The Bavarian Alps: Places to Explore

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Garmisch, as it's more commonly known, is a bustling, year-round resort and spa town and is the undisputed capital of Alpine Bavaria. Once two separate communities, Garmisch and Partenkirchen fused in 1936 to accommodate the Winter Olympics. Today, with a population of 28,000, the area is the center of the Werdenfelser Land and large enough to offer every facility expected from a major Alpine resort. Garmisch is a spread-out mess of wide car-friendly streets, hordes of tourists, and little charm. The narrow streets and quaint architecture of smaller Partenkirchen make it a slightly better choice. In both parts of town pastel frescoes of biblical and bucolic scenes decorate facades.

Winter sports rank high on the agenda here. There are more than 99 km (62 miles) of downhill ski runs, 40 ski lifts and cable cars, and 180 km (112 miles) of Loipen (cross-country ski trails). One of the principal stops on the international winter-sports circuit, the area hosts a week of races every January. You can usually count on good skiing from December through April (and into May on the Zugspitze).

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