5 magical day trips from Munich that you must take!

When I think of fairytale towns, romantic castles, historical, charming streets and enchanting landscapes, Germany is what comes to my mind. It seems like many storybooks were written by authors inspired by the beauty of this country, and visiting the cute, hidden towns and villages here feels like you've travelled back in time. Maybe a little gnome will pop out of the hole in the ground as you walk the cobbled stone streets or you'll bump into a princess held hostage in the towers of one of those gorgeous castles! So if you're in Bavaria's capital and you're looking for some magic, here are 5 day trips from Munich that you must take.

 Day trips from Munich

#1 Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles

day trips from Munich
Neuschwanstein castle

For those of you who know me, I love castles! And Europe has some of the most magical, fairytale castles undoubtedly. I spent 2 weeks in Ireland visiting some of the best-preserved castles from centuries ago and exploring the ruins which are today UNESCO World Heritage sites. My trip to Transylvania was also about stepping into a fascinating world where the medieval era came to life in some of the most stunning royal residences ever. However, no castle has piqued my attention as Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.

day trips from Munich
Neuschwanstein castle

Apparently, the castle was Disney's inspiration for Cinderella's castle and there's no doubt why it was chosen. The magnificent building is not only a masterpiece in its architecture but also the setting it stands tall in, is a treat for the eyes. With the backdrop of the snow-laden Bavarian Alps, the castle itself stands on an isolated cliff, fulfilling the purpose it was built for - a place for King Ludwig II to get away from people and spend some time by himself. However, it was never really completed from the inside due to the untimely accidental death of the king, after which the castle was opened to the public.

I visited it during the winter, which was great because the snow only added to the beauty of the place. However, getting inside the castle can only be done through a guided tour which is best reserved in advance lest the tickets could be sold out on site. Also, the castle itself is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which is when I visited the place and was thus, unlucky! The castle grounds are open, however, so one can walk around the area and get some gorgeous pictures.

The best views of Neuschwanstein Castle are from Queen Mary's Bridge (Marienbrücke) across the Pöllat gorgeHowever, if there's snow in the area, the bridge is likely to be closed due to safety reasons.

day trips from Munich
Hohenschwangau Castle

Built by the father of King Ludwig II, Hohenschwangau Castle is not too far from Neuschwanstein Castle and overlooks the Hohenschwangau village, which sits in the valley between the two castles. This is where King Ludwig II spent most of his childhood. Although not as impressive as the Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau Castle is strikingly beautiful in its own right. The interiors of the castle are known to depict scenes from German folklore and medieval legends. However, if you're here on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, this castle is also closed for visitors.

How to get here:

These two Bavarian castles make for one of the best day trips from Munich. The recommended way to get here is to rent a car from Munich and drive for 1.5 hours to get here, through the stunning countryside. However, if you're using public transportation, take a train from Munich’s main station (Munchen Hauptbahnhof) directly to Fussen (2 hours journey) and then catch a bus from the Fussen train station (bus no. 73 or 78) to Neuschwanstein Castle. The ride lasts about 15 min and drops you off below the cliff from where you'll have to climb up for about 20 min to reach the castle.

 Day trips from Munich

#2 Rothenburg ob der Tauber

day trips from Munich
Rothenburg ob der Tauber

This picturesque village is located on the Romantic Road in Germany and is one of the best-preserved walled medieval cities in the country. As all the restaurants and museums in Munich were shut on Christmas Day, I decided to venture out to this charming little old town to enjoy the holiday vibe. A visit to the village was a journey back in time, with cobbled stone streets, colourful medieval buildings, a laid-back atmosphere, and historical ramparts and towers that remained from the castle walls built back in the 13th century.

day trips from Munich

The village is about a 3-hour drive from Munich and isn't the only 'Rothernburg' in Germany so be sure that you put the name of the village Rothenburg ob der Tauber on your GPS lest you'll end up in the wrong place! Alternatively, since it is one of the most popular day trips from Munich, there are several trains from Munich's main station to get here and the old town is a short walk from Rothenburg ob der Tauber's the train station.

day trips from Munich

The best way to explore this fairytale village is on foot. You can enjoy a peaceful walk starting from the famous postcard perfect Plönlein Square, in the laneways surrounded by cute pastel houses, through the Marktplatz where you'll see several cafes, restaurants and even the traditional Advent Market during Christmas, towards the iconic St Jacob's Church, eventually arriving at the city walls and old castle gardens.

