Originally two separate towns, Garmisch and Partenkirchen joined forces to host the 1936 Winter Olympics. Now colloquially called GaPa, they still share Germany’s largest ski area. Sitting close to the Austrian border in Bavaria, they offer 49km of slopes in the ski area and an extra 20km on the Zugspitz glacier, Germany’s highest mountain.
The skiing is spread across a two main areas: the Alpspitze peak and the lower Hausberg and Kreuzeck peaks linked by a narrow track; higher up is the Zugspitz glacier, accessed via a cogwheel railway from town. There’s a fairly even mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced runs, but since the reds tend to be the longest and best links, intermediates in particular will enjoy GaPa. New to the sport can stick to the dedicated beginner area, or progress to the wide blues on the glacier. Experts will find several tricky blacks to challenge them – including the famous Kandahar run, which is used for annual races and has a free fall section with a 92% incline.
The towns have retained somewhat separate identities. Partenkirchen has kept its authentic feel and cobbled streets while Garmisch tends to be a bit more modern. Both offer plenty of charm, with buildings painted with traditional frescoes, and shops ranging from bakeries to goldsmiths. There’s a variety of hotels to choose from, most offering a good 4-star standard and they generally represent excellent value.
When you’re not skiing, you can take a trip to nearby Olympic ski jump, fly down a toboggan run, or even hike through the old Olympic bobsleigh track.
A week’s stay at the three-star Hotel Rheinischer Hof costs from £775 per person (two sharing) including half board, flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck departing 5 January 2019 and transfers.
For further information visit www.crystalski.co.uk or call 020 8610 3123.