Zugspitze Day Trip, A Journey to the Top of Germany in Summer

Zugspitze day trip has made my journey to Bavaria, Germany very memorable.  Towering at 2,962 metres above sea level, Zugspitze claims the title of Germany’s highest peak in the Alps.

While some might argue that Austria has even higher mountains, the fame of Zugspitze extends beyond its elevation. The panoramic views stretching across four countries, its rich historical tales, the presence of the highest chapel globally, and its unique position as a historic border crossing make it a must-visit destination, particularly for nature enthusiasts exploring southern Germany.

Our family set out for Zugspitze from Germany on the third day of our southern Germany itinerary. The weather graced us with sunshine on that August day, offering an ideal temperature of around 20 degrees at the Alps’ base—a perfect backdrop for our Zugspitze adventure.

The itinerary of our Zugspitze day trip is as follow:

  • Journey to Zugspitze
  • 360° Panoramic Views at the Summit
  • Summit Cross: The Pinnacle of Our Zugspitze Day Trip
  • Lunch at the Panorama Restaurant
  • Glacier Exploration and Maria Heimsuchung Chapel
  • Afternoon Sun at Sonnalp Restaurant
  • Stroll around Eibsee
Bayerische Zugspitzbahn
Zugspitze Cable Car Station

Journey to Zugspitze

Arriving at the Eibsee train station by car, we smoothly parked at the Eibsee Parking—a convenient spot right next to the cable car station. A brief walk of just a few minutes brought us to the cable car station.

Inside the cable car station, we found the ticket counter offering a variety of tickets. English information on the board and English-speaking staff made the process seamless. We quickly acquired our passes.

Queueing at the entrance for approximately 30 minutes heightened our anticipation. The new, expansive cable car gracefully ascended, elevating our excitement with breathtaking views—capturing the serene lake below and the panoramic beauty of the surrounding mountains. In just about 10 minutes, the cable car seamlessly delivered us to the Zugspitze observation platform.

360° Panoramic Views at the Summit

I stepped onto the observation platform and was immediately attracted by the stunning 360° panoramic views! The soft blue sky stretched above, with lazy white clouds drifting across the mountain peaks. The mountains in the distance exhibited hues of dark blue and ink blue, while the rocks near the platform retained their snowy coating.

As I circled the observation platform on foot, the mountains revealed themselves before me, standing proudly and spanning four countries: Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Germany. The absence of border controls between Germany and Austria, thanks to the Schengen agreement, made it convenient for tourists.

Curious about identifying each country’s peaks, I discovered panorama mountain displays at nine locations equipped with four Viscopes. These digital tools presented the names of the peaks as they appeared on the horizon. Engrossed in this spectacle, our family spent nearly two hours on the platform, capturing images from every corner and searching the hidden lakes far below us.

Panorama view of Alps, Germany
Zugspitze day trip; View over Alps; Germany

Summit Cross: The Pinnacle of Our Zugspitze Day Trip

The Summit Cross is very close to the viewing platform, allowing for easy photography. Numerous individuals were making attempts to ascend through a hiking route, navigating a narrow and uneven path.

In 1851, Priest Christoph Ott, an avid meteorologist, organized an expedition with the aim of erecting a summit cross on Zugspitze. The initial gilded iron cross was positioned on the West Summit but suffered damage from multiple lightning strikes. After restoration, it was relocated to the East Summit due to the construction of a shed on the west summit. It remained there for over a century, enduring further weather-related damage.

During the Second World War, in 1945, American soldiers used the cross for target practice, resulting in its complete destruction. A replica, nearly identical to the original, was made. The new cross, standing at a height of 4.88 metres, has since been installed again on the East Summit.

The Summit Cross; Zugspitze Day Trip from Munich

Lunch at the Panorama Restaurant

After hours of exploring, our appetites were calling for a hearty lunch. Situated at an altitude of almost 3,000 metres above sea level, the restaurant had distinctive architectural features. Divided into two sections, one for self-service and the other for classic table service.

The menu featured regional specialties and fusion cuisine. In addition to the impressive panoramic views spanning four countries, the restaurant incorporated products from these nations. The portions were surprisingly generous, offering great value for the price, although we struggled to finish everything.

Dining atop Germany’s highest peak, surrounded by the magnificent Alps, and savouring quality food, made for the perfect midday relish!

Another option was the straightforward Das Münchner Haus, a Bavarian eatery with outdoor seating that tended to be bustling in pleasant weather.

