Munich - Excursions
For a Half Day
Dachau: About 15km (9 miles) northwest of Munich and easily accessible by public transport, the former concentration camp at Dachau makes for an unmissable, if emotionally draining, excursion. The free Konzentrationslager-Gedenksttte (Concentration Camp Memorial), Alte Rmerstrasse 75 (tel: (08131) 669 970; www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de), is open Tuesday-Sunday. The complex consists of a central building housing a poignant museum, reconstructed barracks and the camp crematorium (including a gas chamber that was mercifully never used). Memorials to the victims can be found throughout the grounds. The entrance to the site is still guarded by the iron gates with their infamous message - Arbeit macht frei (work brings freedom'). Audio-guides are available in a variety of languages and there are also introductory talks and guided tours (see website for details). A number of operators organise specific Dachau tours from Munich, including Radius Tours (tel: (089) 5502 9374; www.radiusmunich.com), which runs a 5-hour excursion.
Starnberger See: Munich's nearest lake, 35km (22 miles) southwest of Munich, is a popular place for the inhabitants of the city to escape at the weekend, for sunbathing and fun on its shore. Many German TV stars and politicians own properties around this picturesque and quiet lake, which makes it a perfect location for celebrity spotting. The S6 S-Bahn line stops at a couple of towns along the lake, from where Bayerische Seen Schifffahrt (tel: (08151) 8061; www.seenschifffahrt.de) offers 1- to 3-hour boat cruises. The local tourist office, Tourismusverband Starnberger Fnf-Seen-Land, Kirchplatz 3 (tel: (08151) 90600; www.sta5.de), can provide further information.
For a Whole Day
Schloss Neuschwanstein: Variously known as the Swan King, the Mad King and the Dream King, Ludwig II (1845-86) is a legendary figure in Bavarian history. His extravagance and artistic imagination are exemplified in three elaborate castles - Schloss Herrenchiemsee to the east of Munich, and Schloss Linderhof and Schloss Neuschwanstein, situated in the Alps, to the southwest of Munich. Schloss Neuschwanstein (tel: (08362) 939 880; www.neuschwanstein.deor www.ticket-center-hohenschwangau.de) is the model for the castle at Disneyland and fully lives up to its fairytale reputation, with elaborate turrets and a stunning setting. A number of the companies listed in the Tours of the City section provide excursions to Neuschwanstein. The castle can also be reached by car, on the A95 toward Garmisch, then west on the B23 and the B17 (direction Fssen) to Schwangau, then follow signs to the village of Hohenschwangau. Here you can park and walk to Neuschwanstein (around 30 minutes) or take a horse-drawn carriage.
Oberammergau: Famous for its Passion Play, the small village of Oberammergau, 60km (37 miles) south of Munich, off the A95 toward Garmisch, is an attractive destination for a day trip, offering an Alpine setting, rural charm, elaborately painted houses and a heritage of woodcarving. The tradition of the play began in 1634 (as a thanksgiving for deliverance from the plague) and is performed every 10 years, in years ending with a zero (ie the next play is in 2010). Further information is available from the Oberammergau Tourist Information Office (tel: (08822) 922 740; www.oberammergau.de/ot_e).