When visiting Germany for the first time, it’s safe to say that going to Munich is a must. With gorgeous architecture at every corner, cultural hotspots, and sights for sports fans worldwide, there’s plenty to do in the city. If you’re not going in October and you’ll miss the famous Oktoberfest, don’t fret, as beautiful museums such as the Residenz Royal Palace, the Bavarian State Opera and even a BMW World museum are all waiting for you to discover.
Munich is also the go-to place for nightlife, with tens of nightclubs to suit every taste and preference. But if you feel like you’ve had your fill of Munich and you’d like to explore the beautiful surroundings, you probably want to take a day trip or two, just so you can make the most of your holiday. With Germany’s high-speed trains, day trips are a dream – here are the fifteen destinations you can visit outside of Munich that will definitely make your trip an unforgettable one.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
By popular opinion, this is one of the best trips you can take outside of Munich. Nestled on the edge of the Alps near the small town of Fussen, Neuschwanstein Castle is every fairytale castle you’ve ever imagined, only in real life. It’s even got a very real link to fairytales, too – Walt Disney was so impressed by Neuschwanstein that he used it as a model for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Once you see it, you’ll understand why he was so taken with it. Originally the residence of Bavarian King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein is now a globally popular tourist attraction. Getting there from Munich is very easy – just hop on the train to Fussen and then take the bus directly to the ticket office. As the castle is very popular, it’s probably a good idea to call ahead to book your tickets.
Do you feel like you’re sixteen going on seventeen, or maybe you like singing about your favourite things? If so, then you’re probably a fan of The Sound of Music and Salzburg, which is where the movie was set, will be right up your street. It’s also famous for being the birthplace of the great Mozart and you can easily walk the streets where his peers would have walked too. Apart from that, Salzburg is a pearl in the Austrian crown with its beautiful medieval architecture and the picturesque view of the Alps towering over the city. Salzburg is easy to get to via high-speed train from Munich and it takes about an hour and a half. A day in this wonderful Austrian city will only make you want to come back for more!
There’s probably no medieval village that is as well preserved as Rothenburg. Its postcard-perfect views, cobbled winding streets and picturesque buildings are surrounded by an authentic city wall. You might just want to spend all your time in Rothenburg wandering the streets but there is actually a lot more to do there. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can book a 90-minute hot air balloon ride and enjoy gorgeous panoramic views of the city. You can also pay a visit to the Imperial City Museum, the medieval Criminal Museum, and the ruins of the Imperial Castle. Finally, you can just take a stroll along the city wall if you want! There’s trains going from Munich to Rothenburgh every half hour, or if you prefer, you can always rent a car and drive there, enjoying the beautiful atmosphere of surrounding villages.
Famous as a luxury retreat for kings, Berchtesgaden can give you the experience of escaping the big city as well. It’s a very simple train ride from Munich and, if you’re planning on going to or from Salzburg, it’s probably best utilized as a trip between the two. Visit the beautiful memorable Marktplatz or the Deer House. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the holidays, make sure to stop by the Advent Christmas Town and check out the gorgeous atmospheric market stalls. But beyond the beauty, Berchtesgaden also hides a dark history. It’s the location of Hitler’s famous Eagle’s Nest – his second seat of power. Part of it now houses the Nazi Documentation Center, while another acts as a restaurant, sitting high above the valley. If you’re feeling adventurous, make sure to take the high-speed elevator up the mountain, too.
Way before World War 2, Nuernberg was famous as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Unfortunately, during the war, it was repeatedly bombed as a Nazi stronghold. With resilience and patience, Nuernberg has mostly been recovered and is back to its former glory as one of the most beautiful sights to visit out of Munich. A direct train there takes only 90 minutes and it’s definitely worth to see a town with such rich history. If you visit, you can’t miss Kaiserburg Castle, one of the city’s main attractions. Perched on the highest point of Nuernberg, the castle offers some magnificent views over the city. As with most German cities, the Old Town is a hotspot for culture and amazing cuisine. Make sure to try the Original Nuernberg Rostbratwursts for a unique German bratwurst experience.
Once you visit the small picturesque town of Bamberg, you’ll know why it’s known as little Venice. The Regnitz River breaks directly through the city’s body, forming beautiful riverbanks. The city is so concentrated around the river that the old townhouse is built directly on top of it. Most of the town sits comfortably on the river so hitching a water ride to explore is completely normal. Bamberg is only 2 hours away from Munich on the train and once you visit, you can also enjoy the famous Barmberg beer. They even produce beer that tastes like bacon, definitely our two favorite things at once! With its quaint, rustic views and amazing breweries, Bamberg is definitely not a day trip to miss.
