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Garmisch and Pitztal Valley

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
A few weeks ago I picked up some very sensibly priced flights to Munich for half term (from 11th Feb) and I'm now looking at organising the rest of the trip, we'll be travelling with our kids aged 6 & 8.

A quick search found the Pitzis Kinderhotel in the Pitztal valley thats currently being renovated after the previous owners went bust. We arrive in Munich at 8:35pm which even if there are no travel delays would too late to make it to the Pitztal Valley. The route from Munich is over the Fern Pass and an overnight stop in Garmisch looks possible; if all goes to plan would hope to arrive around 11:30pm and would leave a fairly short and scenic the following day. We'd have a hire car and will get chains if the forecast looks like they might be needed.

Looking for advice from those that know the area (Previoulsy done Innsbruck - St Anton and several trips from Munich via Kufstein to other parts of Austria)

1. Is Garmisch a good choice for an overnight stop and reachable in all but the worst conditions?
2. Is it worth spending a day on the slopes in Garmisch on Sunday before heading over the Fern Pass?
3. Any recommendations for hotels in Garmisch or other stop offs?
4. The Pitztal Valley has 3 areas, one of which is a glacier and connected to a second area at the base station, the 3rd area is Hochzeiger which is a 10-15 minute journey from the hotel. The drive doesn't really bother me and comments on http://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=2008179&highlight=hochzeiger#2008179 are positive, a more recent view of the area would be useful especially if it's suitable for kids (both skied before). There's a free lift pass for under 10's if you buy an adult pass so I'm guessing they are trying to target families.
5. Ischgl, Fiss and St Anton look to be reachable in 45-60 mins from the hotel, are there any other areas nearby which would be worth a visit? We'd probably only make one trip on the last Saturday when the kids are not in ski school or Sunday before flying back late in the evening.

Any thoughts would be very welcome.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I would have thought that Garmisch will be busy and expensive in season. The skiing is apparently very spread out and many snowheads advise against going there (especially if you are marshalling kids). I've always been put off whenever I've mentioned it.

Mittenwald is a nice little town just down the road.

The drive down to Bad Tolz, then through the lakes is a really nice route in daylight if you're not in a hurry. We go that way to Seefeld quite often. That's about 40 minutes on from Garmisch and I can recommend hotels there.

Going to Kufstein and along the motorway is as good an option as any other especially if you know Sue's detours in case it's busy. Perhaps a stop somewhere between Rosenheim & Kufstein?

clarky999 will be along soon to recommend nearby resorts to try for a day.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Can answer re Garmisch. It was an easy drive from Munich (we went for a long weekend) - no major hills or windy roads from what I can remember. We stayed here: http://www.hostel2962-garmisch.com/english/zimmer.php which would be fine for an overnight stop. Certainly not fancy, but did the job (we splashed out and had an ensuite double Laughing ). It was a ~15 min walk away from the centre of Garmisch itself. We had a lovely Italian meal here http://www.ristorante-renzo.de/ which is at the end of the street, but you would be wise to book.

We really enjoyed skiing in Garmish - easy to park at the bottom of either the Hausbergbahn or the Kreuzekbahn (at the bottom of the Kandahar run).
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I love Garmisch just stick to the main area where the downhill run is and you will have a great time, we stayed at the Graseck, but that was before it was renovated. It is at the top of an old gondola just for the hotel it used to be reasonable but looks much fancier since the refurb. I love Garmish, I have only done 4/5 weekends there for FIS races and keep promising I will go back but never get round to it.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I loved Garmisch too, we brought our little ones to learn to ski there, the area is lovely and there is quite a bit of skiing for all levels but it is easy to ski out. Lermoos isn't very far away and erwald is also close so you can choose where to ski. If you like a fast run top to bottom the Kandahar is a wonderful run.
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Munich locals flock to Garmisch on the weekend or public holidays.

It is good for a weekend trip. But not fun in the busy season.

