Top Day Trips From Munich:
Because of Munich’s prime location and Germany’s vast train system, it’s easy to take day trip to some of the best sights in Europe. It seem like every time we visit we find a new unbelievable village or castle within striking distance of Munich. With Munich as your base camp the options can feel endless, but we have narrowed down a great list covering all of the best day and side trips. Hope you enjoy our top day trips from Munich!
Train Tickets & Transportation Info:
To help with planning your side trip transportation, the German National Railway Website (website) has all of the regional Train/Bus route and timetable information. For travel anywhere around Bavaria plus Salzburg, consider the Bayern Day Pass (more info) which covers unlimited trains for the day starting at 25€ for 1 person and goes up 6€ per person up to 5 people with advance booking. On Monday-Friday you can’t start your travel with these special passes until 9am, but Saturday & Sunday you can start anytime. Make sure to check out our full list of the Best German Train Passes (more info).
About Neuschwanstein Castle: Sitting just outside of Füssen Germany is the crown jewel of Europe’s Fairytale Castles, Neuschwanstein. This over-the-top alpine castle is so impressive that Walt Disney used it as the model for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Even as you approach the dreamy castle from below, you’ll quickly understand why Disney loved Neuschwanstein so much. While the Castle may look like it is straight out of the Middle Ages, it was actually work of Bavarian King Ludwig II in the mid-1800s. Ludwig built his masterpiece through is obsession with the works of Opera composer Richard Wagner. The castle has everything from a man-made grotto cave to tons of grand rooms that only a theater mind could drum up. It was fitting that when Wagner went broke, Ludwig let him move into Neuschwanstein where he wrote some of his best work. One of our favorite things to do at Neuschwanstein is to explore Mary’s Bridge which spans a large waterfall behind the Castle.
Along with a guided tour into the depths of Neuschwanstein you will also get to tour King Ludwig’s boyhood castle Hohenschwangau which sits right next door. This beautiful bright orange castle was built by Ludwig’s father King Maximilian II. We absolutely love the detailed paintings covering the interior, the family’s extensive silver collection, and interesting enough, their picturesque dining room. Visiting both castles together gives you a lot better insight into the King behind Europe’s great castle. Just as fun as the castles is taking a paddle boat out onto nearby Swan Lake just like the young King Ludwig did in his childhood. As you leave it is crazy to think that in his day the citizen call Ludwig the Mad King and got upset about his grand projects. They even got so mad that they kicked him out of office after getting fed up with his over spending. As time has pasted, however, Ludwig has become beloved in Bavaria for the beauty of his projects.
Getting Here From Munich: Take train directly to Füssen then either bus 73 or 78 directly to the Castles’ ticket office. Consider getting the Bayern One Day Train Ticket (explained here) which covers up to 4 people traveling together round trip for just 27€. Entrance Ticket Tip: These are the crown jewels of world-wide Fairytale Castles and therefore are super busy in the summer, but if you call ahead for your tickets you’ll have almost no wait. They also take reservations onlinehere but it is in German only and confusing. Reservations Phone: +49 (0) 8362-930830. Rating as a Side Trip From Munich: 10 out of 10.
About Salzburg: Known mainly as the home of Mozart and setting for the hit movie The Sound of Music, Salzburg has great Medieval roots that still shine brightly today. Sitting within miles of the Alps, it was the salt trade that made Salzburg a European powerhouse in the Middle Ages. Salzburg’s High Fortress provided the growing city with early protection starting in 1077 which allowed for an uptick in building as well. A hilltop Monastery, the Mönchstein Castle, the Augustiner Monks Brewery all popped up in the Middle Ages which also led to Salzburg getting its own Archbishop. Trading had made Salzburg so powerful that they were one of the only cities on the old salt road that was able to stay out of the 30 Years War. We are happy they got through untouched as most of Salzburg’s elements from the Middle Ages still survive today.
