With its location in the heart of Bavaria, Munich makes the perfect home base for exploring southern Germany and nearby Austria. And there really is so much to explore. Whether you’re looking for towns rich with history, adventures in the mountains and beautiful nature, visiting castles, there is something to appeal to everyone! With great transportation connections and lots of interesting sites within an hour to three hours by train, it’s a no brainer. Here are my picks of the best day trips from Munich!
Any visitor to Munich that has ever taken the S1 S-Bahn train to or from the airport has already passed through Oberschleißheim. But you probably haven’t seen the town’s jewel: Schloss Schleißheim, a grouping of palaces that once served as a summer residence for the House of Wittelsbach. The palace property is wrapped in lush baroque gardens and canal systems, not unlike those at Nymphenburgh Palace. The palace is a popular filming location, too. You may have seen it in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory or Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers.
If palaces don’t interest you, Oberschleißheim is also home to the aircraft museum arm of the Deutsches Museum.
With its location along the S-Bahn line, this is one of the easier and quicker day trips from Munich on the list.
Nicknamed by locals as the Bavarian Sea, the Chiemsee is the largest lake in Bavaria. There, visitors can partake in all kinds of activities in the fresh air while enjoying nature and the cool waters. The lake is also home to two inhabited islands. On the Herreninsel, the larger island of the two, you will find a palace commissioned by King Ludwig I that was inspired by Versailles. Meanwhile, there is an active Benedictine monastery on the other island, the Frauenchiemsee. Both are easily accessible for a visit after a short ferry ride. The towns that dot the perimeter of the lake are also charming spots to visit, too, during a Chiemsee day trip.
While the Austrian capital is a bit far to be considered in this list of day trips from Munich, Salzburg is just over the nearby border. The thoroughly European city charms with its quaintness: narrow cobblestone shopping streets hide all manner of adventures. And don’t forget the cafes. Oh, the cafes! Austria may not have invented sitting in a cafe with a coffee, a pastry, and the newspaper but they sure have perfected it. As though you need any excuse for an escape for a Munich to Salzburg day trip, the city is also a must-see for fans of The Sound of Music and Mozart, who called the city home during his early years. You can even visit his birth home. The nearby Hellbrunn Palace, a Lustschloss, is a fun visit with novelty water fountains.
With the Munich to Salzburg train, it’s an easy day trip that will have you eating Mozartkugeln and Sacher Torte in no time!
Whether it be the impressive castle that overlooks the city, World War II history or the home of artist and humanist Albrecht Dürer, Nuremberg is a city steeped in history. Some of that history may be right under your feet. Literally. Beneath the streets of Nuremberg, there are miles of passages that were once used to hold beer and, later, hide priceless works of art. It’s home to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, a must-see museum of German art and history. (Be sure to try the city’s unique Rotbier (red beer) while you’re there, too.) And the city, where the Nuremberg Trials were held, was also the site of the Nazi party rally grounds. Today, the space has been transformed into the Documentation Center, a moving and emotional museum that pays tribute by helping future generations understand what led to National Socialism and how we can stop it from happening again.
As the second-largest city in Bavaria, a Nuremberg day trip from Munich is a bit of an obvious choice. Nuremberg’s a bustling city with more to see and do than can easily fit into a single day.
Surrounded by the Alps and the border with Austria, Berchtesgaden is tucked deep in Bavaria. It’s like a puzzle piece shaped nook surrounded by Austria. The region is perfect for history buffs and active outdoor types. It is home to the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s bunker. But it is also home to the Watzmann mountain peak of the Alps and the Königssee, a lake of water so clear and blue it seems like it’s from a fairy tale. But, if you don’t enjoy hiking instead take the short electric ferry ride down the Königssee, a picturesque lake of blue-green waters. One of the stops is a former royal hunting lodge and the St. Bartholomew pilgrimage church.
Roughly 30-miles southeast of Munich is the town of Rosenheim. While the town is a sort of midway spot between Munich and Salzburg, there’s plenty to see and explore in Rosenheim. The town’s Altstadt features historic architecture, like a centuries-old market gate, and dozens of buildings painted in pretty pastel colors. There are also a number of museums in the town, including a wood technology museum.
