Originally two distinct towns, Garmisch and Partenkirchen were merged in 1936 for the Winter Olympics. These days, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, located near the southern border of Germany, is a top destination for skiing holidays.
This resort town, commonly shortened to Garmisch or GaPa, is in the Bavarian Alps just an hour by car from Munich (or up to three hours on holidays and weekends). Its located at the base of the tallest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze, which means guaranteed year-round snow. However winter is when GaPa gets busiest, as skiers come from all over Europe to sample the runs here and enjoy the scenery.
Obviously, the number one activity here is skiing. The resort has access to more than 40 individual pistes and 38 ski lifts. Here you'll find mostly challenging runs that are great for seasoned skiers but might be difficult for novices, so plan your route carefully before you set off.
Snowboarding is also welcome in Garmisch-Partenkirchem and there are plenty of vertical runs that are snowboarder-friendly. There's even a fun park with rails on the Zugspitze plateau.
Even if you're not into snow sports, there are plenty of things to do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You can tour the picturesque houses along the River Loisach, visit the 18th-century New Parish Church, and trek through the breathtaking Höllentalklamm gorge. And even when it's not snowing, it's worth taking the Zugspitze cable car up to the top of the peak to marvel at the panoramic views.
You can also take a trip to Neuschwanstein, a 19th-century castle an hour west of GaPa. Built by King Ludwig in the 1800's, the structure was apparently Walt Disney's inspiration for Cinderella's castle at Disney World.
And of course, you can enjoy the apres-ski scene in the resort, in the town, which consists of more than 100 restaurants and a few dozen lively bars and discotheques.