Munich counts among the 10 most livable cities in the world. Bavaria’s capital certainly is amazing, but it’s the sheer endless amount of day trip options that are the deciding factor. The mountains are just an hour away, there are three large lakes just as close, there are amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites, ancient castles, and medieval towns all around.
Norman has been living in Munich for more than 20 years and looks back on over 30 years of travel experience. When he is not reclining in the pool of a fantastic luxury hotel or exploring one of the most remote corners of this planet, you will find him writing about his hometown.
If you’d spend every weekend of the year exploring Munich’s vicinity, you’d still not see it all. As a tourist, you probably don’t have that much time, which is why I compiled this list of the best day trips from Munich. The best part: You can easily visit them by train in 2 hours or less.
It’s the reason why I always recommend staying 4 or 5 days. There are so many things to do in Munich and you not want to miss these either. Actually, you could easily stay a full week or more and explore the whole southern part of Germany from my beautiful hometown.
Ready? Let me get you started with the best day trips from Munich – by train:
#1: Side trip from Munich: Head to Bamberg
Bamberg is one big UNESCO World Heritage site. If you are looking for a beautiful medieval old town, then this is possibly the best day trip from Munich for you. There are direct trains every hour from the central station and it’s easy to spend a whole day there.
Apart from the famous half-timbered town hall, there is a fantastic palace, quite a couple of small museums, and of course outstanding churches and monasteries to be explored. Bamberg is also well-renowned for its many artisanal beer breweries, so that’s definitely one of your best chances to sample an important aspect of our Bavarian culture.
Munich day trip #2: Visit Neuschwanstein castle
Schloss Neuschwanstein is the most visited tourist attraction in Bavaria. The place that inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle looks like straight from a picture-book. Yes, it might be crowded (1.4 million tourists per year!), but it is also beautiful beyond imagination.
I grew up very close to the fairy tale castle built by King Ludwig II. and no matter how often I visit, I am still in awe. There are three things you need to know, though. First, you have to reserve your tickets in advance. And secondly, you have to walk quite a bit to get to the castle (or take a horse carriage). And lastly, there is a second castle called Hohenschwangau right next to it, so bring some extra time to see them both. Here is everything you need to know about visiting Neuschwanstein castle from Munich.
#3 Excursion from Munich: Regensburg
Regensburg once guarded an important bridge across the river Danube. Even today, you can cross the architectonic marvel from the 12th century into the fantastic medieval old town. Regensburg dates to the Roman times and you can still see the old city gates. Just one of many reasons why it is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site today.
You should reserve 3 hours to see the equally famous Walhalla memorial on the outskirts of Regensburg. The neoclassical temple was built to house sculptures of famous Germany artists, inventors, and politicians. You get to enjoy a fantastic view of the whole river valley from the top, so don’t miss it!
#4: Cross the border to Austria and visit Salzburg
The beautiful town of Salzburg might be across the Austrian border, but if you are a fan of the movie The Sound of Music then visiting this city is a no-brainer. It only takes 90 minutes by train. There are special tours to the most important film locations. But you should also be aware that Salzburg is home to one of the biggest medieval fortresses in Europe.
The famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, and you can still visit his birth house. You’ll find it in the amazing old town (which is another UNESCO World Heritage site). On top of all the baroque splendor, there are many ancient mines and caves in the vicinity. So, why not visit the World of the Ice Giants as well?
#5 Take the train from Munich to Nuremberg
Nuremberg is the capital of the Franconia region in Germany. The city hosted the important Nuremberg trials at the end of World War II and is famous for its beautiful Christmas market right in the medieval old town.
There is a beautiful fortress you can visit, but I personally love the Germanic National Museum the most. Inside, you will find beautiful artworks from all ages, and some outstanding highlights like the oldest pocket watch or the oldest globe in the world. There are also endless masterpieces by Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, etc. So, do visit!
#6: Visit Würzburg
Before 1805, Bavaria was split into many smaller shires and duchies. Some of them were ruled by powerful prince-bishops, and Würzburg was maybe the grandest of them all. As a testament to his sheer absolute power, Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn built a magnificent residence palace in the first half of the 18th century that beggars comprehension. The most elaborated stucco works and frescoes adorn every inch of the Baroque masterpiece.
The palace was heavily bombed in the last months of World War II, just like the rest of the old town. But the local craftsmen rebuilt the palace (luckily all the interiors survived) and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site you cannot miss.
#7: Bayreuth is easy to reach by train from Munich
The quaint little town of Bayreuth would not appear on any tourist map save for the outstanding projects Margravine Wilhelmine started during her reign (or rather that of her husband). Missing the splendor of the Prussian court, she commissioned a new palace, a hunting palace (the fabled Hermitage) and a new opera house.
This Margravial Opera House is the single most intact Baroque court theater in the world and words cannot describe the beauty of it. There is so much detail, you’d probably need days to experience it all. This is another UNESCO World Heritage site you can easily visit on a day trip from Munich.
And talking about the UNESCO, there is one last site you should be aware of which is only 40 minutes away from Munich: Augsburg. The city has a history of 2,000 years and more. For centuries upon centuries, the famous silversmiths supplied the European aristocracy with priceless artworks.
Augsburg is also famous for its waterworks. Ever since the 14th century, the citizens of the free city used the power of the River Lech to supply the old town with the tap water. An unrivaled luxury in the late medieval ages. The system is still in use today and it is quite a marvel to look at!
#9: Dachau Concentration Camp
One of the darkest chapters of our history happened during the reign of the Nazis. Millions of Jews and other political prisoners were killed in so-called concentration camps. Instead of the most horrible furnaces, you will find important memorials in these sites. Dachau was one of them, and even though it will be a bit grizzly, I still urge you to visit. We cannot undo the past but we can learn from it so it never happens again.
#10 day trip from Munich by train: Innsbruck
Innsbruck is one of the oldest towns in Austria and has been continuously settled for more than 3,000 years. Today, the city with a population of 132,000 thousand is famous for its picturesque old town (especially the famous golden roof) and the beautiful mountains surrounding it. You could also visit the famous Swarovski World.
A couple of important tips
10-day trips already sound like a lot. But in fact, I could list another 50. In this case, I tried to focus on places that are easily accessible by train. Why? Well, because there is the so-called BavariaTicket. For 25 euros, you get unlimited rides on the regional train for one day. Each additional group member will have to pay an extra 7 euros.
This is a great bargain and one you really should make use of (especially as buses and the subway in Munich are covered by the ticket as well). Just make sure to sign your ticket (otherwise it’s not valid). Regional trains are a bit slower, and there is no bistro on board, so you should bring a little snack and some drinks on your day trips.
As for checking your connections: The website of the German Railway service works like a charm and here you can plan your trip and even buy your tickets.
You should also bring some cash because credit cards are NOT widely accepted in the rural areas of Germany, and ATMs might be a bit harder to find.
So, this is it. This was my guide to the best day trips from Munich. I hope I was able to provide you with some solid inspiration and ultimately helped you planning your Germany itinerary.