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!
Austria‘s Kufstein Fortress (or Festung Kufstein) in the country’s western state of Tyrol stands mightily on a hill overlooking the surrounding valley. Only about an hour south of Munich and just over the border into Austria, Kufstein is home to an historic fortress worth touring that houses a museum, prison and the world’s largest free-standing organ — that you can hear daily! What’s more, the town it calls home has a charming old city that will steal the heart of any tourist with its colorful buildings and narrow cobblestone streets.
Each month I try to highlight a Must See. Usually this means a city, location or museum that I have on my own travel bucket-list. This month I want to do things a little different. Visiting a true European Christmas Market is undeniably on my Must See list. But there’s so many! To select just one would be too difficult and not fair to all of the other wonderful ones. So instead this month’s Must See pulls together five Christmas Markets to put on your own Must See list.
There is a German language music revolution happening but it isn’t in Germany. Just south of the border in Austria, the pop bands performing music in the German language just keep coming. Graz based Granada are one of the newer bands in the Austrian music scene. The five-piece have only just released their self-titled debut album. Get in on the ground floor, so to speak. This month’s featured German language music recommendation is Granada!
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. However, it might be difficult to convince the Austrian lake town of Hallstatt. A Chinese mining company built an exact copy of the town in Guangdong. But you really can’t blame the Chinese. Many consider the village to be the most beautiful town in the world. It’s easy to see why Hallstatt, Austria is this month’s featured location on My Must See List.
Paris has temporary ferris wheels like the Roue de Paris and the Big Wheel on Place de la Concorde. The English capital has the London Eye, a fancy wheel that serves more as a moving observation tower than as a ride in an amusement park. But before either of these major cities had their ferris wheels, Vienna had theirs. The Austrian capital’s Wiener Riesenrad, or Viennese ferris wheel, stands as the star attraction of the Wurstelprater, a permanent amusement park that is a part of the Wiener Prater park. In fact, you will be very familiar with this particular ferris wheel if you’ve seen the 1949 film The Third Man with Orson Welles, as it serves as a particularly important location.
The ferris wheel is one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions. The Wurstelprater is a combination of history, whimsy and fun. The Wiener Riesenrad and the rest of the amusement attractions at Wurstelprater are this month’s addition to My Must See List.
I suspect there are some who read this post’s title and cringed a bit. But you know what, sometimes you need a good pop song! (That’s coming from a sworn rock-n-roll-til-I-die person.) And the late Austrian singer Falco has delivered more than a couple of those. While those outside of the German speaking world might think the only Falco song they know is “Rock Me Amadeus,” they’d be wrong. Falco’s track “Der Kommissar” was a hit in the United States and the United Kingdom for After The Fire once the lyrics were translated and loosely adapted into English. Guilty pleasure? Maybe. But Falco’s unique lyric delivery and catchy hooks will help you to process and comprehend what you’re listening to. And rock out. That’s why this month’s German language music recommendation is none other than Falco.
An altar inside the Salzburger Dom in Salzburg, Austria.
On our first trip to Munich, Germany, my husband and I were lucky enough to take a day trip with some friends. The plan was to go to Salzburg, Austria and see the sights. Unfortunately it was a bit overcast and a bit rainy but we were up for whatever our friends thought was worth seeing. During the car ride, they kept telling us, with a chuckle, we were going to visit a very “interesting” castle. It’s very “funny,” they said. Uh, OK. What weren’t they telling us? The castle in question was Schloss Hellbrunn. And, boy, was it “interesting.”