The Secret Traveller’s Guide to Skiing Munich
- 09th November 2013
Standing on the parapet of Old Peter’s Tower in the centre of Munich, the Alps seem close enough to touch. It is this proximity to the mountains that makes the Bavarian capital the ideal city break for anyone with a passion for winter sports.
There are several really good, less crowded resorts within an hour’s drive of the city, like Wallberg or Alpspitze, but the highest (2,100m) and most snow-sure mountain in Bavaria is Zugspitze, 90km from Munich. In combination with Alpspitze, the home of the famed Kandahar Olympic downhill run, it boasts over 62km of pistes and some of the region’s best avalanche-safe backcountry.
Road links from Munich to Bavaria’s resorts are fast and easy, but can become congested at the weekends, so bus and train services are an easier and sometimes cheaper means of getting to the snow. Groups of five or less can travel anywhere in the state on a Bayern Ticket, which also gives discounts on connecting mountain trains and lift tickets.
Trains leave from Munich’s central station and glide out through Bavaria’s orderly farmsteads and forests towards the mountains. At each stop more skiers and snowboarders clatter aboard until the aisles are full of gregarious, fresh-faced athletes and precariously stacked equipment. Within an hour and a half the train pulls into Garmisch-Partenkirchen where the passengers dismount for the Zugspitzbahn to make the final 75-minute ascent to the peak. If you catching the 6.30am train from Munich you can be drawing lines in fresh snow by 9.30am (lifts open at 9am).
After a hard day’s skiing, head back to Munich and relieve the burn with a sauna session and swim. The most beautiful of the public baths is Müller’sches Volksbad (Rosenheimer Str 1); built in the late 1800s it is a stunning example of art nouveau architecture.
The trendy neighbourhood of Munich is Glockenbach, which boasts a watering hole on every stuccoed street, and if you want to brush shoulders with the cream of the European snowboarding and free-ski try the dark den of a bar, Holy Home (Reichenbachstr, 21).
A visit to Munich isn’t complete though without a visit to a Bavarian beer hall (complete with rotund gentlemen in leather shorts and women bursting from dirndls); try Gaststätte Fraunhofer (Fraunhoferstrasse 41) or the more contemporary MC Mueller (Müellerstrasse 8) just up the street.
Using Munich as a springboard to the mountains is so much more rewarding than just staying within the insular confines of a resort. You can ride all day, then enjoy the city by night – there’s no better place for a cosmopolitan mountain enthusiast to hang out.
• Motel One is a chain of budget hotels, with four across the city, with prices ranging from €69 per night, room only. The Eibsee Hotel (00 49 8821 9881 0) in Eibsee, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, has doubles from €132 per night, with lake views. Resort details at zugspitze.de, lift pass for the day, €38.50pp.
bmi regional flies from Bristol to Munich and Milan, prices start from £79 per person one way.