Garmisch is the casual name for Germany's top alpine resort. The true full name is Garmisch Partenkirchen. Whatever you call it, this resort town in the Bavarian Alps is a joy to visit. For starters, it lies in the shadows of the Zugspitze, which is Germany's tallest mountain at 9,718 feet. Two cable cars ascend to the summit of this mountain, and often times, it is full of tourists. As you might imagine, skiing and snowboarding figure among the top things to do in this mountainous land, and when the snow on the slopes melts, hiking takes center stage. Due to the fact that it is the highest ski area in Germany, the ski area at Garmisch tends to get the most consistent snow when compared to the country's other ski areas. This has a lot to do with its top rating.

Garmisch Partenkirchen Germany is really two towns in one. Much to the chagrin of locals in both Garmisch and Partenkirchen, the two towns were made into one single town in 1935. This joining of the towns was ordered by Adolf Hitler in anticipation of the Winter Olympic games. The 1936 Winter Olympics were held in Garmisch Partenkirchen, and you might be interested to know that Berlin hosted the Summer Olympics that same year in Berlin. This was the last year that the same country would host both games. The fact that Garmisch Partenkirchen Germany has played host to the Winter Olympics should give you an idea of just how good the skiing and the snowboarding is. Four main areas can be explored while skiing in Garmisch, and these areas combine to provide a fine mix of runs. Three of these areas are connected to one another, while the fourth, which is the Zugspitze area, is off on its own.

No ski trip to Garmisch Partenkirchen would arguably be complete without skiing or snowboarding in all of the four different areas. The three connected areas feature what are often referred to as the "town slopes," as these slopes are the easiest to reach from town. The highest runs that the town slopes have to offer begin at approximately 6,725 feet above sea level. Should you venture over to the Zugspitze Ski Area, then you will have the chance to enjoy Germany's only glacier ski area. You'll be more than 9,000 feet above sea level if you are start your ski or snowboard run from the top at Zugspitze. Taking a mountain train or hopping on a cable car are the options for getting to this highest ski area.

The most renowned run at Garmisch Partenkirchen is the Kandahar run. This advanced run, much like the Olympia run, offers a long and exhilarating trip down the Zugspitze. You can ski through trees in some parts, encounter moguls in other zones, and make plenty of turns along the way. The Kandahar run often hosts big time races during the winter season and is worth the extra effort that it takes to get to the top of the Zugspitze. Before you start your descent, you might take some time to admire the views of the Germany and Austria mountains. The border of Germany and Austria actually goes through Zugspitze Mountain.

Garmisch Partenkirchen Germany offers both a modern vibe and a charming historical appeal. Garmisch is the more modern side, while Partenkirchen is more representative of the past. When the weather is nice, traffic is actually stopped in Partenkirchen from time to time so that dairy cows can cross the roads on their way to the mountain meadows, and outside of town, people often wear traditional clothes. For those who are in town for the skiing and snowboarding, the main skiing area can be reached by foot if you don't mind a relatively long walk. Many people end up taking a bus, train, or car to the main ski area.

Most of the hotels near Garmisch Ski Area are close to the Hausberg cable car, so you might start there when looking for lodging. That being said, the general area boasts accommodations for those who prefer basing themselves outside of town. Hotels such as the Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl and the Das Kranzbach Hotel & Wellness retreat are among the area's top lodging establishments. If you can't swing the rates at these hotels, there are plenty of good ones in and around town that cost less. They include the relatively upscale Hotel Zugspitze and the budget-friendly Hotel Bavaria.

Regardless of whether you plan on hitting the world-class slopes or not, a trip to Garmisch Partenkirchen Germany can be rewarding. As is true of other southern Germany ski areas like Mittenwald, Garmisch is relatively easy to get to from both Munich and Innsbruck, in which case those who are arriving to the region by way of plane usually land at of these city's airports. From there, it's a relatively short train, bus, or car ride. Munich is only about 60 miles away, while the Austrian city of Innsbruck is a mere 37 miles to the southeast.

Image: Daniel Geiger

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