Zugspitze day trip has made my journey to Bavaria, Germany very memorable. 2,962 metres above sea level, Zugspitze is Germany’s highest elevation in the Alps.
You probably would say, well, in Austria, there are many much higher mountains as well. This is true but Zugspitze is famous not only for its height, but also for the other things, such as views to the four countries, its historic stories, the highest chapel in the world, and the historic border crossing. Apart from that, it is a perfect day trip from Munich or from the beautiful place Garmisch-Partenkirchen. For nature lovers, it is a must-see for the southern Germany trip.
Our family reached Zugspitze from Germany. On the third day our our itinerary for southern Germany, we made the day trip to Zugspitze. It was a very sunny day in August. The temperature at the foot of Alps was around 20 degrees. It was a perfect day to make a trip to the Zugspitze.
The itinerary of our Zugspitze day trip is as follow:
- Reach the Zugspitze from Germany
- Enjoying the 360° Panorama views on the top of Germany
- The Summit Cross, the highlight of our Zugspitze Day Trip
- Have lunch in the panorama restaurant
- Visit the glacier to see the highest chapel Maria Heimsuchung in Germany
- Have a drink at the Sonnalp restaurant in the afternoon sun
- Take a short walk around Eibsee
Reach the Zugspitze from Germany
We arrived at the Eibsee train station by car and parked at the Eibsee Parking. This car parking is just next to the cable car station. There are several big outdoor parking places. The address for the one we parked is Eibsee Bushalt, 82491 Grainau. It took us a few minutes to walk to the cable car station.
If you come from Munich, you can take the train from the central station to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen train station. The journey takes around 90 minutes. You can buy a train ticket at www.bahn.de. Then, take the cogwheel train of the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn from Zugspitze station Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the idyllic lake Eibsee. The train stops right next to the parking place where we parked.
You can have a relax day trip by joining the group Zugspitze tour from Munich. The tour operator will pick you up at the hotel.
Alternatively, you can take FlexBus from Munich. The journey takes about one hour.
But if you are an outdoor adventure lover, you can hike up the Zugspitze (one of the most common routes is through Rheintal in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.)
Get the cable ticket
The ticket counter inside the cable car station sells different types of tickets. English information is available on the information board. The staff also speaks English. So we had no problem to get a family day ticket for our family.
We had to queue at the entrance for about 30 minutes. The new cable car is huge. As the new cable car ascent, we were excited by the spectacular views down to the lake and the panorama view of the mountain. After about 10 minutes, we arrived at the Zugspitze observation platform.
Enjoying the 360° Panorama views on the top of Germany
I stepped out of the cable car and was right away fascinated by the 360° panorama views! The white clouds were lazily drifting across the mountain peaks. In front of me, the mountains rose steadily from the ground, standing proudly below the soft blue sky. The colours of the mountain in the distance were dark blue and ink blue. The grey rocks near the platform still lay snow.
Taking a circuit walk of the observation platform, I was able to see mountains from four countries, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany. Because of the Schengen agreement, there isn’t any border control between Germany and Austria, which makes it much easier for the tourists.
While I was wondering how to identify the four countries, the panorama mountain displays at nine locations with four Viscopes provide all information about the area. They digitally display the names of the peaks as I viewed them over the horizon. So, we have finally spent nearly two hours on the platform, busy picturing from every corner and searching the hidden lakes far below us.
The Summit Cross, the highlight of our Zugspitze Day Trip
The Summit cross is very close to the viewing platform. We could easily take pictures of it. Many people were attempting to climb up there via a hiking route. The narrow path to the summit cross is uneven. The climber needs proper hiking gear to be up there.
In 1851, priest Christoph Ott, a keen meteorologist, organized an expedition with the goal of erecting a summit cross on the Zugspitze. The original gilded iron cross stood on the West Summit. Later it was damaged due to numerous lightning strikes. After being repaired, it stood on the east summit because there was a shed built on the west summit. It stayed there for more than 100 years and was damaged again by the weather.