Ammersee, Starnberger See, and Tegernsee
Bavaria is full of lakes and you could easily spend days visiting them all and getting to know the towns along their edges. The nearby Ammersee, Starnberger See and Tegernsee are popular destinations from Munich that you can reach easily and rather quickly, too. The lakes are especially busy spots on warm summer days or long weekends when you can unwind and relax at the numerous Biergartens you’ll find along the lakes. Whether you are an active outdoors type looking to partake in some watersports, go for a hike or just relax and enjoy the view, there is a lakeside town for you.
Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau
Perhaps one of the most popular day trips from Munich is the one from Munich to Neuschwanstein. The fairy tale castle is world-famous, and construction on the castle has never even finished! Together with Hohenschwangau, which is right across the valley, the two palaces play an important part in the life and history of King Ludwig II. Hohenschwangau was his childhood home while Neuschwanstein was his dream project. While the troubled and often eccentric king was found drowned before Neuschwanstein was completed, the castle is still an impressive draw. Because the castle is so world-famous, it tends to attract huge crowds and can be rather touristy. It simply can’t be avoided. But the sheer impressiveness and the views of the surrounding countryside made it worth the while. At least once.
Public transit connections from Munich to Neuschwanstein aren’t difficult but aren’t direct either. It takes some patience. Alternatively, there are options for taking private bus for a Neuschwanstein Castle tour from Munich.
Dachau is just a stone’s throw outside of Munich. In fact, you can reach the city relatively quickly just by using Munich’s public transportation (just take the S2 line of the S-Bahn). The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial is a well-known site for visitors to learn about the horrors of the Nazi regime and pay their respects to the victims. But the city also has several churches worth seeing as well as a palace and gardens.
If you’re looking for a day trip from Munich that’s more reflective, try Kloster Andechs. Hidden in the Bavarian countryside not far from the Ammersee is the pilgrimage church of Kloster Andechs, a Benedictine monastery with a well-known brewery. And what would you do at a pilgrimage church but make a pilgrimage? With an S-Bahn train ride from Munich of less than an hour to the town of Herrsching, you can then spend your day trip hiking to Kloster Andechs to sample its famous beer.
About an hour southwest of Munich in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. A series of cable cars and lift systems transport visitors way up and into the clouds. There you can ski, hike, rock climb, or simply enjoy unprecedented views from almost 3,000 meters above sea level. Visitors can also take tours of the Zugspitze glacier or find a moment of solace at the Maria Heimsuchung chapel. With the mountains being so close, a Zugspitze day trip from Munich is an easy option!
Lake Constance, or the Bodensee, is the third-largest lake in Europe. The lake serves as a meeting point where Germany meets with both Austria and Switzerland. Lake-side towns dot the perimeter of the pleasant lake. On the Bavarian side, the town of Lindau is the closest to Munich. If you’ve got the time to go a little farther west, I recommend a visit to Friedrichshafen, the city of the Zeppelin. There you can learn all about the flying airships, and even go for a ride in one. Ferries criss-cross the lake allowing you to visit different spots. Or you can simply go for a sail or to indulge in some other watersports.
The third oldest German city and the third-largest city in Bavaria, Augsburg is a university town that sits just west of Munich. As its early founding suggests, Augsburg is rich in history such as the Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social settlement. The city also played an important role in the 16th century during the Reformation. A day trip from Munich to Augsburg lets you escape “the big city” for a different experience. And it can take as little as a half-hour to reach via the Munich to Augsburg train!
Seated at the meeting of the Altmühl and Danube Rivers, Kelheim is a lovely Bavarian town with so much to offer. The town’s colorful Altstadt is wonderful to stroll through for some shopping or a bite to eat. From the town’s center, you can easily reach on foot the Liberation Hall, or Befreiungshalle Kelheim, a remarkable and massive memorial that offers stunning views over the river valley. With its location along the Danube, Kelheim also acts as a great spot for river cruising, whether it be to nearby locations like Weltenburg Abbey or Walhalla.
