Whether you are in town for Oktoberfest and need a break or you’re visiting Munich and want to see what lies outside the city, there are a bunch of Munich day trips that you can take to see more of Germany.
Visit the Neuschwanstein Castle
Known to many as the Sleeping Beauty Castle, this stunning castle was home to Ludwig II of Bavaria and is open to the public. Perched on a hill, the castle offers stunning panoramic views, which include mountains, lakes and valleys. It’s truly beautiful, especially in the summer.
From Munich: Take the Munich hbf train to Fussen. It’s about a two-hour ride. Once you arrive, grab the buses going to the castle – the 73 in the direction to Steingaden/Garmisch-Partenkirchen or the 78 in the direction to Schwangau until you reach the stop Hohenschwangau / Alpseestraße. This is where you pick up your tickets. After grabbing your tickets, you have three options for getting to the castle: walk, about 30-40 minutes; carriage ride (about 10 euro) or by shuttle (2.60 euro).
Entrance cost: 12 euro
*Photography is not allowed in the castle.
*If you are buying tickets at the site, they can only be purchased in the village of Hohenschwangau below the castle and tickets must be reserved two-days in advance.
Head to Salzburg – Where the Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music
Salzburg is a small town in Austria that is well known for the role it played in the Sound of Music. It is also the birthplace of Mozart. There is so much history and culture packed into this town – it’s worth a visit! My number one recommendation for Salzburg is to go to the top of the Fortress Hohensalzburg where you’ll get views of the town and the Alps. (View more of my Salzburg tips here.)
From Munich: Take the Railjet high-speed train from Munich hbf to Salzburg hbf. The route only takes 1.28 hours so you’ll have plenty of time to explore!
If you choose to drive to Salzburg, know that you cannot just enter Austria. You will need to pick up a Vignette before crossing the border. We did the drive and chose to take the back roads. It took longer but you get to see the beautiful German countryside! Make sure you make a pit stop at Lake Chiemsee if you do drive!
Visit Another Castle.
If you have the time or energy after touring Dachau, there is a castle nearby that I believe is worthy of a visit – Schleissheim Palace. We grabbed a cab from Dachau as it’s only about 15 minutes away (the only other way to get there is by going back into Munich and grabbing a different train out).
The grounds actually comprise three palaces and you can get a ticket for all three (8 euro). We didn’t have much time so we just grabbed a ticket for the new palace (4.50 euro). The inside is beautiful with a grand staircase, painted ceilings and vast rooms. This palace is definitely not one of the most popular; so, you’ll find that you that you have the whole place to yourself to wander from room to room and throughout the gardens without any distractions. It’s extremely peaceful. After wandering the grounds, head to the beer garden that’s on the premises. We grabbed dinner here, and it was really good!
From Munich: Take the S1 to Oberschleißheim. It’s about a 25 minute from the train or you can hop on the 292 bus three stops to Lustheim. If you take the bus, it’s about 30 minutes to the castle.
Eat at the Top of a Mountain.
Want to experience rich history while simultaneously taking in sweeping views? Take a day trip to Kehlsteinhaus – or the Eagle’s Nest. The Eagle’s Nest was built as a mountain retreat for Hitler. Today, the lodge is a restaurant and beer garden offering stunning views of the Alps mountain range. When you approach the mountain, you enter through a large arch. Inside the mountain, you head down a tunnel and take an elevator-ride up to the top. Tours of the Eagle’s Nest are available but it seems like must of the history has been lost.
From Munich: There are no direct trains to Berchtesgaden (the town at the bottom of the Eagle’s Nest). Take Deustche Bahh from München-Ostbahnhof or München Hauptbahnhof and change trains at Freilassing. You’re train journey will end at Berchtesgaden Hbf. In order to get to the entrance of the Eagle’s Nest, you have to grab a bus up to the top – it’s the only public transportation up to the top. Take Bus #838 from in front of the Berchtesgaden train station up to the Documentation Center parking lot in Obersalzberg. From here, you will grab the special buses that go to the top (the buses to the top cost about 16 euro, which includes entrance to the Eagle’s Nest). In total, it takes about 2.5-3 hours to get to the Eagle’s Nest.
