Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany – all you need to know

A hike to Zugspitze – what it is like

Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany (2962 meters) and it is not an extraordinary beautiful hike, but a very challenging one. And a very diversified one. I especially liked this hike because it was my first hike of more days and felt kind of like a big adventure, to carry all the stuff you need for the night etc. And I loved the view from the top. Because you can see my favourite lake in the world, Lake Eibsee, from above, which is breathtaking.

Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

Summary of the hike to Zugspitze:

Distance: 21 kilometres
Difference in Altitude: 2270 meters
Duration: 13 hours in 2 – 3 days
Parking: Karl-und Martin-Neuner-Platz, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Possible routes and starting points:

There are various options to hike the highest mountain in Germany, as well as various routes and lengths. You can start the hike in Germany or Austria and choose between popular and off the path tracks. You can find a good overview of all various options on this blog. 

We took one of the classical routes, through Rheintal (Rein valley), which starts in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany and choose to do it on 2 days. Another option is the same route but in 3 days. This is especially recommended for families.

This is a summary of our route:

Starting point: Olympic ski jump at Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Day 1: Garmisch-Partennkirchen – Partnachklamm – Reintalangerhütte – Knorrhütte (overnight)
Day 2: Knorrhütte –  exhausting shale field – final climbing part – peak
Way down: by cable car 

Instead of staying overnight at Knorrhütte, you can stay at Reintalangerhütte, which is located about 2-3 hours before Knorrhütte. Find a description of our hike to Zugspitze in the following.

Description of the 2-day-hike to Zugspitze:

I loved the beginning of this hike. It starts in a gorge of the river Partnach. Normally this place is really busy on weekends but in the early morning on a weekday, you will have it all for yourself.

The hike continues along the Partnach river and feels pretty easy and idyllic in the beginning. After around 3 hours we reached the first hut Reintalanger, which also represents an option to stay-over night here. If you want to split the hike in 3 days. We chose to do the hike in two days. Therefore we had our lunch stop here.

Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

This is Hut Reintalanger, where you could sleep, when doing the tour in 3 days. For us it was our lunch place.

Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

And then the really tough part started, super steep paths, rubbles or I would even call it rocks all over and this for hours. The way from the first hut, Reintalanger, to the second on only other and last option to stay overnight, Knorrhütte (2051 m).

Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

Only in the morning when the sun started to hit in the rock wall where the hut was located, we realized the beauty of this area. On this height was almost no more vegetation, but still many sheep and the hike from here on the second day was way more pleasant and easy as the second part of the first day.

Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

After around 1 hour in this kind of rocky terrain, the challenge of the second day started: the steepest and most challenging part. It is a large shale field and you have to be really sure-footed and careful in order not to make rocks rolling down. And you have to be careful what comes from above. So keep well distance to the people in front of you.

Best hikes in Bavaria, Germany - hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

After a lot of sweating the endorphins in our bodies slowly started to work and we were so happy that we made this challenge. The last part of the hike is quite fun and includes some little climbing and a very small path along a ridge which already gives you a glimpse of the amazing view from the top.

Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

And finally, there we were at the top. With a thousand other people who came there by cablecar 😀 However, we felt proud that we were hiking up and not chose the easy way of the cable car.

Look at these views, the 2 days of sweating were totally worth it:

Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

Staying overnight at Knorrhütte

Hike to Zugspitze, Knorrhütte - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

Maybe you are wondering how staying overnight in a little hut located over 2000 meters above sea level is like? Well, basic. Don’t expect any luxury here. In fact, there are few double rooms which might allow more privacy but they are usually sold out throughout the whole year. The common room type is a dorm which is shared with 6 to 10 male and female hikers. There are dorms with real beds, similar to the ones you know from backpacking in Southeast Asia, but also these are normally sold out very quickly. And the 3rd room type is dorms which consist of mattresses on the floor. And these are not spacious at all. These are mattresses of around 70 cm next to each other, without any space in between the mattress of your neighbour and yours. If you are lucky – like me 🙂 – you will get a mattress next to the wall on your travel buddy will sleep next to you. If you are not lucky – like my travel buddy 🙁 – a fat, stinky person will sleep next to you and make you feel very uncomfortable. “The worst night of my life” is a quote of my travel buddy from this hike. I’m not trying to scare you, just trying to prepare you.

Hike to Zugspitze, Knorrhütte - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze
Hike to Zugspitze, Knorrhütte - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

The lucky mattress:

Hike to Zugspitze, Knorrhütte - all you need to know about a 2-day-hike Zugspitze

Anyways: Make sure to bring earplugs and a sleeping mask and you will get enough sleep.

Another thing you should know is that hot water is only available for a fee and you should definitely pay this fee for 3 minutes of hot water because otherwise, the water in the shower is cold as ice.

