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The 8 Best Day Trips from Munich (Yes, There Are Castles!)

The car and beer-loving capital of Munich is a highlight of anyone visiting southern Germany. However, it’s only one of the many beautiful sites of Bavaria. In a region known for Alpine landscapes, medieval castles, and miles of unspoiled countryside, Bavaria is a paradise of beauty just waiting to be explored. I’ve been living in Munich for the past five years and can wholeheartedly say that these are the best attractions that Bavaria has to offer. And thanks to Germany’s efficient public transportation system, you won’t need to worry about renting a car if you want to embark on one of these fascinating day trips.

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What is the Best Day Trip from Munich?

Many of Bavaria’s best attractions are located just 1 to 2 hours from Munich. You can visit the cities of Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber or explore awe-inspiring castles like the Disney-inspired Neuschwanstein. 

If you’d rather immerse yourself in nature, then venture into the Alps to see Chiemsee (Bavaria’s largest lake), Zugspitz (Germany’s tallest mountain), or Berchtesgaden (an alpine town). It’s also possible to step into Austria with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Salzburg.

Neuschwanstein

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Backed by the rugged peaks of the Bavarian Alps, the iconic Neuschwanstein castle is ripped right from the pages of a fairytale. 

The castle was built by King Ludwig II, with lavish rooms and ornately decorated halls fit for royalty. During the tour (which is mandatory if you want to enter the castle), you’ll get to visit the Hall of Singers, the Throne Hall, and even the bedroom of the king.

The walk up to the castle is an impressive journey as well (those who are less inclined to make the trek can take a horse and carriage to the top). But for the best views, head behind the castle to Marienbrücke. This bridge boasts unobstructed views of Neuschwanstein, Schwansee Lake, and the picturesque village of Schwangau. 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

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Walking through the cobbled streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is like taking a step back in time. From the colorful half-timbered houses to the towering entry gates, this small village 2.5 hours outside of Munich, is one of the best preserved medieval villages in all of Europe. 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is relatively small, so you can tick off the main sites in just a few hours. Don’t forget to walk along the old city walls, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the red-roofed town and the nearby Tauber Valley. 

You’ll also want to snap a photo in front of the Plönlein, a famous yellow house in the center of town.

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial

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Although it’s one of the more somber day trips to make, visiting Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. Situated on the grounds of the former concentration camp where over 41,000 prisoners died during WWII, the memorial sheds light on one of Germany’s darkest moments in history. 

There is a museum with multiple exhibits with artifacts, photographs, and biographical stories. You will also have a chance to walk around the grounds and see the camp prison, barracks, and crematorium.

There are also many monuments and memorials around the property, where you can pay your respects to those that lost their lives during this grave time.

Chiemsee

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Ideal for history buffs and nature lovers, Chiemsee makes an excellent day trip from Munich. Bavaria’s largest lake is the perfect destination for water activities, including boating, kayaking, or standup paddleboarding. 

There are also three main islands you can visit, including Herreninsel. Here, you’ll find the royal Herrenchiemsee complex. 

This palace was built by King Ludwig II and modeled after the Palace of Versailles (it even has its own Hall of Mirrors and Latona Fountain). After visiting the palace, take the boat to Fraueninsel, a charming car-free island with a Benedictine nunnery, traditional restaurants, and handicraft stores.

Berchtesgaden

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Most Müncheners will tell you that the best part about living in the south of Germany is being close to the Alps.

And while there are many spots to visit in the mountains, none of them can compete with the beauty of Berchtesgaden. With sparkling alpine lakes and steep craggy mountain peaks, it’s easily one of the most picturesque areas in the entire country. 

Berchtesgaden is ideal for nature lovers. Take a boat ride through the fjord-like setting of Königsee, explore a historic salt mine from the Middle Ages, or hike through the breathtaking gorges of Berchtesgaden National Park. 

It’s also worth visiting the Eagle’s Nest, a mountain hut originally built for Hitler with spectacular views of the Alps.

Nuremberg

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To explore another one of Bavaria’s finest cities, hop on a train and make the 2-hour journey north to Nuremberg. 

With a stunning mix of modern buildings and historic churches, castles, and city walls, Nuremberg has plenty of things to keep you occupied for the day. Although much of the city was bombed during WWII (including the old town), it has since been restored to how it was during the 14th and 15th centuries.

After navigating the winding alleys and narrow streets, you’ll likely find yourself in the middle of Hauptmarkt. 

This charming plaza is home to City Hall (Nurnberger Rathaus) and Nuremberg’s only Baroque-style church. And if you happen to be visiting during the holidays, you’ll also get to see the famous Nuremberg Christmas Market – the biggest one in all of Germany.

Zugspitz

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Standing over 9,700 feet in elevation is the tallest mountain in all of Germany – Zugspitze. To reach the summit, you can take a cable car or even an old-fashioned cog-wheel train to the peak. 

From here, you’ll be treated to a 360-degree view of nearly 400 other mountains in Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. And because it’s a glacier, you can go sledding even in the middle of summer!

If you’re feeling more adventurous, then there are numerous hiking trails you can take to the top (although it takes even the most experienced trekkers around 8 hours). In the winter, you can also visit Zugspitzplatt, a popular ski resort with over 12 miles of slopes to explore. 

Salzburg

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Did you know that you can visit Austria from Munich on a day trip? With a direct train, it only takes 1.5 hours to reach Salzburg, a city widely known for being Mozart’s home and the location of The Sound of Music.

And while Salzburg is indeed a musical city, it’s also famous for its Baroque architecture and mesmerizing Alpine scenery. 

Just take a stroll through the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with churches, concert halls, castles, and historic squares. Or make your way up to Hohensalzburg Fortress, which dominates the city skyline from atop the Festungsberg mountain. 

Taking a day trip outside of Munich is a great way to see other parts of Germany (or Austria if you make the journey to Salzburg!). 

There are mountains for nature lovers, castles for history buffs, and charming villages for those who want to experience rural Bavarian culture. Whatever you’re after, the regions around Munich are guaranteed to please almost any type of traveler!