A local’s list of the top tourist attractions near Munich you can visit in one day.
Munich is one of the most affluent regions in the world. It also sits at the heart of a unique cultural landscape humans have been continuously shaping for the past 2,000 years and more. UNESCO World Heritage sites, national parks, medieval castles, half-timbered old towns – there are so many outstanding destinations in the direct vicinity, you could easily do a different day trip from Munich every weekend of the year.
But which are the best? Quite a hard question, which is why I put together the 20 most popular options. As we are all different, I leave you to judge. When writing this guide I tried to supply you with all the important information: How to get there, how long it takes and what to see. So, the rest is up to your preferences.
But remember: There are a lot of things to do in Munich itself to keep you occupied for a week. So, you have to find a good balance between leaving the city and exploring the many museums and highlights in Bavaria’s capital itself. This is why I generally recommend spending at least 3 days in my hometown (click to see a detailed itinerary).
So, let’s start with my list of the 20 best day trips from Munich, shall we?
Note: I earn a small commission from links to GetYourGuide in this article
1. Neuschwanstein Castle (2 hours)
Without a doubt, Schloss Neuschwanstein is the most popular day trip from Munich. The fairy tale fantasy castle built by King Ludwig II inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and is just magnificent. I actually grew up only 15 kilometers away from it and I have visited so many times. Yet, whenever I return, I am still struck by its beauty.
You’ll find the castle close to the town of Füssen im Allgäu, which is actually home to another castle: Hohenschwangau. Both places are very crowded in summer and you absolutely need to reserve your entrance tickets in advance. There is a limited amount of people allowed inside at each given time and despite a complicated time-slot system, a lot of tourists will end up with no ticket.
Definitely check out my post of the 15 best castles near Munich for further inspiration.
Either way, you do have to climb towards the Marienbrücke (Bridge of our Lady) for the classic panorama. It’s just a short uphill walk, but it can be closed in winter. Another beautiful photography spot is the Reith-Alpe lodge in the east. Click here to check out how to visit from Munich.
Also, don’t forget to drop by at the amazing Linderhof palace – a particularly beautiful ensemble by king Ludwig II only some 20 kilometers away from Neuschwanstein castle. It’s impossible to see both places by public transport, which is why I recommend booking a tour. It’s faster and better.
- Recommended tours: Neuschwanstein Tour with Linderhof | Neuschwanstein Tour with Hohenschwangau (I went on both, and they offer excellent guides & perfect organization as they do it every day)
- How to get there: If you like to go by public transport, take the regional train to Füssen and then Bus 78 to Neuschwanstein Castle
- Why I like it: The most beautiful castle in Europe
2. Bamberg (1h 45 min)
Most people visiting Germany want to see at least on historic old own. Half-timbered houses and gothic churches all the way. Probably the best place to experience this fairy-tale vision in Bamberg. The UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its beautiful city hall and intact old-town.
There is also a wonderful palace and quite the imposing cathedral you can’t miss. Among locals, the city in the heart of the Frankonia region is particularly famous for its artisanal beer. There are quite a lot of small & excellent breweries in Bamberg, which is why a brewery tour is recommended! If you want to visit a lot of museums and use public transport, then you should get the BambergCard to save money (buy it here).
If you are fast, you can try to see the beautiful Seehof Castle in front of the city gates of Bamberg. The baroque hunting lodge was the summer residence of the bishops and is truly remarkable and quite the insider tip!
- Recommended tours: Private Brewery tour
- How to get there: There is a direct highspeed train (ICE) connection to Bamberg from the central station (1h 45min). You can also take the regional train, but then it will be 2 hours and 45 minutes one way. Best take a bus from Bamberg central station to the old town, as it is quite a long walk (2 kilometers)
- Why I like it: Easy to get there and a good combination of a beautiful old town, interesting museums and excellent food
3. Regensburg (1h 30 min)
Regensburg might just be the most diverse day trip from Munich. The city is the seat of the Thurn und Taxis clan who have been running the german postal system for hundreds of years (and became wealthy beyond belief in the process). You can visit the Thurn & Taxis Palace (Schloss Emmeram) where the head of the house (Princess Gloria) is still living today.
