Make more memories on your trip to Germany with these amazing day trips from Munich–from sampling Sachertorte chocolate cake to marveling at fairytale castles.
Munich sits snugly in Germany’s south, right in the heart of Bavaria. While the city itself is worth the trip, filled as it is with places to see and fall in love with, it’s also a great base if you want to see more of Bavaria, Germany or even venture across the border. From Munich you’re just a short way from Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria.
Whether it’s Disney-esque castles, stunning gorges and mountains, or skiing that tempts you, our round up of the best day trips from Munich should give you plenty of food for thought.
Neuschwanstein Castle is the reason many people travel to Munich in the first place. At just two hours from the city, it’s the perfect distance for a day trip and your first glimpse of it will never disappoint – it lives up to every photo you’ve ever seen.
Reputed to be the castle that inspired Walt Disney when he came to design Sleeping Beauty’s castle, it rises majestically from picture postcard trees. Often swathed in mist or tipped with snow, it scarcely seems real. From the town of Hohenschwangau at its base you can either take a bus up to the castle, or walk – don’t worry, it’s not too steep.
Have your cameras at the ready as you cross Marien Brucke (Mary’s Bridge), the perfect vantage point for the best view of Neuschwanstein. King Ludwig II didn’t live to see the completion of the vision he commissioned, but you’ll be able to tour the inside and see how his dream was made breathtaking reality.
Note the touches that were a direct dedication to 19th century composer Richard Wagner, enjoy the clear mountain air and soak up the experience of being inside one of the world’s most iconic and picturesque castles.
A Munich to Salzburg day trip is another that’s achievable in just two hours. You’ll be crossing the border to Austria and entering straight into the set of movie classic The Sound of Music. It’s not the largest city in Austria, but it’s without doubt the prettiest, with a compact center infused with the spirit of music – this is, after all, the birthplace of Mozart.
The surrounding lakes make it a lovely place to relax if you don’t want to hit the tourist trail. If you do, the small size of the Old Town means you can see the main attractions in a day.
Take lunch in the oldest coffee house in Austria, Café Tomaselli, and enjoy samplinga slice of classical European culture. Sip a wonderful coffee among the chandeliers, accompanied by moreish serving of cake, and watch the world go by.
Before you head back to Munich, make time for the pretty Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where some key sequences in The Sound of Music were filmed.
A fine medieval town, Rothenburg – or Rothenburg ob der Tauber to give it its full name – has much to tempt you away from Munich for a day or two. It’s around 150 miles to the north-west of Munich, but it feels like you’ve stepped 150 years into the past.
If you could summon up the perfect German town for Christmas, it would be this one. Sure enough, it hosts a great Christmas market, cozy and atmospheric, called the Reiterlesmarkt.
A Munich to Rothenburg day trip is wonderful at any time of year, however. The Night Watchman’s Tour is a famously fun way to explore the town, and be sure to make your way to St. Jakob’s Church to see the 500-year-old wood carving known as the Heiligblualtar.
There are other 14th and 15th century churches to discover in this gloriously preserved town, as well as medieval walls to stroll along. Make sure you try the local sweet specialty Schneballen – balls of shortcrust pastry dusted with icing sugar. It’s worth grabbing some for the journey back to Munich too.
The peaks and piste beckon just two hours south-west at Zugspitze, perfect for a day trip from Munich in winter. Zugspitze is the highest peak in Germany and from the top you’ll find a sublime view of the Alps, the epic mountain range stretching across four countries.
Dress for the bracing weather and enjoy a glacier walk, climb on board the recently opened cable car or the cogwheel train, then ski or even toboggan. Warm your bones with coffee and cake while basking in the view from Panorama 2962. You can glide down the slopes and be back in Munich for dinner.
Heading over the border again to Austria, Innsbruck is the engaging and idyllic Tyrolean capital, only two hours from Munich. The Nordkotte mountain range towers over the town – and you may be tempted to head up to the pretty peaks.
Innsbruck itself has an attractive Altstadt, or old town, packed with wonderful medieval buildings, and highlights such as the Golden Roof, the city’s most iconic symbol. It was the great emperor Maximilian I who created this spectacular landmark – more than 2,500 copper tiles that he had added to the Neuhof building in the 16th century. There’s a whole museum dedicated to it.
Just west of here is the oldest café in the Tyrol, Café Munding, while Café Sacher does a glorious Sachertorte chocolate cake. You can find traces of the legacy of the Habsburg dynasty too, with the early 15th century Hofburg Imperial Palace (look out for the Renaissance art here, as well as the portrait of Marie Antoinette), Maximilian I’s empty tomb at Hofkirche and more besides.
For breathtaking views, serene lakes and perhaps the prettiest part of all of Bavaria, take a day trip from Munich to Berchtesgaden. This is where you’ll find Konigsee – the King’s Lake – a placid stretch of clear water surrounded by steep cliffs.
There’s a quaint lakeside town here called Schonau, although it can get busy with tourists. Escape them with a boat tour of the lake, stopping at St. Bartholoma, the Echo Wall and the Ice Chapel.
Away from the lake, many come to see the Eagle’s Nest, reached only by shuttle bus. Built as a retreat for Adolf Hitler, it now hosts a restaurant and yet more spectacular views.
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