If you are looking for one of the top destinations to add to your Germany itinerary then you have come to the right place! A beautiful lake sits at the base of the tallest mountain in Germany, and you simply MUST see it!
Lake Eibsee, with its crystal clear water, sits at the foot of the Zugspitze Mountain (die Zugspitze Berg.) Together they present the opportunity for one of the best day trips, not only in Bavaria, but in all of Germany! Yes, it is one of the popular destinations in Deutschland and for good reason!
In one beautiful place you can experience:
- stunning views from the summit of Zugspitze
- Pristine hiking trails
- Dining opportunities with world class views
- beer gardens
- snowy landscapes in winter, with the opportunity for winters sports nearby
- And so much more!
First time visiting this destination? you’ll find everything you need to know in this ultimate guide!
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.
Eibsee Lake and Zugspitze Mountain: Ultimate Guide
Eibsee Zugspitze Location:
Eibsee Germany and Mount Zugspitze are located in the Bavarian region of Germany, just 8 miles outside of the town of Garmisch-partenkirchen.
(looking for information on getting there? Keep reading or use the table of contents to skip ahead)
How do I get from Zugspitze to Eibsee?
These two are in such close proximity to one another that they share a parking lot, making it easy to fit both of these stunning locations into one day! Spend a relaxing afternoon exploring the lake and the mountain, or make a whole day of it!
Eibsee Lake, Germany
Eibsee, is the beautiful PRIVATELY OWNED lake on the Zugspitze (See an der Zugspitze.) The lake sometimes appears blue, sometimes green, but is ever stunning.
“Eibsee Things to do”
Let’s talk about all of the fun things to do at Eibsee Lake!
Walk the trail around the lake
Can you walk around Eibsee? Yes you can! It’s one of the best things to do at Eibsee! There is a trail that runs all the way around the lake (Eibsee rundweg) , and as with everything in Germany, it is immaculately maintained.
How long is the Eibsee hike?
There’s a 4.7 mile idyllic walking trail around the lake, with picturesque views of both the crystal clear blue/green lake, and the towering mountains that surround it. This is without a doubt one of the most scenic walks in Bavaria. Don’t miss it!
Starting location: Just in front of the Eibsee Hotel, near the recommended parking.
The best direction:
You can walk either direction around the lake but I’m told if you want to get the best views then the best way is to walk counterclockwise. In my excitement, I forgot this detail and marshaled on in a clockwise fashion. It was still pretty!
How long does it take to walk around Eibsee Lake?
It takes just under 2 hours to walk around the entire lake (2.3 mph pace)
Eibsee trail map: Note the area of #2 on the map. That’s where you’ll find the Eibsee Beach (Eibsee strand.)
As you circle around the lake, you will be treated to various vantage point views of the mountains.
swimming at Eibsee lake (Eibsee Schwimmen)
Take a dip in summer…swimming is permitted.
As with any alpine lake, the water doesn’t get very warm. The water temperature fluctuates between 17 and 22 degrees Celsius ( 62.6 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit) in this alpine lake. (20-22 in Summer) A bit cold for me but I may try it next time. It would surely be invigorating!
Fishing is an exclusive benefit of guests at the Eibsee Hotel (described later.) Hotel guests have access to a fishing boat. Bring your catch back to the hotel and the chef will prepare it for you, made to order! The hotel states that you need to indicate that you would like to fish when booking.
Fishing season: May 1 to October 1
Requirements: a valid fishing license AND a permit from the hotel.
Types of fish in the lake: Lake trout, Coregonus albula, Lake whitefish, Rainbow trout, Tench
If you would like to get out on the lake, you can rent a rowing boat and paddle boats, or take a motorized boat tour. They offer rowboat, paddle boat, and stand up paddle boat rental. Check with Eibsee Boat Rental for details on renting boats and motor boat rides.
Guests of Eibsee Hotel receive access to their kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, and stand-up paddleboards free of charge.
If your a dreamer, like me, and can’t resist allowing your mind to travel when you can’t, check the Eibsee webcam.
Dining at Eibsee Lake
There are several options for dining around the lake. We found an outdoor table at the Eibsee Alm. The weather in late September was perfect for dining al fresco!
Address: Eibsee Alm, Seefeldweg 5, 82491 Grainau, Germany (450 meters from the recommended parking)
Check the Eibsee website for more information on Eibsee Alm and other dining options at the lake.
This was our first experience with Flammkuchen, a cracker thin pizza-like crust with toppings (German pizza?) We sampled the traditional version with sour cream, bacon and red onion, and one with tomato, mozzarella, and arugula….BOTH delicious! and check out the view of the mountain from our table!
(That’s my Spezi on the table, one of things I miss the most about Germany. It’s the perfect combination of cola mixed with orange. Mezzo is the same thing…try one!)
