WHY SKI ZUGSPITZE
If you aren’t familiar, Zugspitze is a glacier ski resort, located ~2,500m up, making it Germany’s highest ski area. You really do feel like you’re on top of the world when you’re here, and it is still one of the most breathtaking views I’ve experienced in the Alps to date. If you’re a casual skier and want a unique morning activity and lunch locale, look no further. This is the perfect stop if you’re visiting in the Winter or early Spring, but your entire trip doesn’t revolve around snow sports. My best recommendation is to start your morning here, grab lunch on the glacier, and then make your way back down to the base of the mountain for some additional sightseeing because this entire region is stunning!
When I visited, we took a rental car up into the mountains. The drive was sensational and being the American that I am, driving felt infinitely more convenient than public transport. Knowing we were staying for a few days in the area, and then eventually driving to Austria to ski, this was the optimal mode of transport. However, it is doable to take the train from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and make a day trip out of this excursion. This blog post by Curiosity Saves Travel outlines all of your options to get to Zugspitze really nicely.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
All-day tickets for adults are 52€ and include your ride up to the summit and then down into the resort. I recommend getting there right at 8:30AM when they open to hopefully get some fresh powder before it’s skied out and bask in the sun that this resort is quite famous for. If you traveled light, you can take advantage of the rentals right at the resort, or if you’re like me, just load in with all of your gear. From the base of the mountain, take the Seilbahn Zugspitze to the summit, and then the Gletscherbahn into the main resort area. Here is where all of your dining options will be for the day, and loads of seating so you can unclip your boots and enjoy a beer. Last chair is at 4:30, but you can ski the entire terrain in an hour or two, so take your time, and frequent breaks.
AFTER YOU SKI
If you take my recommendation and ski a half day with lunch at the summit, you can then enjoy the rest of your afternoon hiking around Lake Eibsee, which is one of the most beautiful and pure lakes in the entire country. Hiking is probably a generous statement when describing the trails around the lake, but I would definitely recommend at least having a pair of sneakers. When I was there in April, most of the lake was still frozen over, and the little bit you could dip your toes into was freezing. Don’t plan on swimming here except for maybe in the height of summer. Even then, a glacier feeds into this lake, it’s chilly!
WHERE TO STAY AFTER
One of my favorite little getaways is the design hotel, Das Graseck, which is located 900 meters above sea level at the foot of the Dreitorspitze Mountain in the scenery of the famous Wetterstein Mountains. This spot is conveniently a 25 minute drive from the parking lot at the base of Zugspitze. One thing you should know is that you need to take a gondola from the hotel parking lot to get up to the property. The gondola fits two people and their luggage, and that’s about it, so be patient during check-in/check-out times. The rooms are spacious and they boast a gorgeous mountain range view, but the best part has to be their spa area, which includes this panoramic sauna (pictured below) as well as a 20-square-meter heated outdoor pool (pictured above). Full disclosure, the spas are a nudist zone, so you may see folks walking around with just their towels, or less, but most people are sporting bathing suits.
Additionally, the food at the hotel is wonderful, and 2 nights was the perfect length for a little getaway after some relaxed skiing at Zugspitze. I recommend Das Graseck if you’re looking for a quick mountain retreat, or a stopover on your journey through the Alps.