Brits tend to visit W*nk Mountain and the W*nkbahn.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@simonbaddeley

The hotel looks nice and is near the motorway which is always good. The review of the Pitztal resorts was from me some years ago and it'll be interesting to hear whether anyone has actually been there since. If you are visiting with 2 younger children during a busy week then visiting the smaller resorts would seem to be a great choice. As well as the 3 in Pitztal you also have a tiny area just outside Imst that is probably set up mainly for younger children (maybe good for the first day), Oetz which is really easy to access from the main road and has a nice slightly bigger (but still smallish area), and Zams (small too) which is again really easy to access from the main road and a good choice for kids. I'd probably recommend keeping just to these based on your circumstances. Never been to ski in Garmisch but it is a nice little town. Why would you travel that way from Munich instead of the easy route along the motorway (with the young kids)? If you were coming from the Innsbruck direction I'd maybe recommend Oberperfuss as a good family choice. The ski resorts around Erhwald are nice and friendly and definitely an alternative to Garmisch if you choose that route as others have mentioned. I wouldn't recommend travelling back over the pass during the weeks' holiday though as the options I've mentioned are far easier to access. It'll be nice to hear your experiences once you return wherever you decide to visit!?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
First of all you mentioned about snow chains...if you want to go to Austria (and even Germany in Winter) your hired car MUST have winter tyres. Or you mean a car with winter tyres and extra chains???? but without winter tyres it is not possible...
As regards as Garmisch Vs Ehrwald etc. Well to be honest i found the resorts of the Tiroler Zugspitzarena better as Garmisch. Especially Ehrwald and Lermoos are pretty good for families. On the other hand Garmisch is a little big biger , it is a small town, and maybe thats pass better if you will arrive at 11.30 pm (there is also McDonalds etc). But skiing in Tiroler Zugspitzarena it is better (my opinion). If your kids are really good, and can follow you in black slopes then Garmisch worth a try. Kadahar slope is really nice
As regards as the resorts in Pitztal. First of all i think there is a ski pass for the whole vally (Hochzeiger, Pitztaler Gletscher & Rifflsee and Imst).
I didnt like Rifflsee to be honest.
But Pitztal is my favorite Glacier, and if there is not damned cold a couple of slopes are really easy and good also for kids
But definitely Hochzeiger is a more Family-ski resort.
If you are based in Pitztal i think it is not worth a visit to other resorts excepts these four. You will loose too much time in driving, parking, take boots, wear boots etc
I think the four ski areas in the valley are enought for a week. And you also have a glacier if weather is not OK for the lower resorts.
If , however , you want to go a little bit furher, and since you have kids and a car, then Serfaus Fiss Ladis is a MUST
Probably the best family ski resort in Austria
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@simonbaddeley, I live south of Munich just 45 minutes away from Garmisch so spend a good deal of time there both summer and winter. The only downside to it is that it can get quite busy at weekends, but I usually get around that by going down for half a day on Sundays. Around midday a lot of Garmischers stop skiing and a lot of the Münchener retire to the restaurant!

1. Is Garmisch a good choice for an overnight stop and reachable in all but the worst conditions?
The road over to GAP is flat and always open. Conditions would have to be atrocious for it to be closed. Other than in hurricane conditions I've never experienced that.

2. Is it worth spending a day on the slopes in Garmisch on Sunday before heading over the Fern Pass?
Yes. Garmish is great for a couple of days, especially the Kandahar World cup run and the other valley runs down to both Kreuzeck and Hausberg are brilliant.
If off piste is your thing then there are in fact some quite special things to do, but you have to know where to look.

3. Any recommendations for hotels in Garmisch or other stop offs?
Can't recommend any, I never use any.

4. Can't comment

5. St.Anton Serfaus/Fiss/Ladis and Ischgl are definitely worth a visit, but you won't get very much covered in a day. Worthwhile spending a whole week ( or more ) in any of those places.
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@turms, all cars rented at that time will already include winter tyres as it is a legal requirement in Germany, you cannot get a car without them. So the chains will be an extra precaution - I would say they probably wouldn't be required but nothing wrong with being cautious once you know the conditions on arrival.
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Thanks.

