Munich is much more than just the most epic Oktoberfest destination in the entire world. This city is packed with fascinating history, arts, culture, and food, and it’s also in close proximity to many other iconic sights as well. Thanks to Munich’s central location, you can easily use the city as your home base to explore other parts of Germany and neighboring countries too. Here are the best day trips from Munich to help you plan your vacation.
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If you can only visit one other area outside of Munich, make it to Neuschwanstein Castle and Fussen. This is the ultimate fairytale castle in Europe and one of the most-visited sites in the region. It actually served as the inspiration for the castle in Walt Disney’s theme parks! You’ll be near the towns of Schwangau and Fussen when you stay here, and the castle is accessible by guided tour. It’s also possible to visit the village of Oberammergau when you take this side trip if time allows. The train from Munich to Fussen takes about two hours, and from there you’ll need to walk to the castle or take a bus or 10-minute taxi ride.
The Austrian city of Salzburg also makes an excellent day trip from Munich because it’s beautiful and easy to get to. You can learn more about Mozart and the movie, The Sound of Music, when you visit and also see the lovely palaces, Hohensalzburg Castle, and cobblestone Old Town area. Other things to see in Salzburg are the Salzburg Fortress, Untersberg natural area, and the Red Bull Hangar-7. Hop on a train from Munich and you’ll get here in a little over 1.5 hours, or you can drive here in about the same amount of time.
You can also take a day trip to the city of Nuremberg in less than two hours by train or car from Munich. This is a great place to visit if you enjoy architecture and learning about medieval times. The city’s history dates back to around 1050 A.D. and has deep connections to the railroad industry. It’s especially fun to visit Nuremberg around the holidays time because of its famous Christmas markets, including the Christkindlmarket that takes place here with lots of sweet treats, mulled wine, and ornament shops.
For impressive natural beauty near Munich, look no further than Berchtesgaden and Berchtesgaden National Park for your day trip. This is a place to come for stunning views of the Alps and alpine scenery. It is also famous for the Eagle’s Nest that served as a hideaway for Hitler. You can also take a boat tour down the Königsee to see the surrounding lake and rocky cliffs.
Head to nearby Herrenchiemsee to explore the island that is in the middle of a large Bavarian lake. Here you can see the royal Herrenchiemsee complex with its gardens, sculptures, and fountains. This is also a place to learn about local history at the King Ludwig II Museum and the Augustinian Monastery.
Dachau Concentration Camp
While many day trips from Munich feature fun and carefree activities, there is also something to be said for learning about the region’s somber past and paying respect to the people who lost their lives here. One way to do this to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp, which is now a memorial that teaches visitors about the history of Hitler’s concentration camps that shall never be repeated. It is free to visit the memorial, and you’ll find a bookstore here to continuing learning about this dark period of history even after your trip. Dachau is only about 40 minutes away from Munich by public transportation.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
We also love Rothenburg ob der Tauber for a Munich day trip because of how quaint and picturesque it is. Here you’ll find picture-perfect views and feel like you’re in the midst of a fairytale. This is a well-preserved historic town that is home to pastel-colored stores, adorable homes, and pretty churches. You can reach this area in about 3.5 hours by train, but it’s best to explore by car so that you can see the surrounding scenery and get here in about 2.5 hours. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is along the Romantic Road, which is a scenic driving route that passes through other lovely towns worth visiting as well.
The Lake Constance area is also a beautiful place to take a day trip and enjoy a change of scenery after being in Munich. This lake borders Germany, Switzerland, and Austria and is an ideal spot for outdoor recreation. In addition to boating and water sports, the area is also popular among cyclists who enjoy the Bodensee Cycle Path that goes around the lake. You can take a boat cruise on the lake for a relaxing day out in nature and also stop by the local towns here to enjoy pastries and sweets. From Munich, you can get here in about 2.5 hours by train or two hours by car. Ferries are a great way to get around to see the sights here too.
If you love winter sports, then a day trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen is definitely in order when you’re in Munich. This destination is about 1.5 hours by train from Munich and near the Austrian border. Come here for skiing in the winter, hiking and biking in the other seasons, and mountain spas at any time of the year. Plan to take a cable car ride up to the highest peak in Germany, Zugspitze, for amazing panoramic views. You can also take the lift up to Alpspitze peak to see the impressive observation terrace.
A final wonderful day trip destination that we’ll mention here is Passau, a riverside town on the border of Germany and Austria that’s a perfect getaway spot. You’ll love being at the water’s edge and seeing the impressive skyline with European-style buildings here. Top things to do here include visiting the Cathedral of St. Stephen and browsing the shops along Ludwigstrasse street.