In addition to the sights I mentioned above, Salzburg also still has a pair Medieval horse baths, an ornate cemetery, and two of our favorite streets in Europe, Steingasse and Getreidegasse. Steingasse has a old World feel you don’t find often with short weathered doors and passages only as wide as an alleyway. It is a beautiful place to take photos and is where Joseph Mohr wrote the lyrics to the Christmas song Silent Night. Even more impressive is the shopping street called Getreidegasse. You can really see the Medieval roots of this compact pedestrian street by the signage that hangs above each shop. In the Middle Ages almost no one could read so instead of having signs with business names on them, the shops would hang an icon for their trade of craft. Notice how the signs for the hat maker, locksmith, umbrella shop and many more have kept this signage tradition alive.
While it does make a great day trip, we recommend 2-3 full days in Salzburg to be able to see the old town sites, Sound of Music Sites, and surrounding towns of Berchtesgaden & Werfen. Top Things to do: Old Town Walking Tour, Sound of Music Movie Locations Tour.
Getting Here From Munich: Takes 90-120 minutes from Munich by train and is covered by the Bayern Pass although the pass can not be used on weekdays before 9am. If you are leaving from Munich’s airport instead directly from the train station it is a 2.5-3 hour journey. Rating as a Side Trip From Munich: 9 out of 10. If you are able to swing staying overnight in Salzburg a visit bumps up to a 10 out of 10.
View Our Salzburg Section: (HERE).
About Rothenburg: The quaint German village of Rothenburg seems frozen in time, Medieval times that is. There probably isn’t a more authentic feeling Medieval city in Europe from top to bottom than the untouched Rothenburg. The old city wall still stands circling the city, while trying with all of its might to encapsulate Rothenburg’s magical feel. The city gates, arches, half-timber homes, cobbled streets, splashes of color, secret passageways, festivals, Christmas Markets and the postcard-perfect views of Plönlein Corner will make you feel like you left the real World and stepped onto a movie set.
Once you wrap your head around Rothenburg’s beauty, you’ll find there is actually a lot to do here as well. We love touring the Imperial City Museum, the famous Medieval Criminal Museum, the ruins of the 1142 Imperial Castle, and walking on top of the old city wall. Throw in an old Blacksmith shop, a lively market square, plus great family owned pubs, and you’ll feel like you have traveled hundreds of years into the past in no time. A visit gets even more magical if you can stay over night as you will be able to see the village totally free of other tourist in the early morning and again after dinner time.
Our two favorite experiences are taking a 90 minute hot air balloon ride from Happy Ballooning at Dawn to see the city below and the joining the unbelievably entertaining 1 hour Night Watchman’s Tour in the evening. We would make the trip for the witty Night Watchman alone as he walks you through the duties of the Watchmen and history of Rothenburg in a mixture of humor and education. All of these elements together make Rothenburg the Medieval destination for you if you are looking for fun, authenticity, and some small town flair.
Getting To Rothenburg By Train: Train make this journey in each direction about every half hour with departures ranging from 4:30am until 10pm. The trip is very easy but will require 1-2 train transfers depending on your ticket. Getting To Rothenburg By Car: It is very common to rent a car to drive to Rothenburg as it not only can be fast than the train, but gives you the ability to check out other Romantic Road cities such as Dinkelsbuhl and Nordlingen. Tour groups also make the full day round trip journey but don’t give you a ton of time in each village.
View Our Rothenburg Section: HERE.
About Berchtesgaden: Berchtesgaden has been a retreat for kings, monks, and travelers since the early 1100’s at it still retains much of its old world charm. Whether it is the Deer House (Hirschenhaus) on Marktplatz, the storybook Advent Christmas Town over the holidays, or a visit to a beer hall during Oktoberfest, you’ll fall in love with Berchtesgaden. Sitting right next to Old Town is the Berchtesgarden Salt Mine (Salzbergwerk) which is a tourist favorite and has been in operation since 1517. No visit to the region would be complete without visiting a salt mine as it is how many of the towns like Berchtesgaden and Salzburg got rich starting in the 1100s.
Perched above Berchtesgaden are the are a pair of reminders of the atrocities from WII, the Nazi Documentation Center and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. During WII, Hitler built the mighty Eagle’s Nest as his 2nd seat of power after being inspired by the area’s beauty. Today mini fortress serves as a restaurant sitting high enough above the valley floor to give visitors a 120 mile view on a clear day! Combined with the Documentation Center you will be able to learn a lot of history as well as check out some old WW2 bunkers and even take a high speed elevator up the mountain.
