Munich is a perfect and sometimes bewildering combination of Oktoberfest schmaltz, Bavarian style, and modern urbanity. Few big cities are this cute, this bustling, this modern, and this conventional at once. Here are some suggestions for Munich day trips, all of which can be easily reached from Munich.
Munich Day Trips
Spa Town Escape: Bad Aibling
Highlights: charming spa town; lovely parks; restful environment
Duration: four to eight hours
Exertion level: low to high
Accessible by: train
The German tradition of the "Kur" is alive and well in Bad Aibling. Germans rely on spa "kurs," or cures, as a therapeutic aid for many different ailments. Bad Aibling is a great example of a town based economically around its "Kur" spas.
What makes Bad Aibling especially interesting is its picture-perfect spa town feel. A huge park in the center of town provides an expansive natural oasis, offset charmingly by a swanky modernist "Kurhaus." The entire feel is super Bavarian. The town even has a folklore museum, the Heimatmuseum.
Bad Aibling also features its share of concerts and cultural events. It has a well-organized artists guild as well. The Web site of the Kunstverein Bad Aibling (exclusively in German) testifies to the existence of a contemporary art scene within the context of the otherwise Old World town.
For more information, visit the Bad Aibling site. Click on "Touristik" and then on the Union Jack flag to obtain English-language information about Bad Aibling relevant to tourists.
There are many ways to get to Bad Aibling by train from Munich. Regional trains connect Bad Aibling to Rosenheim and Holzenkirchen, both of which are easily accessible from Munich. The journey should take between an hour and 80 minutes. One-way fares begin at around €8.
Holocaust Memorial: Dachau
Highlights: powerful memorial; educational side-trip; historical enrichment
Duration: three to four hours
Exertion level: low
Accessible by: train and bus
Dachau was Nazi Germany's first concentration camp, and it served as the model for all subsequent Nazi concentration camps.
We recognize that a concentration camp is not exactly a cheery place to visit, though the advantage of a well-maintained concentration camp like Dachau tangibly allows visitors to get a real sense of Nazism. Informative Dachau audio tours can be rented for €3 (€2 reduced). Individual tours also cost €1.50.
The Concentration Camp Memorial Site includes an exhibition space that showcases temporary exhibits. The Memorial Site also features a screening area where a short documentary on the Dachau Concentration Camp is shown (in German and English) twice a day.
For more information about Dachau, see the concentration camp's Memorial Site. The museum is closed Mondays. Its hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and entry is free.
Dachau can be reached from Munich by the S2 commuter train. The journey takes about 20 minutes from Munich's Hauptbahnhof, and the current schedule can be found in PDF form here. From Dachau's train station, visitors will need to take bus 726 to the concentration camp itself.
Quirky Lakeside Idyll: Bernried
Highlights: esoteric art; old churches; lakeside peace
Duration: four to six hours
Exertion level: low to moderate
Accessible by: train
Along the western shore of Starnberger Sea sits the little village of Bernried. The town may lay just beyond the S-Bahn commuter train network, but it very much feels a world away from the tidy hubbub of Munich.
Long an artist's haunt, Bernried boasts not one but two castles, one of which serves today as a monastery. Among the town's many architectural gems is the 14th century village church.
Bernried is also home to the Buchheim Museum, the brainchild of German author Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Also called the "Museum of Imagination," the Buchheim Museum houses an amazing range of artwork, from modern German art to all sorts of esoteric objects. The museum is housed in a dramatic wood and metal modern building.
When you've had enough of museums, palaces, and churches, you can visit the Bernrieder Park. Designed by landscape architect Carl Effner in the mid-nineteenth-century, the park is massive and peaceful, with oaks as old as 600 to 800 years.
More information about Bernried can be found (in German) on the official Bernried municipal website.
A train journey from the Munich Hauptbahnhof to Bernried lasts 40 minutes and costs around €8.