10 Top-Rated Day Trips from Munich
While there's certainly no shortage of fun things to do in Munich, there are still plenty of great things to see and do in the area around Bavaria's largest city. From fine old castles and palaces to pristine parks, it's as easy as jumping in a car or using the region's excellent public transport system to get you where you want to go. Particularly popular among tourists is the easy outing of Schleissheim Palace and Park, one of the area's loveliest country estates, and beautiful Bavarian towns like Freising. For the truly adventurous willing to travel a little further afield, the stunning Austrian town of Salzburg is less than two hours away by train, while many beautiful tourist roads head out into the German Alps.
1 The Schleissheim Palace Complex
A complex of three fine palaces, the early 18th-century Schleissheim Palace and Park is just 19 kilometers away from Munich's city center and is easily accessible by car and public transport. The most important of the palaces is the New Palace (Neues Schloss), consisting of a 330-meter-long main building with a taller, triple-articulated central section linked by arcades to lateral pavilions either side. The charm of the beautifully decorated interior lies in its successful mingling of Italian Late Baroque and Early Rococo styles, and is notable for its murals and stuccowork depicting the Turkish wars. Its most notable rooms include its Entrance Hall with its eight red marble columns and paintings, the stunning Staircase Hall, the two-story Great Hall with its stucco ornaments and large paintings, and the Baroque Great Gallery housing works by Dutch, Flemish, German, and Italian artists (English language audio tours are available).
The older and smaller Schloss Lustheim was built in 1688 in the style of an Italian garden palace and stands on a circular island ringed by a canal. Its ground floor is laid out with a main hall extending up through the floor above and is noteworthy for its fine ceiling painting celebrating Diana, Goddess of Hunting. It's also the home of the Ernst Schneider Foundation's Collection of Meissen Porcelain, one of the finest such collections in Europe. Schleissheim Park itself was laid out in 1720 and is one of the few Baroque gardens in Germany to have survived in its original state. Highlights include its two fountains, a cascade, and the canal that runs down the middle of the park, as well as the beautiful avenues of limes bordering its gardens.
Address: 85764 Oberschleißheim
2 The Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Korbinian
The lovely old Bavarian town of Freising lies on the high left bank of the River Isar just 33 kilometers north of Munich. The town's most outstanding feature is the Romanesque Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Korbinian, a five-aisle 12th-century basilica with a vaulted roof lavishly decorated by the Asam brothers in 1724 with stucco ornament and paintings. A Gothic porch between the twin towers leads into the cathedral interior where you'll find the Romanesque crypt, one of the oldest of its kind in Germany, with its famous animal column made up of intertwined men and monsters, and the tomb of the church's founder, Bishop Korbinian. Adorning the high altar is a copy of Rubens' Apocalyptic Women from 1625. Be sure to visit the Diocesan Museum with its comprehensive collection of sacred art, and the famous Lukasbild, a rare relic from Constantinople.
Address: Domberg 27, 85354 Freising
3 The Historic Old Town of Ingolstadt
Located 80 kilometers north of Munich, Ingolstadt offers a number of attractions within easy walking distance of its old town center. Formerly the residence and stronghold of the Dukes of Bavaria, this pedestrian-friendly old town and its many well-preserved heritage buildings are still surrounded by the remains of medieval fortifications. Highlights include the Rathausplatz with the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus), formed by the combination of four Gothic houses in 1882, and the 15th-century Spitalkirche with its fine wall paintings. To the north stands St. Maurice's Church (St-Moritz-Kirche) and the Upper Franciscan Church (Obere Franziskanerkirche), both dating from the 14th century. Also worth a visit is the massive 15th-century Herzogsschloss, which has one of the finest Gothic secular interiors in Germany, and the massive Kreuztor with its seven towers and turrets dating from 1385. Finally, be sure to visit the Minster of Our Lady (Liebfrauenmünster), a 15th-century Late Gothic church notable for having the largest and finest Renaissance stained glass window in Bavaria, dating from 1527.
Address: Rathausplatz 2, 85049 Ingolstadt
Although just three kilometers southwest of Munich's city center, lovely Westpark is a wonderful place to spend a day. Beautifully designed, Westpark covers an area of 178 acres and extends for about two kilometers, divided into an eastern and western half by Garmischer Strasse. Along with its extensive lawns and flowerbeds, it also has numerous ponds stocked with carp, goldfish, and turtles, as well as one dedicated to model boat enthusiasts. Other features include an attractive lily pond, several playgrounds and paddle pools, a narrow-gauge railroad, outdoor chess, a lakeside theater offering a regular program of open-air concerts, and two cafés. Of particular note is Little Asia (Klein-Asien) consisting of Chinese and Japanese gardens, a Thai Sala and a pagoda constructed by 200 Nepalese craftsmen.