Zugspitze Mountain (Berg Zugspitze)
Zugspitze is part of the Wetterstein Mountains, which are located in the Bavarian Alps.
Elevation: 9,717.848 feet (2,962 meters above sea level)
At the top, on a clear day and weather permitting, you’ll be treated to a 360 degree panorama, with a view of 400 mountain peaks! Some of the best views in Germany!
If conditions are favorable, you’ll be able to see 4 countries from up there: Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
viewing platform at the top:
“popular activities on Zugspitze Mountain”
explore the Glacier
There are technically 3 glaciers at the top of Zugspitze. The glacier on the Zugspitze plateau can be explored individually or as part of a group during a guided tour.
Tour: summer season, daily at 11.00 am and 1.30 pm
Leaves from the souvenir kiosk at the Restaurant Sonnalpin main entrance; meeting point:
Duration: 45 minutes
Don’t miss the Glacier Adventure station (Five interactive stations for adults & children ) Check here for more information about exploring the glacier (glaciers) on Zugspitze Mountain.
You’ll see the glacier in this map of Zugspitze:
Hiking Zugspitze (wandern Zugspitze)
Hiking up Zugspitze isn’t for amateurs. For the majority of us, Zugspitze hike opportunities are going to be limited to the Glacier. If you’re looking for more trails you’ll find them at a lower altitude on nearby peaks. (discussed later) However, there are a few “demanding” trails and you can find information on them here.
Tobogganing on Zugspitze!
The glacier toboggan runs can be used all year round if there is enough snow. Bring your own sled or rent when you get to the top. The rental point is located in the wooden hut on the sundeck of Restaurant Sonnalpin.
Rental cost: bob sledge or wooden sledge (including a helmet) starts at EUR 18.50 per day.
mountain climbing and mountaineering
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can do a bit of mountain climbing on Zugspitze.
This area is perfect for winter activities. In fact, it was chosen to host the winter olympics in 1936. Winter options include skiing and sledding. Find information on winter activities here.
Can’t wait to get your fix? Check out their site to view several webcams on Zugspitze mountain!
dining options on Zugspitze Mountain (Restaurant Zugspitze)
There are 3 restaurants on Zugspitze:
- Panorama 2962 is a summit restaurant. Dine at almost 3,000 metres with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
- Sonnalpin Glacier Restaurant, this cozy cabin is a self-service restaurant with breathtaking views.
- Gletschergarten on Zugspitze plateau, relax and grab a snack among the snow capped peaks in this glass pavilion restaurant.
getting up the mountain
Mix and match these options as you please. Purchase your tickets and you can decide which combination suits you best. From the Eibsee Lake area there are a few options for getting up to the top and back down again, which can be a tiny bit complicated. I broke it down into simple terms (I hope!)
Note: In spring and autumn, regular maintenance work is performed during these times the cable cars might be out of operation. Always check before you go.
(1) eibsee-seilbahn cable car
The Seilbahn Zugspitze cable car takes you from the station at Eibsee Lake all the way to the summit where the famous golden summit cross is located.
(2) cogwheel train Zugspitze, Cable car combo
You can opt for a cogwheel train/cable car combination. The train will take you through and up the mountain, as far as the plateau. You will then need to take the Gletscherbahn cable car to the summit if you want to reach the golden summit cross.
Note: More than half of the trip by train is through a tunnel in the mountain. It’s not very scenic, but if the thought of taking the cable car makes you weak in the knees, it may be the best option for you.
You may take the Gletscherbahn Cable Car, the cable car that runs between the plateau and the peak, as many times as you like on the day of your ticket.
( cogwheel power!) cogwheels are a toothed rail-rack type of system often used in regions where trains operate on steep heights.)
Getting back down from the summit (round trip journey)
(1) take the Gletscherbahn back down to the plateau and then the train down to the parking below OR
(2) you can take Sielbahn Zugspitze cable car back down.
start at 68 € adults and included one ascent and one descent to the plateau, you choose! As stated, the Gletscherbahn cable car can be used several times on the day of the visit.
Staying in the area for a while? You may save money with the ZugspitzeCard or the ClassicCard.
When is the best time to visit Eibsee Zugspitze?
Summer months bring warm weather and your best opportunities for swimming in the lake. Both the lake trail and mountain transportation are accessible in winter months. Temperatures at the lake are much milder than they are high up on the mountain.
No matter the time of year if you’re heading up the mountain dress in warm layers and bring sunglasses!
|Zugspitze:||17° to 20° F||(-8 to -7° C)|
|Eibsee:||39° to 46° F||(4° to 8° C)|
|Zugspitze:||33° to 43° F||( 1° to 6° C)|
|Eibsee:||60° to 64°||(16° to 18° C)|
|Zugspitze:||25° to 38° F||( -4 °to 3° C)|
|Eibsee:||41° to 59° F||(5° to 15° C)|
Source: NOAA (National Centers for Environmental Information)
Eibsee is beautiful in winter! No need for good weather, let it snow! let it snow! let it snow!
