Garmisch-Partenkirchen

With all that's on offer in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it's no surprise that the town is actually two. Garmisch and Partenkirchen were once two separate market towns and both offer charming historical centres, a wealth of culture and plenty of good old-fashioned Bavarian hospitality amid scenic surroundings. Together they form the number one winter sports venue in Germany.

When people in Germany think of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the first thing that springs to mind is winter sports: seven months of snow, 60 kilometres of pistes, pristine slopes and Germany's only glacial ski area – the resort offers the very best conditions for winter sports enthusiasts. There are slopes suitable for skiers of all abilities, and the region has become a hot spot for international snowboarders and freeriders. Olympic venues, the famous Kandahar run for Super G and downhill events, and New Year ski jumping at the world's most modern ski jump: Garmisch-Partenkirchen is quite simply a mecca for winter sports. But don't forget that this picturesque town is also a first-class climatic health resort throughout the year, the perfect place to unwind, pamper yourself and enjoy life's little pleasures. Also an experience at any time of year is the Partnachklamm gorge, a geological wonder that turns any walk into an adventure. On top of the world: Mount Zugspitze At 2,962 metres, the Zugspitze is Germany's highest peak and a fabulous destination for nature lovers, sun worshippers, walkers and skiers. You don't even need to be an expert mountaineer to reach the summit: starting at Lake Eibsee, the Zugspitzbahn cog railway chugs its way through the mountains for twelve kilometres, negotiating a staggering 25 per cent gradient in places. When you reach the top, a breathtaking vista across the Alps unfolds before you. Mount Zugspitze even has something for art lovers. Since 1995 there has been a spacious, light-flooded gallery covering 450 square metres of the mountain and offering magnificent panoramic views – a fantastic stage for works by important modern artists. Great art at an altitude of almost 3,000 metres: the world has never seen anything like it.

Strolling, shopping and sampling the nightlife

Once back in the town, a walk along historical Ludwigstrasse at the heart of Partenkirchen makes for a pleasant interlude. This chic, elegant boulevard is ideal for shopping, strolling or just sauntering along. Exclusive stores for an exclusive clientele rub shoulders with traditional Alpine inns and first-class restaurants. After a day's shopping, why not sample Garmisch-Partenkirchen's vibrant nightlife? The friendly bars, clubs and discos are often buzzing until the early hours, or in the casino you could try your luck at roulette, blackjack and poker.

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