Exploring the Bavarian region of Germany with a day trip from Munich should be on everyone’s bucket list! The southeastern corner of Germany is filled with gorgeous landscapes, beautiful cities, and centuries of history.
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You can spend days exploring Munich, but don’t miss the rest of Bavaria! The entire region is brimming with natural wonders. The Bavarian Alps in the south are breathtaking. Every city and town has something to see or do, and one of the most impressive castles in the world is here.
Check out these 9 easy day trips from Munich. Pick a few favorites to add to your itinerary, or try them all!
1. Salzburg, Austria
1hr 30min by train or car
Just across the Austrian border to the east, Salzburg is an enchanting city. This is the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the Sound of Music, and there is always a musical event to attend.
Wander through beautiful gardens, visit the fortress overlooking the city, and see where a musical prodigy was born. And that’s just the Old Town!
I highly recommend spending a few days in Salzburg if you have the time, but a day trip from Munich is a good taster to make you want to come back.
Must-See Salzburg Sights
Fantastic views and who doesn’t love a good castle? The funicular is a short and fun ride up the cliffs. Climb the Tower for the best views of the city! No lines at the end of the day, by the way. Grab a bite or a brew at the restaurants, and enjoy those views a little longer.
Salzburg Residence and Cathedral
Learn how the Prince-Archbishops lived when they ruled the region. The Residence showcases the state and private rooms and an art gallery.
Use the attached walkway for great views of Residenzplatz as you continue your tour into the Cathedral. The walkway takes you through the organ loft and offers amazing perspective down the length of the sanctuary. Amazing architectural details everywhere you look!
Mozart’s Birthplace (Geburtshaus)
Salzburg’s original poster boy, check out where Mozart was born and grew up. He made his musical debut at the age of 5 in the nearby Salzburg Cathedral and didn’t stop composing until the day he died. The museum focuses on Mozart’s family, early life, and musical history.
Tip: Very popular and always crowded. The Mozart Wohnhaus across the river has similar exhibits with somewhat smaller crowds.
Mirabell Palace Gardens
Get that iconic picture of the gardens, palace, and Hohensalzburg Fortress in the distance. Go early to miss the crowds, or catch the sunset lighting up the fortress on the hill.
Tip: Don’t miss the Dwarf Garden while you’re here! These statues are hilarious, in a nice shaded area, and easily accessible from the palace gardens.
1hr 45min by car; 2h 45min by train/bus (train to Salzburg/bus to Berchtesgaden)
History and nature are the main reasons for visiting this quaint mountain village. Berchtesgaden National Park protects astonishing views and lakes in the Bavarian Alps.
If you’re a history buff, visit the Documentation Center and see Kehlsteinhaus (aka the Eagle’s Nest): Hitler’s Bavarian mountain chateau.
Must-See Berchtesgaden Sights
Documentation Center and Eagle’s Nest
Drive or take a bus (15min) up to Obersalzburg and visit the Documentation Center to learn about the area’s Nazi past. The museum is matter-of-fact and includes a tour of the underground bunker system.
Next, purchase a bus ticket to the Eagle’s Nest. It’s free to visit the chateau, but the roads are winding and narrow and not open to the public. You can either hike up the mountain for free or buy a bus ticket.
The views up top are amazing and a few short hikes along the ridge give you unparalleled views of the surrounding country. The chateau itself is now a restaurant (eat lunch outside!) but historical plaques are found all around.
Hint: Spot the photo of Hitler sitting on a lounge chair on the sun terrace where you’re standing.
Königssee (King’s Lake)
Save some time to see the beautiful Königssee! This gorgeous teal blue lake is part of the protected Berchtesgaden National Park and only a 10min drive or bus ride from central Berchtesgaden. The lake gets its color from natural minerals in runoff from the surrounding mountains. The river in town is the same beautiful color!
Electric-powered ferries shuttle visitors to Kirche St Bartholomä (St Bartholomew’s Church) and take about 35min from dock to dock. The domes on this famous pilgrimage church are best admired from the lake, so have your camera ready.
Arrive around lunchtime and spend an afternoon by the water or in the beer garden. You can hike to some fantastic viewpoints, or even take the ferry on to Salet. But bring a watch so you don’t miss the last ferry back.
Important: The lines for the ferry back get incredibly long in the late afternoon. Leave yourself plenty of time to wait for a ferry if you have to catch the last bus back to Salzburg to catch your train.
1hr 10min by ICE train; 2hr by car
Nuremberg is for the history fans! This is another great option to spend a few days if you have the time, but a day trip from Munich works well.
Exit the train station and just start walking north for the Kaiserburg Castle. You’ll see everything else along the way and can pick and choose your stops as you go.
