Munich is a wonderful city in a wonderful part of the world. In my exploration around Munich, I found history, castles, fairytales, teddy bears, music and mountains. Here are the six day-trips from Munich I ventured on: Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, Neuschwanstein Castle, Oberammergau, Giengen an der Brenz, Salzburg and Innsbruck.
1. dachau concentration camp memorial site
Just a 30-minute journey outside of Munich is a journey into the darker side of German history. Dachau Concentration Camp was the first concentration opened in the Third Reich, beginning with 200 political prisoners in 1933 and ending with 67,665 prisoners when the camp was finally liberated in 1945. Walking the stark grounds, seeing the meticulous records the Nazis kept and standing before the crematorium evoked emotions of sorrow and anger that I haven’t forgotten.
It’s a sad history, but it’s one we are responsible for observing and remembering.
2. pretend to be royalty at neuschwanstein castle
The romanesque dream of a 19th century king, Neuschwanstein Castle is a structure of Disney proportions. Seriously though, it inspired the design for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Neuschwanstein isn’t a historically interesting place, having been built for the desire of one Bavarian King who didn’t live to see it completed. In World War II, it was a safe-house for stolen items and an archive. Otherwise, the castle has always been what is it today: a tourist attraction.
Don’t miss understand me; Neuschwanstein is quite the attraction. The castle is beautiful and the art within–paintings, marble floors, furniture laid with gold–is worth ogling.
While you’re out for a visit, stop by Linderhof Palace. This “little” chateau is beautifully positioned in the Alps. While Neuschwanstein lords over the landscape formidably, Linderhof nestles in. It’s wonderful.
Neuschwanstein Castle is about 3 hours away from Munich. There are several tour opportunities to visit it, which is how I ventured to the castle myself.
3. the quaint town of oberammergau
After visiting Oberammergau one afternoon, I moved there for a few weeks. It’s a lovely little town about two hours away via bus or train from Munich.
Settled in the German Alps, Oberammergau is know for its wood carvings, its Passion Play that have been staged every 10 years since 1634 and its frescos depicting children stories. And it basically feels like a Christmas Market year round.
From here, one can visit the jar-dropping Ettal Abbey or climb to the top of Kofel (1,342 mts or 4,403 feet above sea level). During the summer, you can visit the Alpine Coaster at Kolbensattle.
4. giengen an der teddy bears
About 4 hours outside Munich is Giengen an der Brenz. I made this into a day trip, but I understand if this journey is a bit much for others. I was on a mission from my crazy aunts, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Giengen is the home of Steiff.
For those who have saner family members than me, Steiff is the teddy bear company. They invented the teddy bear at the beginning of the 20th century and are responsible for the most famous teddy bear of all: Winnie the Pooh. The factory has a massive gift shop and a lovely little interactive museum that kids would enjoy. And I enjoyed it as a 27-year-old.
5. get a view of innsbruck
Innsbruck is a charming Austrian city nestled in the Alps. It’s home to attractions like Innsbruck Cathedral, Ambras Castle and the Goldenes Dachl (the Golden Roof). Just walk down Maria-Theresien-Straße (Maria-Theresa Street) and tour through the historic, medieval city.
The highlight of the visit (even if you are not participating in winter sports) is the Nordkette Cable Car. The gondola cable ride offers an amazing view of the mountains and the city.
6. singing the praise of salzburg
There are two major cultural M’s in Salzburg, Austria: Mozart and Maria. The 18th century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg and is still a prominent figure to the city. Make sure you sample at least one Mozart Chocolates during your visit! Salzburg is also the setting and filming location for The Sound of Music.
Music aside, Salzburg is an enchanting alpine town with gorgeous churches and even more-so views. After the 2-hour train ride from Munich, I wondered around the entire downtown: Mirabell Palace, the Residenzplatz, and to Nonnberg Abbey for a high-up view of it all. I particularly liked St. Peter’s Cemetery that weaves alone the slop in an enchanting way. It’s basically a maze of giant tomb stones.