That beats everything: up to the mountain heights and not shed a drop of sweat! Well, mountain railways make it possible: anyone who doesn't want to hike up steep paths can also enjoy the summit this way. Enjoy the view and the world of the mountains and stop off in a rustic hut! Seven attractive tips
7 Top Mountain Cable Cars in Bavaria
Really great: Zugspitze
The Zugspitze above Garmisch-Partenkirchen is Germany's highest mountain at 2,962 metres, the border with Tyrol has run across its western summit since 1766 and it can be reached by four mountain railways: the Tyrolean Zugspitzbahn by gondola and three railways in Bavaria. The "Bavarian Zugspitzbahn" was completed as early as 1930 and runs from Grainau as a rack-and-pinion railway up to the glacier station (2,588 metres) on the Zugspitzplatt, from where the gondola of the "Gletscherbahn" takes you to the top station.
From Lake Eibsee, in turn, the new, spectacular "Zugspitze cable car" has been floating towards the summit since 2017, with two cabins for 120 people each. It overcomes a height difference of 1,945 metres in one section – a world record. The panoramic view from the observation deck is breathtaking, you can see four hundred peaks in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. And, of course, the nearby Zugspitz summit cross. It was replaced by a replica in 1993; the battered original is on display in the Werdenfels Museum in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Culinary delights are available in the ultra-modern "Panorama 2962" restaurant and the "Münchner Haus" Alpine Club hut. The adventure museum on the Tyrolean side provides information about the Zugspitze. A special tip is the Zugspitze round trip: up by cogwheel and glacier railway, down by cable car.
Accessible by train
Family peak: Mount Wank
Desire, mood or physical condition determine how you get to the Mount Wank (1,780 metres): climb on foot (a good 1,000 metres in altitude, moderately difficult, about four hours walking time, start at 750 metres), hike only up to or from the middle station of the Wankbahn (at 1,175 metres) or float all the way up.
The panoramic mountain belongs to the Estergebirge and is located in the north-east of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The Wank offers fantastic panoramic views of the Wetterstein Mountains with Zugspitze and Alpspitze, the Ester, Ammer and Karwendel Mountains and down into the valley to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Loisach River. The beauty: instead of rugged, steep rock faces, a long summit plateau invites you to linger.
Families with younger and older children, senior citizens, people seeking peace and quiet and nature lovers can spend cosy hours in "Bergeshöh". A playground designed close to nature is fun for children, a relatively level path circles the summit plateau, and resting benches serve for relaxing. The "Sonnenalm" mountain restaurant with its large terrace or the "Wankhaus" Alpine Club hut a few metres away invite you to stop for a bite to eat.
Accessible by train and bus
Ascent and journey through time all at once. The small aerial cableway went into operation in 1953 as Germany's first fully automatic cableway without a car attendant. Its two cabins are each designed for up to four (standing) passengers. In the south of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it carries passengers near the entrance to the Partnachklamm gorge in Wildenau up to the hotel "Das Graseck – my mountain hideaway", formerly a royal Bavarian forester's lodge, at an altitude of 900 metres. A proud 150 metres difference in altitude!
From the "mountain station" there are many possibilities for excursions, easy tours such as to the upper entrance of the Partnachklamm gorge, to the Partnach- or Kaiserschmarrn-Alm or in one hour to the summit of the Eckbauer – with a restaurant and a magnificent view. More challenging tours are the hikes to the Schachenschloss or through the Reintal to the Bock-, Reintalanger- and Knorrhütte and even further to the Zugspitz summit.
Accessible by train and bus.
das-graseck.de (only in German)
To the snow grouses: Karwendelbahn
The Karwendel, a mountain range in the Northern Limestone Alps, is the largest contiguous nature reserve in the Alps. It measures 45 kilometres from west to east and 30 kilometres from north to south. Mittenwald lies at 900 metres on the western edge. From there, the Karwendel cable car which has two gondolas for 25 people each floats up to the top station, which is below the Westliche Karwendelspitze (2,385 metres) at 2,244 metres.
