Ski and be seen
For serious skiers
With over 200km of runs and 89 lifts, the lofty Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany, keeps skiers of all abilities on their toes. And on the global scene it’s best known not just for its height (2,962m above sea level) but also for its professional ski race the Kandahar Downhill and the Alpine World Cup events that take place there.
THE VIBE: Smug. Well-informed Münchners come here for six months of the year as the snow on the glacial plateau is pretty much guaranteed from November to April. It’s just over an hour from the city by a train that drops you right at the foot of the chair lift.
THE SKIING: The Kandahar slope is a challenging prospect, so steep that part of it is called Free Fall.
THE LUNCH SPOT: Panorama 2962 (zugspitze.de) right at the top of the Zugspitze, for curry wurst, or a hot chocolate and slice of strudel with 360-degree views of Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Interiors are a sharp architectural surprise with clean lines and sweeping walls of glass.
WHERE TO STAY: Hotel Werdenfelserei (werdenfelserei.de), in the centre of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a mash-up of Alpine styling with an amazing roof-top spa. Before Christmas, the Obermühle Boutique Resort (hotel-obermuehle.de) also reopens. Expect traditional interiors, contemporary cuisine and a deliciously welcoming atmosphere.
WHAT TO WEAR: Peak Performance original zip hoodies under down-stuffed jackets from The North Face. It gets cold at the top. Pick up a helmet and goggles from Sunglasses by Pfendt Optic.
A weekend favourite with Munich locals, Alpenplus is a gathering of little ski villages (Brauneck, Wallberg, Spitzingsee and Sudelfeld) which, individually, are completely charming, and all together, with a joint lift pass, pack a thrillingly reliable punch. If the weather looks dodgy over Brauneck then head for Sudelfeld. If the pistes at Wallberg are starting to feel slushy, try Spitzingsee instead. Family friendly Brauneck is the place to get children started in the Kinderland. Spitzingsee has a big Funpark with boxes and kickers for freestyling. In Wallberg there’s a fantastic 6.5 km long toboggan route and Sudelfeld even has a World Cup snowboarding slope.
THE VIBE: Relaxed, low key. These are small resorts with no need for fancy frills.
THE SKIING: Night owls will love the floodlight run in Spitzingsee, the longest one in Germany.
THE LUNCH STOP: Cosy ski lodges abound, most serving rib-sticking comfort meals such as macaroni-and-cheese style käsespätzle, followed by kaiserschmarrn, a sweet shredded pancake pudding.
WHERE TO STAY: Five-star spa hotels around the Tegernsee and its local peak, Wallberg, include Bachmair Weissach (bachmairweissach.com), which has a great sushi restaurant and even a Japanese onsen for soaking sore muscles. Alternatively, there’s the Relais & Châteaux Park-Hotel Egerner Höfe (egerner-hoefe.de), which offers gourmet cuisine and super-stylish interiors.
WHAT TO WEAR: Superdry layers under one of German brand Wellensteyn’s quilted, fur-hooded parkas, and a pair of Timberland boots for an early or late season hike.
For fair-weather skiers
The closest Austrian ski spot to Munich, medieval Kitzbühel is pretty as a picture with its pastel-painted houses, cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages. It has a wonderful feeling of old-school glamour, helped by twinkling shop windows full of watches and jewellery. The only elephant in the room, bearing in mind this is a ski resort first and foremost, is the low altitude (the highest peak is 2,000m). Thankfully though, Kitzbühel links up with the SkiWelt, which has a vast terrain. Not quite Les Trois Vallees, but not far off. Kitzbuhel is also home to the fiercely steep Hahnenkamm downhill World Cup race.
THE VIBE: Ritzy glitzy. Because of the resort’s occasional lack of snow, there is a keen shopping scene, which some seem to take as seriously as the skiing.
THE SKIING: An intermediate skiers dream. Pistes are long, and there are plenty of them. When the powder is good, there are few places better. And having a go at the Hahnenkamm brings great bragging rights.
THE LUNCH STOP: The table to book is one at the Sonnbühel mountain hut (sonnbuehel.at). And if you’re off the mountain, then make for the Old Town’s Pano café (pano.coop) for sachertorte and sweet treats.
WHERE TO STAY: Design Hotel the Kitzhof (hotel-kitzhof.com) in town, or Hotel Zur Tenne (hotelzurtenne.com), a short walk to the Kitzbühel Hahnenkamm train station. There’s also the Rasmushof (rasmushof.at) in Kitzbühel’s best location: surrounded by the majestic Kitzbühel Südberge and right at the foot of the Hahnenkamm, in the finish area of the Streif.
WHAT TO WEAR: Sportalm of course – it was founded here. Bogner as a back-up and big shades from Sunglass Hut.
Plus, don’t miss a visit to nearby Ingolstadt Village, a member of The Bicester Village Shopping Collection, for its unrivalled selection of skiwear brands.