The capital of Tirole, also known as the city of the Golden Roof, is a very straightforward ride from Munich. Or, alternatively, if you hire a car, you can enjoy the beauty of the Alps before you reach the little town of Innsbruck. It’s the only major city to be located in the Alps themselves, and for good reason. It’s surrounded by the most beautiful mountains you’ve ever seen and wherever you turn, you feel like you’re in a fairytale. Innbruck is a perfect place if you’re a winter sports aficionado, as there’s fantastic ski resorts that you can make full use of. Or, if you prefer the finer things in life, make sure to visit the Swarovski Museum and marvel at the gardens outside the Swarovski factory.
8. Dachau Concentration Camp
It’s probably cheating to put this in the day trip section, as it is very close to the city of Munich, however it’s such an important part of modern history it deserves a mention of its own. Dachau Concentration Camp, a labour camp under Nazi rule, is a chilling reminder of the terrors of the Holocaust. Located 40 minutes outside of Munich, Dachau carries the ghost of the horrors that took place within its walls so many years ago. Its horrid notoriety rivals that of Auschwitz. Visits and tours of the camp are free and if anything stays with you throughout your visit, it would definitely be a display in the center courtyard stating “Never Again” in different languages.
Only 45 minutes away from Munich, Landshut is notable with it’s beautiful small houses with striking multicolored façades. Another must see is Trausnitz Castle, which offers great views throughout the city and the general region of Bavaria. If we’re talking about must-do day trips in Bavaria, we can safely say Landshut is one of them. If you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time, you might even find yourself caught up in the Royal Wedding Festival. It happens every 4 years and it’s 3 weeks long, celebrating the royal marriage between Bavaria and Poland in 1475. It’s fascinating to see everyone dressing in medieval dress and even re-enacting the wedding.
The small town of Würzburg is located northeast of Munich and is easily accessible by train or car. Bask in the medieval charm of the city and explore the royals’ residencies and palaces that will take your breath away. Würzburg is definitely not one to miss. There are a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore, as well as a medieval fortress (Marienberg) and a historic town wall. In many ways, Würzburg is perfect for a day trip, as you can get the most of it in just a day and it’s very accessible and easy to get to from Munich. As a bonus, you can visit the historic Schwane wine cellars nearby.
An easy train ride or drive from Munich, Regensburg is often called Germany’s “medieval wonder” and for good reason. Regensburg was settled by the Celts in the Stone Age, all the way back in AD 90 and you can still see some of the town’s medieval history just by walking down the streets. It also has a roman fort and a gorgeous cathedral, the Cathedral of St. Peter. Other things worth seeing are the Bridge Tower, ‘Salt Barn’ and the Stone Bridge. Regensburg was so popular it was even the capital of Bavaria for a short while and it’s definitely kept some of its former glory over the years.
Suggested tour: Regensburg Day Trip from Munich
12. Zugspitze Peak
Ever fancied climbing the highest peak in all of Germany? Well now you can! Take a quick train and then jump up a cable lift to begin your descent to some of the most beautiful views in the whole country. Locals claim that on a clear day you can see for 155 miles along the horizon of Zugspitze. As an additional bonus, the peak is actually right on the border between Germany and Austria, so if you make it all the way to the top, you will be in both countries at once. Even though there’s cable lifts up to the mountain, there’s plenty of opportunities for hiking up Zugspitze and the neighboring peak, Alpspitze.
13. Herrenchiemsee New Palace
If you’re tired of staying landlocked and want some of the peace and quiet of the sea, then make sure to take a trip to Herrenchiemsee and see King Ludwig’s notorious New Palace. The idea for the New Palace always was to be a replica of the Versailles and because it’s a bit of a hidden gem, you won’t encounter as many tourists as you would in any other German castle, or in fact in Versailles itself. The New Palace has a wonderful replica of the famous Great Hall of Mirrors and French-style gardens. To reach the palace, take a train from Munich and then board the ferry to the castle – it’s a great way to immerse yourself in a true regal experience.
14. Hohenzollern Castle
Hohenzollern is probably the hardest to reach location out of all listed – it takes nearly three and a half hours to get there. But we feel compelled to include it, just because it’s easily one of the most beautiful castles in the country. Seeing Hohenzollern always brings fairytales of dragons and princesses trapped in towers to mind. The royal family of Prussia have owned it since 1061 AD – and still do. It’s almost unheard of a royal family to control a castle for so long. It’s open to the public, with gorgeous rooms to explore at every step and even the tour guides are dressed in medieval clothes. If you’re willing to take the trip there, it’ll definitely be worth every minute.
15. Linderhof Palace
Located about two hours outside of Munich, the story of Linderhof Palace is rather surreal. It came by as a whim of King Ludwig to fix up his father’s old hunting cabin – turning into an enviable palace with gorgeous gardens and fairytale-like waterfalls. As it is very much off the beaten track, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll in the gorgeous landscapes and listen to the sounds of the water. Linderhof is also an excellent choice if you’d like to take a trip to Ettal Abbey or even get up to Zugspitze.