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The ski destinations you can reach by train from Germany

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
The ski destinations you can reach by train from Germany
There are plenty of ski resorts you can reach by train from Germany. Photo: Simon/Pixabay

One of the advantages of living in Europe is having access to a great transcontinental train network. This means even German residents who don't have a car can get out into the mountains to enjoy winter sports.


A sudden snowstorm that grounded planes and trains in Bavaria, and even brought some snow to Berlin, seemed like a good omen for skiing this winter in Europe. But in recent days the weather has warmed up again, leaving winter sport enthusiasts with fingers crossed (or thumbs held) for more cold storms to come.

An unfortunate irony about skiing is that it depends on cold winters and steady snowfall, but it is also an energy intensive hobby that, for many, requires long drives or even flights to mountain destinations. Those car and plane trips, of course, contribute to climate change that is already impacting skiing in the Alps.

For skiers that are concerned with their climate impacts, or simply for those who enjoy a car-free vacation, here's a few car-free ski destinations that you can take a train to from Germany.

EXPLAINED: How to plan a budget skiing holiday in Germany


With a number of ski towns that are just a few hours from Munich by train, and plenty of slopes above 2,000 metres, Austria is the ideal ski destination for day trips or weekend getaways. 

For travellers looking to stay in bigger cities, both Salzburg and Innsbruck have a number of ski resorts nearby. Some of them offer their own ski shuttles directly to and from the cities, whereas others can be reached on local buses and trains — which can be reserved via the ÖBB website.

But for those looking to stay closer to the slopes, there are plenty of places where you can arrange to sleep right at the base of a ski gondola. Austria's Gastein Valley, for example, is home to a number of small villages, each at the bottom of one of the local ski areas. As an added bonus, the region also has thermal baths like the Alpentherme Spa in Bad Hofgastein, which offers the best way to relax sore muscles after a long day of skiing. 

Snowboarding in the Alps.

Snowboarding in the Alps. Photo: Scros from Pixabay

The trip to Gastein Valley takes three and a half hours from Munich. Catch a train to Salzburg and then transfer to another train toward Klagenfurt. 

READ ALSO: How learning to ski helped me shake off my German winter blues



As opposed to its neighbour to the north, Slovenia isn't quite as well known (yet) as a ski destination, making it ideal for skiers looking to step off the beaten path. 

Coming from Germany, Slovenia takes a bit longer to get to, but in turn travellers are rewarded with friendly locals, beautiful views of mountain villages and alpine lakes, and of course stellar ski slopes. Also, lift tickets and accommodation are cheaper here compared to Austria or Germany.

Slovenia's best skiing is located in the Julian Alps, which are a couple hours north and west of the capital city of Ljubljana. Vogel is among Slovenia's better-known ski resorts, and it's easily accessible without a car because it offers a free ski shuttle from the nearby villages, which can be reached by trains and local buses. Bohinj, named for the beautiful lake nearby, has plenty of places to stay as well as local restaurants and shops.

Other ski resorts are accessible from Lake Bled, which is known to be an equally popular destination for swimming and trekking in the spring and summer months as well.

From Munich, catch a train to Salzburg and then transfer to a train toward Klagenfurt or Zagreb. There are buses from either Villach or Lesce-Bled that can take you to Bohinj in about an hour. The journey from Munich takes eight to ten hours in total.

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Italy is generally associated with summer trips to lakes or the coast, but the tall and jagged Italian Alps in the country's northern region also make for great skiing.

Val di Sole, a popular valley to see in the Dolomite Mountains, has an electric train that runs directly from Trento to a number of ski resorts. This makes car-free travel a cinch — just be sure to book accommodation that's walkable from any of the stops on the Dolomite Express line.

Several direct trains connect Trento and Munich each day. The journey takes four and half hours. 

The Western Alps

Considering skiing in Europe, France and Switzerland are top of mind for most. Boasting some of the highest peaks in mainland Europe, as well as some of the largest ski resorts by area, you can't go wrong with a ski trip to either of these countries. 

Compared with the other destinations listed here, both France and Switzerland are a bit more expensive. But those that visit tend to say it's worth it.

People ski in Switzerland.

People ski in Switzerland. Photo: Julita from Pixabay

Both France and Switzerland have a large number of train accessible ski resorts to choose from, and many more that can be reached with a connecting bus. This includes some of Switzerland's most famous resorts like Zermatt, Grindelwald or Saas-Fee.

It's also worth noting that online guides for planning your ski trip by train are easy to find for both countries. Such as this guide for navigating Swiss trains to various ski resorts, or this one for nine ski resorts in France and this one which helps one navigate the French trains.

READ ALSO: Are there any affordable ski resorts in Switzerland?



If you fancy doing a staycation, you don't have to leave Germany to go skiing. Domestic ski resorts can make for a great day or weekend trip. 

Most German states have some smaller ski hills that are a great place for beginners to learn the sport, or for locals to get a few quick runs in. But Germany's bigger ski resorts are clustered in the Southern regions.

The most famous resorts are Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps. These are some of the highest ski slopes Germany has to offer. In fact, here you can ski on The Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain peak. From Munich, the Garmisch-Partenkirchen station is about an hour and half. From Berlin the trip would be six hours.

On the west side of Germany, Winterberg or Willingen are among the closest options from Cologne. Or Feldberg, in the Black Forest, offers a relatively extensive 50 km of slopes. The trip to Feldberg from Cologne takes four and half hours with an ICE train. 

One advantage of staying local for budget travellers is avoiding extra transport costs by using the €49 ticket to reach these and other resorts in Germany on regional trains. 

READ ALSO: Germany's longest regional train journeys with the €49 ticket


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