So now, let’s speak about the good things in the hut Knorrhütte: The food. The food is traditional hearty hiking food and very delicious. When booking your room you can even choose half board (which includes a soup, a main dish, and a dessert). So there is no need to bring your dinner for the hike to Zugspitze

How to book my nights at Knorrhütte?

This is the official website of the German alp association (Deutscher Alpenverein) which gives all the basic information about the hut Knorrhütte (in German – use the translation function of Google Chrome): https://www.alpenverein-muenchen-oberland.de/knorrhuette

And this is where you can book a room (in German – use the translation function of Google Chrome): https://www.alpsonline.org/reservation/calendar?hut_id=149&lang=de_DE 

What do bring for the hike to Zugspitze

What you need to bring to the hike to Zugspitze:

  • Water (2 – 3 litres) for the first day (You can refill your water bottles or buy other soft drinks at Knorrhütte)
  • Snacks and optional lunch for both days(you can also have lunch at Reintalangerhütte, the hut where you can also sleep when doing the hike in 3 days)
  • Blister plaster (!!!)
  • Ear plugs and a sleeping mask for a good sleep
  • thin sleeping bag (is mandatory in these kinds of huts!)
  • Warm clothes in layers because it is cold on the peak
  • scarf & hat for the peak
  • Changing clothes for the next day and for the summit
  • Raincover for you and your backpack
  • torch
  • emergency blanket and first aid kit

What you don’t need to bring to the hike to Zugspitze:

  • Water for the second day
  • lunch for both days (on the first day you can purchase lunch at the Hut Reintalanger; on the second day you can have lunch at the summit)

How to get to the starting point of the hike to Zugspitze

Start of the hike to Zugspitze is at the Olympic Ski Jump stadium in Garmisch-Patenkirchen which is located here: Karl-und Martin-Neuner-Platz, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The easiest way is to come here by car. But public transportation is an option if you don’t have a car. Just go via regional train to Garmisch-Patenkirchen and take a bus 1 direction Klinikum and get off at the Olympic stadium. Here you can find more details about the bus https://www.gw-gap.de/ortsbus/streckenplan

Further information and detailed description of the hike

https://www.auf-die-zugspitze-wandern.info/tour-1-durch-die-partnachklamm-und-das-reintal/ (German)
https://www.theoutbound.com/germany/hiking/hike-zugspitze-via-reintal (English)

Here you can find live web cams of the peak and the area around Zugspitze: https://www.grainau.de/webcams . In May, June, September and October you should check if it is even possible to hike the mountain or if there is snow on top.

What else would you like to know about the hike to Zugspitze?

Did I miss any important information about the hike to Zugspitze in this blog post? Or is there any question you’d like to ask me? Just drop me a comment and I will answer the question and add it to this post.

I hope you liked this post and hope I could inspire you to do the hike to Zuspitze, the highest mountain of Germany. Never stop exploring the world!



25 thoughts on “Hike to Zugspitze, the highest mountain of Germany – all you need to know

  1. Hi! Would like to ask if you remember how much did the caple car cost back down..? and do you now is there buses from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to Eibsee (one optional starting point)? I’m planning to do this hike next summer just thinking about the costs and where to start.. 🙂

    1. On this website you can see the prices of the new cable car: https://zugspitze.de/en/summer/preise/zugspitze From the cable car station (it arrives close to Eibsee) there are regular buses to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. However there is a little train which goes directly from Garmisch to Zugspitze an is a bit cheaper but takes longer. This might be interesting for you as well. Here some more information about it: https://zugspitze.de/de/aktuell/oeffnungszeiten (The website is in German, the train I am talking about is called “Zahnradbahn” in German). I hope you will enjoy hiking up there and especially the view! Have fun!

  2. Thank you for such detailed write up. At what time did you start hike from Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I would be hiking in same route shortly.
    Unfortunately my stay in Reintalangerhütte has been cancelled and Knorrhütte is not opened yet.

    Is it possible to hike to Zugspitze and return by cogwheel on same day to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If so, what time Would you suggest to start.

    Are there any alternative options to stay and hike.

    Looking forward for your response

    1. Hi, cool that you are planning to do the hike. On the route I took there are only the two places you mentioned to stay overnight. But you could check anothee route. Hiking to the peak is possible in one day but it is very challenging and you should be in very good condition. I would recommend 2 days so that you can also enjoy a little bit. We left at 8 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. If you will really try to do it in one day, I recommend leaving earlier. And one last tip: check the snow conditions! I think right now there is still a lot of snow above a certain level of altitude and I’m not sure if you can go all the way when there is snow. That is also the reason why Knorrhütte is still closed. Later in June or July and August are better months to do the hike. When are you planning to go? BR, maria

      1. Hi Maria,
        Thanks for speedy reply.
        I would be hiking on 2nd June.

        Let’s see how it goes.