But there is also a historic old-town with a beautiful cathedral, a mighty bridge across the Danube and some beautiful museums (the new House of the Bavarian History will blow your mind). You can even go on a short Danube cruise (2hours) if you like, or explore the Roman past. One of the city gates, the Porta praetoria, from 222 AD, still stands, can you believe it? So, definitely go on a walking tour through the old town.
And don’t forget to visit the Walhalla Memorial on the outskirts of Regensburg. The neoclassical temple was built in the 19th century by Crown Prince Ludwig to commemorate the deeds of important politicians, artists, and composers. It was also meant to garner support for the unification of Germany. From the top, you have an excellent view of the whole Danube valley. There is a regular bus (Bus no 5) from the city center, but it takes about 30 minutes).
- How to get there: There is an hourly regional train from the central station to Regensburg. You can easily walk to the old town from the station.
- Why I like it: Short train ride, a beautiful old town, Roman ruins, and the most beautiful neoclassic temple in Europe.
4. Salzburg (1h 45min)
Salzburg is the home of one of the biggest medieval fortresses in Europe, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the old town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s only a short train ride across the Austrian border and I’m pretty sure you will not regret visiting. There are quite a lot of museums in town, so it’s really worth getting the Salzburg Card for free admissions (buy it here).
The Sound of Music is one of the most famous (and still popular) movies in the USA. And large parts of the film were shot in Salzburg. So, if you are a fan, you absolutely need to visit the museum and perhaps even go on a Sound of Music tour to the historic sets of the movie.
Definitely make sure the visit Hellbrunn palace as well. Some might say it’s the actual highlight of the city. The pleasure palace is famous for its intricate trick fountains. For example, there is an outdoor table with fountains in the actual seats (to surprise the guests) or an artificial cave where basically every statue can suddenly squirt water at you. Quite the experience!
- Recommended tours: Salzburg tour from Munich | Sound of Music Tour
- How to get from Munich to Salzburg: There regional train runs every hour from the central station. From here, you have to take the bus to the old town. You can walk but it’s almost 2 kilometers.
- Why I like it: Picturesque old town with good shopping opportunities and the most fun palace (Hellbrunn) I know.
5. Nuremberg (1 hour)
Nürnberg is a special place. It played both an important role in late medieval Germany and during the Nazi regime. As a tourist, you can explore remnants from each epoche. There is a beautiful medieval fortress (the Kaiserburg) looming above the old town. You can visit the birth house of the famous painter Albrecht Dürrer and there is the Germanic National Museum – one of the best museums in the country.
But only a short bus ride away, you can tour the infamous Rally Ground of the Nazi Party that was prominently featured in many propaganda movies of the Hitler regime. There is an important documentation center nearby to put it all into a context.
Due to its crucial role, the city was heavily bombed during World War II, so there is not much of the old town or the city walls left. It’s still somewhat pretty, and quite a lot of houses have been restored, but it is certainly nothing compared to places like Bamberg or Rothenburg.
- Recommended tours: Guided Day trip from Munich | Tour of Nazi Party Rally Ground
- How to get there: There is a highspeed train from Munich central station to Nurnberg almost every 20 minutes. If you take the region train, it will take 1 hour 45 minutes instead of 1 hour. From here, you can easily walk into the city center
- Why I like it: Very close to Munich, amazing museums, and a good mix of old & recent history
6. Würzburg (2 hours)
You might think of Germany as one unified country, but for almost a thousand years of its history, it was compromised of hundreds of smaller nations loosely ruled by an elected emperor. Some of these duchies and shires were ruled by old aristocracy, but there were also many free cities and some religious fiefdoms. Würzburg was one of them. The Prince-Bishop of Würzburg was one of the most important in the country and also one of the richest.
As a testament to their power, Johann Philipp Franz vo Schönborn had a palace built in 1720 that looked a lot more than Versaille than a monastery. Now, the famous Würzburg Residence is a UNESCO World Heritage site, because the interiors are nothing short of breathtaking. Inside, you’ll also find the largest ceiling fresco in the world, so be prepared to amazed.
