Eibsee Photography: Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated: April 7, 2024 | Published On: December 28, 2020

If you’ve ever thought about visiting Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, it’s likely you’ve come across incredible photos of the Eibsee. The Eibsee, or “Lake Eib”, is located just fifteen minutes outside of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The picturesque lake sits at the base of Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze. Due to the Eibsee’s ease of accessibility,  as well as its stunning features, it’s no surprise that many choose to have a photoshoot at the lake. Whether you’re visiting on your own, or you want someone to capture couples photos at the Eibsee, this guide will help you with everything you need to know about photography at the Eibsee! As Garmisch-Partenkirchen locals, we have some of the best ideas, tips, and tricks for your Eibsee photoshoot.

How to Get to the Eibsee (from Munich)

You can get to the Eibsee via train, bus, and car. Below you’ll find each option outlined!

Getting to the Eibsee via Train

From Munich Hauptbahnhof, take the DB regional train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The train generally runs hourly and is a 1 hour and 30-minute ride. Once you’ve arrived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you’ll need to transfer over to the Zugspitzbahn, located just behind the main train station. The Zugspitzbahn also runs hourly and has a stop just a few minutes from the Eibsee. Alternatively, after arriving in Garmisch-Partenkirchen you can catch the Eibsee bus, just across the street from the train station entrance. You can find the Zugspitzbahn timetable here

Getting to the Eibsee via Bus

If you’re already staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Grainau, taking the Eibsee bus is another easy option. There are stops around town. You can find the bus timetable, as well as the outlined stops here.

Driving to the Eibsee

From Munich, take the A95, direction, Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In Eschenlohe, you’ll pull onto the B2, following the signs towards Grainau/Zugspitze. We recommend putting in your navigation, “Eibsee Parkplatz” for the best driving directions. It takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive from Munich to the Eibsee. 

Parking at the Eibsee

If you choose to drive to the Eibsee, it’s worth noting that all-day parking costs €5 and can be paid in cash or by credit card. The parking lot is open from 0500-2200. You can find more about the parking hours at this link.  Overnight parking is forbidden and can incur a hefty fine. Large camper vans are also not allowed to park at the Eibsee. 

During the busy summer season, parking at the Eibsee can fill up by 0900, so make sure to arrive early! In the winter, parking can also fill up, as the same parking lots are used by skiers accessing the Zugspitze. 

What Time of Year is Best to Photograph the Eibsee?

Winter at the Eibsee

In our opinion, winter is one of the most underrated, yet stunning times to photograph the Eibsee. If you want a winter wonderland experience, we’d recommend visiting the Eibsee during January and February, which tend to have the greatest amount of snow. December may have an occasional snow day, and the lake isn’t normally frozen over yet, so it’s still worth photographing then too. 

Another reason we love photographing the Eibsee in winter is it’s an easy way to beat the crowds. For couples photoshoots at the Eibsee, this is especially great as fewer people makes it easier to loosen up and relax. The Eibsee offers great mountain views, a lake, and beautiful woods, making it a great photoshoot location. A little bit of everything without a lot of work! The Eibsee makes a dreamy spot for proposals, engagement shoots, and elopements in the winter.

Summer at the Eibsee

As much as we love winter, there’s something to be said for a warm summer’s day at the Eibsee. The lake glimmers bright blue and is so clear, you might mistake it for the Mediterranean (until you dip your toes in its chilly waters). Flowers bloom along the trail that loops around the lake, and it’s not hard to find a rocky spot to lay out and soak up the scenery around. If you’re thinking of having a photoshoot at the Eibsee in the summer, it does require more planning due to a large number of people also enjoying the lake. If you want privacy for an Eibsee elopement, proposal, or photoshoot, we’d recommend avoiding weekends, holidays, and peak times of the day. 

Spring and Fall at the Eibsee

Spring and fall bring more unpredictable weather in the Bavarian Alps. There tends to be a lot of rain, and random snow days aren’t uncommon. If you’re in the area during these times, the Eibsee is still worth a visit, but we recommend winter and summer for the best photo opportunities. 

What Time of Day is Best for Eibsee Photography?

Unlike many locations, the Eibsee photographs beautifully at both sunrise and sunset. This time is often referred to as “golden hour” because the light is softer and the sun casts a warm glow on the landscape. To calculate the sunrise and sunset times in the mountains (and where the milky way will be), we love using the PhotoPills app.

Sunrise at the Eibsee

While both sunrise and sunset and incredible times to photograph the Eibsee, we just can’t get enough of a dreamy sunrise on the lake. Sunrise is the easiest way to find a peaceful escape. The massive rocky walls of the Zugspitze take on an almost hazy yellow glow in the morning light, adding to the surrealness of the scene. While waking up at 5 am can be hard, it makes for some of the best light. Another benefit to sunrise is parking is easier to grab. It should be noted that the trains and buses do not run early enough to catch sunrise at the Eibsee.

Sunset at the Eibsee

If you’re not a morning person, have no fear! Sunset photography at the Eibsee has its own perks. Normally by dinner time, the lake has started to calm down as people head back into town. If you decide to wait until sunset, you’ll be treated to an unreal orange and red glow as the sun hits the mountains before dipping below the horizon. These few minutes of light are spectacular. For the best views, make sure to be on the northern side of the lake, looking out onto the Zugspitze. Just beyond the bridge, there’s a large shoreside with unobstructed views. One thing to keep in mind if you want to visit at sunset is that parking can be difficult to find. I’ve seen many summer days where the road was closed by 10 am due to no more available parking.  Taking the bus from town or renting an e-bike can alleviate some of these challenges.