        Best Regards,
        Shivakala

          1. Hi Maria,

            Thank you very much for the information. I visited Zugspitze on 1st of June 2019. Since hike wasn’t possible, reached using public transportation facility. As the weather was awesome, it was worth visiting it. Did walking trail around Eibsee. Hiked to Gschwandtnerbauer, Wamberg, Eckbauer,Graseck and Parknachtalm. Hope to hike to Zugspitze next time

          2. Nice, so you did a lot and saw most of the beautoful places I hope you enjoyed it? I’ll cross my fingers so that you’ll have better weather next time. All the best!

  3. Hello, thanks for the detailed information! I will visit southern Germany soon and I would like to hike to the top of Zugspitze. However, I only have one whole day for the hike. Is it possible to make it within one day? and do you have any suggestion? I do trail running in HK frequently but I am not sure how difficult the hike is… Thank you so much!

    1. Hi there, the hike is possible in one day, but it is very very challgening and takes more than 8 hours. If you do trail running and you are super fit you night make it. However i would recommend to do it in 2 days, because then you will also enjoy the hike and nature more. Please also check the weathee conditions. I think currently there is still snow on the summit. All the beszät, Maria

  4. Thank you for your description and photos. In your opinion, is a Ride up from Garmisch and a hike down in one day feasible in one day. I didn’t notice a proposed return hike with time..
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Dana, thanks for your comment. I didn’t do the route we chose the way down, nor do I know anybody who did that. That it is why I feel like I’m not the best person to answer this question. If you are an advanced hiker with a very good fitness level I would say it is feasible. However the first 4 hours are still challenging I would say, maybe down even more challenging than up, which means you will not be faster the way up. The last few hours (my beginning in Partnachklamm and the path along partnach river till the first hut) must be easy and faster than up because it was just slightly descending. Hope I could help you. But maybe proof my answer by asking some more people;)

      1. Hi Maria, Thank you for your answer. It was very helpful. It allows me to make s better informed decision- and that decision is not to attempt it with visiting friends next month.

    2. What also just came into my mind when thinking about it is the motivation. Our motivation for alwqys going further and not giving up was to reach the top and finally see this amazing view. But if you start on the top and you’ve seen the stunning view already, I’m not sure if you will still be motivated to hike all the way down…. many people just go up and down by cable car, maybe that’s the best option if you are lacking in time?

  5. Great info, thanks! Was going to shoot for a single day, but you convinced us to do a two day. Booked beds at the Knorrhutte — my understanding is you have to pay cash when you get there, was that your experiance?

    Thanks!

    1. Good decision, in 2 days you will also have the time to actually enjoy the hike 😉 yes we paid cash when we arrived. Also for dinner you can get a 3-course menu or just a la carte menu which csn only be paid cash. But as far as I remember correctly we had to pay a small amount, like 5 euros or so in advance via bank transfer in order to confirm the booking. Better check your booking confirmation if it says something about it. Have fun at the hike!

  6. If the hutt allready is full and there is not possibble to book even matrass? Where is posible to sleep. Thank you .

    1. Hi, if there is no place left, you can’t go. There is no alternative unless doing the hike in one day. But I would not recommend that if you are not a very very experienced hiker of excellent condition. Sorry :/

  7. Hi Maria,
    Amazing blog and photos! I am planning to take on this challenge in October. From friends in Munich I heard that you need Klettersteig gear to get to the top. Is this true or is there a different path to „walk“ up? Also I saw that no reservations were possible from October, do you know when Hütten close for the season?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi, the route I am describing is without climbing gear. But there are various routes and some of them include climbing. However, the route which starts at Garmisch-Patenkichen and goes through Partnachklamm, Reinthal, and overnight-stay at Knorrhütte does not require climbing gear.
      In addition, please be aware that hiking in October might not be possible anymore. Knorrhütte is only open till the first weekend of October. And then it is closed due to the weather conditions. You can’t do the hike after the first weekend of October. However it might be that not even in September or October it is possible anymore due to the weather conditions and snow up there. However I’d recommend to book a bed in Knorrhütte (https://www.alpsonline.org/reservation/calendar?hut_id=149&lang=de_DE ) for the last possible weekend in October but then you wil have to decide spontaneously if you will be able to do the hike. Therefore I recommend not to put too much hope in the hike. When I did the hike last year it was the last weekend of August and the week after it started to snow on top of the mountain which means it was not possible anymore. I don’t want to demotivate you, just trying to handle expectations 😉 I will cross my fingers and hope you will be able to do the hike 🙂 BR, Maria

  8. My wife are planning to do a one day hike. How did you get back to your car at the Olympic stadium?

    1. Hi Kevin, the cable car goes from the summit to lake Eibsee. From there is a train to Garmisch-Patenkirchen. And from the train station we were walking of course 😉 but there are also buses from the train station to the Olympic stadium. Normally there are always other people whom you can follow. BR, Maria

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