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!
For the best view in Munich, you need to visit St. Peter’s Church, or Alter Peter, in the heart of the city’s old city. Part of Munich’s magic and charm is its low skyline. In most of the city, especially the Altstadt, no building is permitted to be taller than the Frauenkirche, the city’s iconic double-domed church. But with no dedicated observation tower centrally located, how to get a peek at this beautiful city from above and enjoy the Alps in the background? Around Marienplatz there are a few options, including an observation deck within city hall (Neues Rathaus). But Alter Peter’s tower offers stunning unobstructed views.
Around the world, there are towers, arches, and monuments that honor important statesman, war battles, and, well, anything a country or region deems important. In the Bavarian town of Kelheim, Liberation Hall (or Befreiungshalle in German) honors the victory over Napoleon during the Wars of Liberation in 1813. The massive round building sits overlooking the town and the surrounding Danube River Valley. Needless to say, the Befreiungshalle in Kelheim leaves a big impression.
Walhalla isn’t merely a Norse myth. It stands commandingly on the edge of a hill overlooking the Danube River Valley at Donaustauf just outside of Regensburg, Germany. But for those approaching from the street, a small forest of trees hides this spectacular neo-classical building. As you approach, and the trees thin to show off the secret it’s keeping. It’s more than a little striking — and that’s before you even venture inside to see the Hall of Fame it contains. Whether you visit the Walhalla Memorial to admire the architecture, the stunning view, or to go inside and see the collection of busts honoring famous Germans, you can’t lose. It’s an impressive outing.
With Oktoberfest not starting until September and the delightful German Christmas markets merely a fond memory, what can you expect visiting Munich in spring? Like so many popular travel spots, spring means warming temperatures and blooming flowers. And in Munich, it means a return to the outdoors as Biergarten culture resumes and a plethora of festivals begin. Spring brings a special excitement to Munich.
While the tradition of the Maypole isn’t unique to Germany, the Bavarians seem especially fond of what they call the Maibaum. Across the southern German state, you’ll find wooden poles in the region’s trademark white and blue shooting up into the sky. They’re in small villages, big cities, and popular destinations like farmers’ markets and your favorite Biergarten.
But how do these giant landmarks get there? While some towns embrace modern technology and use a crane, others are still doing it the old fashioned way with manpower. In the town of Aying, just outside of Munich, the local Burschenverein (a local men’s club) hoist the Maibaum by hand — and it takes the whole day!
There is no doubt about it: Germans know how to party! And Munich beer festivals are famous for a reason. Roughly six months before Oktoberfest and only weeks after the winter beer festival of Starkbierfest, revelers head to the famous Theresienwiese for the Munich Frühlingsfest, or Munich spring festival. Like Oktoberfest, Frühlingsfest features the raucous beer tents, carnival rides, games, and dozens of food options. There are even a number of great events that are a part of the festival, including the opening parade with free beer, Bavaria‘s largest flea market, and a classic car show. Spring has sprung and there’s no shortage of fun things to do at Munich Frühlingsfest!
These days, river cruises are all the rage and a Danube River cruise is, perhaps, one of the most popular. But for a magical day trip, visitors can take a river cruise to Kloster Weltenburg, the oldest monastic brewery in the world, from Kelheim, Germany. Although brief, the cruise takes travelers through the Danube Gorge (or Donaudurchbruch), a stunning nature reserve lined with remarkable rock formations, to the tip of a peninsula where the famous Weltenburg Abbey offers solace and award-winning beer.
Visitors to Germany, and the southern state of Bavaria, in particular, could easily spend months seeing all of the beer breweries that cover the picturesque landscape. But Klosterbrauerei Andechs is special. Less than an hour outside of Munich, Kloster Andechs sits on a hill overlooking the surrounding countryside of small towns, farms and, to the west, a lake. The brewery is still run by the monks of the Benedictine abbey. While the brewery exports Andechs beer around the world, you can try it for yourself by visiting Kloster Andechs. And while you could easily drive or take the bus to reach the monastery, Andechs is a popular pilgrimage — that is, you can reach Andechs on foot from nearby Herrsching. I only had to experience it once. Now the hike to Andechs is a favorite Munich day trip!
Munich is famous for many things, but being free or low cost isn’t one of them. The Bavarian capital city is in high demand and, as any student of even an introduction to economics can you tell you, that equals high prices. There is no shortage of things to do and enjoy in Munich, from world-class museums to visits to a tempting Biergarten. But it can quickly add up. But why not supplement those expenses with some free things to do in Munich? The city is full of wonderful spots to enjoy and things to do that don’t cost a single Euro.
I wish someone had told me these things before traveling to Germany for the first time. My husband (who was then my fiance) and I went armed only with our high school German knowledge, an envelope full of Euros and a positive attitude. But our good attitude only went so far as we spent two weeks in Berlin. It was rough. Since then, we’ve been back to Munich almost a half dozen times and we’ve become a bit of a well-oiled machine. Here are my best tips for things to know before traveling to Germany for the first time. Even repeat visitors might find something of interest.
The Tegernsee is just one of the many lakes in the German state of Bavaria. But there’s so much that makes this specific lake special and worth visiting. I had a chance to visit the town of Tegernsee for a winter afternoon day trip from Munich. It’s the kind of charming lakeside getaway you expect in Bavaria, with a small town feel that’s electrified by small shops and restaurants while the Alps provide a beautiful backdrop.