If you like museums, you could visit the quirky Christmas Museum, or the morbid Medieval Crime and Justice Museum. Allow yourself to get lost in the city streets, walk into a souvenir shop to buy unique and cheap ornaments, or try a schneeballen (a Rothenburg pastry speciality made of pastry dough balls rolled in sugar, cinnamon or dipped in chocolate).

day trips from Munich

 Day trips from Munich

#3 Lake Starnberg

Although a visit to Lake Starnberg may not classify as one of the day trips from Munich by itself, as it is less than an hour away from the city, you can easily spend a few hours here depending on which location around the lake you decide to visit and during which month. During the summer, many water activities take place here. Lake Starnberg is the 2nd largest lake in Bavaria and the 5th largest in Germany.

In the summer, you will see a lot of people swimming in the lake or simply soaking up the sun with a picnic. You could also head to Hotel Am See's terrace restaurant overlooking the lake to enjoy some beer. There are many walking trails along the lake for those who love to immerse themselves in nature.

You could also visit the spot where King Ludwig II mysteriously drowned and died. Some stories say that he fell into the lake accidentally while others hint that he was murdered by those who wanted to dethrone him. There is a cross that acts as a memorial in the lake to mark his untimely and unexplained death. If you're on the West Bank of the lake, you're not too far from castle Sisi in Possenhofen, which was inhabited by Empress Elisabeth of Austria. You can stroll through the park here, take some lovely pictures of the royal family's summer home and wait to enjoy the gorgeous sunset at the lake.

day trips from Munich

The sunset at Lake Starnberg is absolutely mesmerising! For the perfect experience, grab a place at the Seerestaurant Lido, get yourself a beer (or hot wine in the winter) and walk to the pier on the lake. You can also get a view of Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany, on a clear day.

Click here to read what to do in Munich in a day.

 Day trips from Munich

#4 Eagle's Nest and Salt Mines

At less than 2 hours away by road, Kehlsteinhaus or Eagle's Nest is one of the most popular day trips from Munich. A mountaintop lodge that served as Hitler's summer home, this extravagant chalet was presented to him on his 50th birthday. However, it is rumoured that Hitler suffered from vertigo and did not really spend much time at the chalet that was located at the edge of a mountain almost 6,000 feet above the ground.

day trips from Munich

There are two ways to get to the Eagle's nest that is today, a restaurant offering 360-degree views of the surrounding gorgeous mountains, the valley below and Lake Königssee. You can either hike down to it (takes about 3 hours) or sit on a special bus that takes you to the elevator shaft set deep in the mountain. In winter, Eagle's Nest might be closed if there has been too much snow so do check before you head there.

Day trips from Munich

If Eagle's Nest is closed for visitation, you can still spend some time exploring the famous Berchtesgaden salt mine in the village below. The tour inside the salt mines is for adventure lovers - get ready to dress in overalls and sit in a miners train that will take you into the very depths of the mountains. You can also pass by Lake Konigsee, one of the most beautiful Alpine lakes in Germany.

Click here to book your stay in Munich.

 Day trips from Munich

#5 Salzburg

Why not get out of Germany and make the most of the day trips from Munich by visiting one of the most charming cities of Austria - Salzburg. Whether you choose to take a train from Munich Main Train station or drive, Salzburg is about 1.5 hours away and is one of the prettiest European cities I've ever been to. With a fortress towering in the backdrop, an emerald green river running through the heart of the city, medieval architecture that is awe-inspiring and a vibe that is unmatched, Salzburg is undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Munich.

If you're here only for a day, I recommend you to visit Hohensalzburg Castle for stunning aerial views of the city, followed by Salzburg Cathedral, a masterpiece of architecture and Residenzplatz located in the centre of the Old Town.

Read in detail on my blog about What to do in Salzburg.

Why not extend your trip with this perfect 1 week itinerary for Austria?

70 thoughts on “5 magical day trips from Munich that you must take!”

