Julie Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein 42 Comments

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a wonderful small town located in Bavaria, Germany, was our home base for one solid week. From Garmisch-Partenkirchen, we frequently day tripped to Austria, Liechtenstein, and other destinations in Bavaria.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a great place from which to explore southern Germany.  It is located in the German Alps, just a few miles from the border with Austria, which we visited quite a bit.  With these mountains comes rain, particularly in the summer.  It rained every day, usually in the afternoon, so we quickly learned to get sightseeing done early in the day.

This post was written in 2014, during our trip around the world.

Day Trips and Things to Do in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Day Trip to Liechtenstein

The first thing we did was to visit Liechtenstein, one of the world’s smallest countries.  Liechtenstein is very low on the excitement meter when it comes to traveling.  We stopped for coffee and did a little souvenir shopping before continuing our journey west into Switzerland.  Here we visited the small and unheard of town of Buchs, for a tour of the fortress and a stroll through the town’s shopping district.  We knew Liechtenstein wasn’t going to be the most exciting destination on our agenda, but when else in our lives are we going to be able to visit this very tiny country?


Best Thing to do in Garmisch with Kids

Life got much more exciting when we found a toboggan near our apartment.  Garmisch-Partenkirchen was the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics, and we were able to climb the ski jump for great views of Garmisch, and take several runs on the toboggan ride.  Tyler and Kara have been asking to visit an amusement park and this will have to do for now.


Alpine Coaster

A Visit to Neuschwanstein

The best day of the week came when we visited Neuschwanstein and Zugspitze.  This was our first day with blue skies (until late afternoon) so we tried to get as much out of it as possible.

Neuschwanstein, one of Germany’s most beautiful palaces, is located one hour west of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This is best visited first thing in the morning as it slowly fills up during the day with day trippers from Munich and surrounding towns.

The castle was smaller than we were expecting, but it was still very impressive.  It was built by King Ludwig in the late 1800’s, so it is relatively modern.  We took the quick, informative tour through the castle (Tyler and Kara hate walking around with tour groups but they did not mind this one).

The inside of the palace is beautiful. There was an ornately decorated throne room, fanciful woodwork and paintings, and splendid views out of the windows. King Ludwig did a fabulous job designing this castle. Unfortunately for him, he only lived in the castle for 172 days , until he was declared mentally unfit to rule and was removed from power. A few days later he and his psychiatrist were found dead in a lake. Their cause of death still remains a mystery today.

The palace was immediately turned into a museum and now thousands of people like ourselves get to enjoy Ludwig’s vision and sense of style. Walt Disney liked Neuschwanstein so much that his design for Cinderella’s castle in Walt Disney World is based on this castle.

Neuschwanstein Entrance

Best Views of Neuschwanstein

From the castle we walked to Mary’s Bridge for postcard views of the castle.  It was a tight fit on a narrow bridge, with people from all over the world trying to take family photos with one of Germany’s most iconic sites in the background.



This view of Neuschwanstein is beautiful, but the view I wanted, the ones pictured on postcards, comes from another viewpoint.  We climbed up the mountains overlooking Neuschwanstein, finding a wonderful picnic spot, and later enjoying awesome views of the scenery here.  This trail took us too high over Neuschwanstein for the the view I wanted, which I later learned was only accessible with hot air balloon. So much for that idea!

Overlooking Neuschwanstein

Zugspitze, the Highest Peak in Germany

After getting our fill of Neuschwanstein, we drove 45 minutes into Austria for a cable car trip up Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain.  This mountain sits on the border between Austria and Germany, and can be accessed via cable car from both. Austria’s cable car costs less per person and it is less crowded than Germany’s cable car.

Cable Car Austria to Zugspitze

German Alps


In ten minutes the cable car took us from the valley to the peak of Zugspitze. We stepped out of the cable car into very chilly air. The four of us wandered between the Austrian and German sides of Zugspitze, enjoying views stretching out over the Alps all the way to Switzerland. It was amazing.


On Zugspitze

Top of Zugspitze

On the German side the peak of Zugspitze can be climbed. People were climbing up the rocky peak, holding onto metal cables to prevent falling off the side of the mountain into the valley below. This looked like something we wanted to do!

We took turns, the boys going first, and then the girls. It took awhile since there was a line of people all making the somewhat dangerous ascent for photos on top of Zugspitze. We had no problems at all, and Tyler and Kara scrambled up the mountain like it was nothing. We took our photos and said good-bye to Zugspitze.

