The best ski resorts in Germany are spread throughout the European Alps, as well as some recommended slopes in the centre of the country. With excellent facilities, gondolas, and ski lifts, a winter break in Germany is safe for the whole family. Ski resorts here go to great lengths to provide ski runs for all levels, from novices to experienced skiers. There’s also a diverse range of activities to try without the need for skis, including tobogganing, hiking and ice skating.

    If you’re looking for a base for your next winter trip to Germany, consider our list below, which contains many of the best places for a day on the slopes followed by an evening of dining and après ski.

    1

    Zugspitze - Garmisch Partenkirchen

    Germany’s highest ski slopes offer reliable snow

    Garmisch Partenkirchen, south of Munich in the Bavarian Alps, contains over 100 km of pistes across 3 separate mountains. This includes Zugspitze, which is the highest ski resort in the country at just under 3,000 metres tall. The combination of area and altitude makes Garmisch Partenkirchen one of the most reliable ski destinations in Germany, and great for groups of mixed ability.

    Panoramic views of Austria and Germany ensure this region is a popular destination for non-skiers, who can enjoy rock climbing, go for a hike, or visit the Olympic Stadium that was used for the 1936 Winter Olympics. Regular World Cup ski competitions held in Garmisch Partenkirchen mean there are plenty of challenging runs for experienced skiers and fun for spectators too.

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    2

    Winterberg

    A convenient weekend ski resort in West Germany

    Winterberg is a popular ski resort in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. Although this mountainous area lacks the height of the European Alps – the ski slopes are no more than 850 metres high – it’s a convenient destination for skiing and snowboarding if you’re travelling from the large cities in West Germany. A journey from Frankfurt, Cologne or Dusseldorf to the slopes of Winterberg takes little more than 2 hours.

    The total ski area is made up of 34 groomed runs covering 3 mountainsides, with 20 lifts to take you up to them. There are plenty of snow-making machines here so you will be able to enjoy the main runs regardless of snowfall. Fourteen of the pistes also have floodlights to allow skiing way past sunset. The majority of pistes are blue and red runs, making this an excellent place to learn to ski.

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    3

    Berchtesgadener Land

    Skiing and snowboarding in the Bavarian Alps

    Berchtesgadener Land contains 5 different ski resorts straddling the Austrian border. If you’re looking for a base while in the region, choose the romantic village of Schönau am Konigsee. There's a lift to take you directly to Jenner – the largest ski resort in the area – along with a cluster of restaurants and après ski to enjoy once you’ve finished skiing for the day. A lift pass gives you access to 30 ski lifts and over 40 km of groomed ski runs. 

    Besides skiing and snowboarding, you can explore Berchtesgaden National Park, which is beautiful even in winter. Wrap up warm and take a trip to Lake Konigsee, followed by a hike to a nearby cave, nicknamed the Eiskapelle (Ice Chapel). The otherworldly ice patterns in the cave are the result of a collapsed glacier.

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    4

    Oberstdorf - Nebelhorn

    A diverse range of winter activities

    Nebelhorn is the largest ski resort in the Oberstdorf region of Bavaria, around 2 hours south of Munich. Some of the finest black runs in the German Alps can be found here, including the country's longest downhill run, measuring 7.5 km. Plenty of experienced skiers and snowboarders are attracted by the challenging pistes, but beginners have green and blue runs to practice on.

    The Oberstdorf region has 130 km of slopes and 75 km of cross-country ski tracks, attracting downhill and Nordic skiers. The size and variety of winter sports available here is among the biggest draws of a trip, with skibobbing, tobogganing, snow tubing, ice skating and curling all available. Measuring 2,224 meters at the summit, Nebelhorn has regular snowfall from late December into April, and stunning views across the Bavarian Alps year-round.

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    5

    Reit im Winkl

    A wooded winter wonderland in southern Germany

    The beautiful Bavarian town of Reit im Winkl sits in the Chiemgau Alps. It has 2 separate ski resorts to choose from: Winklmoos-Alm and Skigebiet am Benzeck. Each mountain offers something different. Winklmoos-Alm is best for experienced skiers and snowboarders thanks to its range of challenging pistes and snow park with kickers and rails. Skigebiet am Benzeck is best for beginners, or anyone interested in fun snow activities like tubing or tobogganing. The wooded hillsides of this region are popular for glade skiing and Nordic skiing, with several cross-country paths above 1,000 metres.

    Reit im Winkl borders the Tyrol region of Austria and enjoys many of the same regional specialities, such as Heuschnaps, along with the best of Bavarian cuisine.

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    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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