*The main attraction to the Eagle’s Nest is the view from the top (at least for me); so, make sure you go on a clear day.
Remember the Past at Dachau.
This may not be for everyone but I truly believe that it’s important to remember the past so we don’t forget in the future. It’s an emotional tour but one I think everyone should make time for. As you wander through the camp, you’ll hear stories from survivors and army personal who arrived to free them. You’ll see the crammed bunk houses, the crematorium and the gas chambers. It’s a somber experience that reveals the horrors of the past.
Dachau offers English tours at 11am and 1pm, but they were already full when I got there – the audio guides were very educational though (free to enter the camp; 3 euro for the audio guide). Allow at least 3-4 hours for the tour.
From Munich: It’s about a 30 minute train ride from Munich plus a 15-minute bus ride. Purchase the Munich XXL pass, which will cover your roundtrip train ticket and the bus from the train station to Dachau. If you are traveling with a group, you can get the partner ticket, which will cover a group of up to 5. Take the S2 towards Petershausen (Obb) and get off at Dachau Bahnof. Then grab the 726 bus (the bus stop is right outside the train station).
Transport Yourself to Medieval Times in Rothenburg
A stop on the Romantic Road, Rothenburg is a medieval town complete with timber houses and cobblestone streets and has remained largely unchanged. Walk the walls that surround the town, go on a walk with the night watchman or try a Schneeball.
(Think this town looks familiar? That’s because it was the inspiration for Pinocchio and served as a film location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!)
From Munich: This trip will take about 3.30 hours and require 2 changes. Take an IC train from München Hbf [towards Frankfurt (Main) Hbf[ and transfer at Augsburg Hbf [towards Hamburg-Altona]. Next, you’ll get off at Steinach and grab a regional train heading towards Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Hop on the train and take the München Hbf to StationNürnberg Hbf. In a little over an hour, you’ll be in the historic town of Nuremburg. Nuremburg is most famous for the Nazi rallies held there and ultimately, the Nuremburg trials. However, the city has a lot more too it that you can explore today. Tour the Nuremburg Castle or take a look at beautiful works of art at the National Germanic Museum, which houses the largest collection of German art and culture.
Tour a Town at the Bottom of the Alps – Mittenwald.
A two-hour train ride will get you to the quaint town of Mittenwald. According to Fodors, many regard Mittenwald as the most beautiful town in the Bavarian Alps. And it’s easy to see why, especially if you’re an outdoorsy person. With trails, forests and waterfalls to explore, there’s no shortage of adventure in this town.
When the Weather is Nice, Head to Lake Starnberg.
Lake Starnberg is located 30 minutes away from Munich (by train or car) and is one of the biggest lakes in Germany. You can take a boat trip around the lake or just sit at the water’s edge and relax. Either offer a nice break from Oktoberfest. If activity is more your thing, you can rent kayaks or sail boats and hit the water or grab a bike and ride around the lake.
Go to the Top of Germany.
At 2,962 metres high, Zugspitze is the highest mountain peak in Germany, and on a clear day, it offers views of more than 400 peaks in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. You can ski in the winter or hike to the top in the summer and enjoy the views. Personally, I am more of a fan of the cable car that take you up the mountain! And have you ever wanted to be in two places at once? Well, at the top of this mountain, you can stand in both Austria and Germany!
From Munich: Take the train from Munich hbf to Garmisch –Partenkirchen [toward Mittenwald]. Once you arrive, head downstairs and follow the signs in the tunnel to the Zugspitzbahn. The Zugspitzbahn leaves about once an hour. You’ll take that to the Eibsee stop where you will get off and head down a hill to the cable car station. The cable car will then take you up to the top of Germany.
Total time is about 2 hours depending on when you catch the train changes and cable car.
These are some of my favorite day trips from Germany. What do you suggest?