Just northeast along the Danube River from Kelheim is Regensburg, Bavaria’s fourth-largest city. It is here in Regensburg, for nearly 200 years the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire sat. The history is seemingly everywhere you turn in the city. Take, for example, the beautiful and functional 12th century stone bridge that leads into the city’s Altstadt. The city is also home to Thurn and Taxis Palace, Europe’s largest inhabited palace, and St. Peter’s Cathedral, Bavaria’s sole Gothic cathedral.
To the east of the city lies the Bavarian Forest, a German national park, and nearby is Walhalla, a striking Parthenon replica that houses a Hall of Fame with busts of important Germans.
The Munich to Regensburg train allows for easy transportation in under two hours — or faster depending on which train you take.
A day trip to Weltenburg Abbey is a magical experience. The “right” way, if you ask me, is to take a river cruise to the world’s oldest monastic brewery by way of the dock at nearby Kelheim. The cruise takes you through the Danube Gorge (or Donaudurchbruch) and past spectacular scenery. And it is only at the end that you find the peaceful Kloster Weltenburg.
Since around 600 AD the abbey has been located on this spot on the banks of the Danube. Today, visitors can make the pilgrimage to the spot (by river cruise, bicycle, or car) to explore the historic buildings. And, of course, the monks run a wonderful restaurant where you can sample their famous beer!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The Franconian town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is like a picture postcard. Its medieval Altstadt, or old town, is well preserved and tourists flock to experience it firsthand. The town is especially popular during the Christmas season when holiday decorations add character and a Christmas market welcomes shoppers. Rothenburg is also home to Käthe Wohlfahrt, a company that is known the world over for its Christmas decorations. But don’t worry if you visit during the rest of the year: there’s a Christmas museum!
A day trip from Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber by train takes a bit of patience as there aren’t any direct trains. With connections, it can take two to three hours and making it one of the more challenging day trips from Munich on the list. But your patience will reward you with a visit to a charming Bavarian town unlike any other!
Just over the German-Austrian border along the banks of the Inn River sits Kufstein. The Austrian town is home to Festung Kufstein, a massive fortress, that visitors can explore from top to bottom. The towers of the fortress offer lovely views over the town, the green-blue waters of the river, and the surrounding community. The fortress is also home to the largest free-standing organ in the world, which you can hear daily.
While Kufstein sits just over the border in Austria, less than twenty miles away on the German side is Bayrischzell. If you’re looking for an active day trip in the outdoors, Bayrischzell is the place to be. No matter what time of year it is there are activities you can enjoy. In the warmer weather, you can partake in activities like hiking and mountain climbing. During the winter, there’s skiing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and more. And, of course, after all that activity you’ll need a place to rest, too. Fear not! You’ll find plenty of cozy places to get some hearty local cuisine.
If you’re looking to experience small-town Bavarian life, you don’t have to go far. Along the S7 S-Bahn line lies Aying. Most will know the town for the Ayinger beer its brewery produces but there’s so much more to this community. Surrounded by flat fields and meadows, the town is easily walkable with historic buildings, like a 19th century Kegelbahn. In the heart of Aying, you’ll find the sky-high Maypole and the Bräustüberl (essentially the town pub), a modest and pretty church, and the brewery’s hotel. The Brauereigasthof Hotel Aying offers 4-star luxury with a Bavarian twist and makes it awfully tempting to turn your day trip into a sleepover. Around the corner and down the street you’ll find the town’s namesake brewery. They do run special brewery seminars and tours so book ahead if that’s of interest. But it’s fun just to walk by and visit the gift shop. You may just hear the clinking of glass bottles inside on a conveyor belt. But be sure to head to the Bräustüberl to get a taste! Without a doubt, Aying is one of the easier day trips from Munich.
Tips for Day Trips from Munich
- Most of these spots for day trips from Munich are easily accessible, especially using Deutsche Bahn. To save some money, consider a discount or regional ticket. For example, with the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, you have unlimited travel on local transit services for a single weekend day.
- If you’re planning to visit several palaces that are maintained by the Bavarian Palace Department, consider buying a palace pass to gain admission to 40 properties without reaching for your wallet each time.
- While trains make direct connections with many larger cities and towns, they may not always make travel easy to other attractions and sites. Consider renting a car or using a long-distance bus service like FlixBus (a Munich-based startup!).
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All opinions, as well as all photos, are my own. This post contains affiliate links.