Eventually, during the Second World War, the American soldiers used the cross as target practice in 1945 and finally damaged the cross completely. The replica was made nearly identical to the original cross. The new cross has a height of 4.88 metres and has since then stood again on the East Summit.
Have lunch in the panorama restaurant
After hours of walking around, we were hungry and longing for a big lunch. The restaurant is at an altitude of almost 3,000 metres above sea level and has architectural features. It has two sections, one is for self-service, and the other is for classic table service. We could enter the restaurant from a different entrance. There is a board telling you where the separation is.
The food features regional specialties as well as fusion cuisine. Parallel to the impressive panoramic views of 4 countries, the restaurant offers products from the four countries as well. We were unaware of the portion, very large compared to the price, and couldn’t finish them all.
Being high on the top of Germany, having a beautiful view of the Alpen, and tasting quality food, are the best treat in the middle of the day!
There is another simple restaurant, Das Münchner Haus, which also offers Bavarian food. It has outdoor seating and is always full when the weather is nice.
Visit the glacier to see the highest chapel Maria Heimsuchung in Germany
From the panorama restaurant, we could access to the Zugspitze Glacier at 2,600 metres using the glacier lifts. Even in high summer, we could get so close to the ice on the Zugspitze. Today’s glacier is much smaller than a century ago. There is an interactive adventure glacier trail. It provides interesting information about the fascinating world of ice and snow.
The Maria Heimsuchung chapel was a surprise of our Zugspitze day trip. It is so close to heaven and is also the highest chapel in Germany. Since its consecration in 1981, it attracts not only religious believers but also glacier fans or sun worshippers, like us.
Have a drink at the Sonnalp restaurant in the afternoon sun
Sonnalp glacier restaurant with a sunny terrace is close to the glacier. The indoor seats of the glacier restaurant look very cozy. Since it was in the summertime, almost everyone was outside on the terrace. It also offers some food and many drinks. After the glacier walking and chapel visiting, the best thing was to have a jug of beer on the sunny terrace.
Take a short walk around Eibsee
We took the pinion railway through the Zugspitze tunnel to get back to our starting point comfortably. Then, our family took a short walk around the Eibsee hundred metres away from the cable station.
Eibsee is one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria, Germany. Several thousand years ago, the largest mass movement in the Alps and a gigantic rockfall had formed the lake. The natural paradise has several islands.
While the climate on Zugspitze was quite pleasant, it was very hot at the foot of the Zugspitze. We walked the hiking path that leads over a small bridge at the narrow point along the north bank of the Eibsee, but couldn’t manage it. In the rays of the sun, we felt our rain-proof jackets getting heavier. Sweat beneath my long trousers slowed down my walking. I wish I could be in the cool water, just like many local families who were swimming in the lake.
Our family needed to rest in the shades urgently. Luckily, there is a very nice café-restaurant, Das Seerestaurants Eibsee-Pavillon, right next to the lake. It has many outdoor seats in the shades, and a great view of the lake and the mountain.
The crystal-clear and deep blue Eibsee is also a summer holiday paradise. You can spend weeks there, doing things such as hiking, boating, and cycling.
There are several nice hotels just near the lake, for example, Eibsee Hotel which is next to the lake, directly at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain. It offers free Wi-Fi, a modern spa, and 3 free tennis courts. This 4-star hotel in Grainau is next to the Eibsee lake, directly at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain.
Tips for Zugspitze day trip
Our journey to Zugspitze is memorable. Here is my personal experience after I made the trip. I hope it would be useful for your Zugspitze day trip.
Plan enough time for the Zugspitze day trip
It is easy to reach Zugspitze from Munich or Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If you come from Munich, you need to add at least one hour to the journey. The journey doesn’t count the time you travel to the Munich central station.
So, you might consider booking a tour instead. The Zugspitze full-day tour also includes the cable car ticket. It would make the most of your journey.
Check the weather and wear accordingly
Even in the summertime, it could be windy and cold at such a high altitude. Check the live weather before you leave the hotel. Wear outdoor shoes if you want to walk on the glacier or hike around. At least you should wear comfortable shoes.
To protect yourself from the UV, you should apply sun cream on the face.