You're planning to travel to Munich, or you're currently in Munich and looking for a day trip option? There are lots of places you can travel around Munich and all of them are not more than 2 hour train-rides away!
First things first, how much do these trips actually cost?
To travel around Munich (or the state of Bavaria) you need to get what is called the Bayern Ticket. With this ticket, you can travel anywhere in Bavaria for a day using the regional transportation (which means almost every means of transportation except the high speed IC and ICE trains). The Bayern Ticket is valid from 09:00 to 03:00 the following day on weekdays, and on weekends or public holidays from 00:00 to 03:00 the following day so I recommend you to do these day trips on weekends since you can start up pretty early. The ticket can be purchased on the day of you travel, there's no discount for early birds like ICE tickets. They cost €23 for 1 person and an extra €4 for every additional person up to 5 people. So for example, if you're traveling with a group of 5, you'll be paying €23 + €4 + €4 +€4 + €4 = €39 in total, or only €7.8 per person for an unlimited access to Bavaria's local transportation!
So, now that we've taken care of the tickets, let's look at some of the options of places you can visit:
This is the most popular tourist destination in Bavaria and one of the most popular in Germany. Around 6000 people visit this castle per day. So, what makes it so special? Aside from the obvious beauty of the castle, it's actually the inspiration from Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle. You know, Walt Disney Pictures logo and those castles you see in every Disneyland? Yep, they're all modeled after Neuschwanstein Castle.
Since the castle is located pretty high up the hill, you actually need to hike your way to get to the castle's entrance. There are 3 options to do this:
a) Take the bus: There are buses connecting the ticket center at the bottom of the hill to the castle. The bus cost €1,80 for the ride up and €1 for the ride down. It will stop on the bus stop located between the Mary's Bridge and the castle. From the bus stop you need to walk about 10 to 15 minutes to the entrance.
b) Fairytale ride: Another option is to hop on the horse carriage. You'll feel more like the royals who used to live in the castle. The ride costs €6 uphill and €3 downhill.
c) Walk: For the visitors on a budgets or the ones who want to do a little exercise, you can actually walk up the hill to the castle. It takes about 40 to 60 minutes, depending on how fast you can walk. The walk up is really exhausting, that I can say, but you're treated with an amazing view of the lake and Hohenschwangau Castle.
You can also visit another castle, Hohenschwangau Castle, which is also located in the Neuschwanstein area. It's smaller but doesn't require long walks to get there. It's actually the childhood residence of King Ludwig II, the king who built the Neuschwanstein Castle.
How to get there:
From Munich, take the regional train to Füssen. Then, take one of the local buses to Schloss Neuschwanstein / Hohenschwangau. From here you need to first go to the ticket center and buy the entrance tickets. Then you can choose how you want to go to the castle's entrance.
€12 for adults, €11 reduced admission, free admission for children under 18. A 35-minute guided tour through the castle is included.
Don't forget to go to the Marienbrücke or Mary's Bridge. From here you'll get the full view of the castle in all its glory, perfect for a holiday picture.
With the Bayern Ticket at hand you can even travel to another country, namely Austria. Salzburg, the third biggest city in Austria, is located on the borders of Bavaria and Austria. The German railway still operates there so your Bayern Ticket is still valid up to Salzburg Central Station. From there you can go on foot and explore this beautiful city. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the city is Mozart's birthplace, and Mozart's residence. But there are also other great tourist attractions like Mirabelle Palace, Fort Hohensalzburg, Residenzgallerie, St. Peter's Abbey, etc. This city is also the setting for the musical play and film The Sound of Music.
How to get there:
From Munich Central Station, take the regional train to Salzburg Hbf. They are usually located on platform 1-5.
Located just a 1.5 hour train ride from Munich, part of the city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the main attractions are the Regensburg Cathedral, a Gothic cathedral which bears a resemblance to the famous Cologne Cathedral. Also, don't forget to visit the Wallhala memorial, a hall of fame for famous German personalities with a Greek Pantheon-like architecture.
How to get there:
Lots of trains connect Munich to Regensburg Central Station, they leave every 30 minutes. Make sure to take the RE or ALX train and not the high speed IC or ICE trains.