  1. Munich is a fairytale post in Germany and one of my favourite places in Europe. Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria is fascinating to explore and it looks like it’s straight out of a picture book.

  2. This past January I was in Berlin and I thought nothing in the world could beat the experiences I had there. Until I met someone from Munich he told me if I love Berlin that Munich would crush it in the memory making. I am beyond excited to go and I’ll use this post as my guide for sure.

  3. Ooh God! You just added a few more days to my Munich trip. I would love to do all of them. If I have to prioritize – then the Neuschwanstein castle, followed by Salzberg and then the Salt mines. Each one of them has something that I really want to see. Beautifully detailed.

  4. Ahh…this brought back some great memories for me. One of my favorite places ever is Rothenberg ob der Tauber! We loved walking the medieval walls and taking the Nightwatchman’s Tour, shopping at the specialty Christmas store, and eating Schneeballen (although it wasn’t my favorite German pastry)! I’d love to have seen more of Germany’s castles, too. Never made it to Munich either.

  5. The views of Neuschwanstein castle are just incredible! It’s easy to understand why the castle would inspire the Disney castle, and I can certainly see the resemblance. I also really love medieval towns and visited a few in Italy last year. Aside from being walled, they were nothing like the romantic architecture of the old village of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. (Great tip about the GPS, by the way. Yikes!) Salzburg was already on my radar. Your story affirmed my desire to visit, and added a few other day trips from Munich to my wish list. Thanks for the info!

  6. St Bartholomew’s Church on the Königssee lake with snow in the background looks like out of a Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale.

    I have visited Bavarian castles several years ago and since then I am in love with Bavaria.

  7. Wow! I would LOVE to visit Neuschwanstein castle! Because Disney ? and it truly looks like a masterpiece ❤️(can only imagine seeing it in real life!). A hike down to Eagle’s nest also sounds fab ??

  8. My first day trip from Munich was to Neuschwanstein Castle. Such a cool place to visit but difficult like you siad when it is snowing because they close the bridges. I also did Salzburg which is a cool day trip too.

    1. Salzburg is a gorgeous city. I did not do it as a day trip from Munich, however, I spent 3 full days there to explore the Christmas festivities. For someone who doesn’t have enough time, it still makes for a great day trip from Munich 🙂

  9. Neuschwanstein is such a gorgeous castle. I have visited in the winter and would love to see it in the summer. I would like to vivit the Eagle’s Nest for dinner and check out the views.

  10. These are places taken out of a fairy tale book, no doubt. Didn’t know that the Neuschwanstein Castle, in Bavaria, served as an inspiration to the Cinderella’s castle, but I totally can see the resemblance. Will have to visit Munich and its surroundings very soon 😉

  11. Lak Starnberg is so stunning! I’m kicking myself I didn’t visit Neuschwanstein Castle when I was in the region; I know that so many people and their dog have visited, but I don’t care, I want to see it for myself! Thanks for the tip on getting the right Rothenburg too lol, I want to try those sweet pastry balls! This is a gorgeous post, and it’s given me serious wanderlust!

    1. Of all the castles I’ve seen, it’s one of the most fairy-tale like, especially from the outside. And the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains only adds to the beauty. You need to go back, Lisa!

  12. We have never stayed in Germany yet. It is moving higher on the travel wish list. So it was great to see the day trips you can take from Munich. The Neuschwanstein Castle looks like a fairy tale castle and definitely worth a visit. Good to know that it is best to rent a car for this trip. Rothenburg ob der Taube looks like such an iconic German town. But the views from Eagle’s nest would definitely draw me in. Definitely some reasons to move Germany up.

    1. There’s so much more to see and do in Germany, I only just scratched the surface. But I was happy that I managed to see an iconic castle and a very charming medieval town/ village.

  13. I already been to Munich but I just had stop for 6 hours, now I’m traveling again in April, can’t wait. I have few days this time and I want definitely explore more! I was wondering where to go, but you gave me some great tips that I really want to consider and to explore some of these places 🙂

  14. The pictures with the snow are stunning! Neuschwanstein Castle is one of my dream spots to visit, mainly because I want to feel like a Disney princess. I’m glad there is a public bus option to get from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle to help with the Disney princess experience. I didn’t know Eagle’s Nest was so close to Munich. The salt mine tour sounds interesting as well. Miner’s overalls for everyone! Thanks for sharing.

