15 best day trips from Munich to explore Bavaria and beyond

Day trips from Munich

Munich is a great starting point for everyone willing to explore Central Europe. It’s crazy to think about it, but you can reach up to 10 countries within 5 hours of overland travel – by train, bus or car. But you don’t need to go that far – there are plenty of beautiful day trips from Munich that are just a short train ride away.

Day trips from Munich

Obviously, I’m biased towards Bavaria, as I currently live here. But that doesn’t change the fact. There are so many cool day trips from Munich that if I would be having a one-day stopover here I would want to extend my journey.

Side note: I really suggest using the rail wherever possible – most of the places are well connected and trains are comfy. Alternatively, of course, you can rent a car and go to all “harder to reach” locations.

Scroll down for my top 15 day trips from Munich.

1. Explore the vineyards of lake Constance

If you’re like me and enjoy water, wind, fresh air and awesome views – then you should definitely head over to lake Constance first.

The lake, also referred to as Bodensee, is quite unique. It has Germany on one side, Switzerland on another side and Austria on the third. It’s a holiday location for many locals and has the best SPA centers in the region.

If you’re coming by car, just drive along the German coast and stop wherever you like. The roadside is full of vineyards and in summer it’s the best place for taking pictures. If you’re coming by bus, make a stop at Friedrichshafen or at Meersburg. Both are small and kind of touristic towns, but are great for afternoon coffee.

Vineyards are everywhere on the German side of lake Constance - a beautiful place for a day trip.
Vineyards are everywhere on the German side of lake Constance. In summer it’s the most beautiful of all day trips from Munich.

2. Spend a day at one of Konstanz SPA

If you take the ferry to the other side of the lake, you’ll find yourself in the university city of Konstanz. It’s just next to Switzerland and if you walk far enough – you can easily cross a border.

You can spend a day walking around the old town and the promenade or enjoy the day at the SPA. I personally recommend Bodensee-Therme, an all-day SPA on the city’s East coast. You can sit in a sauna with a never-ending view over the lake.

Just one thing to remember about German saunas – those are common saunas where bathing suits are not welcome. So yes, men and women sit together either naked (like most people do there) or cover themselves with a towel.

Bonus tip: if you’re coming by car, I really suggest you drive to the Swiss town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall. It’s a 1.5 hour drive and is home to Rhine falls, the biggest waterfall in Europe.

Konstanz is a port city with a never-ending view of lake Constance
Konstanz is a port city with a never-ending view of lake Constance
Just 1.5 hours away from Konstanz there is the Europe's most powerful waterfall - Rhine falls
Just 1.5 hours away from Konstanz there is the Europe’s most powerful waterfall – Rhine falls

3. Make a roadtrip to Liechtenstein

If you’re on a mission to visit all countries in Europe, you should definitely rent a car and drive to one of the world’s smallest countries – Liechtenstein. Visiting this place by public transport is not so easy and would definitely take much longer.

Vaduz – the capital of Liechtenstein – is a rather small and peaceful city with few tourists. There’s also not much to do. The main place of interest – the Vaduz castle – is the residence of royal family and is, therefore, closed to admission.

I didn’t find much to do in the city, apart from taking photos and wandering around. It took a grand total of 4 hours. I would have stayed more, but I was eager to spend even more time on the road.

Vaduz - one of the smallest capital of one of the smallest countries in the world
Vaduz – one of the smallest capital of one of the smallest countries in the world

4. Explore Bavarian castles

Bavaria is the land of kings. And the most known is king Ludwig II who had a vision to build most beautiful castles. In fact, Neuschwanstein castle that he has built on the cliff has been a “role model” for the Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle (I’ve written about it previously here).

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It will be hard to visit all castles due to logistics. But I would definitely spend the whole day on Neuschwanstein castle and Linderhof palace. The latter is a small castle hidden between the mountains where Ludwig II spent most of his time. Herrenchiemsee castle would take another day – it’s East of Munich and is located on an island on the lake Chiemsee.

Bonus tip 1: On the way back from the Linderhof palace make a stop at Oberammergau. It’s a village where houses are painted with biblical tales.

Bonus tip 2: If you’re coming by car, do make a detour from Linderhof palace or Neuschwanstein castle via Austria. You won’t regret that scenic drive through a mountain pass. Also, you’ll see Plansee on the way – a mountain lake with crystal clear water and amazing view on the valley.

Herrenchiemsee is a palace built on an island and covered by forest. It's impossible to see it from land.
Herrenchiemsee is a palace built on an island and covered by forest. It’s impossible to see it from land.
Biblical house paintings at Oberammergau at sunset
Biblical house paintings at Oberammergau at sunset

5. Get active at Tegernsee

If you’re looking for some active leisure, the best place to enjoy it would be at Tegernsee. It’s just one hour train ride away from Munich.

It’s perfect for cross country skiing in winter and all you can possibly think of in summer. You can do mountain biking, swimming, paragliding, running, hiking and much more there.

Tegernsee is great for all sorts of active leisure, including hiking
Tegernsee is one of the best day trips from Munich for all sorts of active leisure, including hiking

6. Climb a mountain, ride a mountain bike

Speaking of hiking or mountain biking, you can do that almost anywhere around Munich. Luckily Alps are just one-hour stone throw away.

Hikes can range everywhere from 500 to 2000 vertical meter gain. Going up will take you anywhere from 1 to 5+ hours. If you are looking for a longer hike – Demeljoch mountain is a good trip. It’s close to Austrian border and provides an awesome view on the Sylvensteinsee.

It also takes around 8 hours to get up and down, so take some food with you.

Top of Demeljoch provides a great view on a crystal clear Sylvensteinsee.
Top of Demeljoch provides a great view on a crystal clear Sylvensteinsee.

