97km (60 miles) SW of Munich, 117km (73 miles) SE of Augsburg

You might come to these two side-by-side villages that make up Germany’s top Alpine resort to ski, to hike, to climb, or simply to gaze at some spectacular mountain scenery. A lot of European yuppies and aristocratic types also come here just to be seen, because making a wintertime appearance is Garmisch is still de rigueur in some social circles. Unless you plan on strapping on a pair of skis to test your mettle on a high-altitude run, the biggest thrill you’re likely to have is ascending the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, via cog railway and cable car. For that matter, seeing country folk in traditional dress, or mountain chalets bedecked with window boxes, or cattle plodding through the village lanes can be a bit of a thrill, too. Garmisch-Partenkirchen makes a nice way station on your travels between the Romantic Road towns to the north and Ludwig’s castles, just to the west of here.Footloose on the hohenwege

Alpine hiking is a major summertime attraction in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. People come from around the world to roam the mountain paths (called Hohenwege, or “high ways”), enjoy nature, and watch animals in the forest. A network of funiculars and cable cars ascend to various points in the mountains where you can hike and admire the panoramic views.

An easily accessible destination is the 1,240m (4,070-ft.) Eckbauer peak, which lies on the southern fringe of Partenkirchen. You can take a chairlift to the top, have a drink at the Berggasthof (a guesthouse or cafe, usually in a high-altitude and rural location) and in less than an hour make the descent on relatively easy trails through a forest. The cable car departs year-round from the Eckbauerbahn (tel. 08821/3469; www.eckbauerbahn.de), adjacent to the ski stadium in Garmisch. A round-trip fare costs 12€ for adults, 7€ for children ages 6 to 16, and free for children 5 and under.

The rugged Alpspitz region begins about 1.6km (1 mile) southwest of Garmisch. The Kreuzeckbahn carries you up and across a rugged landscape to the lowest station of the Hochalm cable car, which then takes you up to a 1,050m-high (6,500-ft.) summit called Osterfelderkopf. The hiking trails skirt areas of wildflowers, unusual geologic features, and lush alpine meadows. Return to Garmisch on the Alpspitzbahn, a scenic 10-minute descent above gorges, cliffs, and grassy meadows. Cable cars run year-round approximately every half-hour 8:30am–4:30pm (Mar–June until 5pm, July–Aug until 5:30pm). Round-trip fare 21€ adults, 16€ kids 6–15.

Another hearty hike is through the Partnachklam, a gorge with a roaring stream at the bottom and sheer cliff walls rising on either side of the trail. Take the Graseck Seilbahn from its departure point at the bottom of the gorge, less than 1km (1/2 mile) south of Garmisch’s ski stadium, and get off at the first station. The 3-minute cable car ride costs 6€ per person each way and operates from 7am to 10pm, midnight on weekends.

The tourist office supplies maps and info on these and other routes.