  15. Wow you have literally given me a ready itinerary for Germany (atleast the places I really want to visit there). Bavaria, Rothenburg and Salzburg have been in my bucket list for forever! Like you, even I find Neuschwanstein castle totally dreamy and can’t wait to get there. Now I know Munich needs to be the base for a week long trip to the area! 😀

    1. It was great that there was little snow when I visited – totally added to the romance and magic of the castles!

  16. The bavarian castles are stunning! Wish I had this guide on my recent trip to Munich. I can proudly say I did the Salzburg day trip 🙂 I have to add Eagle’s Nest to my list next.

  17. You have provided a nice selection of day trips. The castle looks beautiful, as does the lake. I have heard so much about Eagle’s Nest that I know that I would be drawn to it but it is weird to know that Hitler really didn’t spend much time there. Thanks for all of your suggestions.

    1. Apparently he visited here for ‘inspiration’ while writing his autobiography – Mein Kampf.

  18. I have been to Salzburg, but would love to go again, as well as all the other places. In my princess fantasies I have always wanted to go to Neuschwanstein castle! The salt mines sound fun too.

  19. Wow Medha, I am really in love with all the places that you visit. And yes, I can now understand that you are definitely an admirer of the castles and old architecture. These castles just look like they are out of a fairy tale. I have never been to Munich or Germany, but I am sure your suggestions are all worth it!

  20. Bavaria is such a beautiful region to be in. Additionally it has got so much history on offer. It is just amazing how much you can see and do when in Munich. We were there last year for a few days and yet, we have covered less than half of what you have suggested here. Want to get there soon to do some more.

    1. And I am sure there’s so much more I could also cover if I go back 🙂 Bavaria is beautiful!

  21. Brilliant collection, hitting all the major spots around Munich. I lived for four years about 2.5 hours away from Munich so we were always exploring the surrounding regions during weekends. Rothenburg is probably my favourite town in all of Germany. I hear it is a lot more commercial now than almost 20 years ago. Still, quaint and worth a visit or few.

    1. It probably is. The more people find out about lovely places, the more they want to visit. And commercialisation is inevitable 🙂

  22. For some reason when I think of Germany, I never imagined all this natural beauty. Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles looks amazing! But even more so because of their surrounding nature. We visited Ireland last year and did not visit any big castles. They didn’t look as impressive as Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau when we looked. When I visit Germany, these two will be on the list to visit!

    1. I visited quite a few castles in Ireland but to be honest, these ones were a lot more stunning and majestic, at least from the outside.

  23. Rothenburg ob der Tauber looks like very peaceful. I love European houses and architecture to be honest. It’s very different from what I see in Asia. It’s very instagrammable for me! I wish I can visit.

  24. I am always happy with getting tips for Day Trip Ideas and you have given me some new ones. I am especially interested in Rothenburg ob der Tauber . It looks lovely from the photos and I love half timbered houses!

  25. I’m tempted to say that Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles are my favorite day trips from Münich. However, I haven’t seen any of the other places, so I’m still waiting to see which one I’ll like best. We wanted to go to Salzburg as well when we visited Neuschwanstein, but it started snowing so our plans have been deterred.

  26. Those places do look magical! One of my dreams is to go to Neuschwanstein Castle and I’m definitely doing this when I will go back to Munich. Neuschwanstein Castle looks very similar to the castle in Segovia, have you seen it? If you love castles as you said, Segovia’s castle IS THE CASTLE. Thank you for adding the information on how to get there as well. Very useful!

    1. I actually have not seen the Segovia castle but just googled it and it sure looks pretty awesome 🙂

  27. Munich is the last big city in Germany I’ve not been to yet and I’d love to go. I’m from Scotland where we have our fair share of castles. Neuschwanstein castle Would be somewhere I’d have to visit! I’ll need to get planning…

  28. I’m so sad that you didn’t get to visit the inside of Neuschwanstein! Between the holidays and the winter weather, sometimes it’s hard to see everything we’d like. Salzburg has been on my list for a while as well. I love your historical backgrounds about each place!

