Oktoberfest 2014: Top Day Trips out of Munich

It is now less than two weeks until Oktoberfest begins and if you followed are Pre Oktoberfest Checklist you should hopefully just about be ready to go! While a week-long beer drinking binge sounds good on paper, after a few days of being jammed into the Oktoberfest tents you may be looking to get out-of-town and rest your liver. Below we have listed a number of great day trips all within a couple of hours journey from Munich.

1. Ludwig II’s Fairytale Castles.

‘Mad’ King Ludwig’s castles are the jewels in the crown of Bavarian tourism. Neuschwanstein is the most famous, with an estimated 1.4 million visitors every year. Neuschwanstein was also the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle and has captured the imagination of tourists since the King’s mysterious death in 1886.

The view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary's Bridge

The view of Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary’s Bridge

However, while most people flock to Neuschwanstein, his other two castles are equally as impressive. Linderhof, near the famous Bavarian religious town of Oberammergau (also worth a look if you have time) is the only castle Ludwig ever completed. Much smaller than the other two, it is a far easier visit than Neuschwanstein and also doesn’t get the crowds. Nestled amongst the mountains and surrounded by lovely gardens, Linderhof would have to be our favourite of the three.

The smallest and only palace to be completed, Linderhof

The smallest and only palace to be completed, Linderhof

The final castle is situated on an island in Bavaria’s largest lake, the Chiemsee and is situated almost half way between Munich and Salzburg. Herrenchiemsee was built to be a living breathing museum dedicated to Ludwig’s idol, Louis XIV of France. An almost exact replica of the central sections of Versailles, Herrenchiemsee is probably the least visited of the three but has an idyllic location and can only be reached by a boat ride out to the island.

Numerous companies offer day trips from Munich and often combine Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Oberammergau. If you do go with theses agencies double-check what you are booking, as a lot of the tours DONT include entrances into the castles themselves.

Rear facade of Neuschwanstein

Rear facade of Neuschwanstein

2. Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

Visiting a concentration camp is not something you will necessarily say you enjoyed, but it is something you will be glad you have experienced. Dachau was the first camp set up in the 1930’s and now days is part memorial and part museum, dedicated to all those who suffered under Hitler’s regime. Getting out there can be a little tricky on public transport, however a number of local tour companies offer trips out to Dachau normally meeting in Marienplatz. We highly recommend the audio guide.

Shadow of the entrance gate into Dachau

Shadow of the entrance gate into Dachau

3. Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest

According to legend when God was creating the earth he gave all the natural beauty to the angels to distribute evenly around the world. As you can imagine this is a time consuming job. With the angels running behind schedule (he did only give them a week after all), God bellowed out “Hurry up!”, and the angels dropped all the natural wonders in Berchtesgaden.Or so the story goes.

Looking down over Berchtesgaden and the Eagle's Nest

Looking down over Berchtesgaden and the Eagle’s Nest

Approximately two hours from Munich the region of Berchtesgaden is stunningly beautiful. Dramatic mountains, crystal clear lakes and rivers and of course Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Specially designed local buses drive you up one of Europe’s most amazing, and somewhat hair-raising roads to the base of the Eagle’s Nest. From here it is a short walk through a tunnel to the original elevator made of polished brass before arriving in the building itself. Eagle’s Nest has a little something for everyone, incredible alpine scenery and photo opportunities for the nature lovers and some very interesting history for the history nerds (like me). Our tip, try to get there early, queues for the buses and the elevator can be very long if the weather is good.

4. Salzburg

The hills are alive! That’s right, after only a two hour train journey you could be yodeling away Julie Andrews style in the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . Salzburg makes for a great day trip from Munich if for no other reason to just ‘pop’ over the border into Austria.