You can also visit the gigantic fortress the prince bishops used in the centuries before the residence palace was finished. Sadly, Würzburg is another of these cities that suffered heavily in the last day of World War II, so there is not much of an old town.
- How to get there: You have to take the highspeed train from the central station in Munich. the leave basically every half hour. Please note that the regional train will take 3hours +, so it’s not an option for a day trip in my opinion.
- Why I like it: The most beautiful baroque palace in Germany and quite an interesting fortress.
7. Bayreuth (2 hours)
One of my personal favorite day trips is Bayreuth in the far North of Bavaria. Here, you will find the amazing Margravial Opera House. A UNESCO World Heritage site and the single most intact baroque court theater in Europe. Every single inch is covered with stucco work, wood carvings, paintings, and gold. You can only visit on a guided tour which always feels entirely too short to breathe in all the details.
But there is more, yet. You’ll also find a beautiful palace in the heart of Bayreuth from the same period. Definitely make sure to go on the tour of the Italian Building, where you can marvel at the most naturalistic stucco work ever. On the outskirts of Bayreuth, you can also visit the hunting and pleasure palace of Margravine Wilhelmine of Prussia. The Hermitage Palace is a late baroque dream come true and a must-visit.
- How to get there: Take the highspeed train to Nürnberg. From here, you have to switch to the regional train to Bayreuth.
- Why I like it: The most beautiful historic opera house in Europe, possibly in the world, and some beautiful palaces to keep you occupied for a day.
8. Augsburg (3o min)
The (former) free city of Augsburg is home to the oldest social housing complex in the world (the so-called Fuggerei from 1521 AD). The ancient water management system of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the craftsmen of Augsburg have been supplying the European court with the finest silverware for centuries. Yet, so few tourists come to visit.
I’d like you to rethink your priorities. Augsburg is a beautiful city and so close to Munich. The two cathedrals of the city are extraordinary (you’ll find some of the oldest stained-glass windows in the world here), and there is a fantastic city palace with an outstanding old-masters gallery. In short, Augsburg is vastly underrated.
- How to get there: Trains to Augsburg leave every odd minute from the central station and you got a couple of highspeed train options (30 minutes) and regional trains (45 minutes) to choose from.
- Why I like it: Off the beaten path with few international tourists, some very important landmarks, and an interesting industrial past.
9. Ulm (1h 15 min)
The Ulmer Münster has the highest church tower in the world. The best part, you can climb all the way to the top of the 530 feet tall neogothic spire. But be aware, there is no elevator and there are 768 steps! The view from the top is quite amazing and totally worth the grueling hike.
The old town hall and the historic Fishermen’s Quarter are also quite popular, though I have mention that Ulm was heavily bombed during World War II and the old town cannot compare with other intact cities in Bavaria.
- How to get there: Take the highspeed train from the central station in Munich straight to Ulm. It’s a 10 minutes walk to the cathedral, and because it’s so big it’s hard to miss it. Regional trains take 2 hours.
- Why I like it: The view and the climb up to the highest church tower in the world is quite a memorable experience
10. Altötting (1h 45 min)
Are you looking for a little different day trip off the beaten paths? Then Altötting could be just the right thing for you. The town is a truly ancient pilgrimage site. At the heart, you will find the tiny Chapel of Grace which is one of the most-visited shrines in Germany. The current building was consecrated in 1494, but the inner sanctum is probably from the 8th century.
Pope Benedict XVI, Pius VI., and John Paul II. visited the place, which should tell you a lot about its significance. They all came to pray in front of the Black Madonna. Most of the hearts of the Bavarian Kings were buried here. Altöttingen is thus often called Bavarias National Sanctuary.
Definitely visit the Treasure Vault where you can see the Golden Horse (Goldenes Rössli) which is at outstanding medieval artwork made from pure gold, silver, and precious gems.
- How to get there: There are only regional train available; First you have to take the train to Mühldorf and then you have to change into the train to Burghausen but obviously get out at Altötting. It’s a walk of 200 meters to the city center from the station.
- Why I like it: A true hidden gem with a religious background of more than a thousand years and virtually no international tourists.
