Photo courtesy of Garmisch Partenkirchen Tourismus
At the base of Germany's highest peak, Zugspitze (elevation 9,718 feet), Garmisch-Partenkirchen makes for an easy detour to the Bavarian Alps from Munich, an hour away by car (or 90 minutes by train). Long two separate towns separated by the Partach River, they have been officially united as one since slightly before the fourth Winter Olympic Games which were held here. Each has, however, managed to preserve its different atmosphere almost a century later. Partenkirchen is the older of the two and home to beautiful examples of regional architecture; Garmisch is the livelier town, with a choice of restaurants and bars. The Garmischer Hof is an ideal base if you want to be in the heart of Garmisch.
The Hotel Schloss Elmau is a beautiful alternative if a luxury country retreat sounds more appealing. Roughly 20 minutes from town, the hotel has hiking and mountain biking trails waiting to be explored in the summer, best followed by a soak in one of the hotel's mineral baths or a spa treatment. Royalty has long known there is something special about this corner of Bavaria; the Linderhof Palace, built by King Ludwig II, is open to the public and sits a half hour by car north of town.
For six itineraries covering the best of the Alps, visit AFAR Journeys.