Before leaving your alpine elevation make sure to check out the views of Königssee from above at Jennerbahn Mountain. The Mountain also has great skiing, but it is the lake below that interests us more. If you have time, a ride out onto Königssee can put your trip over the top. You’ll not only cruse between tower peaks and through an echo chamber, but also past the is the triple domed St. Bartholomä Chapel. Either way you slice it, Berchtesgaden is one of the best hidden gems in all of Germany.
Getting To Berchtesgaden From Munich: You can take the train directly to Berchtesgaden from Munich with a quick line switch in Freilassing. Berchtesgaden is best seen either on the way to or from Salzburg to which is connected bu bus only 12 miles away. This will help you maximize your travels. Rating as a Side Trip From Munich: 8 out of 10. While small, the best sights in Berchtesgaden are a little spread out so we suggest seeing it either right before or after spending the night in nearby Salzburg so you aren’t cutting your time short in this amazing city. From Salzburg it is easily a 9 of 10 rating.
View Our Berchtesgaden Section: HERE.
About Dachau Concentration Camp: Although only a couple miles from Munich’s City Center, and already mentioned in our Munich pages, we thought is Dachau is important enough to make our day trip section. Once a Nazi Labor Camp, the sight is now a chilling reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust. Overall the site does a great job serving as a outstanding museum and memorial for life as it was on the camp and the hardships endured. The thing that will stick with you the most is a saying posted, in multiple languages, in the center courtyard stating ‘Never Again.’
Getting Here From Munich: Takes 40 minutes from Munich with a transfer. Take train line S2 to Dachau, once at the Dachau Station take Bus #726 right to the camp. Visiting Hours: Daily 9am-5pm. Cost: Free. Tours: Free English tours at 11am & 1pm. Rating as a Side Trip From Munich: 10 out of 10.
View Our Dachau Section: HERE.
About Zugspitze: At over 9,717 feet, the Zugspitze Mountain Peak is literally the to of Germany! As the tallest peak in Germany, the Zugspite has the best Alpine views you can find during a day trip from Munich. It’s said that on a clear day you can see up to 155 miles along the horizon. Because the main peak sits on border of Austria, you can be in two countries at once while on top of the mountain. There is also another great peak nearby called the Alpspitze. This peak offers great opportunities for hiking as well as thrills from the the AlpspiX viewing platform. The daring platform is in the shape of an ‘X’ and hangs over the valley 3281 feet below.
Getting Here From Munich: Train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen takes 1 hours and 2o minutes. Once you get there walk to the the neighboring train station (Zugspitze Bahnhof) and get on the local Cog Train to your desired cable car lift. Keep in mind that the Classic Train only goes to Grainau so take the Cog Train. The cable car for the AlpspiX is at Alpspitzbahn and the cable car for the main peak is at Eibsee. While Eibsee is the last main stop, hikers can ride the Cog up the Rifferlriss to get closer. Rating as a Day Trip From Munich: 8 out of 10. Video: HERE. Website: HERE.
About Nuernberg: Before heavy WW2 bombings for being a Nazi stronghold, Nuremberg was one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. Luckily enough of the city remained that Nuremberg has slowly rebuilt itself over the decades into a great tourist destination yet again. We like to start off with the city’s biggest attraction, the Kaiserburg Castle which dates back to 1050 AD. The Castle sits on at the highest point of Nuremberg which created a natural defense and still provides great views of town. The historic castle looks more plain than some of Germany’s other over the top castles which were built later in the Middle Ages, but we enjoy the old feel.
That same old world feel carries into the city wall and watch towers, plus the picture perfect Craftmen’s Courtyard. Built into the city wall is our favorite buildings called the Wine Store (Weinstadel). The beautiful building over looks the water and is connected to town by Hangman’s Bridge. The bridge and tower were constructed in the 1400s as a place for the Nuremberg executioner to live as the common people didn’t want someone of his profession living among them. It was really a strange arrangement, but interesting. You have to make sure to stroll down Weißbergergasse in Old Town and check out Saint Elisabeth Church which was once home to the Knights of Germany as well. Not to be overlooked in Old Town is the food and especially the Original Nuremberg Rostbratwursts which have been made here since the 1300s. The best way to wash down your wursts is with Nuremberg’s best beer on the City Brewery Beer Tour. The 3 hour tour is only 25 Euros and is lead by a Medieval innkeeper who teaches you about the 700 years of beer in the city complete with tastings.
