Germany's best known ski resort is the site of the famous annual ski jumping each year and World Cup Races. A large traditional Bavarian town with incredible facilities and a population of 30,000 it is located beneath Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze.
Garmisch - Partenkirchen's skiing is spread around in over a dozen separate areas, some over the border in Austria and all available on the single 'Happy ski card' pass. Together they represent over 280km ( 175 miles ) of trails and more than 30 lifts. There are however few extensive ski areas, rather a large number of moderately sized areas, and many of the lifts are surface drags. That being said the Zugspitze represents the highest skiing in Germany and Germany's only glacier skiing, with trails up to 2600 metres ( 8,530 feet ) although the new Zugspitzbahn goes higher, up an incredible face of sheer rock from 1000 to 2950 metres ( 3280 - 9680 feet), but it's not possible to ski the upper section. The eight surface lifts and one six-person chair up here, serving mostly intermediate level terrain, are also accessed by the older funicular railway which passes through a long tunnel through the mountain, a remarkable feat of engineering, before emerging at the snowfield. This is also the train many take from Garmisch - Partenkirchen to the base of the Zugspitze cable car. Closer to Garmisch - Partenkirchen itself, and also reached by the funicular before taking the relevant cable-car up the mountain, are the ski slopes of the Alpspitz (top lift 2050 metres / 6730 feet) and the just lift-linked Kreuzeck. Keuzeck starts where the snow line ends, just at the base of the Alpspitz area and just lift linked to it. From there it is possible to ski back down through the forest to the base station at 750 metres ( 2460 feet) - the longest descent in the area. The potentially patchy snow cover at the lower levels are backed up by snow making on this run. Most trails will again appeal to intermediates. The fourth and fifth areas at Eckbauer and Wank above the famous ski jumps are linked by a ski touring route and both offer skiing within the tree line accessed by lifts from the outskirts of the town. Both have a number of blues suitable for beginners although the highest lifts are at 21780 metres (5850 feet) at Wank. Of the dozen other choices on the Happy Ski card, the best options include Mittenwald in Germany, the elite Austrian resort of Seefeld and also in the Tyrol, the big verticals at Ehrwald and Lermoos.
A good choice for families because there's so much to do - the ice rinks and swimming pools providing enough entertainment value for most families for a week even without the mountains. Children from age four are welcome to join ski school where they'll take the 'Holy-Flocki-Test' of ability as part of the fun.
With 100 restaurants in the resort you can choose from a wide variety of international cuisine ranging from the typical German fayre to Chinese, French and Thai.
Garmisch - Partenkirchen is a town with an awful lot going on. Apart from the 100 restaurants, most with their own bars too choose from, there are a further 30 or so bars, and half a dozen dedicated discothèques to visit through to the early hours. The local friendly attitude to visitors is known as the "Gemütlichkeit." Many people are attracted to the casino, although you don't have to wait until après ski if you want to gamble as it opens at 1pm daily, the building was extended in 1997 and now houses 115 slot machines as well as traditional gaming tables. Other evening entertainments include two cinemas, regular classical music concerts and guest appearances by famous performers at the Kleines Kurtheatre. Or there is comedy and folklore performances at the Peasant's Theatre or the Bayernhalle. Ice shows and hockey matches are open to spectators at the Olympic rink.
There's plenty of terrain for 'boarders to enjoy and although many of the ski area lifts are drags, the big lifts that cover the serious chunks of vertical are all boarder friendly cable cars and funiculars. There's a snowsure fun park with and rails on the Zugspitze plateau. Other created features are to be found at the Ehrwalder Alm (above Ehrwald, on the area pass), and at Seefeld and Lermoos. There's a Funbox, wave ride and half pipe at Kranzberg by Mittenwald and a half pipe and quarter pipe at Karwendel. Erwin Gruber's dedicated snowboard school in Garmisch - Partenkirchen publishes a brochure featuring pictures of 'boarders with aircraft turbo-props strapped to their backs for added oomph - an experience not to be missed by the dedicated pro.