Whether you’re traveling to Bavaria for Oktoberfest, Neuschwanstein or to take a day trip to charming villages or refresh with an alpine getaway, get ready to give your wallet some serious attention. While Bavaria is the second wealthiest of the German federal states, there are things you can do to save yourself a little cash while traveling. From taking advantage of technology to money saving passes, I’m sharing my favorite tips for traveling a little smarter. Consider it a little extra money for a Biergarten visit! Here are my simple tricks to save money traveling in Bavaria.
Cash Is King, But…
As anyone who has traveled abroad knows, converting money can be expensive. No matter where you get your cash from there will be fees. This can range from a fee for simply exchanging money to a percentage for each Euro you want to exchange.
In Germany, cash is still largely king. There are, of course, exceptions. Most large places now accept credit card. It’s well known that getting money from an ATM in your destination is usually the cheapest way to get cash. I say “usually” because each bank and ATM can tack on their own fees. So try and research before using an ATM in order to avoid any surprises. Also, if possible use a bank you’re familiar with and trust.
That said, it is also important to have access to a credit card if need be. Especially for buying tickets online (more on that in a moment!). I recommend getting a credit card that does not have a fee for currency exchange. That means you can be charged in Euros and then your credit card will bill you in dollars (or your local currency) without any fee. For large expenditures, like hotel rooms, this can save a lot of money!
Buy Digital Tickets
Munich‘s public transit network (MVV) offers a free mobile app. By downloading and installing the free app you can check schedules for trains, buses, and trams; get up to date info; and buy tickets.
Buying tickets using the app is great for a couple of reasons. It’s usually a lot quicker and easier than using the ticket machine — especially if there’s a line or the machine is broken (it does happen!). Using the app also allows you to take your time if you’re not sure exactly which ticket you need or if you decide, spontaneously, to go for a ride. The app is conveniently available in multiple languages.
The MVV app is great in that once you buy your ticket, mobile connectivity isn’t required. The ticket is saved locally to your device. Just make sure your battery doesn’t run out. I can’t stress that enough. If ticket control comes to verify riders have a valid ticket, your mobile ticket is only valid if you can display it.
Other cities, like Nuremberg, offer apps or mobile tickets for their local transit systems. And the national train provider, Deutsche Bahn, also has its own app for mobile tickets. Before traveling, check to see if your destinations offer something. Not only is it convenient but by charging to your credit card you can, potentially, avoid some additional fees.
Buy Regional Tickets
In addition to having a really useful app, Deutsche Bahn also has some great deals that will help you save money traveling in Bavaria and the rest of the country. The national train provider has special regional tickets that range from specific destinations, city-to-city travel, travel within a state or across state lines. By using one of these tickets you can save yourself a little money.
First things first, you should read the details for the regional tickets. Some are only valid on certain days of the week or during certain hours, while others limit which trains you can take. Usually, the regional tickets are for trains that are slower or make frequent stops.
Also, the base price of the ticket is for a single person. For a relatively nominal fee you can add additional riders.
There are national tickets, like the Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket and the Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket as well as tickets for transport within each federal state (Länder-Tickets). You can even get a special ticket for common trip destinations in each state. Within Bavaria this includes Munich to Nuremberg, Legoland, and other spots. And, it’s worth noting that there are some extra benefits with some of the tickets. For example, the Bayern-Ticket will get you to nearby Salzburg, Austria!
Regionally, the Meridian, BOB, BRB, and BEG also offer special tickets for trips. The Meridian, BOB and BRB offer a Guten-Tag-Ticket that will get you around Salzburg, Munich or Tegernsee.
Visiting castles and palaces is a popular draw in Germany. And if you’re planning to go palace hopping in Bavaria, there’s a special ticket you’ll want to get.
The Bavarian Palace Department oversees many of the palaces, gardens and lakes in the state. They offer a special pass that provides admission to over 40 palaces in Bavaria. You can get the pass for an individual or a family (two adults and up to two children under 18 years of age) for a 14-day period or a full year. Alternatively, they offer a Königsschlösser pass that will get you admission to King Ludwig II’s palaces (Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, and Neuschwanstein).
It’s important to show the pass at each palace or castle’s ticket office to find out their policy. Sometimes the pass serves as the ticket while at other locations it will provide you access to a ticket.
My favorite part of the Bavarian palaces pass is that there is no limit on how many times you can visit a single spot during your pass’ period. You could visit Munich’s Residenz, Neuschwanstein or Herrenchiemsee every day if you wanted! (And why wouldn’t you?)
Stick to Free Things to Do
It may surprise you just how many free things there are to do in the cities and regions across Bavaria. From historic sites, impressive castles and palaces, and fantastic scenery, there’s really no shortage of things to do without reaching for your wallet. Try some free things and save the euros for the Biergarten. I put together a list of more than 29 free things to do in Munich.
Save Money Traveling In Bavaria…and Germany
All of these tips are targeted at Bavaria but they can easily be generalized to save money traveling in Bavaria as well as across the country. The Deutsche Bahn app and regional tickets, in particular, are tips you can apply throughout Germany.