Recently, I overheard a Brit claiming that Munich’s draw wasn’t Munich itself – instead its appeal lies in everything that surrounds it: the lakes, mountains, nearby towns. He had that arrogant air of a newcomer to the city, someone from a bigger, better place – but, admittedly, he had a point. Munich does offer the most wonderful day trips – sparkling, cool lakes, cute towns and mountains as far as your eyes can see. But the city itself certainly isn’t lacking in activities. But when cabin fever strikes, escaping the city can do you a whole lot of good:
Landsberg am Lech
Just three quarters of an hour west of Munich is the beautiful medieval town of Landsberg am Lech. It’s perhaps most well-known as the place that Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, while incarcerated in the early 1920s, but it’s far more than a notorious prison – Landsberg has one of the most picturesque town centres I’ve seen in Germany.
I wrote all about a day at Chiemsee here, and still maintain it’s one of Bavaria’s most aesthetically pleasing day trips. Start early, pack your swimmers and take your sun cream.
Beat the traffic and heat out to Stegen, at Ammersee, early one Saturday morning. You can order a Weißwurst breakfast from 10am (in summer, 11am in winter) at Gasthof Schreyegg. It’s one of the prettiest places I can think of for a Bavarian breakfast – nab a table next to the lake, and you can watch the mist clear and the yachts come out to play.
After breakfast, head further down the road to the park to swim (there’s a playground there for the kids, and it’s shallow – perfect for families). Once hunger pangs hit again, head back to Schreyegg for some smoked fish, and stop off at the Eismacherei for an ice cream.
Andechs, also at Ammersee, is a rite of passage if you’re living in Munich. If you haven’t taken visitors there already, you really need to hike up there and drink a beer asap. Yes, it’s touristy, but the beer garden is quaint, the hike is gentle, and it offers a taste of true Bavaria.
Fürstenfeldbruck is another cute Bavarian town, with one of Bavaria’s biggest baroque churches, huge cloister grounds and a small, attractive town centre. Wander round, walk along the river’s edge and enjoy a spritz on the banks of the Amper.
Home to the world’s oldest working brewery, Freising offers a pleasantly boozy day out. It’s easy to reach on the S-Bahn (meaning you can test all that the world’s oldest berwery, Weihenstephan, has to offer), and the town is small and quaint – meaning you can compactly soak up the atmosphere before walking up the hill to enjoy the beer. Check out the stunning rococo cathedral (Freisinger Dom) and wander through the charming old streets.
The birthplace of Datschi (plum cake), Augsburg isn’t the most obvious choice for a day trip. It’s an industrial city, with MAN, EADS and KUKA all based here, but there are a few gems: The Fuggerei is the world’s oldest social housing complex still in use, and the cobbled old town is a joy to walk around.
Just an hour and a half away by train is Salzburg. The train takes you through some of Bavaria’s most spectacular scenery, and once you’re there, the town offers plenty of highlights. From Mozart’s birthplace to the hilltop castle and seventeenth century cathedral, a day is easily spent wandering around the city centre. Stop for an apple strudel at a cute cafe before hopping on the train home.
I’ll save the mountains for a separate post (it deserves a post of it’s own), but I’d love to hear what your favourite Munich day trips are. Where should I go next?