While these sights are the happy go lucky ones it is also important to known about Nuremberg’s Nazi years. One for the most moving sights is in the former Nazi rally grounds where 100,000s would gather for rallies. The grounds were later used by the Nazis as a concentration camp for over 50,000 Socialists and now holds the Fascination and Terror Museum. There is also a monument marking the Nuremberg Trials, where Nazi leaders were put on trail for the horrors of WW2. When you are all done with doom and gloom Nuremberg has plenty more historic sights and mansions to tour on top of having one of the best Medieval Christmas Markets in Europe. If it is not over the Holiday season you can still get your Christmas on in the wonder Toy museum as Nuremberg has been famous for its toys since the middle ages
Getting Here From Munich: Direct train from Munich takes 90 minutes.. Rating as a Day Trip From Munich: 7.5 out of 10. Website: HERE.
About Bamberg: Bamberg is known as Little Venice, and for good reason. The Regnitz River literally runs directly through Bamberg and the Old Town Hall sits right in the middle of the flow. As seen in the photo to the left, they actually built the Old Town Hall (Alte Rathaus) in the middle of the river and connected to town with a series of bridges. The build is the most photographed spot in Bamberg, but it is the impressive murals painted on the sides of the Old Town Hall that we really like. Most of the town hugs the River banks making renting a row boat a very popular thing to do. A lot of the island like city center was once a fisherman’s settlement in the Middle Ages an has been turned into a great pedestrian only area today.
Getting beyond the buildings and sights, Bamberg is really a city known for its beer. There are 9 breweries, 2 malting companies, 50 local beers, and tons of taverns just inside the city limits. If you go out a couple miles there are 90 more breweries in the small towns around Bamberg. The most famous beer in Bamberg is Smoke Beer, which tastes like bacon. Unlike most beers where the malt is dried industrially by hot air, the malt for the Smoke Beer is kiln-dried over an open fire to add flavor. The BierSchmecker Beer Tour is awesome as you vouchers for drinks at your choice of 5 of the 9 breweries for only 20 euros, plus you keep your mug. If you are deciding what time to go July hosts the International Magician and Street Performers’ Festival which really brings Old Town to life. In August is our favorite event called the Sandkirchweih Fair. During the Sandkerwa Festival fishermen joust on the river standing on the end of their boats American Gladiator-style.
Getting Here From Munich: A direct train from Munich takes 2.5 hours or from Nurmberg it is only 1 hour. Rating as a Day Trip From Munich: 7.5 out of 10. Website: HERE.
About Herrenchiemsee New Palace: When King Ludwig found out that his lot of land where Linderhof Palace sits was too small for his replica of Paris’ Versailles Palace, he scrapped the idea. Soon after his family acquired a large island in the middle of Chiem Lake that was plenty big, so the project just moved locations. In the end the Palace known as Ludwig’s “New Palace” was a masterpiece, but sadly he died 2 years before it was finished. While there are still plenty of tourist, the crowds here are much less than other major castles which makes it easier to enjoy. If you have ever been to Versailles, then you will really love the uncrowded replica of the Great Hall of Mirrors and boulevard like French gardens.
Getting Here From Munich: 1 hour train to Prien a Chiemsee, then 30 minutes later the boat leaves from the pier which take 15 minutes to get to the Palace. During the Summer a shuttle line takes you to the boat dock saving you a 1/2 mile walk, but there is a 30 minute gap from getting off of the train until the boat leaves. Click here for the boat timetable. Rating as a Day Trip From Munich: 7 out of 10. Is a great stop on the way to or from Salzburg but it added 90 minutes to the total route to Salzburg in addition to the tour since you can’t stop here on the high speed express train and must take the slower train.. Website: HERE.
