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Munich as home base or move around?

We will be visiting Munich area from June 30-July 6. We are torn if we should use Munich area as a home base or stay in other areas as well.
We would like to visit, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Dachau, Munich city, a castle or two etc. We have two kids (11,15) and they travel well.

We are not sure if we should stay in Austria a day or two or just use a Munich as a home base. We would probably stay south of Munich .


Posted by
32110 posts


Munich makes a great "home base" for that area! Keep in mind that if you bounce around, that will have a cost both in time and money. Each change of location typically requires about half a day (or longer), by the time you check-out of one hotel, wait for trains, take the trip, get to your new hotel and check-on.

Regarding each of the places you listed.....

  • Innsbruck - that could be done as a day trip if desired - travel time is a short as 1H:45M, depending on which train you use.
  • Salzburg - again an easy day trip - travel time ~1H:40M. Whether to do it as a day trip or stay a few days will depend on how much you want to see in that area.
  • Dachau - a very easy day trip, about 20M via S-Bahn. You can either visit the Camp on your own or take a guide tour with Radius Tours.
  • Castles - the "usual" favourite for Castles in that area are Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, which are located in Füssen, about 2H from Munich each way. Again, you can visit on your own, although you'll have to make the time-specific reservations for the Castle tour (visitors can't just wander around the Castle so the guided tour is the only option). You could also take a guided tour with Radius Tours (in that case, they will take care of all the arrangements).

I'd suggest staying in Munich as the city has a very vibrant atmosphere in the evenings, with street performers and lots of activity. It will also make transportation to the various place you want to see a bit easier if you're closer to Munich Hbf (main station). One place I really enjoy touring there is the awesome Deutsches Museum, which has over 16 kM of exhibits. I could easily spend a whole day there!

Posted by
2854 posts

With about 7 days, I would certainly add another location and spend at least 3 nights somewhere else. Salzburg is ideal for seeing Salzburg, the Salzkammergut (spend a day cruising the Wolfgangsee) and the Berchtesgaden area, incl. the Konigsee, Jennerbahn, etc.

Either Garmisch or Mittenwald is a good base for beautiful alpine scenery, walks and hikes, cable car trips, visiting Mad King Ludwig's Linderhof palace, Seefeld, Innsbruck, etc. You can also visit Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles from here.


Posted by
977 posts

Both answers are good choices, so as you see it really depends on if you prefer changing location or not. Munich is a great base with easy transportation connections. I do think you get more out of an area if you actually spend the night there and have time to spend just exploring that area. For that reason in the time you have, I would probably choose to spend at least two nights In a different location. Salzburg is a good choice because you can also take day trips to the areas surrounding Salzburg mentioned above, and I think Salzburg is very pretty at night if you stay in the old town area.

Posted by
6321 posts

"With about 7 days, I would certainly add another location and spend at least 3 nights somewhere else. "

I completely agree with this notion.

1 or 2 day trips from Munich to the places you want to go might be OK, but with the exception of Dachau, these long journeys to Salzburg, Innsbruck, Füssen, etc. require 4 hours round trip or longer by train or driving in and out of the traffic mess that Munich often is. It's going to get old fast. You can speed up these trips slightly by using high speed (more expensive) trains for Salzburg and Innsbruck and achieve the travel times Ken identifies, but forget about using the economical, family-friendly Bayern Ticket daypass if you do.

"Castles - the "usual" favourite for Castles in that area are Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, , which are located in Füssen,..."

These ARE extremely popular but they are not castles at all - they are palatial residences built in the late 19th century. Also, the castles are not in Füssen. For a visit to the castles would you'd need to add 20 minutes' travel time (in each direction) to the 2 hr train trip in each direction since you have to take a bus to the base of the castles. From Munich that's closer to 5 hours round trip than it is 4. Only once you are at the castle stop would you be able to board a horse-drawn carriage or begin the climb to N'stein. Walking time from the Ticket-Center to Neuschwanstein castle is officially about 40 minutes: Approach to N'stein

If you want castles then you absolutely should base in/near Salzburg or Berchtesgaden. You can add the options in the link below to Paul's list for that area; my guess is that the falconry show at Hohenwerfen (site of Clint Eastwood's "Where Eagles Dare") would be enjoyable both for kids and parents:

Castles, fortresses and palaces in/near Salzburg

Photo of Paul's suggested Königssee just outside Berchtesgaden

Posted by
8207 posts

That's a short trip. Salzburg is a beautiful city and well worth staying in as opposed to a day trip. Innsbruck is a bit far from Munich to make a day trip, and I am not sure what there is there to see on a day trip - day trips end up being enough time for lunch, postcards, and back to rail station. I would skip Innsbruck. In that short a time, you don't want to spend half your trip on a train, in a rail station, or in a car looking for parking.

Are you starting and ending in Munich? If so, and it were me, I would stay in Munich 2 nights (day trip Dachau), visit Neuschwanstein (if you absolutely have to) on the way to Salzburg. Stay two nights, and back to Munich for two nights.

Posted by
5295 posts

Munich is a large city and this area is at its best in the smaller villages. I would highly recommend just a couple of nights in Munich and then a small town/village for the remainder of the trip. We love to go to Seefeld with our kids. Of the visits you list, I would skip Innsbruck, but definitely do Salzburg. With Dachau, I also have an 11 year old and I don't think I would do that trip with him yet. In Seefeld, you can visit Mittenwald, Neuschwanstein, go to the top of a mountain or two, Leutasch gorge and have great fun swimming in their huge swimming complex. Loads of fun!

Posted by
1452 posts

It is our personal preference to stay in different places every couple days. Sometimes the most enjoyable part of travel for us is walking around a town in the evening after supper. Salzburg is especially beautiful at sunset. I am afraid that we would miss that by making day trips.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you for the ideas! I should add we are being dropped off in Munich by family from Switzerland so the 30th is a wash. We are also flying home July 7 from Frankfurt so we will travel to Frankfurt on July 6.
Thanks for the castle recommendations. We are more incline to visit the less touristy ones .

Sounds like Salzburg is a must.


Posted by
6321 posts

"I would stay in Munich 2 nights... visit Neuschwanstein (if you absolutely have to) on the way to Salzburg."

This is a possibility, but... If you try this, it will involve 6.5 - 8 hours on 4-6 different trains and buses to reach Salzburg (not including the hike up and back to N'stein or any sightseeing time at all.) Munich - Salzburg is normally a trip of 2 hours or less with zero changes of train. You will need to deal with your bags too. There are lockers in Füssen but you'll need to manage the changes of train with bags in tow.