Rothenburg ob der Tauber
If you’re all about half-timbered houses, windows boxes, and crooked, narrow little streets, then Rothenburg ob der Tauber will not disappoint. For an extra bit of magic, visit at Christmas and enjoy the twinkling lights and Christmas market. Whatever time of year you visit, the journey is two-and-a-half hours by train from Munich Central station.
Most of the major ski resorts in Germany are less than 90 minutes from Munich. The villages of Garmish and Partenkirchen are among of the hotspots. It helps if you want to splash out a bit, but a weekend visit doesn’t have to be completely budget shattering. In summer there is plenty of hiking and other outdoor pursuits, including sitting in a café with a coffee and admiring the mountains.
This is a toy town of a different kind to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For starters, it’s much larger and has a thriving modern life. Even so, the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Little Venice district is full of half-timbered cottages along the banks of the Regnitz river. It’s the town hall that’s the jewel in the crown, though, so have your camera ready. Travel time from Munich Hbf: two hours.
In Austria, but still worth visiting, and not just because you’re the world’s biggest Sound of Music fan. There’s a fortress, a palace, a modern art museum, a priory and a cathedral, but the best thing about the city is hanging around in the squares that dot the town and the cafés that circle them. Travel time from Munich: 90 minutes.
Regensburg has been a settlement of one sort or another since the Romans turned up in 179AD, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Whether by luck or management, Regensburg has remained untouched by war, and now functions less as a town and more like an outdoor museum, with monasteries, churches, and houses of the gentry all having pride of place among its residents. Travel time from Munich: 90 minutes.
There’s more to Nuremberg than trials and parade grounds. The city itself is nearly 1,000 years old, so naturally it has a giant castle in the centre of town. It also has many streets lined with half-timber houses in all sort of colours. There’s also a great contemporary art museum. Travel time from Munich: 60 minutes.
Nature lovers will find the Berchtesgaden area, which is tucked up next to the Austrian border, to be a little slice of heaven. In the summer, cool, clear mountain lakes like the Obersee are perfect for a skinny dip after a long hike, and in the winter there’s fresh powder for skiing like almost nowhere else in Europe. Travel time from Munich: two-and-a-half hours.
Also in Austria and also set majestically in the foothills of the Alps, Innsbruck is a wonderful weekend getaway in winter and summer. The city is capital of the Tyrol, the area around the Alps in Germany, Austria, and Italy, that has its own special character and culture, not to mention dialect. Fantastic architecture and food like groestl and speckknoedel await. Travel time from Munich: two hours.