Salzburg's gorgeous Old Town

Salzburg’s gorgeous Old Town

Combine the imposing Festung or fortress towering over the city and the charming medieval streets and alley ways, Salzburg is a photographer’s dream. There are plenty of sights from ‘The Sound of Music’ to keep you amused or for something totally different head out to Hangar 7, the home of Red Bull. For great views of the old town and fortress head to the Cafe Sacher and enjoy a slice of the famous chocolate cake, Sacher Torte.

Sacher torte, yum!!

Sacher Torte, yum!

There are numerous other possibilities that we haven’t mentioned her as well. Nuremberg has a great old town and huge city walls, while from Garmisch-Partenkirchen you can catch a cable car up to the top of Germany’s highest mountain. If you fancy staying in Munich there are also some great experiences to keep you busy. We love Mike’s Bike Tours, a great way to see loads of the city and have a seriously fun time doing it. You can also hire bikes from them and they also run trips to Neuschwanstein and Salzburg.

Remember (if you haven’t had too much beer), Munich is a great city and so is the surrounding countryside, so make sure you take time out from Oktoberfest and get out there and explore!

– Dean

Prost!

Prost!

 

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Stepping Back in Time: Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber

One of the most beautiful parts of Bavaria is the Romantische Strasse or the Romantic Road. Formed in 1957 to promote tourism the road links some of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany and stretches from Würzburg to Füssen a distance of over 300 km.

The jewel on the crown of the Romantic Road is without a doubt Rothenburg. It is also the most visited but it is easy to see why! Cobble stoned streets wind past bright pastel coloured houses. Vines and creepers wind their way up, through, over and around the brick work and the whole historic center is surrounded by the enormous medieval city walls.

The Roeder Tor, one of the many towers scattered throughout Rothenburg

The Roeder Tor, one of the many towers scattered throughout Rothenburg

Walking through the streets of Rothenburg feels like walking through a fairy tale or perhaps a movie set, it almost doesn’t feel real. Little wonder why people love this town. In fact Walt Disney loved it so much Geppetto’s village in Pinocchio is a cartoon recreation of Rothenburg .

The most photographed scene in the entire city

The most photographed scene in the entire city

Day trippers from Nürnberg and Frankfurt pour into the town and come 10:30 in the morning in good medieval fashion you are battling with visitors from around the world for the best photo spots, seats at cafés or Christmas decorations (something Rothenburg is famous for). Beware the coach loads of tourists pouring into the Kathe Wolfhart Christmas Museum, you have been warned!

Christmas everyday with loads of stores selling wooden Christmas decorations

Christmas everyday with loads of stores selling wooden Christmas decorations

Our best bit of advice? Stay over night, by 16:30 most day trippers have cleared out and you have these dream like streets and alleyways to yourself.

As the days get later the day trippers clear out leaving you alone in the city

As the sun sets the colours really come alive

Rothenburg is a photographers dream, a great destination for families with lots to amuse children and a romantic little getaway for couples. Put simply Rothenburg has it all and should be a real must on any visit to Germany.

Get lost in the winding medieval laneways

Get lost in the winding medieval laneways

While the city has a colourful history, the most famous episode occurred during the 30 Years War in e 1600’s. General Tilly of the Catholic armies requested that Rothenburg accommodate him and his estimated 20,000 troops over winter. After refusing to do so, the town was besieged and was only taken after one unfortunate local lit a torch inside  the Powder Tower, and…. Kaboom! The walls were breached.

As the story goes Tilly was so impressed by the citizens bravery he promised to spare the town if the Lord Mayor could drink a three and a half litre flagon of wine in one go! The Lord Mayor met the challenge, passed out and saved the town! In reality the women and children of Rothenburg threw themselves at the mercy of Tilly and paid him handsomely to spare them! However the story stuck and every hour from eleven in the morning til eight in the evening this encounter is relived in the small glockenspiel on the Market Square!

Tilly's drinking challenge re enacted every day as part of the glockenspiel

Tilly’s drinking challenge re enacted every day as part of the glockenspiel

The town

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