There you should definitely visit the nature information centre. It looks like a giant telescope and juts out over the abyss, the view is breathtaking! Inside, changing exhibitions provide information about the mountain world. At the back, in the so-called Karwendel pit, with a bit of luck you can observe the rare ptarmigans that have made their home there.
The mountain station with restaurant and sun terrace is the ideal starting point for hikes of all levels of difficulty up to via ferrata. For families, we recommend the panoramic circular trail, which can be completed in about an hour.
Accessible by train and bus
Jack of all trades: Wendelstein
The Wendelstein is located in the Mangfall Mountains and rises 1,838 metres to the east of Schliersee. Since 1912 it has been accessible from Brannenburg in the Inn valley by the Wendelstein rack railway, the oldest active rack railway in Bavaria, and since 1970 from Bayrischzell-Osterhofen by the Wendelstein cable railway. The mountain stations are each about 100 metres below the summit, to which an easy path leads up.
The best thing to do is to combine both cable cars as a round trip: uphill with one, downhill with the other. The Wendelstein bus ring line brings you back to the starting point. The summit region of the Wendelstein is, apart from the fantastic view of the Wilder Kaiser, Rofan, Karwendel, Großglockner, Großvenediger, Wetterstein and more, packed with attractions: a mountain inn with a large terrace; the "Gacher Blick" viewing platform; a cave, which must have been formed before the Alps opened up and was turned into a show cave; a play area and a place to rest and have a snack; a church for masses and weddings; and an exhibition on the Wendelstein railway as well as an observatory (advance reservation required).
Accessible by train (cable car) and train and bus/walking (rack railway).
Departed: Stümpfling and Taubenstein
The region around the Spitzingsee (at just under 1,100 metres) in the Schliersee mountains invites you to go mountain hiking, climbing or just to relax in summer. You can enjoy beautiful views, colourful mountain meadows, the lake while swimming or boating and cosy mountain huts.
Most of the tours in the area, which is up to 1,800 metres high, are easy to moderately difficult, there is something for everyone. Those who like it easy can be carried up by a mountain railway and start their tour at the top. In the east, for example, the Taubenstein cable car takes guests up to the Rotwand area. From the mountain station with the "Gipfelstüberl" (at 1,612 metres, not at the summit of the 1,692-metre Taubenstein) start hiking trails such as the one to the nearby Alpine Club hut "Taubensteinhaus" (1,565 metres) or the panoramic trail to the Rotwand (1,884 metres) and to the Rotwandhaus (1,737 metres).
In the west, the Stümpfling chairlift floats up to the "Jagahütt'n am Stümpfling" (1,466 metres). You can also reach the mountain inn with the Sutten chairlift from the Rottach valley on the Tegernsee side. An attraction for the whole family: from the "Jagahütt'n" you can jet down into the valley on mountain carts (non-motorised go-carts for downhill runs) on a three-and-a-half-kilometre track. Especially for children: They will enjoy the adventure playgrounds at the "Taubensteingipfelstüberl" and the "Jagahütt'n".
Accessible by train and bus.
Nostalgia Trip: Laberbergbahn
A ride on the Laberbergbahn in Oberammergau is a nostalgic pleasure. The two-cable circulating railway was built in 1957 and takes you up to the 1,684-metre high Laber, the local mountain of the Passion play town. There are four gondolas fixed to the carrying cable at intervals of 1,000 metres. One gondola has room for a maximum of eleven (standing) people.
For passengers to get on and off, one gondola stops at each of the mountain and valley stations, while the other two gondolas wait halfway down, the entire cable car stops for the change of passengers! Once at the top, you can look north into the lake-rich Alpine foothills as far as Munich, and from east to south to west to the impressive mountains and peaks of the Ester and Wetterstein ranges and the Ammergau Alps. Especially enjoyable from the sun terrace of the mountain restaurant "Die Laberei".
Numerous hiking trails start at the mountain station, for example in different variations down to Oberammergau or to Ettal. A circular trail leads to the Ettaler Mandl, a striking, 1,633-metre-high rocky peak, and back again. The Laber is also a well-known starting point for paragliders and hang-gliders. If you are brave, you can venture piggyback into the Ammergau skies with a pilot on a tandem paraglider.
Accessible by train and bus.