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Zugspitze from Reutte - Student Trip

We will be travelling with a group of students (11 people) to Reutte, Austria on one of the legs of our trip in late June, early July of this year. We will be utilizing the public transit system to get to the Zugspitze from Reutte and from the Zugspitze on to Munich. We would like to make the trip to the Zugspitze a day trip, so we'd leave Reutte in the morning, up the Zugspitze, summit hike, lunch, down and off to Munich for an evening arrival. We have secured lodging in both Reutte and Munich, so our questions stem from the logistics of a day trip with a large group and the secure storage of luggage while on the Zugspitze. Any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated. Our questions are as follows:

  1. What train, or train/bus combo would be the best to take to get us to the base of the Zugspitze where the cable car departs? If possible, please be specific, noting transfers and pros and cons of different modes of travel would be so very helpful.
  2. Approximate travel time from Reutte to Zugspitze and from Zugspitze to Munich?
  3. From which side would be the best to ascend the Zugspitze, Austria or Germany?
  4. What are the names of the towns where the on either side of the mountain that the cable cars depart?
  5. Is there anywhere specific that we would be able to store our luggage (high school kids, instructed to pack light, but who knows what they'll schlep along), possibly make arrangements with a hotel? I assume lockers would be too small?

Being a student trip, we are on a lean budget, so if there are any answers to our questions that have more budget friendly options, we'd love to hear them. Thanks!!

Posted by
19149 posts

German Rail runs a section of track, called the Ausserfernbahn, from Pfronten, in Germany, through the Tirol of Austria (Reutte), to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The trip takes about an hour. You can ride it with Bayern-Tickets, which will also cover your train from GaPa to Munich, but not the train/cable car on the mountain.

The Bayern-Ticket costs 23€ for the first person, 4€ more for each person up to 5 total, so you would need 3 Bayern-Tickets for the group of 11 (3 x 23€ + 8 x 4€ = 101€). Divide into 3 groups of 3 or 4 people. Have the "leader" of each group carry the Bayern-Ticket and print his name on the line on the ticket.

The station for the Zugspitzebahn is adjacent to the German Rail (Bahn) station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I would go up from the Garmisch side rather than from the Austrian town of Ehrwald because the stations in Garmisch are next to each other. The Zeilbahn (cable car) station in Ehrwald is a distance from the train station.

The Bahn station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen has Schließfächer (lockers) where you can store your bags. Here is a picture of typical lockers at a train station in Germany (these are in Füssen). The large lockers are pretty large.

The Bayern-Ticket is valid all day long on weekend days, but it is not valid for travel before 9 AM on workdays. According to the Bahn website, there is a train leaving Reutte at 9:01.

Posted by
12040 posts

Here's a better idea. Rather than stay in a ho-hum town like Reutte, base yourself in one of the much better towns immediately around the Zugspitze. Your idea of isolating a single day to make this trip could easily come to naught if weather doesn't cooperate. You would go through all that trouble just to see what clouds look like from the inside. Stay closer and you'll have greater flexibility. If it's cloudy, do something else that day. Solves the problem of where to put the luggage as well.

I would recommend staying in either Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the German side or Ehrwald on the Austrian side. A bunch of high school kids would probably prefer these infinitely over Reutte. From the German side, you would have the option of taking the cogwheel train all the way to the top or taking a short train ride to Eibsee and jumping on the cable car from there.

Posted by
7 posts

Great point about the weather. Our reasoning for staying in Reutte is that we'll have just arrived from Zurich, so they'll have had a taste of metropolitan Switzerland and want them to experience some of rural Bavaria. We want to tour the Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein Castles, as well as the castle ruins adjacent to Reutte (over the course of 2 days). Having not traveled through this region before, Reutte seemed a logical place to stay as it's close to Fussen and en route to the Zugspitze. Of course, everything looks simple on paper, but in reality can be a bit more complex. If you were planning on spending two days in the Fussen & Reutte area for castle touring and a taste of the Bavarian countryside, and wanted to hit the Zugspitze with a next stop in Munich (2 day visit), what would you're plan be to maximize the experience? Thanks again for the prompt response and the valuable info!!

Posted by
2920 posts


To answer your latest question, I'd stay in either Fuessen or Garmisch. Sorry, but Reutte would be my last choice in the area. My pick would be Fuessen.


Posted by
12040 posts

You keep saying "Bavarian countryside". Just checking, you're aware that Reutte is in Austria, correct?

I would still stay somewhere closer to the Zugspitze. The castles are more weather-neutral and you can easily visit them from Garmisch or Ehrwald. And castle ruins in Germany are kind of like 50's style nostalgia diners in the US. Although there isn't one in every town, you usually don't have to look far to find one.

And I repeat... staying in Reutte is like visiting New York City and lodging in Newark. The students will have a much better chance of meeting people their age in Garmisch.

Posted by
19149 posts

I've been through Reutte - changed trains in 2009 and walked around the town near the train station to find a place to have lunch. Not the prettiest town in the area. Kind of run-down.

