By Erin Murphy
It’s springtime for Germany and that means Frühlingsfest, or Springfest, is in full swing. The festival fills Theresienwiese, an open space in the city center of Munich, and draws thousands of visitors each year. To skip the festival crowds and enjoy all that Munich has to offer, here are five essential excursions to take:
1. Bike tour
Stretch your legs and hop on a bike tour of Munich to enjoy the city’s beautiful sights. Stops on popular tours include Marienplatz, Hofbrauhaus, the English Gardens and a scenic ride alongside the Isar River.
Tours depart from campsites, festival grounds, hostels or hotels to start pedaling your way around town!
2. Neuschwanstein Castle
The Neuschwanstein Castle sits proudly in the Bavarian Alps of Germany and is an essential day-trip destination from Munich. It is best known as the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella Castles.
The manifestation of “Mad King” Ludwig II’s romantic imagination, Neuschwanstein remains an unfinished beauty. Explore the Castle grounds, hike the Alpine trails and enjoy the mountain scenery while visiting this storybook setting.
3. Dachau Memorial
Embark on a tour of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, located in a small town just outside of Munich. Learn about one of Germany’s first concentration camps. The memorial was founded in 1965 to serve as a site of remembrance and to investigate the imprisonment of social and racial enemies of the Nazi regime held there.
The haunting “Work Makes You Free” is displayed on the entry gate as visitors pass into the camp and walk the same steps prisoners did. Be sure to walk through the museum to read about the camp’s history.
Take a day trip and stroll down the picturesque, cobblestone streets of Rothenburg to experience a real German fairy-tale village. One of the country’s best preserved walled towns,
Rothenburg ob der Tauber (on the Tauber River) is worth the journey just to marvel at the medieval buildings. I’d also suggest taking a drive down the “Romantic Road.” To get a more local experience, walk the town early in the morning and evening to avoid the tourist crowds.
5. Nymphenburg Palace and Botanical Gardens
The Nymphenburg Palace is noted for its beautiful baroque architecture and lavish interior. Built as a summer residence for five generations of Wittelsbachs, the Palace has expansive grounds and lake vistas for visitors to enjoy. Wander towards the northern end of the grounds to enter the Botanical Gardens through a hidden entrance.
A green paradise with over 14,000 species of plants, the Garden was initially located by the central Munich station but was moved to Nymphenburg in 1914. Nymphenburg is a thirty-minute journey by bus from the central train station in Munich.
Whether you’re looking for fairytale castles and villages or a chance to explore the cultural history of Munich, Germany has something to offer for every traveler.