More options near Eibsee Zugspitze
Here is where you will find loads of hiking trails! To get an idea of the trails in the area check out this hiking trail map at the Zugspitze website.
Here is a link to times for all cable cars in the area, including Zugspitze.
Alpspitze Mountain, the next one over, has outstanding views of Zugspitze and more fun things to fill out your itinerary! The Garmisch-Classic cable car will get you there and back. See ticket information for Aspitze Mountain including information on summer (hiking, climbing, adventure trails) winter trips, and a restaurant listing.
The Wank is a short lift up to Wank Mountain, the mountain opposite Zugspitze and Alpspitze, that offers panoramic views of Zugspitze. At the top, you’ll find relatively flat walking trails, as well as dining options. See the Zugsitze Wank page for information on prices for getting up Wank Mountain, hiking trails, winter activities, and dining options on Wank Mountain.
getting to Eibsee Lake and Zugspite Mountain
We drove, but note that the trains from Garmisch will zip you around between these locations (see the map.) The website has information on summer and winter train service.
The train station in Eibsee (Bahnhof Eibsee) is located just a short walk from the lake (600 meters) and the cable car station (300 meters)
You’ll need to make your way to Garmisch Train station and then take the train described below to Eibsee.
Travel time to Garmisch from:
- Fussen: 2 hours
- Munich: 1.5 hours
Round trip train from Garmisch
The cogwheel train leaves from Garmisch, takes you to Eibsee, up the mountain, back down and to Garmisch again all on one ticket. The trip is offered in summer and in winter. Trip also possible in the opposite direction.
Train station: Zugspitzbahn station Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Parking for the Zugspitze Bahn: Olympiastraße 27, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany (47.49000249024724, 11.096812079997889)
Trip duration: 3-4 hours
Get all of the details on this single ticket option here!
This area is well connected by bus. The blue Eibsee bus route will take you between Eibsee, Grainau and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Deutsche Bahn App:
Download the Deutsche Bahn app to easily navigate public transport in Germany!
google maps or any other GPS will take you right to the large parking lot
Parking Zugspitze / Eibsee ( Zugspitze / Eibsee Parken)
If you’re driving in, and plan to walk the lake and go up Zugspitze, there is parking in front of the Eibsee Hotel.
Eibsee parking (Eibsee Parkplatz) address: Eibsee Bushalt, 82491 Grainau, Germany
check here for current parking fees: Eibsee Parking
THE EIBSEE LOT AUTOMAT DOES NOT ACCEPT CARDS. (pay at the machine BEFORE you leave the lot.)
As you can see there are several parking areas in the immediate vicinity so finding parking shouldn’t be a problem. (You may need to zoom out a bit to see them.)
Where to stay: Eibsee Zugspitze
There’s a 4 star hotel right on Lake Eibsee with spa serves that’s worth the splurge. It can be seen there across the lake. Prices start at around 200 € per night for double occupancy.
Hotel am Badersee
It’s just 3.4 km from Eibsee and I’ll let the photo speak for itself!
7 km Boasting an altitude of 1,705 metres, the Hochalm mountain pasture is a popular hiking and day-trip destination. Alpspitzbahn – 4,300 feet
Zugspitze Mountain accommodations
There are some mountain huts on Zugspitze that take overnight guests. Here are a few of my favorites: (these can’t be booked at Booking.com so just Google search them)
- Höllentalangerhütte, 6-km hike from parking in Hammersbach, this simple seasonal lodge on a rugged alpine slope is an 8-km hike from Eibsee lake and an 11-km hike from the Zugspitze
- Jubiläumsgrathütte (Höllentalgrathütte) you’ll be rouging it but it looks kind of fantastic!
- Knorr Hut, bed down among mountains dates from 1855,
- Iglu-Dorf – Zugspitze wooden Igloos? They look like large wine barrels tipped over on their sides to me!
If you follow my blog you may already know that Bavaria is my absolute favorite area of Germany. It is quintessential Germany and the opportunities for exploring are endless. If you’re on the fence about spending more time in Bavaria just do it! and be sure to add this Zugspitze Eibsee day to the top of your list!
More fun things to add to your Germany Itinerary
Ehrenberg Castle and Highline 179 Suspension Bridge
Just 26 miles away, in Austria, are some dreamy castle ruins and for those of you with nerves of steel, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Check out my post here:
Ehrenberg Castle Ruins, and Highline 179 Suspension Bridge, Reutte Austria
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