Things to Do at Your Eibsee Photoshoot

Hiking Around the Eibsee

One of the easiest and best ways to experience the Eibsee during your photoshoot is to hike around the lake. There are a wide variety of panoramic viewpoints and angles to catch, but they require a little bit of walking to get to. You can plan on traveling approximately 7 km if you choose to walk the entire perimeter of the lake. We’d recommend doing this since it’s an easy walk and the trail is beautiful the entire way. If you’re interested in hiking around the Eibsee, here is a map to help you get started.

Swimming at the Eibsee

The crystal clear blue waters of the Eibsee are nothing short of inviting. If you plan on swimming, make sure to save it for a hot summer’s day! Well into early summer, the Eibsee is fed by snowmelt coming off the mountains, making it an icy dip. During mid-summer, you can plan on water temperatures ranging from 17-20 degrees celsius. Don’t forget to pack a bathing suit, towel, sunscreen, and water shoes! This website updates the water temperature regularly. Swimming at the Eibsee is a fun way to create a playful engagement session or couples photoshoot. 

Standup Paddleboarding (SUP) at the Eibsee

If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at standup paddleboarding (SUP), the Eibsee is the perfect place to do it! A SUP is great for getting away from the crowds and exploring more of the lake. The Eibsee is home to seven small islands, and a SUP allows you to access each of them with ease. You can rent SUPs directly at the Eibsee, or else in Garmisch-Partenkirchen at Hervis. SUP rental at the Eibsee starts at €15 per hour. I’d recommend trying to rent from Hervis, due to the limited availability at the Eibsee.

Renting a Boat at the Eibsee

If renting a SUP doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, no worries! The Eibsee offers boat rentals. Boat rentals are generally available at the Eibsee from May through September, depending on the weather. At the Eibsee, you can rent rowboats, pedal boats, and pedal boats with a small slide on the back. The cost of renting a boat at the Eibsee ranges from €12- €16 an hour. Be sure to arrive at the boathouse, located on the south side of the lake, early. The lines can get long on a nice summer’s day. Boating across the Eibsee would make for a romantic date or a dreamy activity during a couples photoshoot. 

Prohibited Activities at the Eibsee

There’s a lot you can do at the Eibsee, but please note, there are a few restrictions. They include:

  • Overnight parking is prohibited
  • No camping or overnight stays
  • Campfires aren’t allowed
  • Don’t feed the animals (you’ll see everyone doing it, but please don’t)!
  • No littering
  • Motorboats are prohibited
  • No scuba diving 
  • No fishing (if you really want to fish at the Eibsee, you can if you are an Eibsee Hotel guest. This is the only way it’s allowed). 
  • Drones are prohibited. There are a lot of popular photographers and videographers who have shot the Eibsee from a drone. Please note, despite how popular this may be, it is illegal. There are at least 5 different signs at the lake stating drones are not allowed. We ask that you please respect these rules so that everyone can have a better Eibsee experience, without the constant hum of drones. It’s also disruptive to wildlife. 
For a real bird’s eye view of the lake, be sure to visit the top of the Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain!

How to Make the Most of Your Eibsee Photoshoot

In summary, here’s our best advice for getting the most out of photographing the Eibsee. 

  1. Visit on a weekday at sunrise, during the winter, or during rainy/moody weather to avoid crowds
  2. Be ready to hike a bit
  3. Get out on the water for something truly unique
  4. If you’re a landscape photographer, bring a wide-angle lens (14mm-16mm is ideal).

Are you ready for your Eibsee Photoshoot? Contact us if you want an experience you’ll never forget in one of Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s most beautiful locations! Don’t miss this gorgeous Eibsee engagement session which can be viewed here.

Still Looking for More? Here are Two Other Photo Opportunities in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

During your trip to the Eibsee, you may want to include side-trips to the following places. These locations are equally stunning to photograph in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Visit the Zugspitze

The Eibsee sits at the base of Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze. Want to take a trip to the top? In less than 15 minutes, you can be whisked away via cable car to the Zugspitze’s 2,962-meter summit. The cable car operates year-round (weather-dependent), besides a couple of weeks where it closes for maintenance. If you’re afraid of heights, you can still get most of the way to the summit via a cogwheel train that also leaves from the Eibsee. If you plan on visiting the Zugspitze, be sure to go on a clear day. In good weather, you can see Austria, Switzerland, and Italy from the panoramic summit! You can check conditions on their live webcam, which is updated every 10 minutes. For more information about the Zugspitze, you can visit their site.

Hike to the Höllentalangerhütte

If you’re looking for a scenic, longer day-hike, the Höllentalangerhütte is worth a visit during the summer. Located just 15 minutes from the Eibsee, the out and back trail located in Hammersbach is 11 km long and climbs through the roaring Höllentalklamm. A series of tunnels and stairways cut through the narrow gorge, offering hikers jaw-dropping scenery. At the end of the Höllentalklamm, you’ll find yourself surrounded by steep mountain walls. Continuing along the trail, there are a few bridges to cross, and then a few sets of switchbacks before the final stretch to the hut. Once you’ve reached the Höllentalangerhütte, get ready to have your breath taken away as the narrow valley opens up into a cirque of craggy peaks.  The Höllentalangerhütte offers refreshments and is a stunning spot to relax for a few hours before heading back down the trail. If you plan on hiking the Höllentalklamm, be sure to pack a rain jacket, plenty of water, and sturdy hiking shoes! You can find more information about the hike here.

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