In summer, Munich's surrounding countryside comes to life – and between all the beautiful beer gardens and bathing lakes, it's hard to decide which destination to choose. We have selected eight beautiful summer excursions, offering something for everyone. While mountain enthusiasts can explore the summer toboggan run, water addicts can head for the Ammersee (lake), and those who prefer it cool can escape to the Bayerischer Wald (Bavarian Forest).
Those who yearn for shade and coolness in summer, usually head for the forest. There is a particularly beautiful and large forest to the north-east of Munich on the Czech border: The Bavarian Forest was officially declared Germany's first national park in 1970 – and remains largely untouched today, making it the home of rare animals such as lynxes and capercaillies. The national park covers 24,000 hectares and is located between Passau and Regensburg. Special highlights in the Bavarian Forest are Großer Arber, the highest mountain of the Bavarian Forest and the tree-top walk in Neuschönau. Here, you can walk up to 25 metres above the forest floor. Or simply book a guided hike with a ranger.
How to get there: It takes between two and a half and three hours by car from Munich. Or you can take the train to get to Passau, Schwandorf or Deggendorf, for example. From there, you can either take the bus or the regional trains Oberpfalzbahn, Waldbahn and Ilztalbahn.
The question of whether to go to lake Starnberger See or Ammersee divides Munich in much the same way as the question of whether to visit the Isar (river) or the Englischer Garten (park). While villas line the shore of Starnberger See and guests from all over the world come to visit, things are a little more dignified on Ammersee. Dießen attracts visitors with its Marienmünster monastery and the popular pottery market in May; Utting has a beach of the same name and from Herrsching, you can not only take the suburban train, but also the excursion steamer. In summer, Ammersee is a great destination for cycling, hiking or to take a walk, for example to the popular beergarden of Andechs Monastery.
How to get there: With the S8 suburban train, you can be in Herrsching am Ammersee in 45 minutes, by train in Dießen in just over an hour – and also in Schondorf am Ammersee. By car, it takes between 35 and 55 minutes, depending on which side of the lake you want to go to.
The charming town of Bamberg is immediately reminiscent of Italy in summer – there's a reason why the town in Upper Franconia is also called “Little Venice“ or “Franconian Rome“. Just like Rome, Bamberg was built on seven hills – including the Stephansberg, the Domberg and the Altenburg. Another beautiful spot is “Klein Venedig“ (Little Venice), an old fishing settlement with historic houses from the 17th century, which you can explore on a boat trip or simply on foot along the shore. If you like to relax when it gets warmer, sit down for a ‘Rauchbier’ (smoked lager beer) in one of the shady beer gardens.
How to get there: It takes about two and a half hours by car from Munich to Bamberg. By train it is often quicker: Some ICE connections take less than two hours to Bamberg. And you don't necessarily need a car in Bamberg.
Only an hour away from Munich, near Murnau is the largest open-air museum in southern Bavaria. More than 60 original buildings from Bavarian peasants have been assembled here and exhibited together with their furnishings. This gives visitors a realistic impression of everyday rural life a hundred or two hundred years ago. In the “Haus zum Entdecken“ (house to discover) and in courses, children can experience peasant history at first hand in the Glentleiten open-air museum – and there are great workshops for adults on weaving, bread baking, fabric printing and more. And for those who want to go swimming afterwards: Riegsee, Staffelsee, Kochelsee and Walchensee (lakes) are just around the corner!
How to get there: From Munich, it takes about an hour to get to the Glentleiten open-air museum. By public transport, the journey takes twice as long, because you have to change from the train to the bus in Kochel am See.
Almost a little too good to be true: The Weltenburg Monastery is located at the Danube gorge in Kelheim. At the deepest and narrowest point of the Danube, the rocks rise up to 70 metres out of the water in places, right next to the oldest monastery brewery in the world. Beer was already brewed here around 1050, and the history goes back even further: Already in Roman times, this part of the Danube was one of the most important connections north of the Alps. Today, you can travel through by boat, hike in the “Weltenburger Enge“ nature reserve or take a break in the beer garden in the monastery courtyard. On weekends, guided tours are offered at the brewery. You should definitely reserve a table at the Klosterschenke beer hall, especially in summer.
How to get there: It takes one hour and 45 minutes by car; two hours by train. You change trains in Ingolstadt for a bus from Neustadt an der Donau to Kelheim. From there it's another 15-minute walk.
A summer outing is not complete without a summer toboggan run! One of the longest toboggan runs in Europe is located an hour away from Munich. Blombergbahn near Bad Tölz is 1300 metres long and suitable for both adults and children. From the age of 8, the little ones are also allowed to ride alone, otherwise they can ride on their parents' laps. The magnificent route leads through forests and across meadows. You can get up to the top either with the mountain cable car or via a hiking trail. The easy hike takes about two hours. The summer toboggan run is open between March and November, and tickets can also be bought online in advance.
How to get there: By train and bus, the journey from Munich's main station takes about one hour and 15 minutes. The route leads via Bad Tölz, from where you can continue by bus. By car it takes an hour, parking is available on site for a fee.
Bayrischzell in the Leitzachtal valley is gorgeous at any time of the year, but summer promises a particularly idyllic Bavarian setting: blue mountains against a white-blue sky, yellow dandelions in lush green grass. Here, streams like the Leitzach babble and waterfalls splash, like the one at Tatzelwurm. For those, who want to climb the mountain, the Wendelstein and Rotwand are just a stone's throw away. And a quite popular bathing lake is not far away either: Schliersee is only twelve kilometres away and the perfect destination for a little cycle excursion. Here, you can not only swim, but also hike, stop at the alpine hut or take a guided tour through the Slyrs distillery.
How to get there: With the Bayerische Oberlandbahn regional train, you can be in Bayrischzell in one hour and twenty minutes and in Schliersee in only 50 minutes. By car, it takes an hour to the lake and ten extra minutes to Bayrischzell.
Directly downstream from Starnberger See lies a beautiful group of lakes, the Osterseen. The 24 small individual lakes include the Fohnsee, the Stechsee and the large Ostersee. The lakes are connected by moors and canals and you can take pleasant walks along the water and over small bridges. You should only swim at marked spots in the nature reserve, for example at the campsite near Fohnsee or near the animal grace yard Gut Aiderbichl. What you should definitely not miss: Petting cats, dogs, horses and donkeys – this doesn't only make the little ones' hearts beat faster.
How to get there: The Osterseen lakes can be reached from Munich in 45 minutes by car. In about the same time, you can reach “Iffeldorf“ by train, from where you can walk to the lakes in just a few minutes.