Bavaria / Day Trips

11 Surprisingly Great Day Trips from Munich

Munich is the vibrant and historic capital of Germany’s largest state: Bavaria. Much of what American travelers know about German culture today comes from Bavaria. Lederhosen, pretzels, Oktoberfest, beer steins – all of these things are Bavarian. I receive questions from guests on my Cologne walking tours about these things SO often. Honestly, we don’t really have any of that stuff in Cologne. It is unique to Bavaria. 

Munich is a city that effortlessly blends modernity with tradition, and Bavaria has a long and complicated history, most of which locals are quite proud of today. Yet, just beyond the bustling metropolis lies a treasure trove of picturesque towns, historical sites, and breathtaking landscapes. From charming medieval villages to stunning alpine lakes, Munich serves as the perfect base for a variety of enriching day trips.

You could easily spend 1 week exploring the region around Munich, but if you prefer to select a few specific day trips, this list has got you covered! I have hand-selected my favorite day trip destinations around Munich. I sorted this list roughly from closest to furthest away. So, pack your day bag, hop on a train or rent a car, and let’s embark on a journey to some of Bavaria’s most captivating destinations.

11 Surprisingly Great Day Trips from Munich


Distance from Munich: Approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles)

I’m sorry to start out this list on such a heavy note, but the reality is that Dachau is one of the closest and most historically significant locations to see outside of Munich. Dachau is the site of the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp. This sobering memorial is a reminder of the atrocities committed during World War II. A visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site is a powerful and educational experience, as it provides insight into the horrors of the Holocaust.

The memorial includes the preserved barracks, the crematorium, and an exhibition that delves into the history and suffering endured by the prisoners. While it may be emotionally draining, visiting Dachau is an essential Munich day trip. It serves as an opportunity to reflect on the importance of human rights and tolerance in today’s world.  Of all the Jewish remembrance sites I’ve been to thus far, I found Dachau to be the most informative and powerful. 

Lakes District

Distance from Munich: Approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles)

There are a number of lakes outside of Munich, and they are one of the most beloved weekend destinations for local residents. Sometimes called the German Lakes District, many of the lakes are just a short drive from Munich. A few options are Starnberger See, Ammersee, Wörthsee, Pilsensee, and Weßlinger See. You will find locals grilling, playing on the lawn, swimming, sunbathing and doing water sports. This is honestly a SUPER German thing to do, so if you want a slice of local life, go to a German lake.

For more picturesque lakes, you’ll need to head further into the Alps. The mountain scenery is much more dramatic at lakes like Tegernsee, Walchensee, and Eibsee. Around these lakes, you’ll find more opportunities for hiking and Alpine sports. You can easily combine a stop at a lake with several of the other day trips on this list. 


Distance from Munich: Approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles)

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a picturesque alpine town located at the base of the Zugspitze, and it’s the gateway to some of Bavaria’s most stunning landscapes. This charming town offers a blend of Bavarian tradition and outdoor adventure. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is known for its winter sports, with access to ski resorts like the Garmisch Classic and the Zugspitzplatt. 

In the summer, you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and paragliding in the surrounding mountains. The town itself boasts cozy Bavarian architecture, lively markets, and a welcoming atmosphere. Be sure to explore the beautiful Partnach Gorge, a natural wonder that’s accessible by a hiking trail. 

Linderhof Palace

Distance from Munich: Approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles)

Linderhof is the least visited of the three palaces built by Bavarian King Ludwig II, but it was actually my favorite. Fun fact – it was his favorite too. It was the only palace that Ludwig II actually saw completed. I loved Linderhof because of the beautiful scenery and gardens around the palace. It is nestled in Graswang Valley with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Surrounding the palace are stunning French gardens modeled off of the ones at Versailles. There is a naturally powered fountain in the middle which shoots an 80 foot spout of water every 10-15 minutes. 

Once inside, Linderhof’s highlight is the sheer enormity of Rococo detail. Because this palace is smaller than the others, the rooms are packed with ornate details to make it seem more grand. The interior is meant to replicate Versailles, so there is a Hall of Mirrors with stunning decor and details. The King’s Bedchamber is incredible with a massive glass candelabra hanging in the center. No pictures are allowed inside, and you can only visit the interior on a scheduled tour. 


Distance from Munich: Approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles)

Standing at 2,962 meters (9,718 feet), Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain. To reach the summit, you can take a cable car from the German side or ride the cogwheel train from the Austrian side. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the surrounding Alps, including the Zugspitzplatt glacier. 

The Zugspitze region is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering year-round activities and some of the most breathtaking views in Bavaria. In the winter, the area becomes a skiing and snowboarding paradise, while the summer months offer hiking and climbing opportunities. Be sure to explore the nearby Eibsee, a beautiful, crystal-clear lake at the foot of the Zugspitze, where you can swim, boat, or just enjoy the tranquil surroundings.