The Observation Platform of Zugspitze; Itinerary for Southern Germany
Das Münchner Haus on Zugspitze

Glacier Exploration and Maria Heimsuchung Chapel

From the panorama restaurant, we reached the Zugspitze Glacier at 2,600 meters using the glacier lifts. Surprisingly, even in the peak of summer, we could get up close to the ice on the Zugspitze. The glacier today was much smaller than it was a century ago, but the interactive adventure glacier trail provided us with information about the fascinating world of ice and snow.

The Maria Heimsuchung chapel was a surprise during our Zugspitze day trip. A delightful surprise during our Zugspitze day trip was the Maria Heimsuchung chapel. Nestled so close to the heavens, it holds the distinction of being the highest chapel in Germany. Consecrated in 1981, this chapel draws not only religious believers but also glacier enthusiasts and sun worshippers, much like ourselves.

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Afternoon Sun at Sonnalp Restaurant

The Sonnalp glacier restaurant, featuring a sunny terrace close to the glacier, is a charming spot. The indoor seats looked invitingly cozy, but given the pleasant summer weather, almost everyone sat outside on the terrace. The restaurant offered a variety of food options and drinks. After exploring the glacier and visiting the chapel, the perfect way to relax was to enjoy a refreshing jug of beer on the sunlit terrace.

Stroll around Eibsee

After an beautiful day on the Zugspitze, we took a comfortable return journey through the Zugspitze tunnel via the pinion railway, bringing us back to our starting point. Eager to extend the magic of the day, our family decided to take a leisurely stroll around the picturesque Eibsee, just a hundred metres away from the cable station.

Eibsee is as one of Bavaria’s most beautiful lakes, shaped thousands of years ago by a colossal rockfall resulting from the largest mass movement in the Alps. This natural paradise has several islands, creating a serene and idyllic setting.

While the climate atop the Zugspitze was pleasantly cool, the temperature soared at its foot. Setting off the hiking path along the north bank of the Eibsee, we found the sun’s rays making our rain-proof jackets feel burdensome. Sweat dampened my long trousers, slowing my pace. Seeing local families joyfully swimming in the lake made me long for a refreshing dip.

Desperate for shade and respite, our family was relieved to discover Das Seerestaurants Eibsee-Pavillon, a café-restaurant right by the lake. With plenty of outdoor seating in the shade, it offered a splendid view of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

The Maria Heimsuchung chapel; Zugspitze day trip;
The Eibsee Hotel next to the Eibsee, one of the most beautiful lakes in Bavaria, Germany

Tips for Zugspitze day trip

Plan Ample Time for the Zugspitze Day Trip

Reaching Zugspitze from Munich or Garmisch-Partenkirchen is relatively straightforward, but it’s crucial to allocate sufficient time. If coming from Munich, factor in an additional hour, excluding the time spent traveling to Munich central station. Considering this, booking a full-day tour might be a convenient option, often inclusive of the cable car ticket, optimizing your overall experience.

Check the Weather and Dress Appropriately

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.

Even in summertime, Zugspitze’s high altitude can bring chilly winds. Prior to leaving your hotel, check the live weather updates. Wear sturdy outdoor shoes if you plan to explore the glacier or take a hike. Comfortable footwear is a must.

Sunscreen Protection

Given the altitude, apply sunscreen to shield yourself from UV rays, particularly on the face.

How to reach Zugspitz

If coming from Munich, take the train from the central station to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a 90-minute ride. Train tickets are available at www.bahn.de. From Garmisch-Partenkirchen, hop on the cogwheel train of the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn to reach the scenic Lake Eibsee. The train conveniently stops near the parking area.

For a more relaxed day trip, consider joining a group Zugspitze tour from Munich, often including hotel pick-up by the tour operator.

Alternatively, you can take FlexBus from Munich offers a one-hour journey.

For outdoor enthusiasts, hiking up Zugspitze is an adventurous option, with routes like the one through Rheintal in Garmisch-Partenkirchen being popular choices.


  1. OMG the panoramic restaurant sounds incredible, I imagine the view was insane! I’ve not actually travelled that much in Germany, so I really need to get over there when the travel bans are lifted, it looks so scenic. 🙂

  2. Wonderful pictures of Bavaria here. I find it amazing that it’s so easy to get to the top of the highest mountain in Germany. I didn’t realise that there was a chapel in the mountains as well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I have yet to visit Germany during the winter time! So crazy that I haven’t visited Germany during this time of the year while I live in the Netherlands next to it. 🙂 No more excuses because your post gave me so much inspiration and excitement to visit Germany!

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