I would prefer Pfronten, which is a few km up the line from Reutte, just over the border in Germany. It's a little farther from Füssen (25 min), but with the bus pass you get with your accommodations, the bus to the castles would be free. The train from Pfronten to Garmisch, the one that leaves Reutte at 9:01, leaves Pfronten too early to use the Bayern-Ticket to Reutte, but the fare to Reutte is only 4,30€. If you are planning on taking an earlier train to Garmisch (arriving before 9 AM) the regular fare from Pfronten to Garmisch is 12,90€, vs 9,70€ from Reutte.

Posted by
7 posts

Rick Steves' did an episode on the region and suggested checking out the ruins around Reutte. Knowing we want to head up the Zugspitze, Reutte is closer to the mountain than Fuessen and the lodging is cheaper (according to our findings), so Reutte made sense initially. It sounds like we should seriously rethink staying in Reutte. Tom's initial comment about the weather on the Zugspitze and the few other comments about Reutte's less than desirable attributes, made us think that staying at Garmisch-Partenkirchen would be a more pleasant option and than head up the mountain if the weather allows. However, the mountain is not our primary focus, rather we'd like to tour the Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein Castles, so maybe staying in Fuessen or Pfronten as Lee and Paul suggested would be a better option. If the weather is not favorable at the Zugspitze during our short two day window, we can still hit the Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein Castles, maybe some ruins, and then head toward Munich and leave out the Zugspitze. If the forecast looks favorable we can hop on the train for a day trip to the Zugspitze, fit in a castle tour one of the days and then head to Munich. Kind of like using the Fuessen/Pfronten area as a base camp. Thoughts?

Tom, Paul, Lee- thanks for the honest opinions, very helpful, keep 'em coming.

Posted by
19149 posts

Pfronten has it's own castle ruin, Falkenstein. It's on the mountain that separates Pfronten from the Füssen area. Falkenstein was the site of a medieval castle and was where Ludwig's planned to build his last (next?) castle. It's shown in a painting on the wall in Neuschwanstein. I'm not sure how much is the ruins of a previous castle and how much was early work on his new castle. I know he had already brought water to the site (this was the late 1800s). You can get to the ruins on a long road out of Pfronten Meilingen.

Posted by
154 posts

You will find that this area can take more time than I think you want to connect Reutte, the Zugspitze, and Munich using public transportation options. I would also try to organize it where you can go up the Austrian side and come down the German side. You could hire a minibus for the day who could pick you up, take you to the Zugspitze and then collect you on the German side. Rick recommends these companies in Reutte (from his Vienna, Salzburg and Tirol or Germany guidebooks).

STM Shuttle Service promises 24-hour service (mobile 0664-113-3277).
This car-rental agency also operates taxis. Car Rental: Reisebüro Köck rents cars at Mühlerstrasse 12 (tel. 05672/62233, [email protected]).

If neither of these work I would try contacting the Austrian Tourist Information Board to see if they have more specifics.

Otherwise with public transportation I wouldn't even try to make the Zugspitze a stop on your way to Munich from Reutte.

Posted by
19149 posts

"go up the Austrian side and come down the German side"

Other than just to say you did it, I can't imagine any reason to do this. And to have to pay a mini-van service to do it?

The Zugspitzebahn Bahnhof is right next to the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Bahnhof and there are lockers at the GaP Bahnhof where you can stash you luggage. From the Zugspitzebahn Bahnhof, you take a regular train to Grainau where you change (opposite ends of the platform) to the cog rail train. Get off the cog train at Eibsee and take the cable car to the top.

If you have to go up one side and down the other, go from Garmisch-Partenkirchen (after stashing your luggage in lockers), go up the German side from the Zugspitzebahn Bahnhof, come down the Austrian side. Take a bus from the Ehrwald Zugspitzbahn Talstation to the Ehrwald Bahnhof (about 5 min, 2,80€) or walk (3.3 km), then take the train back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (it will be included if you are using a Bayern-Ticket). The bus schedule from the valley station (Talstation) to the Bahnhof is irregular; there are buses leaving the Talstation at 11:05, 12:55, 13:05, 14:20, and 15:35. You can find schedules at Use Ehrwald Zugspitzbahn Talstation for the cable car valley station and Ehrwald Zugspitzbahn Bahnhof for the train station.

In 1988, I came out from Munich on the train, had lunch at the Bahnhof in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, went up the Zugspitze from GaP on the cable car, came back down and returned to Munich, all in one day. Reutte is an hour closer to Garmisch-Partenkirchen than is Munich, so should be easier from there.

In 2002, I went from near Oberstdorf, in the Oberallgäu, to Garmisch by train via Kempten and Reutte, spent several hours in Garmsich-Partenkirchen, then went on to Munich. I didn't go up the Zugspitze this time (been there, done that), but Oberstdorf to Reutte takes 2 hours. Add those two hours to the time we spent in GaP and I'm sure we had time to go up the Zugspitze.

I see no reason why you can't do Reutte to the Zugspitze to Munich in one day.