Looking again at google maps it's only a few minutes extra to go via Kufstein- when I first looked there must have been some traffic problems since it was quite a bit quicker via Garmisch. This does open some other options. @musher, @Whitegold, @Steilhang, I'm slightly put off a day Garmish if it is going to be busy, guess it'll depend on where I can find a suitable hotel for the night and even then can play by ear if it looks like it is going to be busy. Maybe Zugspitz Arena or Lermoos might be less busy at the weekend, our flight from Munich is not until 21:35 on Sunday so it could be an option on the way back.

@AthersT, will rent from Hertz because their gold club membership allows you to skip the hire desk and go straight to the car park, the rental includes winterisation but noticed some other operators charge which seemed odd given the legal requirement.

@turms, the Löwe/Bär looks like the place to stay in Surfaus, but is a bit beyond our budget!
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@simonbaddeley, personally I think it is the fact that Hertz want you to think they are putting in more effort than others and you get more for the price. I've rented from companies who advertise it and from those who don't also both had winter tyres. German and Austrian based car hire places seem very hot on this in comparison with Northern Italian based rental places.

Edit - "Winterisation" - Seems to be a term used for doing something that they have to do anyway as it is the law. Similar to if they started to advertise "Seatbelts".


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Thu 13-10-16 11:51; edited 1 time in total
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Couple of things, traffic back into Munich can be awful on a Sunday evening so make sure to allow plenty time to get back to Munich Airport.

Also there are a few companies that offer winterisation and the only time we found car hire desks really busy is on Saturday morning.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Couple of things, traffic back into Munich can be awful on a Sunday evening so make sure to allow plenty time to get back to Munich Airport.

Also there are a few companies that offer winterisation and the only time we found car hire desks really busy is on Saturday morning.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@simonbaddeley,
Don't listen to Whitegold, he'll have you skiing in Tignes wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@AthersT, I think you're right, would be very surprised if you could rent a car which isn't road legal, some companies still seem to charge though, Flizzr quote €18.68/day for 'Tyres suitable for winter' and €2.88/day for foreign use so probably worth avoiding.
@musher, could do a road trip stopping at as many ski resorts as possible on the way? Think I'll ditch that idea for now.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@AthersT : are you sure? winter tyres is a legal requirement in Austria. In Austria the law says that from 1 November until 30 April every car MUST have wintertyres
But the Straßenverkehrsordnung (the traffic law) in Germany says that "dass ein Kraftfahrzeug bei Glatteis, Schneeglätte, Schneematsch, Eis- oder Reifglätte nur mit Reifen gefahren werden darf, welche die in Anhang II Nr. 2.2 der Richtlinie 92/23/EWG beschriebenen Eigenschaften erfüllen."...that means that when the roads are icy, or with snow etc the car must have winter tyres. In Germany is a little bit "not clear" ... definitely you must have winter tyres when there is snow or ice etc on the road, but when the roads are clear it is not a must according to the law. That makes things with rental companies a little bit fozzy... few years ago in Munchen Airport a rental car firma tried to give me a car without winter tyres. When i insist that i want because i wanted to travel to Austria they gave me another car. However since 2012 i havent hired a car in Germany so maybe today the give cars only with winter tyres. But definitely must be clear