Julie Kara Zugspitze

Tim Tyler Zugspitze

Germany Travel Guide

Day Trip to Innsbruck, Austria

During our very busy week we visited the town of Innsbruck, Austria. This was another short drive from Garmisch. We toured the old town, ate Japanese food for lunch, rode the funicular up the mountain for views over the city, and visited the Olympic Stadium. Innsbruck was the site of both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. We will see our third site soon when we travel to Munich.

Overlooking Innsbruck


Innsbruck Austria

Rothenburg, Germany

Our time in Bavaria, Germany ended in Rothenburg, Germany. Rothenburg is the quintessential German town, a medieval walled town located along the Romantic Road. For the most part, it was saved from bombing during WWII, as Nazi’s surrendered it to Allied Forces rather than have it destroyed. Now tourists from all over the world flock to this city every year.

For us, it was a three hour drive north from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It was well worth the drive, this quaint, beautiful, old German city which we fell in love with.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg Germany

Rothenburg Street

More Information for Your Trip to Germany

BAVARIA, GERMANY: Take an amazing 10 day road trip in Bavaria, visiting Munich, Neuschwanstein, Berchtesgaden, Salzburg, Innsbruck, and drive the Romantic Road in Germany.

SAXONY, GERMANY: In Saxony, visit the fairytale bridge called Rakotzbrücke and the amazing Bastei Bridge. Put both of these together, plus the town of Görlitz, into one big day trip from Berlin.

BERLIN: Start with our article Best Things to Do in Berlin for a big list of things to do in the city. Plan your visit with our 5 Day Berlin Itinerary and what to expect on a visit to Teufelsberg.

AUSTRIA: Learn how to spend one day in Hallstatt, one day in Salzburg, and get a list of the top 10 things to do in Vienna. We also have a guide to the best things to do in Innsbruck.

EUROPE ITINERARIES: Check out our article 10 Days in Europe: 10 Amazing Itineraries for 10 different ways to visit the best places in Europe. And if you have less time, check out our guide to 25 Ways to Spend One Week in Europe.

Read all of our articles about Germany in our Germany Travel Guide.




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Comments 42

  1. Avatar for Amanda

    Hi Julie, thanks for all this great info! Was the toboggan ride you did at the Olympic Park? Or are there several different ones in the area? Thank you!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, I am fairly certain it is that one, the Sommerrodelbahn on Google Maps. That is the only one I know of. It’s now been 10 years since we did it (crazy how time flies!) and at the time that was the only one in the area. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Cindy Bruecker
    Cindy Bruecker

    We are starting in Switzerland (Wengen 4 nights and Lucerne 1) and then going to Konstanz Germany to rent car. Plan to drive to Fussen area (1 night) to see the town, the castles and do an alpine coaster. Then drive to Salzburg for 3 nights, and end in Munich. Turn in our rental car there and stay 2 nights before flying home. My question is trying to figure what to do in Bavaria considering we just came from Switzerland. Would Zugspitze and Innsbruck be ok to skip. That would give us more time for Hallstatt, Berchtesgaden and Salzburg. We are mid 50s and active. Want to do it all but of course don’t have time. Just curious if you had combined Switzerland with Bavaria, what would you have done differently in Bavaria? Thank you!! I really appreciate your website and have used many parts of your itineraries in Spain, Ireland, Peru and Italy!!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Cindy. That looks like a great trip you are planning. I agree, I think Zugspitze is worth skipping after being in the Jungfrau region. We liked Neuschwanstein Castle a lot and I think that is worthwhile. As for Innsbruck, it’s not an absolute must-see. It is a beautiful city but the main thing to do there is to ride the cable cars to the highest peak, again a similar experience to Switzerland. I wonder if you can detour out to it on the drive to Salzburg and spend a half day there. Just a thought. If you added in Innsbruck, then day trip into Berchtesgaden from Salzburg or visit Berchtesgaden on the day you drive from Salzburg to Munich. Either way, everything in that part of Europe is wonderful and you really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose to do. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for LeeAnn

    Hi Julie,

    Whenever we travel, this is the first place I come for itinerary advice. I have a question about that last little part of the Zugspitze hike. You mention that it’s “somewhat dangerous”. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? I’m a 50 year old chicken, but have a hunch my kids and husband are going to want to do that section. I’d love to know more of your thoughts.

    Thank you!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      On that last part of the climb, you are on a series of ladders and ledges. There is some exposure here which is not good for those with a fear of heights. We did this in 2014, so my memory is now hazy, but I don’t think it was so much exposure that if you fell, you’d plummet off the mountain (and this was one of the very few posts we wrote on this website, which is different from the more detailed guides we write now). Sorry I can’t be more specific than that, but once you get there, you can check it out and then make your decision. Have a great time in Garmisch…I dream of returning someday! Cheers, Julie

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