Roughly 10,000 years and vast amounts of water have carved out the natural wonder we now know as Partnachklamm or Partnach Gorge. Its origins began before the last ice age when a small rivulet slowly cut into the hard limestone. Over the centuries, that small trickle of water became the Partnach River and has carved steep rock walls in the gorge rising 80 meters in height. Partnachklamm is a secluded, oft-recommended attraction renowned for its breathtaking beauty.
How to Get to Partnachklamm
The gorge is located south of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. It is about a 15-minute journey by car, 40 minutes by bus, and 1 hour via walking from the town. It’s easy enough to get to Partnachklamm by car using map apps.
The bus to Partnach Gorge will take you most of the way. It’s easiest to board at the main bus station near the Postbank Filiale. Board a green Line 2 bus heading towards Klinikum and get off at Skistadion. It’s still a 1.8km walk from the bus stop to the gorge, which will take around 20-30 minutes.
Once you get to the Skistadion Olympic stadium, follow Wildenauer Street. There will be signs along the way with Partnachklamm on them and time estimates. This “Wanderweg” will follow the Partnach River all the way to the Partnachklamm ticket desk.
If you intend to hike to Partnach Gorge, you’re likely coming straight from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen train station. You’ll start on Bahnhofstraße. Get onto Partnachauenstraße, which follows the Partnach River. This street has some information boards about geology and important rocks with special labels.
Cross the river at either the first bridge (on Schornstraße) or the one after it, the Partnachsteg bridge. Turn right after crossing whichever bridge and follow the walking path next to the river. This path will lead to the Skistadion Olympic stadium, after which you can follow the directions above from the bus stop.
Admission Price & Opening Hours of Partnachklamm
The regular ticket price of Partnach Gorge is €7.50 for adults. If you show the guest card you received from your accommodation, you can get a €1 discount. The children’s price is €3, and even dogs must pay admission of €2. The only ones getting into Partnachklamm for free are those visiting on their birthday. You can buy tickets from the ticket desk on-site, the automated machines in the area, or online.
Partnach Gorge is open all year. The opening hours are from 8 am to 8 pm from June to September and 8 am to 6 pm from October to May.
What to See at Partnachklamm
All the photos online show Partnach Gorge on a sunny day in the summer, but we came on a rainy day in spring. Here’s what it will look like if the weather sucks so you can decide if it’s still worth seeing.
The way through the gorge is 700 metres in length. It follows the river, going through cave tunnels and low-hanging rock shelves. The path sticks to one side only, and there is never a river crossing. There are a couple of small waterfalls to admire from just metres away.
The route through Partnachklamm is flat. It is appropriate for children, dogs and people of all fitness levels. You should still wear sneakers or shoes with good grips on the soles. Even on a sunny day, expect some slick on the concrete from the spray. If it’s raining, prepare to get dripped on. There were several points where there was curtain of water runoff that we had to duck under quickly. The rain did have one advantage though: the Partnach River was much more powerful, rushing through the gorge in the deafening roar.
The iron bridge at Partnachklamm is a big draw, but it was closed for maintenance work during our visit. There is a section of the old bridge at the pub mentioned below complete with dents. An info board gives the details on the history of the bridge and what happened to cause the damage.
Not surprisingly, the route through Partnachklamm is straight through. There is another turnstile at the other end of Partnach Gorge as some visitors enter from the south. You do not need to leave this way. There’s nothing stopping visitors from walking back through the gorge and exiting through the main entrance turnstile. In fact, I would recommend doing this if you want to get back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen as quickly as possible. Leaving through this south exit will add extra time and walking to your route.
Facilities at Partnachklamm
I saw two locations for toilets at Partnach Gorge. The first is next to the ticketing desk. There are three separate, private rooms. There’s a sitting toilet fully stocked with paper and a nifty all-in-one sink contraption dispensing water, soap and hot air. There is also a small toilet at the other end of the gorge past the turnstile. We didn’t exit that way, so I can’t give any details.
Restaurants at Partnachklamm
There is an open-air pub next to the path just before the turnstile at the main entrance in the north. From the menus hanging outside, I think they only serve drinks. We would have loved to stop here, but there was still no staff working by the time we left the gorge at 10:30 am. This pub might only be open during the summer season from June to September, or it opens at a more appropriate beer-drinking hour.
Hikes from Partnachklamm to Garmisch-Partenkirchen
There are several hikes from Partnach Gorge’s south exit that you can do if you have extra time and energy. All the ones I will talk about will lead back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but you can create your own route using aids like OpenStreetMap.
The Hoher Weg way is the simplest trail to take if you want to beeline back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen but don’t want to backtrack through Partnach Gorge. Follow the road from Partnachklamm’s south exit. You need to cross two small bridges over the river fork. The path will zigzag until you see the Partnachalm restaurant. Walk past the building and turn right so you are now walking north in the Hoher Weg. This trail will eventually link up with Wildenauer Street, which you can follow back into town.
This route is a good option if you want to stop at a restaurant during the hike. Follow the road from the gorge’s south exit until there is the option to turn left off the path. If you get to the bridges, you have gone too far. This trail will eventually pass the Kaiserschmarrn-Alm restaurant. Further onward, there is the Das Graseck Hotel and its in-house restaurant. There is a cable car station next to the hotel where you can take the Graseckbahn down to the Partnachklamm parking lot if you are tired by this point. Otherwise, continue on the trail and don’t turn off. You will eventually reach Hanneslabauer, another option for food and drink. After this, it’s a short walk to Wildenauer Straße, the main road back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
The Eckbauer route is the longest and possibly the most challenging option. Follow the directions in the Vodergraseck route until you get to Das Graseck. Once you reach the hotel, there is a path that turns right. Take this option, and keep on this road until there is a option that turns left up the mountain. The trail upwards is very zigzaggy on OpenStreetMap, which means that it’s probably very steep. There are no branching paths on this mountain trail until you reach the top of Eckbauer. There is cable car station up here. You can take the Eckbauerbahn down to the Skistadion Olympic stadium or do an epic hike that eventually ends at the Sommerrodelbahn at the edge of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Partnachklamm is full of natural beauty and is worth visiting. With the mountains everywhere, the gorge is a drastic change of scenery. Even though it was raining, our visit wasn’t too cold or miserable. It would have been nice if we could go on the iron bridge, but despite the disappointments, I don’t regret the time, effort or cost we spent to visit Partnach Gorge.