Must-See Nuremberg Sights
Kaiserburg Nürnberg (Imperial Castle of Nuremberg)
The armory alone is worth the visit! The first room with the procession of the Holy Roman Emperor is also fun to watch. This castle has been around since the 11th century and has evolved over the years as regimes have changed.
Peek inside a medieval church or two.
Plenty to choose from on your walk from the train station to the castle: St Lorenz, Frauenkirche, and St Sebald’s being the largest three. Gush over architectural details that have stood since the 11th century. They may not have had much technology, but they knew how to build beautiful cathedrals.
Rally Grounds and Documentation Center
A bit out of the center of town, take a bus or tram to the Documentation Center. Enter the immersive exhibit about how the Nazi party rose to fever pitch with the Nuremberg Rallies and ended with the Nuremberg Trials.
We saw several documentation centers on our epic 12 day trip, but the one in Nuremberg was by far the most comprehensive.
Hint: The last room in the museum features a wall-sized photo of Nuremberg after it was bombed. Center stage of that photo is St Sebald’s Church with its roof gone and windows blown out. It struck home with us because we visited St Sebald’s right before coming to this museum.
Continue out on the catwalk into the incomplete Congress Hall and understand the scale of this movement at its peak. If you have time, walk around the lakes and out to the Zepplinfield to further reflect.
Warning: Don’t be the idiot that does the Nazi salute or fake re-enacts rally speeches at the zeppelin grounds. It’s in poor taste, and it’s illegal.
1hr 30min by car; 2hr by train
Neuschwanstein Castle, or the model for the Disney castle as some of you know it, has been on my bucket list for years! This is the most popular day trip from Munich by far.
Take the train to Füssen and a short 15min bus ride to the village of Hohenschwangau, home of the castles!
That’s right, plural! Not just one but two castles to see here: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau.
The town shares its name with Hohenschwangau because that castle has been there since medieval times. Neuschwanstein was the product of King Ludwig II’s ego or vision, whichever you prefer, and wasn’t built until the 1860’s. King Ludwig II was an enormous supporter of the arts and wanted to literally build up Bavaria’s culture, no matter how much it cost.
Must-See Füssen Sights
Castles, of course
Neuschwanstein Castle’s reputation for opulence precedes it, but Hohenschwangau Castle is decorated like a fairytale (and actually complete). Get the combo ticket and see both!
Tours are 30min, mandatorily guided, and timed entry. Don’t be late! With a combo ticket, you’ll visit Hohenschwangau first, have a 2 hour gap to get up the mountain, and then tour Neuschwanstein.
If you don’t want to go inside or listen to a guide, then visiting the outside is free! I’m personally all about the history and love the tours. The details and decorations in both castles are jaw-dropping and not to be missed!
Tip: Order tickets online before your trip to guarantee your spot. Tickets can sell out months in advance during peak summer season.
Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge)
Chances are you’ve seen the same picture of Neuschwanstein every time; it’s just changed seasons from picture to picture. That iconic shot is taken from the Marienbrücke!
It gets crowded in peak season, but the views are 1000% worth the wait. If you have time continue across the bridge and along the path for another stunning viewpoint of the castle.
Pöllat Gorge Walk
Highly recommend this path for the walk down the mountain. The Pöllat River, which the Marienbrücke spans, falls into an awesome waterfall below. The Pöllat Gorge path descends to the base of the waterfall and follows the river through the gorge and back to Hohenschwangau.
You’re literally walking over the river on portions of the trail. Wonderful shaded path in summer, but be mindful of ice in the winter.
20min by S-bahn (train); 30min by car
This suburb of Munich is largely known for its dark Nazi past, but the town was popular with Bavarian nobles for centuries before that. Fairs and festivals see the town turn out in their best dirndls and lederhosen!
I included this as a full day trip, despite being so close to Munich, because the concentration camp memorial will take a long time to see everything. The museum alone took 2-3 hours if you read most exhibits and watch the short film, and you’ll want to walk the grounds as well.
Must-See Dachau Sights
Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
A truly haunting place to visit, but a must-visit site so that we never forget. This should be a place of remembrance and contemplation.
Dachau was the first camp, the model work camp filled primarily with political prisoners. Enter the camp through the notorious Arbeit Macht Frei gate (“Work Sets you Free”). (Auschwitz is the other infamous camp with this same phrase over its entrance.)
The exhibits in the museum include thousands of photos, artifacts, and descriptions of what life was like in the camp and the atrocities that happened there. It was a work camp, but it still has a gas chamber in the back.
A tour here can be disturbing and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Don’t bring your little ones, and be cautious with your tweens. Displays can be unsettling.
