Take a magical train or bus journey into the Bavarian alpine countryside and learn about the mystery and legends behind mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Visit his fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein and enjoy sweeping views of the surroundings. Often known as Germany’s “Cinderella castle,” Neuschwanstein was actually the inspiration for a different Disney story, the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ castle at Disneyland.
Hidden about 2 hours from Munich in the seclusion of Bavarian mountains, a short climb up to the Marienbrücke reveals picture-perfect views of the 19th-Century, neo-romantic masterpiece, as well as the gorge beneath. You can tell that each corner of the castle was carefully curated and planned just looking at it. Hear about the life and passions of Ludwig and discover the story behind his mysterious death. You will also enjoy stunning views of the Bavarian countryside and Alps, the Marienbrücke Bridge, the Swan King, Hohenschwangau Castle, Pöllath Waterfall and Gorge, and much more located near the castle itself. So whether you have dreams of being a fairy princess, revel in history or appreciate great architecture, visiting King Ludwig’s home is very well worth it!
How to reach: Neuschwanstein Castle is situated near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. There is a direct train from Munich to Füssen (2 h 5 min) and then take Bus 73 or 78 directly to the Castle’s ticket office. After 10 minutes of walking, you can pick up your ticket. The same trip by car takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The second largest city in Bavaria is rich with medieval architecture. With its ancient Kaiserburg Castle and old churches in the Altstadt, the city’s history goes back a long way; it was considered the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The place is best explored on foot; with its gorgeous streets and half-timber houses, there is a lot to see. The charming old town of Altstadt is covered in cobbled stone lanes and has a very romantic vibe in the air. You’ll also find Gothic churches and other buildings that have been carefully restored from damage during World War II bombing. Nuremberg was the site of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where Hitler held his propaganda rallies, and you can visit the documentation center for information on the Third Reich and Nazi activities here. After some sightseeing, definitely make a stop at one of the cafes or food stalls to try some Nürnberger bratwurst or sausage – they are fried and deliciously good. The city is dotted with restaurants serving the local Franconian specialties and beer.
How to reach: There is a good frequency of buses and trains running from Munich to Nuremberg with a travel time of about 2 hrs by bus and only an hour by train. You can also book a tour from Munich to Nuremberg which includes a guided tour of the historic city center and the Nazi Party rally grounds.
Dating back to the 9th century AD, the city has a long history but is best known for being the location of the former Dachau Concentration Camp. Originally designed to keep political prisoners, Dachau soon became the murdering grounds of an estimated 41,500 Jews and other “undesirables.” All other camps were modelled after Dachau. Uncover the history behind Nazi concentration camps at Dachau. Walk through the remaining buildings and watch an informative film as you learn what life was like for those interned here. There is plenty of time for quiet reflection at the religious memorials scattered around this site of notorious Nazi brutality.
How to reach: It takes 40 minutes from Munich by public transportation. Take train line S2 to Dachau. Once at the Dachau Station, take Bus #726 right to the camp. There are English tours at 11am & 1pm.
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Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Close your eyes and imagine medieval Germany… that’s Rothenburg! A little over two hours north of Munich between Stuttgart and Nuremberg, this walled town has some of the best-preserved medieval architecture in the country. Its center is filled with half-timbered houses and fine churches, plus a 13th-century town hall. Visit the Plönlein which is the most iconic view you’ll find in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. An adorable half-timbered house, sandwiched by tall towers and perfect cobblestoned streets. Yup, it’s for real and it’s as close to postcard-perfect as you’ll get. Then, Marktplatz, the city’s main hub, where you’ll find the Rathaus (town hall), the Ratstrinkstube (Councillor’s Tavern), the Tourist Information Centre and just nearby, George’s Spring. St. Jacob’s Church here is one of the most dominant sights of the Rothenburg ob der Tauber skyline and the city’s main church. Other than that, visit the Christmas Museum and the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum as well. Around every corner of the town there’s a postcard-worthy view.
How to reach: Trains depart Munich’s Isator station with changes required at Dachau and Treuchtlingen. The final destination is Steinach, the station that serves Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The entire journey takes around 3 hours 15 minutes.
With your own car, you’ll have the freedom to not only visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber but to also explore more of the Romantic Road, Germany. Winter, summer, spring or autumn, this is one of the prettiest parts of Germany and you’ll probably find yourself stopping off along the way to admire the scenery.
Pack your passport and head further afield; the advantage of being in south Germany is you’re right near the Austrian border. In less than two hours, you can be in the home of the Sound of Music – Salzburg. Known for Mozart and The sound of the music, Salzburg is a beautiful Austrian city surrounded by Alps and it’s =old town of the city in even included in the list of UNESCO World cultural heritage. A riverside setting surrounded by snow-capped mountains, a magnificent castle, and a romantic Old Town combine to make this place one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Ride the funicular or hike to the top of Hohensalzburg Fortress, which dates back to 1077. For those seeking to relive scenes from the movie “The Sound of Music”, must-see attractions include the 17th-century Baroque Mirabell Palace and Gardens and the von Trapp family home, which is now a hotel. Wander through the lovely arcaded courtyards and medieval streets of the Old Town and don’t miss the beautiful cathedral and St. Peter’s Abbey.
How to reach: You can reach Salzburg in 1.5 hours by car or in 1-2 hours by train. It’s still covered by the Bayern Pass even though it’s outside of Germany. Don’t forget to carry your passport with you.
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