11. Burghausen (2h)
If you visited Altöttigen, you should definitely drop by in Burghausen as well, which is only a couple of kilometers away. Here, you will find the longest castle in Europe. The Burghausen castle is, all things put together, over 1 kilometer long. Inside, you will find churches, living quarters (still in use today), and shops. It’s quite a fascinating place.
In the valley below, you will find a quaint little old town. Quite the typical place, but otherwise not all that noteworthy. But definitely cross the bridge and climb the cliff on the other side to get a beautiful view of the whole length of the castle (fun fact: by crossing the river, you’ll actually cross the border to Austria). The closeby Raitenhaslach monastery is also worth a little detour.
- How to get there: It’s the same connection as to Altöttingen, but you have to stay in the train until the final stop. First, take the train to Mühldorf and then switch here to the regional train to Burghausen.
- Why I like it: It’s an authentic, sleepy little Bavarian backwater town with quite the imposing fortress and a beautiful setting.
12. Innsbruck (1h 45 min)
I already mentioned Salzburg and I love Germany, but I really want to imprint on you how very close Austria is. Tyrol is often cities as the most beautiful region of our neighboring country and Innsbruck is its capital. The historic old town is very popular among tourists, especially the famous Golden Roof (“Goldenes Dacherl”). There are also quite a lot of lovely museums and churches to keep you occupied for a day.
Above everything else, you should know that there are mountains all around Innsbruck. So, take the funicular up to the Hungerburg or go hiking in the afternoon. In winter, you might even be lucky to watch ski jumping at Berg Isel or visit the famous Christmas market. You should probably also visit the Swarovski Crystal World in closeby Wattens – most of the fine jewelry you know is actually produced here.
Very popular is also the Aquadome thermal baths very close. I have been there so many times and it’s one of my favorite spas. They have this huge outdoor area and quite a lovely sauna landscape.
- Recommended tours: Guided City tour | Swarovski Crystal World Tickets & Transfer from the old town
- How to get there: There is a direct Euro City train every two hours and I recommend you to take this one. The regional alternatives takes one hour longer and you need to transfer to a different train in Kufstein, Austria
- Why I like it: Wonderful old town in a fantastic alpine region with lots of hiking & skiing possibilities
13. Dachau Concentration Camp (40 min)
The Nazis slaughter probably over 6 million Jews and other political prisoners during their cruel reign. Most of the actual killing took place in so-called concentration camps and Dachau was one of them. The inmates were held worse than slaves and subsequently killed when they were too ill or weak to work. Some of the worst atrocities in human history were committed here. A genocide of unparalleled proportions.
Today, the Dachau Concentration Camp is a memorial so we are reminded of our past and never let it happen again. The exhibition in the old main building is quite graphic and not for the faint of the heart. But it’s equally important not to look away.
- Recommended tours to Dachau from Munich: Guided Tour from Munich | Combi Tour of Nazi sites in Munich and Dachau Concentration Camp
- Related blog post: Visiting Dachau Concentration Camp
- Munich to Dachau by train: Take the suburban train S2 from Hauptbahnhof (or any station along the line). Then get on Bus 726 in Dachau which will stop right at the entrance.
- Why you should visit: It’s never a good idea to forget the past, and this memorial helps you remember why we need to fight dictators and unjust regimes with all we got.
14. Fürstenfeld Abbey (40 min)
I know, there are a lot of beautiful churches in Munich itself. But there is one place close-by you really should have on your list of the best day tours from Munich as well: Fürstenfeld Abbey. The ancient Abbey was founded by the Bavarian dukes in the late medieval times (1263) to atone for murder by papal decree. Duke Ludwig II had his five murdered because the thought she was cheating on him (which turned out to be totally unfounded).
All the following generations kept the Abbey and funded it further. The idea of having their own church where monks prayed for their salvation was, after all, quite enticing. The current building dates to the early 18th century and is a true Baroque masterpiece.
- How to get there: Take the suburban train S4 from the central station (or any other station on the S4) and get out at Fürstenfeldbruck. From here, you can walk (about 10 minutes) to the abbey.
- Why I like it: A hidden gem very close to Munich with virtually no international tourists and yet so beautiful.