Warning: Don’t be the idiot taking selfies with the torture artifacts. Definitely saw a teen/20-something doing this, with a duck face no less. Get your act together, and show some respect.
Schloss Dachau (Dachau Palace)
End the day on a lighter note by visiting the old town of Dachau. Dachau Palace sits atop a hill with good views of Munich in the distance. Use the telescopes in the Hofgarten (garden) for secret views!
The ceiling of Dachau Palace is a stunningly detailed wooden Renaissance masterpiece, and the prime reason this is on the must-see list!
The ceiling was miraculously saved throughout centuries of renovations, and then sent off to the Bavarian National Museum in the mid 1800’s. It was finally returned to its proper place in the main ballroom at Schloss Dachau in 1977.
Tip: Frequently rented out for events so check before you go. We arrived during an art exhibition, but the ticket taker kindly took us upstairs so we could get photographs of the ceiling and the staircases.
6. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
2hr 20min by car; 3h 30min by train
This is where everyone gets that famous half-timbered houses pic for their Instagram. Fair warning: it’s swamped with tourists during peak season and for the Christmas markets. But this is still a fantastic example of a medieval German walled town.
I hesitated to include this one as a day trip from Munich. It’s pretty far by train, but could be manageable if you drive yourself.
If you’re working your way north, consider staying overnight and booking the Night Watchman’s Tour. Alternatively, it’s a good day trip from Nuremberg, too.
Tip: there are several “Rothenburg” towns in Germany. Make sure you’re traveling to “ob der Tauber” (on the Tauber River).
Must-See Rothenburg ob der Tauber Sights
Just walking through the town is half the appeal. Those magnificent timbered houses are everywhere.
Medieval City Walls
Walk along the old city walls and pretend you’re on guard duty in the middle ages. All the old German towns were walled, but these in Rothenburg ob der Tauber are exceptionally well-preserved.
1hr 10min by car or train
Visit the highest mountain peak in Germany, and straddle the German-Austrian border! The Bavarian Alps pack amazing views every direction you turn. Enjoy lunch at the top!
Take the train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and then hop the bus to the Eibsee Cable Car.
Must-See Zugspitze Sights
The Mountaintop, of course
Check the weather before you go. Clouds are cool, but not if they obscure your entire view.
If you have some time left, enjoy a walk around part of the Eibsee. Alpine lakes are gorgeous blue/teal hues, and this lake is no exception. Get some ice cream at the shop first, and then walk north from the parking lot along the lake to find the bridge over the lake for some great photos.
8. Linderhof Palace and Ettal Abbey
1hr 15min by car; no train route but many group bus tours from Munich
Linderhof Palace is another King Ludwig II building project. One that was actually completed. Ettal Monastery is a beautiful complex in the middle of the German countryside. The monastery is on the route to Linderhof Palace from Munich.
Tours often try to cram in Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, and Ettal Monastery into one trip. Recommend renting a car if you don’t want a rushed day trip from Munich.
Linderhof Palace and Grounds
Originally his father’s hunting lodge, Ludwig II continually renovated the once simple wood-frame structure until finally arriving at the symmetrical stone-clad palace seen today. Ludwig was obsessed with French culture, and this palace is decked out just as beautifully with tributes to France’s King Louis XIV in every room.
The Linderhof Grounds also mimic French royal parks with water features, fountains, and small “refuge” buildings spread throughout. Wander the park and discover gardens, buildings, and lakes.
A Benedictine monastery founded in 1330, this beautiful complex is in the middle of nowhere. Just a fabulous abbey tucked into the mountains! The exterior architecture is photo-worthy, and the interior decoration is just as detailed and jaw-dropping.
There’s also a brewery and hotel, all provided by the monks, if you want to sip and stay awhile.
9. Herrenchiemsee Royal Palace
1hr by car or train
Another Ludwig II building project: the Bavarian Palace of Versailles and its grounds. The building wasn’t meant to be a copy, even though it looks pretty close, but the grounds and fountains match its French counterpart to the last detail.
Take the train to Prien am Chiemsee and shuttle to the ferry dock for transport to the island. Ferries take about 20min from dock to dock. The various sites and buildings are spread out over the entire island, so leave time to walk between tours.
It’s so close, this day trip from Munich could be a half-day trip if you’re very short on time.
Must-See Island Sights
The interior is available via 30min guided tour only. Take as long as you like in the gardens though!
The Ludwig II Museum, located in the ground floor of the Herrenchiemsee Palace, tells of the life of King Ludwig II and his contributions to Bavaria. He’s most well-known for his building projects and as a great patron of Richard Wagner.
The monastery buildings were gradually added over time until the current square with enclosed courtyard was formed in the late 1700’s. The monastery now houses a museum and art galleries.