About Linderhof Palace: At the same time Mad King Ludwig was building his fairy tale castle near Füssen he had plans for many other expansive building projects as well. On some family land near Oberammergausd, Ludwig created design for a palace modeled on Paris’ Versailles plus another large complex in the style of a Byzantine Palace. At the last second he decided to fix up his dad’s old cabin on the property in a royal hunting lodge instead due to a lack of space. The end result was an amazing hunting palace with a beautiful garden with an unreal series of fountain ponds. As the tourist tend to flock to Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein Castle in Füssen, the crowds at Linderhof are smaller, making it a very enjoyable place to walk around. The area is also a great place to jump over to Ettal Abbey or down to Zugspite Mountain.
Getting Here From Munich: Take train to Oberammergau (1 Hour and 45 Minutes) then take local Bus 9606 directly to Linderhof Palace (22 Minutes). Getting Here From Füssen: From Füssen, Bus 9622 connects all the way to Oberammergau where you can hop onto Bus 9606 for the Palace. Rating as a Day Trip From Munich: 7 out of 10. Website: HERE.
Honorable Mention Side Trips:
11. Landsberg am Lech (50 minute train ride): This small mid-evil city is a great getaway if you want to experience an authentic Bavarian feel without the flocks of tourists. Large portions of the mid-evil city walls and gates are still intact and most of the city’s buildings still have colorful, traditional facades. The city is also littered with many beautiful towers: The Schmalzturm Tower, also called Beautiful Tower, which lies in the Witches Quarter (Hexenviertel) was named for its beautiful tiled roof and is the cities oldest tower built in 1260. The romantic Mother’s Tower (Mutterturm) at the Herkomer Museum on the West side of river is the newest built in 1888. The beautiful Bayertor tower on the Eastern city wall, and the Northern wall’s gate Sandauer Tor & tall Dachlturm tower over looking the city. The city is maybe most famous for being where Adolf Hitler was incarcerated for 9 months in 1924 and wrote/dictated his book Mein Kampf which served as a foundation for the Nazi Party. The city ended up being home to a large concentration camp during World War II. Getting Here: Train from Munich takes 50 minutes and may require a train transfer in Kaufering.
12. Hohenzollern Castle (Hechingen – 3 1/2 Hours): Hohenzollern Castle is one of the most amazing castles in Europe and is bound to inspire images of dragon myths. The Castle almost doesn’t seem real as it sits high up on a hilltop in the German countryside. The royal family of Prussia has a house on this hilltop since 1061 AD and a full on castle since 1267. The castle has changed styled of the years and even required a complete rebuild in the 1423, but the Prussia Royal family has remained its caretakers. It is almost unheard of to have the same royal family control a property for so long. Today the castle is known the the Prince of Prussia and his wife, but they keep their fairytale castle open to the public. They also have Sigmaringen Castle in nearby Sigmaringen to fall back on during the months when Hohenzollern gets too busy. We absolutely love the way they do their tours as your guide will be wearing an authentic Medieval outfit. During the slow season they even let you roam parts of the Castle without a guide at your own pace. Rating as a Side Trip From Munich: 7.5 out of 10. Would easily be a 10 if you are on your way to Western Germany anyway since the travel time is so long as a day trip.
13. Innsburck, Austria (2 hour train ride): Known as the city of the Golden Roof, and the Tirolean capital, Innsbruck is the only major city located in the European Alps. Innsbruck, which hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games, is best known for its winter sports and skiing. There are mainly other attractions year round such as a large number of beautiful lakes and the world’s largest crystal at Swarovski’s Crystal World, the gardens at Swarovski factory, and many others.
14. Bayreuth: Maisels brewery pub and museum. Beer tour is €19.50 in the Summer or €16 in the Winter as the Beer Gardens are closed. Richard Wagner lived and composed much of his music here and is buried in the garden of Villa “Wahnfried” where he lived and their is now a museum there. At Eremitage is the Richard Wagner Festival is considered Germany’s most prestigious music festival. http://www.bayreuther-festspiele.de/english/english_156.html
15. Landshut, Germany (45 minute train ride): Landshut is an ideal Bavarian day trip. The highlights of Landshut are its Trausnitz Castle and multicolored home facades. The main reason it makes this list is because every 4 years it is home to the 3-week-long Royal Wedding Festival (Landshuter Hochzeit) which in 2009 drew 600,000 visitors. The festival is to celebrate a royal wedding between Bavaria and Poland in 1475 and serves as a living history as most visitors dress in Medieval Dress and the town’s people reenact the original wedding. Home of the the largest European Middle Ages festival which celebrates the marriage of Duke George and Hedwig, the daughter of the king of Poland each summer with the next one being 2017.
