Munich is situated in the heart of Bavaria with its stunning countryside, Alpine vistas, and epic lakes. Bavaria’s fairytale small towns are an excellent destination year-round, offering easy access to the great outdoors and hosting Germany’s famous Christmas markets in the winter months. Here are our top five small-town recommendations near Munich that are excellent options for day trips.
Freising is just a short drive out of Munich to the north, next to the city’s international airport. This charming town is one of the oldest settlements in Bavaria. The Freising Cathedral is famous for its rococo interior and sits atop one of the town’s two main hills above the Isar River. The other hill is home to the world’s oldest continuously operating brewery, housed in the Weihenstephan Abbey, and you can order a Weihenstephaner weissbier in the town.
Drive just 2 hours west of Munich and you can reach the spectacular Lake Constance and the town and island of Lindau. Lake Constance is a fantastic summer destination offering watersports, boat tours, and hiking. Lindau is full of historical buildings including the 12th Century Mangturm tower, the iconic Lindau Lighthouse at the harbor entrance to the town, and the turreted Diebsturm tower. We also recommend taking a look at the old town hall, though all of Lindau is impressive to stroll through.
Mindelheim is another fairytale historic town with painted stucco houses and many towers. The whole town was enclosed by fortified walls and today many parts are still intact. The Mindelburg Castle now houses a restaurant and the building is well- preserved. There are some excellent bike trails and hikes from the town and you often have stunning views of the Alps to the south. To reach Mindelheim from Munich head directly west on the A96 for 60 miles (97 kilometers).
Herrsching is on the Amersee, one of the two fantastic lakes near Munich. The Amersee is a fantastic lake for watersports and great for swimming, with views of the Alps as you look over the lake to the south. This small lakeside town has a great promenade and plenty of restaurants as well as regular paddle wheel steamship trips across the lake in the summer. Herrsching is just 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Munich on the A96.
Thanks to Munich’s fantastic location, you can easily drive south to this popular German ski resort in a day. Garmisch-Partenkirchen offers nature opportunities such as Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze, the Eibsee mountain lake and Partnach Gorge is nearby with its scenic hiking. In ski season the Zugspitze resort links up the Hausberg, Kreuzeck and Alpspitze mountains and offers more than 30 miles of slopes. If skiing isn’t your sport, you can reach the peak and glaciers by taking a combination of cable car and cogwheel trains. The 360-degree panoramas from the summit are worth the ascent.