The highest point in Germany is the 2,963 meters high Zugspitze in the Alps. It is ideal climbing terrain for lovers of height, but we recommend it to those who prefer easier hikes, as you can go up with a cable car. From the top, you can enjoy the panorama of four countries while eating and drinking in the country's highest mountain hut.
At the top, you find Germany's most beautiful roof terrace, where a unique 360° panorama opens up all year round. From there, you can count 400 Alpine peaks from the mountains of Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.
Winter and ski lovers should also consider a trip, as the country's highest ski resort awaits them with 20 km of snow-covered tracks.
|Country||Germany (on the border with Austria)|
|Is there a cable car?||Yes|
|Best season for hiking||July-Sept|
|Can I climb in one day?||Yes|
Map - Where is Zugspitze located?
The peak is well known to those who go on vacation to Austria, as the mountain lies on the Austrian-German border - but officially belongs to Germany. On the German side is the village called Grainau, where the Höllentalklamm gorge is also located. The closest settlement in Austria is Ehrwald.
On the German side is Bavaria, and on the Austrian side is Tyrol. The limestone mountains belong to the Alps, including the Wettersteingebirge.
- Distance from Innsbruck: 1 hour / 70 km
- Distance from Munich: 1.5 hours / 100 km
- Distance from Vienna: 6 hours / 500 km
Fortunately, your hiking time can be reduced because a cable car and cogwheel (bahn) takes you to the top. Which one you go with only depends on whether you approach the mountain from Austria or Germany.
The most popular starting point is from the town of Grainau next to Lake Eibsee (German side). From here, you can go by lift and the cog wheel.
- Season: Jan - Dec (may close for maintenance)
- Opening hours: Every day
- Prices: 30 - 80 euros
On the Austrian side, there is only a cable car from Ehrwald (Ehrwalder Almbahn). Here, expect less crowd than from the German side. The website for the lifts on the German side can be found here - where you can buy tickets online up to 3 days in advance.
You can start the ascent first from the Zugspitzbahn station on the German side. You take the cogwheel from Grainau through the 4.5 km long Zugspitze tunnel to the plateau (2600 m).
If you have time, spend some time at this altitude and acclimatize. Use the washroom of one of the huts (e.g. the Sonnalpin or Gletschergarten tourist huts), and maybe drink a soft drink before continuing on the lift.
You can take the Gletscherbahn cable car from the plateau to the 2,962-meter peak in a few minutes, where you can see up to 250 km away in clear weather. You can also get back down with the cable car.
From the top station of the lifts, you can climb to the famous golden cross at the top using a via Ferrata route.
There are several hiking trails on the mountain, but not all of them lead to the top. The terrain around 1,500 meters is already rocky and barren, but further down, you find more beautiful routes - ideal for beginner hikers.
Whichever route you choose, expect the tourist trails and via Ferrata routes to be crowded during the high season.
Mountain climbing, routes
Those who want to conquer the summit can also choose from 6 routes. The easiest trail leads through Reintal, but the most beautiful goes through the Höllental.
- Reintal (the easiest)
- Gatterl (via Ferrata)
- Stopselzieher (via Ferrata)
- Höllentallklamm (the hardest)
- Kletterroute Eisenzeit
Although the mountain can be climbed all year round, in winter, the routes are threatened by glaciers, so we recommend climbing during the summer season (July - September).
Summit - Reintal Route
Of all the routes, Reintal is the easiest. Most people complete it in two days, but experienced and persistent hikers can even do it in one day in summer when the number of daylight hours is high.
|Reintal route - Zugspitze||Details|
|Starting point||Garmisch-Partenkirchen (708 m)|
|The length of the climb||23 km|
|Recommnded days||2 days (1 day for advanced hikers)|
|Level difference||approx. 2200 meters|
|Huts on the way||Partnachalm (983 m), Reintalangerhütte (1369 m), Knorhütte (2052 m), Münchner Haus (2959 m)|
The hike begins through the Partnachklamm gorge, which you reach from the parking lot in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If you start the hike before 8 a.m., it is important to know that the gorge is closed, so you have to take a small detour and skip it.