Address: Preßburger Straße 35, 81377 München
5 Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site
About 17 kilometers northwest of Munich, the town of Dachau is famous for its 18th-century Schloss, and infamous as the location of the notorious Dachau concentration camp where some 41,000 people died during Nazi rule. Now a memorial site, KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau also houses a museum with numerous artifacts and documents from this dark period in Germany's history. Free English language tours are available (daily, 11am and 1pm).
Address: Pater-Roth-Str. 2a, D-85221 Dachau
6 Royal Herrenchiemsee
Lying some 60 kilometers southeast of Munich, a visit to Herrenchiemsee is a must for day trippers. On the island of Herreninsel on the Chiemsee, Bavaria's largest lake, this stunning palace complex was started in 1878 by King Ludwig II to rival Versailles, but remained unfinished after he drowned at age 40. Highlights include the lovely State Staircase, the State Bedroom, and the Great Hall of Mirrors, as well as Ludwig's sumptuous rococo-style Small Apartment. (Viewings are by guided tour only, available in English.)
Many important artifacts related to Ludwig's life are included in the ten rooms of the King Ludwig II Museum, including items of furniture once housed in the Munich Residenz. The gardens include a number of exquisite fountains, one of them a copy of the Bassin de Latone in Versailles, as well as many fine sculptures. The island also boasts a former Augustinian Monastery, now a museum. Access to the island is via a boat ride from Prien or Stock.
Address: 83209 Herrenchiemsee
7 Linderhof Palace: Ludwig's Favorite Castle
About 96 kilometers southwest of Munich near Ettal, and just a few minutes' drive from the Austrian border, Linderhof Palace lies in an idyllic Bavarian setting. It was King Ludwig II's favorite: the scenery around it is simply stunning and consists of tall, heavily wooded hills in which the building shines like a jewel. Built for Ludwig in rococo style in 1878, it has a number of elegantly furnished rooms of interest to visitors: the Hall of Mirrors, used by the king as a reading room; the Eastern and Western Tapestry Chambers with their rich wall hangings; the Audience Chamber, used as a study; the Dining Room, famous as the place where Ludwig would dine alone and "talk" to imagined guests such as Louis XV; and the King's Bedchamber. The park is also wonderful to explore, especially such features as the Formal and Landscape Gardens, the latter home to the wonderful Venus Grotto, Ludwig's man-made version of Capri's famous Blue Grotto. (Entrance to the palace and grotto is by guided tour only.)
Address: Linderhof 12, 82488 Ettal
8 Historic Passau: The Gateway to Austria and the Danube
Passau is magnificently situated on the Austrian frontier at the junction of the Danube with the River Inn. With its many Italian-style houses and dominated by the Oberhaus fortress and the Mariahilf church, Passau presents a townscape of arresting beauty. The old town of Passau lies on a narrow tongue of land between the two rivers, its houses huddling around a hill from which picturesque stepped lanes lead down to the rivers. Highlights include the Cathedral of St. Stephen; its most notable features are its crowned dome and Baroque nave built between 1668-78. Inside, its sumptuous stucco decoration has an Italian feel, and its organ, added in 1928, is one of the largest in the world with 17,388 pipes and 231 stops. Other Passau highlights include the pedestrianized Ludwigstrasse, the town's main business and shopping street and home to the Votive Church from 1619 and the Heilig-Geist-Spital, the Hospital of the Holy Ghost, founded in 1358. Also of note is the Residenzplatz, home to the Cathedral Treasury, the Diocesan Museum and the 18th-century New Bishop's Palace (Neue Residenz). Across the Danube is the 13th-century stronghold of Veste Oberhaus with superb views from its tower.
9 EFA Museum: The History of German Motoring
The EFA Museum of German Automobile History in Amerang, 50 minutes' drive east of Munich, is a great day out for car enthusiasts. On display at this privately-owned museum founded in 1990 are more than 220 vehicles dating back as far as 1886, when the German car industry began. With a focus on the development of the country's rich automotive industry, it's now one of the largest such museums in Germany and covers more than 6,000 square meters of floor space crammed full of fascinating old machines of yesteryear, as well as modern speedsters and Formula One racing cars. A large-scale model railway is also on display.
Address: Wasserberger Strasse 38, 83123 Amerang
10 Overnight in Oberstdorf
Although more than 160 kilometers from Munich, the substantial market town of Oberstdorf makes for a fun excursion, whether for a day trip or an overnight getaway. At the head of the Iller valley, which cuts deep into the Allgäu Alps, it's where the three source streams of the river - the Trettach, the Stillach, and the Breitach - converge just below the town. Its excellent climate and beautiful setting within a ring of towering mountains have made Oberstdorf one of Germany's most popular mountain resorts. A highlight of the town is Kurplatz with its fine covered promenade and magnificent views of the mountains. Just outside the town is the Breitachklamm gorge, while further great hill walking trails can be found near the Heini Klöpfer Ski-jump in the Stillach valley. From here, a cable car takes you up the Fellhorn, which at 2,037 meters, offers an abundance of beautiful alpine flora. Another hill popular with climbers is the 2,224-meter Nebelhorn, also accessible by cable car.