Distance from Munich: Approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles)

The absolutely heart-warming and adorable town of Mittenwald is one of my favorite places that I have visited in Germany. That’s why I feature it on my list of Germany’s cutest small towns! Nestled in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, the small town is known for its violin-making tradition and stunning natural surroundings. It literally feels like you have walked onto a fairytale movie set with its painted facade buildings and hobbit-like hovels.

Try some local Bavarian cuisine at Gaststaette am Kurpark restaurant and wash it down with beer from Brauereigaststätte Postkeller. You should also get the pretzel soup there because it is f*cking delightful. If you’re looking for something a little fancier, the tiny town of Mittenwald is home to Michelin star eatery — Das Marktrestaurant


Distance from Munich: Approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles)

If there is a German castle that you already know, it is Neuschwanstein. This is one of the most visited castles in the world and is certainly the most iconic of Germany’s castles. Bankrolled by the enigmatic King Ludwig II, everything about this castle was designed in the high romantic style he loved. Its fairytale-like appearance and stunning location in the German Alps may look familiar to Disney lovers. Walt Disney is rumored to have designed the Sleeping Beauty castle after Neuschwanstein. 

Open throughout the year, you should be prepared for large crowds at Neuschwanstein. The castle is located at the top of a small mountain which can be accessed by foot (via a steep paved trail), by horse-drawn carriage or by shuttle bus. You need to buy your ticket a minimum of one week in advance. You will be given a specific time slot for entering the castle, and you can only see the castle on a guided tour. No pictures are allowed inside the castle.


Distance from Munich: Approximately 145 kilometers (90 miles)

Cross the border into Austria, and you’ll find the enchanting city of Salzburg, famously known as the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for “The Sound of Music.” This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a blend of history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes. I actually wrote a whole itinerary for Salzburg on my other blog, Traverse, if you are interested in going in depth into the city.

On just a day trip, start with a visit to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which offers sweeping views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Next, stroll through the charming Old Town and make a stop at Mozart’s Birthplace. Don’t miss a visit to Mirabell Palace and its beautiful gardens. If you’re a “Sound of Music” fan, consider joining a guided tour to visit the film’s iconic locations around the city. Make sure to try the locally beloved candy, Mozartkugeln, which are chocolate balls stuffed with nougat.


Distance from Munich: Approximately 170 kilometers (105 miles)

Nuremberg, a medieval city with a beautifully preserved old town, is one of the classic and most popular day trips from Munich. And rightfully so! Surrounded by towering city walls, Nuremberg has such a cool historic feeling about it. One of Nuremberg’s most iconic sites is the Nuremberg Castle, perched high above the city, offering breathtaking views of the city and the Pegnitz River. 

For WWII history enthusiasts, the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds provides dark insights into the city’s past as one of the primary locations of the Nazis during the Third Reich. The Courtroom 600 in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice is where the Nuremberg Trials took place, and it is open to visitors. These are both heavy places to visit, but I think it is really important to understand how fascism grew and succeeded in Germany during the 1930s & 1940s.

Rothenberg ob der Tauber

Distance from Munich: Approximately 220 kilometers (137 miles)

Rothenberg ob der Tauber is a fairytale town that feels like it’s been plucked from the pages of a storybook. When I visited with friends this winter for the Christmas Markets, they kept saying “It feels like we’re on the set of Beauty and the Beast”. It is a true beauty that transports you back in time! I basically mention Rothenburg ob der Tauber on every single one of my “must visit places in Germany” lists because I just love it so much! 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s most notable feature is its exceptionally preserved medieval old town. Encircled by fortified walls, you can walk around practically the entire city admiring views and snapping photos. The town’s centerpiece is the Marktplatz, a vibrant square where you can admire the Renaissance-style Town Hall (Rathaus) and the imposing St. Jakob’s Church. Climb the Town Hall Tower for panoramic views of the town and its surroundings, offering breathtaking vistas of the rooftops and the Tauber River valley. 


Distance from Munich: Approximately 230 kilometers (143 miles)

With an extensive network of canals, Bamberg is another picturesque Bavarian gem waiting to be explored. Its well-preserved medieval and Baroque architecture, along with its UNESCO World Heritage status, make it a must-visit destination for those looking to explore the region’s history and culture. I went during the Christmas Markets in 2022 and absolutely fell in love with this charming little city.

Start your day in Bamberg at the Bamberg Cathedral, a stunning example of Romanesque architecture. Continue your journey to the Old Town Hall, perched in the middle of the Regnitz River, and visit the enchanting Altenburg Castle. Make sure to sample the local specialty, smoked beer at one of the town’s historic breweries. 

Do you have thoughts or questions about these Munich day trips? Tell me in the comments below!

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