Leaving the gorge (or bypassing it), you walk comfortably forward in the valley of Reintal.
If you started the tour so early that the first hut is closed, you would be able to use the washroom at the second one and maybe grab some energy-giving delicacies.
After leaving Reintalangerhütte, the terrain becomes more and more technical, and your path becomes steeper. The alpine route until now is replaced by stony and then rocky terrain. Maybe even those wearing sports shoes will be fine - up to this point, but from here on, it is recommended to continue in suitable hiking boots and equipment!
You will reach Knorrhütte at 2052 meters. It will surely be open when you get here, and you can grab something warm. Around June - July, you can already find snow at this level. At 2,600 meters, you will reach the Zugspitze plateau, the cable car's top station.
- Remaining journey on foot: 1.5 hours
- Remaining journey by cable car: 5 minutes
The journey will be 1.5 hours shorter if you continue by cable car. Those who continue on foot will still have to deal with the steepest section, the end.
When you reach the top, you have to stand in line if you want to touch the famous golden cross or take a photo with it. Let's be patient and rest a little before that. You deserve it!
On the way back, we recommend you take the cable car down to at least 2,600 meters, as it is unnecessary to strain your knees on the slippery, rocky terrain. At the plateau, you can again decide whether to walk back the same way you came or choose the cable car to get down faster.
Huts and shelters
|Huts on Zugspitze||Hight||Season||Country||Note|
|Münchner Haus||2959 m||Germany||Germany's highest shelter. It is located right next to the peak.|
|Wiener Neustädter Hütte||2209 m||Austria (western face)||A mountain hut that can be reached from the Eibsee in about 4 hours. The peak can be reached with a relatively easier climb.|
|Knorrhütte||2052 m||Mid-May - Sept||Germany||-|
|Reintalangerhütte||1366 m||June - Oct||Germany||-|
|Höllentalangerhütte||1387 m||June - Mid-Oct||Germany||On the Höllentalferner side, the summit can be reached with a difficult climb. Many people who stay here go hiking in the area, as the hut is a great starting point for exploring the area.|
If you want to climb the mountain by the easiest and most beautiful routes, choose the Reintal route, which takes you to the top in 2 days - staying at Knorrhütte.
Here and in other tourist huts, it is worth booking your accommodation weeks (or even months) in advance, as the available beds fill up quickly in the high season (June, July).
Zugspitze ski resort
Find the Zugspitze plateau at 2,600 meters, where the ski resort was built. The nostalgic cog wheel brings skiers and snowboarders up here. 9 lifts allow you to ski on 7 km of blue and 13 km of red slopes.
|Zugspitze ski region||Details|
|Altitude||2720 - 2000 m|
|Level difference||720 m|
|Length of the piste||20 km|
|Slopes||7 km blue | 13 km red|
|Number of lifts||10 lifts|
|Day tickets||55 - 25 euros|
|Season||Mid-Oct - April|
|Ski passes||Top Snow Card|
The ski resort's slopes lie between 2,700 and 2,000 meters above sea level. There are no black slopes available, but the height of the terrain and the red slopes themselves can be exciting for more advanced skiers.
Sights in the area
We would also like to recommend 4 attractions in the area. One is the nearby Eibsee lake, and the other three are gorges. The previously mentioned Partnachklamm, the picturesque Höllentalklamm and the fabulous Leutaschklamm.
- Distance to Eibsee: 7 km
- Distance to Partnachklamm: 10 km
- Distance to Höllentalklamm: 20 km
- Distance to Leutaschklamm: 30 km
We hope you found the summary useful. If so, save this link for later or share it with your friends. Have a nice trip! Trekhunt team ❤️