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Garmisch-Partenkirchen: A Natural Treasure

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By Margot Black

On our quest to explore the best of the Alps we visited Garmisch-Partenkirchen, an appealing resort town nestled in the Bavarian Alps. Interestingly, this town is comprised of two separate side-by-side villages that united in 1935 to host the Winter Olympics. World-renowned for its alpine hiking, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is home to Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze. From its majestic mountains and pristine forests to its stunning gorges and shimmering lakes, this is the destination where your love of outdoor family travel will soar to new heights.

In addition to its natural splendor, Garmisch-Partenkirchen also abounds with authentic cultural charm. Stepping foot into this unique community is akin to being transported to a storybook world where a modern yet traditional way of life reigns supreme. During a casual stroll through town, it's not unusual to admire storefronts adorned in Luftlmalerei mural artwork or to see youth dressed in lederhosen -- leather trousers -- and dirndls, ruffled apron dresses. These traditions are practically leaping off every corner.

I was immensely grateful to be introduced to this remarkable place, and I would suggest planning to stay at least three to four days to fully immerse yourself in the rich cornucopia of travel activities packed into this region. For transportation, e-bike rentals are a great way to navigate around the area at your own pace. However, since we were limited on time, we opted to zoom around as quickly as possible in taxis.

Our stay at the Dorint Sporthotel was magnificent. Situated at the foot of the Zugspitze, this hotel had everything that a family on holiday would want, including a superb breakfast buffet with bountiful variety to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Additionally, the Dorint has an outdoor beer garden and tons of grassy areas for the kids to enjoy some playtime. The hotel epitomizes the idyllic vibe of life in a little mountain village.

On our first day in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, we visited the Kletterwald Climbing Park for a hearty dose of outdoor adventure. This exhilarating ropes course is a must-try if you're visiting this region. It's the perfect way to satisfy your thirst for adrenaline as you leap like Tarzan from tree to tree, climb on rope nets and zip line through the forest. Kletterwald definitely made us embrace our inner ninja warrior. Other fun daytime activities include the "Flying Fox" zip line in the Olympic Stadium and the 2,788-foot spiral summer toboggan run alpine slide.

 

Next, we headed to Partnach Gorge, a natural wonder, one of the indisputable highlights of the German Alps and one of my personal favorite stops in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This deep, 2,296-feet-long gorge features tunnels and caves carved directly into the rocks. We had so much fun hiking past trickling waterfalls, white-water pools and wild roaring rapids. The hike was almost incomparable to any other natural experience that I've ever had. And the soothing sounds of the coursing river rushing through the rocks made the experience all the more immersive. I suggest bringing a rain jacket for this adventure and leaving a long window of time to explore so you don't feel rushed.

For dinner that evening we went to the historic Ludwigstrasse for a Bavarian evening in the Gasthof Fraundorfer. This family-run tavern and restaurant provided regional delights in spades. Their menu features a scrumptious array of traditional dishes, including legendary schnitzel, Bavarian dumplings and goulash. Moreover, they also offer live entertainment that features young men performing traditional schuhplattler folk dances.

The next morning, we headed out to explore the mountainous terrain up in the Zugspitze. This is one of the best outdoor activities in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the whole family because it delivers an unprecedented "wow" factor with its breathtaking scenery along with the option to hike trails and climb, depending on your level of expertise. It towers at 9,717 feet, making it an ideal destination for travelers who adore soaking in panoramic views of alpine majesty.

We took the Zugspitze cable car up to the summit, where there's a large observation deck that's perfect for admiring these mesmerizing unrestricted views of myriad mountain peaks from all directions. It was magical to stand at the summit and feel like I was as close to the clouds as I could possibly be. We took the train back down, but I would have preferred the tram because the skyline views were so splendid.

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