7. Hike to the Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden

If you’re looking for an even more spectacular places to hike I suggest you visit the most Southeastern part of Germany. It’s almost completely surrounded by Austria.

There, on a lonely cliff Hitler has built a “tea house” for himself where he would welcome high-ranked guests.

You can hike if you want, which will be somewhere around 3 hours. Or you can also take the bus to the mountain’s upper part and an elevator to the very top. There you can enjoy a 360-degree view on the surrounding peaks.

Kehlsteinhaus is located in the South East of Germany and surrounded by Alpine peaks
Kehlsteinhaus is one of the best day trips from Munich for enjoying mountain views. It’s located in the South East of Germany and surrounded by Alpine peaks

8. Swim in the lake of kings at Konigsee

After the Hitler’s tea house, as you’re already in the region, head over to lake Konigsee. It’s located just several kilometers away from Berchtesgaden.

If you have enough time, have a boat tour around the lake. The most beautiful part of it is hidden from the plain sight. If you don’t, at least take a swim in the lake surrounded by alpine peaks. The water is cold, but, as someone said, you can’t come to the lake of kings and not swim there.

In fact, nobody knows where it’s going to lead you. A couple of years ago a teenage girl found a gold bar while swimming in the lake. 

9. Listen to sounds of music in Salzburg

Just 30km to the North from Konigsee is a city of Salzburg. You can even take a bus that would take you there in around 45 minutes.

There is a reason why Salzburg is called “city of Music”. Wherever you go there will be someone playing musical instrument. Or at least the recording of such will be heard. It gives the city a special feel and atmosphere.

Almost as if you’re part of the world’s most known musical “Sounds of music”. That, by the way, pictures the life in Salzburg back in the days.

If you plan on going there, avoid going by car on a weekend. It’s one of the most popular of all day trips from Munich and the road can be quite crowded. Not to mention extra you’ll spend on parking. The journey by train will be less than 2 hours and everything is reachable on foot. Salzburg is really small.

One of the best views of Salzburg is arguably from the Kapuzinerberg on the opposite side of the river
One of the best views of Salzburg is arguably from the Kapuzinerberg on the opposite side of the river

10. Spend a lazy morning at Ammersee or Starnberger see

If don’t want to go too far away there are alternatives even closer to Munich. Grab a coffee at the central station and enjoy a short 20 to 30 minute ride to either Ammersee or Starnberger see. Wander around and enjoy a nice breakfast or lunch (whatever you fancy) at one of the two lakes around Munich.

If you’ve heard the story of Sissi, then you can pay a visit to Possenhoffen – the place she grew up in.

Sissi is a nickname of Elizabeth – a Duchess of Bavaria. She eventually married Emperor Franz Joseph I and became Empress Elizabeth of Austria.

11. Explore Andechs monastery and drink the beer brewed by monks

Actually, if you plan on going to Ammersee you should consider a visit to the Andechs Abbey.

It’s a place where monks are brewing their own beer. You can take both the tour of the monastery and the brewery (more info here). From Munich take the S8 train all the way to Herrsching and from there it’s around 1 hour uphill walk to the monastery.

It’s one of the lesser known day trips from Munich.

12. Visit one of Northern-Bavaria towns

If you’re the city breaks kind of traveler, I suggest you take the regional train to one of other Bavarian towns – Nuremberg, Passau or Regensburg.

Each of those will provide a different experience, but you’ll see that people are still quite relaxed and very friendly.

Make sure you visit the Nuremberg castle that provides a great view over the city and old town area
Make sure you visit the Nuremberg castle that provides a great view over the city and old town area

13. Go skiing or snowboarding

If you’re into winter sports and happen to be in Munich in winter – mountains is one of the best day trips from Munich both in summer and winter.

Instead of going through the hassle of looking for transportation, renting the car and/or looking for accommodation, I suggest you book an all-inclusive bus trip to one of the bigger resorts. There are daily bus tours every weekend that leave from Munich. They get you to one of major resorts (mostly Austria, but also Switzerland), give you a ski pass, drive you back home and even provide coffee and mini breakfast on the way.

Search for skibus-muenchen, or rather Studenten im Schnee (my personal favorite – you also get a bottle of beer and usually a nice after party in the bus on the way back).

14. Explore olympic town Garmisch-Partenkirchen

If you don’t really know what you want to do, you can head over to the Olympic town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and decide there.

Here you can do almost anything – hike, mountain bike, explore the city, ski and so on. In fact, it’s one the best places to learn to ski, as the slopes are not so difficult and prices are much cheaper than in Austria.

If you go further to Ehrwald, you’ll find yet another awesome lake with crystal clear water and a couple of guest houses and hotels on the coast with mountain views. In addition, you can make a trip to the top of Zugspitze – the highest mountain of Germany at 2,962 meters above sea level. For that you can buy a combined ticket that includes train ride to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and a scenic train ride or a cable car (buying the ticket on the spot will be more expensive).

Partnachklamm - a gorge formed by a mountain stream in the Partenkirchen area, not far from the city center.
Partnachklamm – a gorge formed by a mountain stream in the Partenkirchen area, not far from the city center.

15. (Weekend) day trips from Munich to Zurich, Prague, Innsbruck or Milan

Finally, you can explore other big towns in Central Europe.

All these cities are slightly further away and, even though still are doable as day trips from Munich, would require slightly more time to explore. All of those are around 3 hour drive or 4 hours by bus. If you leave early enough, you’ll still have a day to walk around the city and see major sights before boarding an evening or night bus back.

That’s all fifteen day trips from Munich and most are in Bavaria. Munich by itself is a rather small city to spend too much time in, so make sure you leave at least a day or two to travel around and see where the real beauty of Bavaria and neighboring lands is.

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