We have 5 full days in/around Munich, Germany in mid-August. It's our first trip. What do you recommend we see/do? We already know that we want to spend at least one full day in Munich itself. We definitely want to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. I read another post that said the Black Forest is nice but maybe not a must see. What else do you recommend? Should we rent a car? We've driven all over Austria, Italy, and Greece, so we're fine with driving. Also, we have already visited Salzburg, the Salzkammergut, and the Wachau in Austria. We especially enjoy half-day hikes, wine tasting, and getting a little of the beaten path.
The Black Forest is just one of the places that's worth a visit, but there are so many. There is more than enough to see right around Munich. The BF is too far away. If you haven't already visited Berchtesgaden, it's worth a visit (and an overnight stay) and you could stop a Herrenchiemsee (another of Ludwig's palaces) on the way. I'd recommend more than just one day in Munich. The Deutsches Museum is worth a full day. Then there is Marienplatz, the Residenz, Nymphenburg, Dachau, art museums, much more. Oberammergau, Linderhof, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Zugspitze, and Mittenwald are also worth a visit. You could see Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but I would advise overnight for that trip. You don't need (want) a car in Munich itself, and rail transportation in Bavaria is the best in Europe. Forget the car; it's just a needless expense. I've spent several month, total, in Bavaria in the last 12 years and never needed a car.
We will be spending about 5 days in Munich as well in 2014. I am planning 1 day for the museum, 1 day to hang around the Eng Garden and let the kids ride bikes and run around. 1 day trip to salzburg, and I think we will do this Mike's Bikes castle tour - looks super fun and gets great reviews on trip advisor. http://www.mikesbiketours.com/munich/ 5th day will be just for whatever.... Interested to see what everyone else says! Kim
If you have kids (or not) I would highly recommend booking a tour with Dark History Tours. They really bring history alive, from the Celts, to the Romans, to the Middle Ages and WWII. Your kids will be enchanted and you will leave Munich with some wonderful insights. http://www.dark-history.eu/munich_city_tour.htm
The terrain in central and southern Germany consists of almost 50 different low mountain ranges, collectively known as the Mittelgebirge. The Black Forest may be the largest of these, and it has the highest peaks in Germany outside of the Alps, but in my opinion, the region doesn't differ substantially enough from all the others to justify going out of your way to see it. Likewise, as much as a love the Odenwald mountains that begin a stone's throw away from my village, I wouldn't necessarily recommend every visitor to Germany deviating from their path to pay a visit. Now, the Alps? Different story there, go out of your way to see them! Whether or not a car would be worth while depends on what you plan to do. If you wanted to hike, some of the best hikes in Germany are found around Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You can easily reach GaP from Munich by train, and you can walk from either of the two main sections of town to many of the trail heads. Neuschwanstein is also easy to reach via public transportation.
Unless you have a real urge, the Black Forest is too far away from Munich, with many more interesting sites closer by. City museums as mentioned, plus Munich being Munich the City Museum/Oktoberfest Museum is good. If you are into food, the large open-air Viktualienmarkt food market just off Marienplatz (city hall square) is an experience. There are several city bus tour options that will give you an oversight – then you can go back if anything strikes your fancy. Bus tours start outside the main train station. Beerhalls and beer gardens – everyone knows the Hofbrauhaus, but there are many others. There are a number of palaces and gardens in the city, modern art museums, a new Jewish museum. A walk down the Kaufingerstrasse towards Karlstor (again starting at city hall) is an experience in European pedestrian only street life. The country side and Alps are just a few minutes away - I'm partial, we've always done the rental car. Go when and where you want, if a back road looks interesting, drive down it. There are a number of lakes south and east of Munich that are popular summer places. Chiemsee has a wonderful palace island (another Ludwig II extravaganza.) All great hiking areas.
Then there's entertainment in town – lots of music, summer concerts, jazz bars, international performers, etc. And let's not forget surfing in the Englischer Garten!
It's very easy to get to Hohenschwangau and the castle with public transportation. No need to have a car or use an expensive third party tour. Here's how.