Winter or summer: A massive list of the most popular day trips from Munich as ranked by a local.
Munich is an amazing city. I should know, I live here. Architecture, art, tradition, food, beer – there is virtually nothing my hometown cannot offer (check my list of the 50 best things to do in Munich). But that is not the only reason Bavaria’s capital is often ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world. There is also a sheer endless mass of tourist attractions in the close vicinity. Here is my list of the 20 best day trips from Munich.
Note: The easiest way to reach most of the places on this list is by car. You’ll find the average time to reach them in parenthesis. As Bavaria has a very good public transport system, there is (almost) no location you cannot reach via train or bus in southern Germany. In some cases, it will take longer, though.
1. Day trip to Neuschwanstein castle (1h 50min)
The probably most popular reason to leave Munich is Schloss Neuschwanstein, near Füssen. The picture-perfect castle inspired Walt Disney for the Sleeping beauty castle and countless generations of photographers. The most stunning part: It’s even more spectacular from within than from without. Construction started in 1869 as a private mansion for King Ludwig II but it never got finished due to his untimely death and the astronomical costs.
Plan some extra time to visit the adjacent castle Hohenschwangau. It’s a bit older, but nevertheless quite charming. As Neuschwanstein is pure fantasy, Hohenschwangau will also give you the unique opportunity to see a real castle of the Bavarian Kings.
Note: If you plan a visit definitely pre-book your tickets on the official website, especially during the summer months.
2. Königsee (2 hours)
Few spots in Bavaria, if any, are more beautiful than the Köngisee (Lake of the Kings). Located in the scenic area of Berchtesgaden, the lake and its picturesque church Saint Bartholomäus have been a tourist’s favorite for more than 200 years.
While you are in the area, definitely make sure to drop by at the famous Eagle’s Nest (or Kehlsteinhaus, how it is properly called). It was erected during the third Reich-era for special diplomatic receptions and was visited by Adolf Hitler many times. These days, it’s just a beautiful restaurant in a stunning setting.
3. Salzburg (1h 30min)
Not all that far away from the Königsee, hides another wonderful day trip option from Munich: Salzburg. Often coined the town where Mozart was born, has much more to offer than just music. The fourth-largest city in Austria is renowned for its impressive baroque architecture and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.
4. Altötting (1h 20min)
The small town of Altötting is a true insider tip. It is here, almost all Bavarian Kings had had their hearts buried, it is here Germany’s the oldest and most important shrine to Mary can be found. And it is here all past three Popes came to pray in front of the black Madonna. It is a quiet place, a place for contemplation, but nevertheless stunning. Doubly so, as almost no international tourists come here.
5. Zugspitze (1h 45min)
Looking for an adventure? They how about climbing Germany’s highest mountain? But fear not, for those short on time or too lazy to hike, three cables cars run all the way up those 2.962 meters (9.718 ft). The panorama of the Bavarian Alps from the top is truly spectacular.
There is a big skiing resort at the Zugspitze, so it is also a perfect winter getaway. If you are looking for further things to do between December and March, check out my guide to the best things to do in Munich in winter.
6. Herrenchiemsee (1h)
Bavaria’s biggest lake is quite close to Munich and home to a spectacular castle. Herrenchiemsee was built by the same king that commissioned Neuschwanstein (see above) and was meant to look like Versaille. It’s safe to say he succeeded and visiting the lovely island on lake Chiemsee should be on your list of things to see in Munich.
7. Innsbruck (2h)
Innsbruck is another lovely Austrian town, you really should visit. Fear not, as Austria is in the EU, crossing the border is utterly hassle-free. Innsbruck is the capital of Tyrol and famous for its mountains, it’s ul, ski-resorts and excellent cuisine. It also happens to be the birthplace of the Swarovski crystals and there is a Swarovski Theme park quite close to the city worth visiting. Actually, I’d say Innsbruck is one of the best weekend trips from Munich, as there is so much to be explored in Tyrol that one day is probably not enough.
8. Breitachklamm (2h 10min)
In the most southern part of Germany hides another Gem you will find in few tourist guides. For some reason, the region called Allgäu is not all that popular among tourists. Berchtesgaden is closer, but traffic jams are frequent and its often a bit crowded. The Breitachklamm is the deepest rocky gorge in Central Europe and you really have to see. It’s a wonderful day trip from Munich in winter or summer.
9. Burghausen (1h 30min)
Burghausen is home to the longest castle complex in the world. The medieval fair tale castle stretches for more than one kilometer along a high mountain ridge. Burghausen Castle was founded in 1025 AD and has quite a history to tell. You won’t need a full day to explore the complex, though. As both Salzburg and Altöttingen are quite close, you could possibly combine them.
10. Dachau Concentration Camp (30min)
Germany is a proud nation with a very long history and many accomplishments. We invented the computer, the car, the electro engine, planes, television, we reformed Christianity and so much more. But we also committed atrocities beyond imaginations. The Nazi regime and Hitler is a stain we will never get rid off and one we should never forget either. Visiting one of the concentration camps, where hundreds of thousands of Jews and political enemies were killed under the most inhuman conditions might not be the most cheerful day trip from Munich, but it will leave a profound mark on your itinerary.
11. Rothenburg ob der Tauber (2h 30min)
I was somewhat reluctant to put Rothenburg ob der Tauber on this list of the best day trips from Munich. It’s quite far away. At the same time, the beyond romantic medieval old town has always been a tourist’s favorite. If you start your day early, I’m sure you will enjoy your stroll through what once has been one of the Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire. Rothenburg is part of the world famous Romantic road.