@ simonbaddeley : i know about the prices in SFL...i had also checked some hotels specialised to families but almost all of them are extremely expensive. And these in SFL are above all. Your kids are 6 and 8. Do you really want to go to Kinderhotel??? If you have a car you could consider some other options. e.g. you could find a nice appartment somewhere in Wagrain. The ski resorts are really good for kids, with the SkiAmade card or the Salzburgsuperskipass you have many really good ski resorts in an area of 15 to 30min drive, it will be cheaper as a kinderhotel, and many accommodation providers in Wagrain give you free entry pass for every day of your stay in Wagrain Wasserwelt .... if you will go for skiing every morning, and then at afternoon a couple of hours in pools (Wasserwelt) the kids gonna love it...
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
turms wrote:
@AthersT : are you sure? winter tyres is a legal requirement in Austria. In Austria the law says that from 1 November until 30 April every car MUST have wintertyres
But the Straßenverkehrsordnung (the traffic law) in Germany says that "dass ein Kraftfahrzeug bei Glatteis, Schneeglätte, Schneematsch, Eis- oder Reifglätte nur mit Reifen gefahren werden darf, welche die in Anhang II Nr. 2.2 der Richtlinie 92/23/EWG beschriebenen Eigenschaften erfüllen."...that means that when the roads are icy, or with snow etc the car must have winter tyres. In Germany is a little bit "not clear" ... definitely you must have winter tyres when there is snow or ice etc on the road, but when the roads are clear it is not a must according to the law. That makes things with rental companies a little bit fozzy... few years ago in Munchen Airport a rental car firma tried to give me a car without winter tyres. When i insisted that i want because i wanted to travel to Austria they gave me another car. However since 2012 i havent hired a car in Germany so maybe today the give cars only with winter tyres. But definitely must be cleared

@ simonbaddeley : i know about the prices in SFL...i had also checked some hotels specialised to families (i have also kids) but almost all of them are extremely expensive. And these in SFL are above all. Your kids are 6 and 8. Do you really want to go to Kinderhotel??? If you have a car you could consider some other options. e.g. you could find a nice appartment somewhere in Wagrain. The ski resorts are really good for kids, with the SkiAmade card or the Salzburgsuperskipass you have many really good ski resorts in an area of 15 to 30min drive, it will be cheaper as a kinderhotel, and many accommodation providers in Wagrain give you free entry pass for every day of your stay in Wagrain Wasserwelt .... if you will go for skiing every morning, and then at afternoon a couple of hours in pools (Wasserwelt) the kids gonna love it...
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@simonbaddeley, I would also advise against skiing in Garmisch it is intensely irritating in its lay out and there are massive queues at the main chair lift near to the kids / beginners zone. Ten drive to Garmisch is a piece of cake and will take you an hour or so depending on traffic/ roadworks around Munich. Plenty of accommodation in Garmisch and it is a pretty town. Rather spoilt perhaps by the American military 'family' resort on the outskirts.

Keep driving in my view. My brother and his kids (aged 7 & 5) had an excellent week in Wagrain last year and are going back this year. Family friendly, good skiing and pretty resort - his words not mine!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Snowsartre, @turms, thanks for the tip on Wagrain, will take a look.
@turms, I see where you're coming from re kinderhotels, we had a long weekend at Das Galtenberg in Alpbach 2 years ago which worked well and would have been my first choice for this trip but they are fully booked. The key advantages of the kinderhotels for us are the rooms have a separate kids bunk room, most have a pool/playrooms and the childcare, which we probably wouldn't use that much but it's nice to have a break from eating with the children for the odd evening. It's difficult to find other hotels which can provide the same. Self catering works best in my opinion if you're there with a larger group so cooking can be shared and the adults can take it in turns to go out in the evening.
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Be careful where you stay or go in Garmisch.

It is less safe than it used to be:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3840940/Street-fighting-vandalism-sexual-assault-Mayor-picturesque-German-ski-town-begs-help-tackle-explosive-refugee-crime-wave.html
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Just to be clear, the law in Austria is like that in Germany: winter tyres are only legally required in wintry conditions (from 1st November till 15th April). However, if you can't plan not to use the car in such conditions, that practically means you need winter tyres. Winter tyres are advisable anyhow for temperatures less than about 7°C. So again, it is better to have them. This link gives details of what is required in other European countries (in German). The ÖAMTC (the Austrian auto club) recommends getting written confirmation from car hire companies that they will supply winter tyres.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Whitegold wrote:
Be careful where you stay or go in Garmisch.

It is less safe than it used to be:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3840940/Street-fighting-vandalism-sexual-assault-Mayor-picturesque-German-ski-town-begs-help-tackle-explosive-refugee-crime-wave.html
yeah right. Last time I was there ( a week ago ) my bike kept losing grip cos of all the blood on the trails. And as for the streets in town... murder, just murder.
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