When researching a Salzburg in the guidebooks for our 2011 trip, we discovered that Munich was an easy and inexpensive 2 hour train ride from Salzburg.
We didn’t make advance plans, but when the weather report that week was predicting heavy rains for Salzburg, but only light rains for Munich, we decided to try it as a day trip.
Bayern Train Ticket
If you are willing to travel after the morning rush and avoid a few trains, the Bayern Ticket can be an excellent bargain! As of 2020 (we realize this is now a bad year to travel – we hope the world normalizes soon!), a single day ticket cost 25 Euros, for unlimited travel in the state of Bavaria. There’s also a group ticket option, e.g. 32 Euros for two people, or 53 Euros for a group of five. On weekdays, it’s not valid before 9am.
Even better, Salzburg, while it’s in Austria, is covered by the Bayern ticket. For our group of 6 people (though counted as 5, since kids under 4 are free), paying for the group the group ticket on the fast train was both much more convenient and cheaper. The car was handy for getting around the countryside, but much less so between cities.
The Train Ride
The train ride can be anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on which train you catch. If you are using a weekday Bayern Ticket, make sure you wait until your ticket is valid to use it.
The boys always love riding on trains. If you aren’t traveling during rush hour, there is almost always plenty of room for them to stretch out and play. And there is plenty of beautiful scenery for the adults to enjoy.
A Day in Munich
With the rain, we didn’t expect to be able to see everything, but we did manage to see the main square and a few churches, take a nice walk in a park, and have very German feeling lunch.
While it was quite cloudy on arrival in Munich, we were pleased that the rain was still holding off. We decided to start with a quick walking tour of the city and made our way to Marienplatz, about a 15 minute walk from the main train station.
This area is the heart of Munich and hosts the famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel (City Hall Clock Tower). Every day at 11am and 12pm the doors open and life size figures come out and reenact some stories from German folklore. If you are there in the summer, you can also see it at 5:00pm. It is a surprisingly long performance and will take about 15 minutes.
From here, we decided to explore the heart of Munich. Our first stop was the Heilig-Geist-Kirche (Holy Ghost Church), which is very close to the Clock Tower and is a beautiful church that has gone through many renovations. It was originally built in the 1300’s in the Gothic style, then in the 1700’s, it was redone in Baroque style, and finally in the late 1800’s, it was renovated again, and the front facade ended up in the neo-Baroque style. If you go inside, you can still see the basic gothic structure, but it is interesting to note the other styles on top of it.
Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan
Next up was the Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan (Theatine Church of St. Cajetan), which is a Catholic church, built in the 1600’s in the high-Baroque style. In the 1700’s, the facade was redone in the Rococo style.
We decided to end our walk in the Englischer Garten (English Garden). As usual, the boys were magnets to the fountains.
And they also loved the river flowing the the park.
Lunch by St. Peter’s Church
It started to sprinkle a little, so we decided to walk back through town and go find some lunch.
Some restaurants near St. Peter’s Church looked quite fun and very German. While outdoor restaurants may not be optimal with rain, we picked the restaurant with the sturdiest looking umbrellas and figured if it really started to come down, we would be mostly protected.
Since this would be our last stop in Germany, we decided that we really couldn’t leave Munich without getting a pint of beer. While we were finishing, John managed to fall asleep. Without a good stroller, travel with preschoolers would be much more difficult.
Shortly after lunch, the rain did pick up. We found that an extra umbrella would be quite useful, so we picked one up.
One thing about travel is that you should budget for surprise expenses. There is almost always something that you thought you didn’t need, or that you accidentally left at home, but sometimes it is better to just buy it when you need it rather than stress at home about every little detail and end up with an unmanageable suitcase that is filled with stuff that you are unlikely to need.
We wandered a bit, keeping our camera safely stored in the stroller, and when we got sick of the rain, we hopped on the train and made our way back to Salzburg.