I arrive in Munich on a Sunday morning in August, and have to be in Innsbruck 3-4 days later. I am traveling by train, solo. Will spend a few days in Innsbruck (business), then my friend arrives and we are heading to Italy. I know I could spend the 3 days in Munich, but large cities are not my favorite. I'd like to get into the countryside but not sure how challenging this would be without a car. Suggestions? thanks
I'm not fond of large cities, either, but I have never felt that Munich was a large city. I love it. There is a lot to see there - Marienplatz and the pedestrian zone, Hofbräuhaus, Deutsches Museum, Schloß Nymphenburg, Dachau.
But, if you want to get away from town,
Go to Berchtesgaden. It's really beautiful there. There is the Eagles Nest and a lovely deep-sided Alpine lake (Königsee). The town itself is a gem, and there is a spa (Watzmann Therme) and a salt mine. On the way to Berchtesgaden from Munich you can stop in Prien and see Ludwig's island palace, Herrenchiemsee. It's easy to get to Salzburg from Berchtesgaden for a day.
When you leave Berchtesgaden, you don't have to go all the way back to Munich. Go to Rosenheim and take the train up the Inn River to Innsbruck.
Or, take the train down to Oberammergau (change at Murnau). From Oberammergau, you can take a bus to Füssen, to the castles, or a bus to Linderhof, another one of Ludwig's castle, or a bus to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, by way of Ettal. In Garmisch, you can go up the Zugspitze or take a train to Mittenwald.
The train to Mittenwald goes on to Innsbruck, so you might want to do that the last day, on your way out. You might want to stop for an hour and enjoy Seefeld, Austria, on your way.
A third option might be to take the train or S-Bahn down to Holzkirchen and from there on any of three train lines to one of three lakes, Schliersee, Tegernsee, or Kochelsee.
Like was said above, there are an incredible number of great sights to see in Munich. I'd suggest staying in the center city. I usually go to Nymphenburg Palace, Dachau, the downtown royal apartments and the Deutsches Museum--all great tourist stops.
Let me just warn you about the Hofbrauhaus at night. There are some pretty rough people hanging in there at night. I wouldn't suggest you go alone there. I would suggest sticking to Englischer Gartens and other places for nightlife.
The train's an easy ride down to Innsbruck. It's maybe 90 miles down there.
If you enjoy the countryside, head to the Miitenwald/Garmisch area. We loved our 2 stays (7 total nights) in Mittenwald. Garmisch and Mittenwald are less than 30 min. apart and on the train line to Innsbruck, approx. an hour south of these two. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy the countryside and peaks via cable cars such as the Zugspitze in Garmisch and Karwendelbahn in Mittenwald among many others in the area. "Mad" King Ludwig's gorgeous Linderhof Palace is close also, along with Oberammergau and Ettal.
If you do spend the three days in Munich, I would still go to Innsbruck via Mittenwald. There are connections every one or two hours from Munich. Some go direct to Innsbruck, others have a change in Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Seefeld. These are regional trains. The fare is slightly less than by express train via the Inn. The trip via Mittenwald takes three hours, about one hour longer, but the scenery is much nicer.
Thanks to everyone who responded. Excellent ideas, and I am encouraged to check out Munich.
If you want to try some great Alpine day hikes, then hands down, Garmisch-Partenkirchen wins. It has some of the best hiking routes in the area, and you can reach most of the trail heads without a car.
PS- I'm also not a big city fan, but I find Munich a much more tolerable place to spend a few days than many other comparably-sized cities. But for me, given the choice between Munich and the Alps, the Alps will always win in the summer and winter (different story in spring and autumn though).
Kufstein is just over the border in Austria along the Inn river and about halfway between Munich and Innsbruck. The beautiful Hotel Auracher-Loechl is just over the bridge from the train station and sits below the Festung Kufstein. Kufstein is the home of Riedel Glassware and you can tour the factory where hand-blown wine glasses are made. It is also a one hour train ride to Kitzbuehel (change at Woergl).