Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Germany’s snow playground

Garmisch-Partenkirchen: Germany’s snow playground

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

Wintertime trips to Garmisch-Partenkirchen hold some of my most memorable travel experiences. Sharing a big basket of pommes frites and drinking a cold Hefeweizen beer after a morning on the slopes or watching my husband (voluntarily) tumble down the ski slope at the end of the day (don’t worry, he was okay and now has a fun story to tell), I always anticipate my return to this winter paradise. For those of you who celebrate the first snowfall and anticipate donning your favorite warm, chunky sweater, read on for more reasons to venture to this German snow playground this winter.

A Winter Paradise

It is no coincidence that the 1936 Winter Olympics were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen—this place knows about snow, snow sports and making the most of cold weather. But you don’t have to be an aspiring Olympic athlete to take advantage or enjoy this winter paradise. There are activities for every level of adventurer, even if you consider reading in front of a warm and cozy fire your kind of adventure.

For those itching to don snow pants and hit the fresh powder, you can go alpine skiing and snowboarding. Ski touring, which is skiing in unmarked, ungroomed terrain, is also an option but is not for the faint of heart! You can also find opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or winter hiking. Sledding, also known as “sledging,” gets a lot cooler when you get to do it in the Alps. A couple of places for sledding include the Zugspitze, the sledge run on the Kainzenbad, St. Martin on the Grasberg and Partnachalm. If you don’t know how to ski but would like to learn, you can take lessons at the nearby ski school.

What about some unique experiences, that you may not have expected? How about signing up the family for a horse-drawn sleigh ride? Or maybe spending an afternoon building an igloo? It is also worth a visit to the Olympia Sports Center, home to the Olympic skiing stadium for ski jumping. A personal favorite though is the chance to go night sledding followed by steaming mugs of hot cocoa or tea in front of the fire, retelling stories of the wildest parts of the day.

Spending your vacation being warm and cozy is also never a bad idea, and Garmisch has a lot to offer when it comes to wellness and spa experiences, so get ready to be pampered.


One of five Armed Forces Resorts, Edelweiss Lodge & Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen can make your vacation even easier. Located at the foot of the Alps, the views are out-of-this-world, but with American amenities at the lodge, you and your family may even feel a little closer to home. For those interested in hitting the slopes, the Hausberg Sport Lodge makes it easy to rent equipment, buy lift tickets, sign up for skiing or snowboarding lessons and get all your questions answered. The resort also supplies a shuttle between the Sport Lodge and resort to avoid parking. In addition to Edelweiss, there are many other lodging options in the area, from quaint local hotels to charming Airbnbs, both in downtown Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the surrounding area.

Eat & Drink Local

Every winter vacation needs to be accompanied by body and soul–filling meals, and if you’re a fan of German meals, you won’t be disappointed. Hearty, warm and filling is the name of the food game here, whether it’s a slice of warm apple strudel in between snowy activities or a tasty bowl of goulash to thaw your frozen toes at the end of the day.

A few of the specialty eats include the “Fleischpflanzerl,” a mix between a hamburger patty and meatball with a side of warm potato salad, and “Obazda,” a melted, Brie-like cheese with butter and spices, perfect for a spread of cold cuts and bread. You could also try different game like wild boar, rabbit and venison. To curb your sweet tooth, try the “Auszogne,” a sweet fried pastry with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

Since Garmisch welcomes in so many visitors from around the world, you will find a range of cuisines from Italian to American-style burgers and Indian, alongside the many Bavarian establishments.

Tips for Your Winter Holiday

  • If you are set on eating at a particular spot, make a reservation at the restaurant.
  • Thinking of staying at Edelweiss? Make your reservations soon! The resort fills up quickly, especially during long weekends. Be sure to bring your swimsuit.  
  • Don’t have the right gear? Don’t worry, the Hausberg Sport Lodge lets you rent snow pants, helmets and most other essentials for keeping warm and dry.
  • If you’re going skiing, take advantage of the shuttle if you can. The parking lot at the bottom of the ski hill fills up quickly.
  • If you’re driving to Garmsich, note that there are routes that go through Austria, which require a vignette on your vehicle for entry. You can also navigate to stay in Germany.

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