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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. 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.
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.
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.
Less than 100 miles from Munich, Ulm may not be well-known to most outside of Germany, but it not only happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthplace, it’s the home of the world’s most crooked house according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The original half-timbered home, known as the “Leaning House,” dates back to the 14th-century and was initially used by the town’s ship masters. In 1443, additions and renovations gave it the unique look. Ulm also boasts the tallest cathedral steeple in the world at nearly 530-feet-high and the world’s oldest zoomorphic sculpture. The Löwenmensch figurine, known as the Lion-man or Lion-human of Hohlenstein-Stadel, is a prehistoric ivory sculpture that was discovered in a cave in 1939.
Prien am Chiemsee has lots to offer and is only an hour southeast of Munich. One of the first things you should do here is to ride the Big Wheel down at the docks which provides spectacular views of Chiemsee Lake. The lake contains multiple islands, but the largest is home to the royal palace complex of Herrenchiemsee. The complex was built as a “Temple of Fame” for King Louis XIV of France at the bequest of Bavarian monarch King Ludwig II.
When Ludwig II died in 1886, it was still incomplete but one can admire many highlights, including state rooms like the State Staircase, the State Bedroom and the Great Hall of Mirrors. King Ludwig’s apartment, designed in French rococo style still stands today as well, while the gorgeous gardens are dotted with fountains and exceptional sculptures. The King Ludwig II Museum and Augustinian Monastery showcase many artifacts and priceless furniture from the period.
Augsburg is a must-visit for history buffs as one of the oldest cities in Germany. An hour’s drive from Munich, it was founded by the stepchildren of Emperor Augustus some two thousand years ago and became quite wealthy thanks to its medieval textile trade. Filled with picturesque gables and spires, there are plenty of Instagrammable moments. The Old Town revolves around Rathausplatz which has a fountain that honors the Roman emperor, while the 17th-century twin onion dome-spired Rathaus is topped by Augsburg’s symbol, a 13-foot-tall pine cone. Booking tickets in advance to watch fairytales come to life at one of the most fabled puppet theaters, Augsburger Puppenkiste.
Set at the confluence of the Danube and Altmühl, Kelheim is about a 75-minute drive from Munich, best-known for providing access to the unique 600 AD Weltenburg Monastery. From here, you can walk or join a river cruise to explore the complex that’s nestled in a wooded gorge surrounded by limestone cliffs atop a peninsula in the Danube. The setting alone is worth the visit, but the monastery also hosts the world’s oldest monastery brewery, producing dark beer since 1050 AD. In the biergarten, servers dressed in traditional dirndl attire will bring you a glass of its tasty Kloster Barock Dunkel.
If you’re looking for a short but sweet day trip, Erding is only a 30-minute drive from Munich. It offers plenty of attractions with a backdrop of the Alps, including the Gothic-style Schöner Turm which predates the city, constructed in 1408. Museum Erding is worth a visit, covering the city’s history, but the town is most famous for Theme Erding, the largest thermal spa in the world. It’s open every day of the year and includes many different pools with various temperatures and themes. There’s a waterslide area with over 20 slides, including Europe’s longest tube slide, and a thermal garden, a sandy beach, sulfur mineral springs, a beach bar, and much more.
Lake Tegernsee is a gorgeous lake surrounded by the Bavarian Alps. It’s at the center of a popular recreation area, providing access to many scenic hikes along with a wide range of water sports like sailing and swimming. There are even sandy beaches for sunbathing. The resort town of Tegernsee lies along its shores and was founded in the 8th-century by Benedictine monks, providing plenty of culture to discover too. Outstanding concerts are frequently hosted, featuring everything from classical to folk music, while the Olaf Gulbransson Museum and Tegernseer Tal Museum host impressive exhibitions. There’s a castle too – Tegernsee Castle houses the Herzogliche Bräustüberl brewery and a church.
Würzburg is a bit farther from Munich, but if you hop on the high-speed train from the central station you can be there in two hours. It’s home to the UNESCO-listed Würzburg Residenz, which makes it worth the effort on its own. A massive castle complex, it’s renowned for its magnificent Baroque-style interiors and the largest fresco in the world, created by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Intense bombing at the end of the Second World War left more than 90 percent of the Old Town destroyed, but it’s been painstakingly rebuilt and one can see many fine examples of medieval architecture, particularly around the historic Market Square.
Innsbruck is less than a two-hour drive south of Munich, positioned high in the Alps for breathtaking views while offering many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including miles and miles of hiking trails. It also hosts colorful buildings along the Sill River and the spectacular Imperial Palace, one of the three most significant cultural buildings in Germany, it was completed in 1500 AD. While Innsbruck may be especially well-known for its multiple Christmas markets, the warmer months of the year are ideal for people watching from one of the outdoor cafes near the famous Golden Roof, a 16th-century balcony with 2,657 copper tiles gilded with six kilos of gold.
About 95 minutes northeast of Munich, Deggendorf offers timeless beauty as a typical lower Bavarian town, traditional at heart yet youthfully modern at the same time. From the many hilltops one can take in dazzling views that stretch from the Danube River and the Bavarian Forest. After passing through the Spitaltor town gate into the historical center, you’ll immediately see the lovely baroque tower of the Church of St Peter and St Paul, widely regarded as the most beautiful of its kind in southern Germany. The Old Town House with its 1535 AD tower is another one of the most popular landmarks while the Shipmaster‘s house dates to 1590 as one of the oldest homes, the former residence of a wealthy shipmaster.