The highest point in Germany is the 2,963-meter-high Zugspitze in the Alps. It is ideal climbing terrain for lovers of height, but we recommend it to those who prefer more accessible 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.


Zugspitze Details
Height 2962 meters
Country Germany (on the border with Austria)
Location Bavaria, Alps
Is there a cable car? Yes
Best season for hiking July-Sept
Can I climb in one day? Yes


Climbing Zugspitze

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.

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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
Zugspitze map - Munich distance

Cable car

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
Although the cable cars and the cogwheel are in operation all year round, they are closed for a few days in spring and autumn - due to renovation work (the date of this is not fixed). 

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.

If possible, take the cable car instead because during the 45-minute journey of the cog wheel, you pass through many tunnels, so the panorama will not be as beautiful as if you had chosen the cable car.

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.


Zugspitze video


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)
  • Jubiläumsgrat
  • 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
Duration 11 hours
Recommnded days 2 days (1 day for advanced hikers)
Level difference approx. 2200 meters
Diffficulty Demanding
Technical difficulty Easy
Huts on the way Partnachalm (983 m), Reintalangerhütte (1369 m), Knorhütte (2052 m), Münchner Haus (2959 m)
If you can't decide whether to calculate with one day or more, ask yourselves if you can overcome a level of 250 meters level difference per hour.


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.

Here, your first opportunity to rest will be at the Partnachalm hut and later at the Reintalangerhütte at 1,369 meters.

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!

Second stage

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.

If you have planned the tour for 2 days, you should stay at Knorrhütte and then continue the rest of the journey from there the next day.

  • 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.

Expect the terrain to be technical from here on! Your feet will slip on the many debris and rocks even in the best hiking boots. (This is because the debris itself slides on top of each other, which you can't do much about.) On top of this, expect some Via Ferrata elements on your way. 

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!

Way back

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.

Map of the Zugspitze ski resort
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 four 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. Wagenbrüchsee is a local gem many don't know, while Mittenwald is a must-visit town not too far.

  • Distance to Eibsee: 7 km
  • Distance to Partnachklamm: 10 km
  • Distance to Höllentalklamm: 20 km
  • Distance to Wagenbrüchsee: 25 km
  • Distance to Mittenwald: 25 km
  • Distance to Leutaschklamm: 30 km

We hope you found the helpful summary. If so, save this link for later or share it with your friends. Have a nice trip! Trekhunt team ❤️