16. Wendelstein Mountain (90 Min Train/Cable Car Ride): The easiest accessible alpine peak from Munich. The Wendelstein is a 1838 meter high mountain in the Bavarian Alps lying about 60km Southeast of Munich. The summit can be easily accessed either with the cable car from Osterhofen or the rack railway from Brannenburg. About 100 meters below the summit is the Berggasthof Inn with a large terrace serving hot and cold meals. On the summit there is a viewing platform offering an excellent view of the northern Alps and of Bavaria, an observatory, a weather station and a broadcast relay station. Easy hiking trails lead from the valley up to the summit of Wendelstein Mountain. In winter it is possible to ski on the slopes of Mount Endelstein.
Getting Here: 80 min train ride to Osterhofen-Bayrischzell and take a brief walk to the Cable Car which climbs almost 1,000 feet in 7 minutes -or- you could instead take a 60 min train Brannenburg from which it’s a 30 minute scenic walk to the Cog Railway which takes you directly to the summit within 30 minutes on a very unique, fun, and steep ride. Hours: 9am-5pm in Summer, 10am-4pm in Winter. Brochure: HERE. 360 Degree Photo: HERE. Tip: You can get an upgraded Bayner pass that includes round-trip train to/from Munich and the cable car. Has Cog Railway
17. Würzburg: Northwest of Munich a ways, but really cool. Prince bishops’ Residenz Palace and Marienberg Citadel are main highlights. The UNESCO World Heritage Site the Residence, the medieval fortress Marienberg, the historic town hall building the Romanesque cathedral “St. Kilian”, from the old bridge “Alte Mainbrücke”, you will enjoy fantastic views of the fortress “Marienberg,” the pilgrimage church “Käppele” and the famous vineyards. Nearby town of Volkach has the Historic Schwane wine cellars. http://www.schwane.de http://www.wuerzburg.de/
18. Regensburg: Locals call it “Germany’s medieval wonder”. Pretty small but the Cathedral of St Peter, the Stone Bridge, the Bridge Tower and the ‘Salt Barn’ are cool. Famous for torture. Locals call it “Germany’s medieval wonder”. It was settled by the Celts in the Stone Age and around AD 90, the Romans built a fort there. In 179, a new Roman fort Castra Regina and it served as the Roman’s most Northern fort on the Danube. The city became the capital of Bavaria from 530-1180AD. The Duke of Bavaria, Heinrich II of Babenberg, was ousted as ruler in 1156, and quickly went on to lay the ground work for a new city built over another former Roman fort known today as Vienna which he modeled after his beloved Regensburg. When the Wittelsbachs were appointed the new rulers of Bavaria in 1180, they decided to move the capital to Munich. City Website: (here).
19. Stiengaden Area Rococo Churches (120 Min Train/Bus Ride): In rural Germany there are two neighboring churches with amazing Rococo interiors, St John the Baptist Church in Stiengaden and Stift Wieskirche in neighboring Wies. Both of these churches look very plain on the outside but the frescoes and other rococo art that were added 17th and 18th centuries make the insides breath-taking. Stift Wieskirche, known as Pilgrimage Church of Wies, is so stunning that it has been added as a Unesco World Heritage sight, info. Both churches are on par with the Asam church mentioned in our Free Munich Walking Tour, but even more impressive just for the fact that they was built in such a small town where the people had less resources.
Getting There: These churches are best seen with a rental car. By public transport you can reach Steingaden from either Schongau and Fussen with a 45 min bus ride. Both Schongau and Fussen are directly connected to Munich by train. The church in Wies is about a 2 miles east of Stiengaden. Transport map and schedules. 360 Degree Photos: Stift Wieskirche
Longer Side Trips From Munich:
Here are a couple great places not too far from Munich that may be worth a night or two stay over.