Discovering the Zugspitze – The highest Point in Germany!
The views, crisp mountain air, snow, a glacier, and bratwurst at almost 3000 metres! All without having to hike and climb for hours on end, although I might have to head back and do that one day to really explore this beautiful area.
We obviously had to visit Neuschwanstein Castle and Munich, but we were very much open to anything with the rest of our time there. When we found out about how you can travel to the highest point in Germany, the Zugspitze Mountain, easily within a day and we were going to be staying so close, this felt like something else which very much just had to be done. From our tent at Campingplatz Bannwaldsee in Schwangau it took us about an hour and a half to get to the foot of the mountain at Eibsee, the route also took us into Austria and through some truly beautiful scenery.
It was along this route in Austria near to Reutte on the B179 that we stumbled across the awesome suspension bridge, 100 metres up, nearly half a kilometre long, Highline 179…this really was an amazing experience, you can check out the story here.
The journey to the top of Germany started at Eibsee, and what an incredibly beautiful start! Eibsee Lake with its impossible emerald green colour and reflections of the surrounding mountains begs to be explored.
Eibsee is part of the village of Grainau and the lake is privately owned by the family who own the Eibsee Hotel. It would be easy to spend a couple of nights or longer here in this area, there is so much to explore and discover, the scenery is a photographers heaven. At 1000 metres above sea level you can already feel that Alpine air, when the smell of grilled meat isn’t filling your nostrils! There are loads of great hiking routes around the area and you can also take to the water with various activities on offer, this area is as action packed as it is beautiful.
Previously you have been able to take cable cars all the way to the top of the Zugspitze mountain but at the moment the first part of the cable car route has been decommissioned whilst they build a new service, but that doesn’t mean you have to get the walking boots out yet. From Eibsee you can jump on a cogwheel train instead for the first part of the journey which takes you as far as the Zugspitze Glacier.
The train was pretty crowded on our visit, standing room only, and it gets steep so it can get a little uncomfortable standing for the whole trip, but there were some great views as we climbed up the mountain. When we reached the glacier stop we decided to head straight for the cable car to take us to the summit. Then we caught these views…
On a clear day from the summit at 2950 metres you can see up to 250 km, to peaks in Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, it really is something. It was slightly hazy on our visit but still the distance you could see…incredible! It was the views down which took my breath away though. Views down to villages wedged between mountain peaks, the view down to the Eibsee Lake, the green colours beyond the rugged grey and white of the snow covered rock…stunning.
Considering the Eibsee lake has a surface area of 1796 square kilometres and a circumference of 8800 kilometres…it looked pretty small from the highest peak in Germany! What a mesmerising view though, I could of quite easily stood there for hours. There is quite a lot of building work currently going on at the summit preparing for the new cable car route, it puzzled us a little how these guys working, perched on scaffolding hanging out over ledges looked quite so comfortable! Then again…not a bad view from the office!
Whilst at the top you get a reminder like a slap in the face of how high you actually are at times, step round the corner of a building or some kind of shelter and the wind whips at your face, I was really glad I had taken a good fleece up with me, I wouldn’t of been able to stand the wind for too long if I hadn’t. There are some really great stalls serving food and drink at the summit, the typical Gluhwein and grilled sausages, it had to be done…it tastes so much better at 3000 metres in the cold!
There is also a really nice self service café here with great panoramic views serving some of the most amazing cakes! This place feels like an outpost somewhere, preparation for life on another planet where conditions can get pretty inhospitable! It’s a great place to spend some time and there is plenty of space…even with the building work taking place to get awesome views over the area.
When we took the cable car back down to the glacier level (after almost taking the wrong one down into Austria!) and we explored a bit here it was like we had landed in a snow filled adventure playground! There were free toboggans to take and slide down the glacier, people skiing, hiking, snowball fighting, and people just taking in the views, everyone was enjoying this awesome wonderland!
Again this was another great place just to enjoy being in, it felt as if you were actually in the mountains here rather than perched on top of them, I loved it, I couldn’t stop smiling and taking photographs! This area echoed with laughter, the kids were really loving this winter wonderland in the middle of a pretty warm summer!
We took a seat on a rock and just enjoyed the scenery, loads of people had the same idea, it’s a stunning location, and with it being so easily accessible it is a great trip to take, and something a little different to do whilst exploring Bavaria.
There are more stalls serving food and drink here and picnic benches to sit at as well. There is so much to do here, obviously a big skiing destination but you can hike the glacier, one of Germany’s last, there is climbing, paragliding, tours of the area, you could easily take a short break in this area alone and not run out of things to do. I’ve not had a go at trying to ski yet, but visiting these kind of places is quickly whetting my appetite for it, I’m going to have to try it!
We took the cogwheel train back down to earth and stopped for a drink at the Eibsee Hotel enjoying the views over the lake. This was something we were really glad we had done, in between visiting the amazing castles, towns and cities of Bavaria, soaking up the histroy and culture, this was something different. We’ve been to the top of Germany…and it is an awesome place to be!
How We Did It
We flew to Munich with Lufthansa on a flight we found and booked via Opodo. We had made the decision early to camp in the area and a google search lead us to Campingplatz Bannwaldsee, a great campsite on the shore of a lake where a pitch with an electric hook up costs around 20 Euros a night, you can book directly through the website. It’s maybe aimed more towards camper vans and caravans but still made for a great location for us just 10 minutes from the ticket booth for Neuschwanstein Castle. We hired a car through Hertz who turned out to be the cheapest. Did you know you can search for and compare prices for car rental through Expedia? It’s fast becoming a one stop shop for travel plans.
As always thanks for reading, if you are thinking of visiting Bavaria, this is a great activity to add to any program!