A ride on the Zugspitzbahn is an experience everyone should have once! It is one of only four cogwheel railways in Germany that is still in operation with changing vehicles. Since 1930, it has been reliably taking locals and tourists from all over the world up to the Zugspitze. From the valley station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the line still runs on normal tracks to Grainau. From here, the actual cogwheel railway drives the cars up to the Zugspitzplatt mountain station. The Zugspitzbahn climbs a total of 1,838 metres - from 705 metres to 2,588 metres - and passes through a four-kilometre-long tunnel. From the Zugspitzplatt, a cable car then takes you up to the 2,962-metre eastern peak of the Zugspitze - the highest point in Germany.
The Zugspitze was first climbed in 1820 by Tyrolean-born Josef Naus accompanied by a mountain guide and an assistant. Until the end of the 19th century, the Zugspitze had three summits, of which only the eastern summit remains in its original form today. The highest point is marked there with its imposing summit cross. The other two summits are no longer visible today due to building development. Until it was blown up in 1938, the western peak, over which the state border with Austria runs, was even higher than the eastern peak, which is the only one of the three peaks to lie entirely in Bavaria. To this day, therefore, there is also a small customs hut on the Zugspitze, which has not been used as a checkpoint since 1997. The legend that the Zugspitze was a gift from the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph to Bavaria so that Bavaria would finally have a high mountain is widespread but still unproven today.
The view from the summit of the Zugspitze is breathtaking. The Panorama-Fernblick provides a view of some 400 peaks in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland - from the Großglockner to the Wilde Kreuzspitze and the Stammerspitze. The mountain station, which thanks to the glass façade offers an almost complete all-round view, invites you to linger on the terrace on warm days. When the weather is good, you can even discover the state capital Munich in the summit restaurant "Panorama 2962" while enjoying a refreshing bike beer or a good cappuccino. For small or large appetites, typical specialities from the Alpine region are served here.
Climb in and climb up
Your excursion to the Zugspitzbahn begins comfortably and easily with your arrival by train. The Kombiticket Garmischer Sommer-Ticket or the Garmischer Ski-Ticket takes you from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen station in less than 1.5 hours on the Werdenfelsbahn and from there straight on to the Zugspitze. The Kombiticket Garmischer Sommer-Ticket is available in the summer months from May to November. In the winter months you can book the Kombiticket Garmischer Ski-Ticket.
If you don't start from Munich, you can alternatively travel to Garmisch-Partenkirchen with the Bayern-Ticket and even get a discount there when you buy a ticket for the Zugspitzbahn (valid for up to five fellow travellers). From the train station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen it is only about a two-minute walk to the starting point of the Zugspitzbahn. The ticket includes one ascent and one descent as well as unlimited rides on the glacier cable car between the Zugspitzplatt and the summit. Especially in the winter months, it is advisable to find out in advance whether the ride on the Zugspitzbahn can take place due to the weather or whether the pistes of the glacier ski area are open. But even in summer, the Zugspitze can be shrouded in fog and clouds and limit the view.
Off to the slopes
From mid-November to early May, Zugspitze also beckons with Germany's highest ski area. The Zugspitzbahn takes the winter sports public directly to the finely groomed slopes on the Zugspitzplatt, where 20 kilometres of easy and intermediate runs await. You can rent the equipment for a day in the snow directly in the skiing area at 2,600 metres. From the ski area, you can also pay a visit to the summit, where the summit restaurant "Panorama 2962" is ready for a stop during your day of skiing.
Not far from the Zugspitze is another ski area that is suitable for every level of ability: the Garmisch-Classic ski area. The interconnected Hausberg, Kreuzeck and Alpspitz mountains ensure varied skiing pleasure here on around 40 kilometres. Sporting highlight: ambitious winter sports enthusiasts have the chance to prove their Olympic talent on the legendary Kandahar course with a gradient of up to 92 percent.
The mountain is calling!
Whether in winter or summer, a ride on the Zugspitzbahn is always worthwhile: the power with which the small train climbs the steep mountain impresses not only those interested in technology. In addition, the view of the crystal-clear Eibsee lake during the ride up to the highest level in Germany, as well as the view you can enjoy from the very top, are spectacular! Free from giddiness and equipped with suitable footwear, you can also take a short hike on the Zugspitze. And with the prepared natural snow slopes on Germany's only glacier, the Zugspitze is also one of the top excursion destinations in Bavaria in winter. Extra tip for your visit to the Zugspitze summit: the air is clearer in winter, as cold air contains fewer water particles and you have a better distant view.
Of course, a souvenir photo with the golden summit cross is not to be missed before the cable car and cogwheel railway take you back down to the valley. Once you have reached the bottom, you can stroll through romantic Garmisch-Partenkirchen and then relax on the way home by train.
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.