    1. It’s a pity that it was closed on the Christmas Holidays. However, I’ve heard it is not as stunning from inside as it is from the outside. I’m glad I got to see it at least from the outside!

  29. Munich is on my bucket list! And I had no idea it was so close to Austria! My husband is dying to make it to Munich and these day trips look amazing. Might have to plan an Austria/Germany trip and make it out to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It reminds me of Colmar and I LOVE that city!

  30. These day trips look incredible! I haven’t been to Munich yet and hope to soon. I’m not sure how I will ever be able to choose a day trip, because I want to go on them all! 🙂 Those castles look absolutely breath-taking. I also love the photos of the beautiful lake.

  31. Basically keeping Munich as a base, I can visit many places around. Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles are surely on my list. My second favorite would be Eagle’s Nest and Salt Mines. I will surely be visiting these places when in Munich. I loved the white embedded mountain picture. Ah, Salzburg also is not very from Munich, so I can get to visit the Austrian gem as well from there. That’s a very useful information indeed.

    1. It would be advisable to spend a night in Salzburg if possible but yeah, if you do not have time, it is just a day trip away from Munich 🙂

  32. Went ot Munich last year just so I could do a day trip to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof. Wow, it was stunning and I can see why Walt Disney was inspired by it, Funnily enough the inside of Neuschwanstein was dissapointing but the external parts of Linderhof was nothing great but the interior was sublime! I must go back to Germany to do the other day trips!

    1. I’ve heard that the insides are disappointing maybe because the castle was never really fully completed? I could not go inside as it was closed but good to know that I did not miss much 😉

  33. Glad I did 3 out of the 5 but not as day trip from Munich. A halt there would have been helpful. I hope I can visit Lake Starnberg and Eagle’s nest some day in future. Seems like interesting places to cover. Great pictures.

  34. I have never been to Munich and didnt even know there are so many things to do and so many one day trips to take. I really loved lake Starnberg you are describing. It looks just so relaxing. I would definately keep that in mind when going to Germany.

  35. Bavaria is my favorite region in Germany and these all days trips from Munich are really worth. Even I stayed for a night in some of the places as I love the countryside and Castles. Neuschwanstein castle in Fussen is amazing and I stayed nearby for overnight. Thanks for sharing the best viewpoints of this castle and I was not knowing about Queen Mary’s bridge.

  36. Sadly I never made it to #3 and #4 on your list when I was last in Munich. We went to the Nazi rally grounds, but never made it to the Eagle’s nest. Apparently I need to book a return trip!

  37. After seeing your post on Munich it is definitely gone up to the top of my bucket list! What beautiful photos of the sunset that you captured at Lake Stamberg! The castles look so magical they are a must see and Tauber looks like a dream village. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Wow, absolutely gorgeous! It’s my dream to see this part of Germany! I like all of those that you’ve described – castles, fairytale towns, charming streets and beautiful landscapes. I would love to see all of the places you’ve listed. Each one has its own charm! If I’m visiting Munich, I would probably stay at least a week to take these all in.

  39. Wow, these really are magical and the title wasn’t an exaggeration! I spent quite some time in Germany and visited all the places that you listed. I would add Garmisch-Partenkirchen to the list (it’s only 80 km away from Munich) 🙂

  40. Rothenburg ob der Tauber really does look like a fairytale town! It must have really been magical around the holidays, with the Advent market going on. I’d love to walk around there in the crisp air and try a few of those schneeballen pastries!

    1. I was there on Christmas Day and it was absolutely lovely! Unlike Munich, the restaurants and cafes here were open so it made a lot more sense to be exploring the little town as compared to the large cities.

  41. Omg these places are really beautiful. But my favorite was Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria. I am a castle lover too and I can’t believe you spent 2weeks exploring the castles??? How cool ❤️ I would love to do that as well. Thanks for sharing this list with us. It is very helpful

    1. Ireland had so many gorgeous castles, I spent two weeks exploring as many as I could, apart from the other things too of course 🙂

  42. Oh dear I want to do all of those 5 day trips. I am a castle junkie. The fairytale castles would certainly be one of the day trips I would undertake. Germany is so pretty when it snows. Thanks for sharing the article.

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