15. Schleissheim Palace (30 min)
Most tourists visit the Nymphenburg Palace and the Munich Residence, but very few know that there is actually a third spectacular palace very close to Bavaria’s capital. Schloss Schleissheim was meant to rival Versaille and was built to help the Prince-Elector Max Emanuel gain the imperial german throne. The ambitious ensemble fell into disuse soon after his death and was subsequently opened to the public as a museum.
This is probably the reason why the huge Baroque park was never changed in the 19th century when English landscape parks were en vogue. The best part: There are actually three palaces in Schleissheim. You can more or less ignore the old palace houses where you’ll find a quaint museum about religious ceremonies around the world. But the beautiful Lustheim palace in the park is quite noteworthy, not only for its beauty but because there is one of the most important collections of early Meissen porcelain inside.
- How to get there: Take the suburban train S1 from the central station and then either walk (800 meters) or take bus 292 to the palace
- Why I like it: Far less crowded than all the other castles near Munich and one of the most beautiful gardens in the area.
16. Rothenburg ob der Tauber (2h 30min)
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the highlight on the famous Romantic Road. It looks a bit like a village from a fairy tale picture book or a Disney movie. There is an intact city wall and half-timbered houses wherever you look. Definitely make sure to climb the tower of the town hall to get a nice view from the top.
To be quite honest with you, it is a bit complicated to get there from Munich. I feel you got two options. Either book a guided tour by bus, which will take a full day but will be reasonably efficient, or use it as a stop on your way to or from Berlin/Dresden. Public transport is doable, but maybe a bit too complicated for first-time visitors.
- Recommended tours: Guided Rothenburg trip from Munich
- How to get there: The fastest connection involves 3 transfers. First, to Nürnberg, then switch to the train to Ansbach, from here, you need to go to Steinach, and then finally on the train to Rothenburg. It’s quite complicated with tight transfer times.
- Why I like it: Such a beautiful old town and half-timbered perfection
17. Herrenchiemsee (2 hours)
I already mentioned two castles build by King Ludwig II, but there is one more: Herrenchiemsee. During his visit to Paris, the Bavarian King was dearly impressed by Versaille so he promptly decided to built his own version – but in the middle of an island on Bavaria’s biggest lake.
The palace never got finished completely, but it’s still insanely beautiful and the giant mirror hall is a true highlight. The best part: There is another island right next to the Herreninsel (Gentlemen’s Island) where you’ll find a little monastery and a scenic little village famous for its smoked fish. The whole Chiemsee region is incredibly beautiful and you could even rent a bike and explore a bit on your own.
- Recommended tours: Day tour to Herrenchiemsee from Munich
- How to get there: Take the regional train to Prien am Chiemsee. From here, you have to walk to the harbor and then take the ferry to the island.
- Why I like it: Very scenic trip, where you see so much more than just a castle.
18. Königssee (3 hours)
Half of the dairy products in German supermarkets feature pictures from the Berchtesgaden region. The whole region is incredibly beautiful and Lake Königsee (Lake of the Kings) is, forgive the bad pun, the jewel in the crown. Right on the banks of the scenic mountain lake, there is a famous church: St. Bartholomew’s Church (St. Bartholomä). It’s a famous pilgrimage site for Catholics and photographers alike.
A lot of hikers come to the region and you should not miss the chance to hike the Eagle’s Nest – one of the most spectacular mountain lodges in the alps. It’s almost like a movie set and there are paths for every skill level. And if hiking is not your thing, you will enjoy the scenic ferry across the lake nevertheless, eh?
- Recommended tours: Direct day trip from Munich
- How to get there: First, take the train from central station to Freilassing. From here, transfer to the train to Berchtesgaden. Then take Bus 841 to Lake Königsee. It takes quite a long time, and a guided bus tour is recommended.
- Why I like it: Very beautiful alpine scenery and lots of hiking and walking opportunities
19. Blaubeurren (1h 45min)
Blaubeurren is a true insider tip. Which might sound a bit weird because it is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site – but only recently so. Before, the city was “only” famous for its scenic half-timbered houses and a natural well of the deepest blue color.