12. Linderhof (1h 15min)
Linderhof is another beautiful residence of King Ludwig II you have to see. It’s perhaps the most private, most intimate place he commissioned and thus the most intriguing. The small villa and it’s surrounding park was never meant to be an official place, but rather some kind of Hermitage for a man who was more constantly longing for the lost glory of past ages.
Note: Do drop by at the fantastic Ettal monastery which is only a 20 minute’s drive away.
13. Regensburg (1h 30min)
Regensburg is another well preserved medieval town worth a visit listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The capital of Upper Palatinate (“Oberpfaltz”) was founded in 179 AD under the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and started to flourish after the Stone Bridge across the Danube opened up the international trade routes between Europe and Venice. Truly a remarkable city with fascinating architecture! So, put a Regensburg day trip from Munich on your bucket list, eh?
15. Nuremberg (1h 15m)
Nuremberg is a medieval town of epic proportions and quite a spectacular old town. It has also quite a sinister Nazi-past, so it makes for the perfect day trip from Munich. If you are visiting Germany in winter, then the Christmas market in Nuremberg will be a more than welcome diversion.
15. Würzburg (3h)
Another UNESCO World Heritage site you shouldn’t miss can be found in Würzburg. The drive might be quite long, but the Würzburg Residenz is worth it. The vast castle complex is especially famous for its stunning Baroque style interiors, and the world largest fresco created by none other than Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
Note: If you just want to see the castle, I’d recommend visiting on route to another city in Germany like Frankfurt, Cologne or Berlin.
16. Kloster Andechs (50min)
The Andechs Abbey is a famous place of pilgrimage abutting a hill near lake Ammersee. For most locals, the pilgrimage is not spurred by their Christian piety but rather the beyond than excellent beer available in the beer garden (“Bräustuberl”). As a tourist, you are free to enjoy both, eh?
17. Wildpark Poing (40 min)
Another wonderful place to visit with kids is the Wildpark Poing. It’s not so much a zoo and more like a safari park where a huge emphasis lies on species-appropriate husbandry. To give you a good impression: The housing of the beer is 30.000m² large. For adults and kids, I think this is the best way to experience the local wildlife in a sustainable way. Here is a link to the official website.
18. Museum Buchheim (1h)
One of my personal favorite places to visit near Munich is the Museum Buchheim – or Buchheim Museum of Imagination. Buchheim was a German author and art collector. The museum is home to one of the finest collection of expressionist art and a beautiful starting point to explore idyllic lake Starnberg.
Note: Kloster Andechts (#16) is quite close. So why not combine the two for an extra special day trip
19. Augsburg (1h)
Augsburg is the third oldest city in Germany (founded in 15 BC!!) and played a major role in our history. There are magnificent buildings from the very earlier medieval times (like the Cathedral, founded in the 9th century), beautiful Renaiccance architecture and the oldest social housing estate in the world (the Fuggerei). It’s also home to one of the very few Synagogues to survive the pogrom during WWII.
20. Ulm (1h 45min)
Ulm should be on any list of cities near Munich to visit. It’s not only the birthplace of Albert Einstein but also home to the tallest steeple in the world (161m / 520ft). The long and winding climb up the Ulm Minster is a truly unforgettable experience – both in terms of the pain your legs will experience and the amazing view in grants over the old town. I especially liked the sightseeing in the old fishermen’s quarter with its many half-timbered houses and narrow cobblestone streets.
[bonus] Legoland (1h 20min)
Searching for the best day trip from Munich with kids? Then Legoland is what you are looking for. The Lego theme park is a wonderful mixture of rides and theme worlds built from Lego bricks. While young adults might still enjoy Legoland, it’s probably more suitable for ages 4-14. Here is the link to the official website.
Other day tours from Munich
Believe it or not, but calling this list finished would be a lie. There are many, many more beautiful day trips from Munich. I really didn’t mention Nuremberg, Bamberg or the Wallhalla, Kempten and it’s Roman fort, nor Schwaz and its medieval silver mine.
You also have to remember, that the Alps are only an hour’s drive away and there are so many beautiful hiking trails it would warrant another article (or two!). The surrounding area is also home to a couple of outstanding churches (like the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wieskirche).
Once it starts snowing, things change dramatically as well. A list of the best day trips from Munich in winter would definitely have to include all the amazing skiing resorts in Germany and across the Austrian border. Garmisch, Kitzbühl, Schladming, Stubai, and Ischgl instantly come to my mind. And let’s not forget the fabulous Christmas markets.
To tell you the truth: I have been living in Bavaria all my life and hardly a month passed where I did not explore something new. Ever since the Roman time new and outstanding architecture has been added, while the landscape has been developed by the local farmers since eons before. Certainly, there have been a couple of wars in between, but the remains still more than you could possibly explore in one lifetime.
Looking for more Munich inspiration? Here are some of my other articles:
- The 5 best hotels in Munich’s old town
- One day in Munich – What to see when time is short
- A self-guided Art Nouveau walking tour through Munich
- My Ultimate Oktoberfest Survival Guide
Anyway, I’ll conclude my list here. Hope you liked it. If you got any questions, feel free to drop me a comment below. And don’t forget to pin this to your Pinterest board.