany: Amazing Climbing View of the Eibsee

Just for fun, this could be a nice idea for a new year’s activity, as the German saying goes, “Ich wünsche dir einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr” (I wish you a happy slide in the new year).

We hope you enjoyed this article on the Zugspitze and we’d love to hear from you about your experiences of visiting the area. Please contact us through our CONTACTS PAGE

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