But things changed drastically when the Venus of Hohle Fels was unearthed in a nearby cave in 2008. The tiny ivory figure is the oldest known artwork depicting a human body. It has been dated to be 35,000 to 40,000 years old and you can actually see her in the URMU museum in the city center. It’s such a fascinating place and will leave you quite in awe.
- How to get there: Take the highspeed train to Ulm. Here you need to transfer to the regional train to Sigmaringen and get out at Blaubeurren
- Why I like it: A charming medieval old town and the most significant prehistoric artifacts in Germany.
20. Church of the Wies (2h 30 min)
I already mentioned a couple of UNESCO World Heritage sites, but there is one more: The Wieskirche. In the very south of Germany, quite close to Neuschwanstein Castle, you’ll find a region often called Pfaffenwinkel – Shavelings corner. It was named thus because there is an unusual amount of beautiful churches in that area (and the locals are very catholic).
The most important example of this devotion is the Wieskirche. Built around 1745 it features the most ambitious ceiling frescos by Johann Baptist und Dominikus Zimmermann you can ever imagine. It’s like a true gate into heaven and an outstanding example of the Rococco in Germany.
- Recommended tours: Sadly, there is only a combination tour with Neuschwanstein castle
- How to get there: The fastest connection is taking the train to Weilheim, then transfer to bus 9651 to Steingaden. And from here, you can catch another bus to the Church of the Wies. So, either book a combo tour to Neuschwanstein castle or rent a car.
- Why I like it: One of the prime examples of Bavarian Pilgrimage churches
Other day trips from Munich
At the beginning of this post, I promised you a day trip for every weekend of the year. For me, Munich is the city most worth visiting in Germany. Well, this post is already quite long, so I want to keep things brief and just do some name dropping. Lake Starnberg is a favorite weekend trip among locals, and so is the beautiful Museum Buchheim and the Andechs Abbey. Kehlheim abbey should be mentioned in the same breath.
If you like mountains, you could take the ropeway to Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. Or explore one of several deep mountains gorgeous like the Breitachklamm, the Höllentalklamm or the Partnachklamm. The Wildpark Poing is a wonderful (and sustainable) alternative to the Munich Zoo.
If you like to visit an authentic Bavarian town, then Murnau, Garmisch-Partnerkirchen or Oberammergau will be your best bet. All feature beautiful air-paintings and traditional houses. Freising would be a beautiful city with quite a history as well. Passau is another popular city and Stuttgart in Badenwürtemberg is also quite close by train.
If everything fails, pick a blindfold and randomly point your finger on a map of Bavaria – it’s hard to hit an area without a castle or beautiful church. Still, in this post, I tried to focus on sites that would be of interest to an international crowd on their first visit.
Some practical tips
Most of the directions I gave you involved taking the train. It’s not only the cheapest but often the fastest way to get anywhere. For reference: The train to Nürnberg takes only 1 hour, with the car you will probably need 2 hours (but the highway is famous for it’s frequent traffic jams).
The German Railway has a website where you can check connections in a matter of seconds and even book your tickets: Here is the direct link
They also have an app, which you really should download. I use it all the time, and it’s very helpful to check the platforms for connecting trains and any delays.
Another thing you should definitely be aware of is the BayernTicket (Bavaria ticket). For 26 euro, you get unlimited train rides on the regional trains, buses, and most subway systems in Bavaria. Every additional passenger pays 8 extra euros. So, a group of 4 would pay only 50 euros for a full day of travel. You only have to make sure you sign your tickets and you do not use it 9 am on weekdays (weekends is unlimited).
Now, here is the problem. A lot of the day trips from Munich involve taking the highspeed train which is NOT covered by the Bavaria Ticket. But, if you book a month or so in advance, you can usually score a bargain (the so-called Sparpreis). Or, you could buy a German Rail Pass if you plan to travel by train a lot.
Also, you should be aware that some of these day trips are very popular. So, the trains right after breakfast and the return trains around 5 am are usually super busy. The highspeed trains to Berlin and Hamburg (which will get you to Nürnberg, Bamberg, Würzburg, etc) are used by commuters. This means you absolutely need to reserve your seats (costs extra in 2nd class) in case you do not want to risk standing all the way.