It’s easy to whittle away days in Munich spent wandering the old town streets, browsing museums and galleries and sipping steins in beer halls. But beyond the famous Glockenspiel and the novelty of lederhosen, the capital of Bavaria offers a raft of day trips within easy reach, from castles and ski slopes to spa towns and historic cities. Here’s a glimpse at our favourite day trips from Munich.
Leave the towering buildings behind and immerse yourself in a fairytale land of magical spires, lavish rooms and enchanting forest. Built for the reclusive King Ludwig II, it was his intention to maintain the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles. Ludwig described its picturesque location as “one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable”; it sits atop a rugged hill shrouded in treetops and passed by a majestic trickling stream. Neuschwanstein is so beautiful and over-the-top that inspired Walt Disney.
The views don’t get better than this. At 2,962 metres above sea level it goes without saying that Zugspitze Peak offers snap-happy panoramas in every picture-perfect direction. It’s not just Germany at your feet though: 400 mountain peaks roll out over four countries including Austria, whose border with Germany lingers right over the looming peak. Be swept to the top in a cable car or take a different cable car route and hike part-way. In winter, thick blankets of snow bring the chance to ski on world-class slopes within a short ride of Munich.
Duck across the border to Austria for a day to soak up the storybook scenes of Salzburg set against the snow-capped Alps that have long inspired artists and musicians, including Mozart, the city’s most flaunted claim to fame. Old world charm radiates from the cobblestone streets overlooked by medieval and baroque buildings, amplified all the more by buskers who chime their talents on every corner. Discover palaces, concert halls and monasteries, venture inside the 900-year-old cliff-top fortress looming over the city and join a dedicated Sound of Music locations tour to re-enact your favourite scenes down to the nearest metre.
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The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site is one of the most popular excursions from Munich and serves as a chilling reminder of the dark history of Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust. Dachau was one of the first concentration camps in the country and went on to become the only camp to remain active during the entire Third Reich period. Today, the site operates as an outstanding museum and memorial to the more than 40,000 people who died and over 200,000 who were imprisoned here during the Nazi regime.
As the largest two cities in Bavaria, a high-speed railway line swiftly links Munich to Nuremberg. Most commonly remembered as the host of the Nazi Rally parties and the site of the Nuremberg Trials following World War II, Nuremberg is a beautiful, old city with many a story to tell. An enchanting castle dominates the skyline while the city below poses an intertwining mix of Gothic buildings, Medieval churches, colourful marketplaces, museums and art treasures. Come Christmastime and Nuremberg is home to one of the best German Christmas markets in the world.
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