Skiing and Snowboarding
For those who enjoy skiing and snowboarding, Germany has a number of renowed resorts, many of which lie in the mountainous state of Bavaria. While the neighboring countries of Austria and Switzerland are well-known for their Alpine ski resorts, Germany too has destinations that transform themselves into a winter paradise. One of the most popular Alpine ski resort towns is Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which lies near Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze (elevation: 9,718 ft). The Rhön Mountains feature gentler slopes ideal for beginners, while the picturesque Black Forest has about 200 ski lifts that allow winter sports enthusiasts to experience a change of scenery.
While Bavaria contains the biggest ski resort, the Black Forest contains the oldest: Germany’s first ski tow was built in the Black Forest, and Germany’s oldest ski club was formed there in 1985.
Recommended ski destinations in Germany:
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen / Zugspitze
- Oberstdorf (Fellsdorf/Kleinwalserthal)
- Schwarzwald (Black Forest)
Cross-country skiing is another popular wintertime activity in Germany, particularly in the less mountainous regions of the north, where downhill skiing is not as common. But one of the most popular cross-country ski destinations still lies in Bavaria: the town of Oberammergau is home to more than 60 miles of cross-country trails that wind along old castles, monasteries and churches. But whether in the Black Forest or the Bavarian Alps, cross-country skiers can be sure to find a track along Germany’s snow-covered winter landscapes.
Each year, Germany also holds its biggest cross-country ski competition in Oberammergau/Ettal, Bavaria. This competition, called the “König Ludwig Lauf”, takes place annually during the first weekend in February and features a 50 km track and a 23 km track. Nearly 5,000 people participated in the 2013 tournament.
Recommended cross-country skiing destinations:
- Altenberg, Saxony
- Baden Baden, Baden-Württemberg
- Oberammergau, Bavaria
Snowtubing and Sledding
Many of Germany’s ski and snowboard resorts are also home to a number of prepared runs for sledding or snowtubing, both of which are popular past times for children who might not know how to ski or snowboard. Snowtubing runs are the rollercoasters of the winter: children and adults speed down the hills at about 40 mph into the valleys below.
Snowtubing runs can often be found near German ski resorts. The Allrounder Winterworld, however, features an indoor snowtubing facility that is open year-round.
Recommended snowtubing runs in Germany:
- Allrounder Winterworld
- Bayrischzell, Bavaria
- Bernau im Schwarzwald
One of the best ways to explore Germany’s magnificent wintertime landscapes is through showshoe hiking.
Snowshoes are longer and wider than traditional footwear, thereby distributing a person’s weight over a greater area and allowing them to more swiftly move across the snow without sinking into it. Snowshoes allow hikers and adventurers to explore territories they might otherwise be unable to, such as the depths of the snow-covered Bavarian Forest or untouched slopes in the Alps.
Snowshoeing is an easy way for visitors to explore Germany without participating in the more challenging and expensive sports of downhill skiing or snowboarding. Snowshoe hikers can explore a greater variety of Germany’s snow-covered wintertime landscapes, whether in high altitudes or deep forests.
Recommended snowshoe hiking destinations in Germany:
- Berchtesgadener Mountains, Bavaria
- Bavarian Forest
- Chiemgau / Reit im Winkl
- Fichtelgebirge, Bavaria
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen / Zugspitz Region, Bavaria
- Harz Mountains
- Oberstaufen, Bavaria
- Ruhpolding, Bavaria
Other Wintertime Activities
Germany is host to a number of unique wintertime activities that are practiced competitively. Ski jumping competitions frequently occur in mountainous regions, such as the New Year’s Ski Jumping Competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Additionally, Bavaria sometimes features sled racing competitions, called Hornschlittenrennen in German.