This post is written by my son Dennis, 16. Our European road trip last summer was packed with places and sights, but this journey to the top of Zugspitze was his top memory from this trip.
Over last summer vacations my family went on a road trip through Europe, primarily visiting Germany. Along our route my father and I went for for a cable car ride up to Zugspitze, an experience I specifically requested prior to our journey.
What is Zugspitze?
Zugspitze (at 2,962m) is Germany’s tallest mountain, and it boasts views to match its height. It is situated on the border of Germany and Austria, in the German state of Bavaria, and you can cross the border at the peak, making for some clever photo opportunities.
Getting to the top
We made a day trip to Zugspitze from Ettal, Germany, our base in Bavarian Alps. First, we drove to the German town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
From Zugspitzbahn train station we caught a midday train to the town of Grainau where we switched trains to get to our next destination, Lake Eibsee. From there we got onto a cable car and enjoyed a scenic ride to the peak.
Tickets for the entire journey were purchased prior to boarding at Zugspitzbahn (for schedules and fares, check out Zugspitze’s web site).
As someone who doesn’t fear heights the photogenic potential of the landscape on your way up is a marvel: I recommend shoving your way to a window to snap the best pictures. If you are afraid of heights however, Zugspitze may not be for you.
At the top
At the top, there is a multi-level complex with several gift shops and food vendors. While it was a little cloudy, it was not nearly enough clouds to hamper our enjoyment. The view down is amazing, and the surrounding mountain tops make for a spectacular sight as well.
For the adventurous type, you can cross and climb a rocky outcrop to get to the German flag while gripping for your life on metal rungs implanted in the rocks. (We did not dare!)
After taking enough photos we went for lunch, which consisted of a reasonably priced sausage and fries. A bar is located in the area as well, if you’re looking for a drink. We took a video of me crossing between the Austrian and German borders, which are conveniently labeled with opposing flags.
Tobogganing the Glacier
From the top, you can take a cable car to a slightly lower level: here we discovered the largest German glacier, Schneefermer. While there wasn’t enough snow to take advantage of the ski lodge and skiing tracks, we could ride some freely provided toboggans down the glacier. Although it’s a short ride, it was such great fun that I went down six times.
You have to carry your toboggan back to the top:
Even dad joined in on the fun!
Getting back to the base
Our trip down was done by train: although it is possible to take a cable car back down, the long line acts as a strong deterrent. The train ride took a LOT longer that the cable car ride, so I even managed to catch some sleep on the way back. I would say if you find yourself in the area Zugspitze is a must see. Germany’s landscapes are breathtaking, and Zugspitze’s views were something I was thinking about in particular as we flew back home.
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