Last updated on November 26th, 2023
Munich to Mittenwald day trip is one of my favorite trips within a short distance where to go to see the Bavarian mountains in all their beauty. Of course, you can always go to the Garmisch area but it is always crowded due to its popularity as the nearest mountain destination to Munich.
Going to Mittenwald opens up a bit different perspective on the mountains with more things to do. And if you rent a car and drive, then you’ll have even more opportunities to discover the Bavarian scenery.
With a car, there is a chance to immerse yourself in clear mountain lakes, go walking on Germany’s tall mountains, hike along a narrow ridge between mountain peaks and breathe in the freshest air.
Before You Plan Your Munich to Mittenwald Day Trip by Car
Mark and I drove this route twice (thanks to a cheap car rental in Poland that let us go on a mega road trip through a few countries). First towards Mittenwald and then went slowly back to Munich. And I can tell that with the number of activities we could stretch this road trip out for several days, there is just so much to do!
So my advice – do not to be in a hurry. If you are visiting the area for the first time, take it slowly and stay for at least one night in the mountains. And then on the following day, either return to Munich or go on another road trip to Oberammergau or into the heart of the Bavarian Alps Berchtesgaden.
If you still decide to go on a day trip from Munich, make sure to leave very early and plan to return late. The day surely will be packed with adventures!
If you need a car for rent in Munich, check Discovercars as they have the lowest prices among all companies:
Places to See On Munich to Mittenwald Route
The first stop we decided to make on the Munich to Mittenwald route was Kochelsee (lake). After almost one hour of driving from Munich, it was time to stretch the bones, eat breakfast and take in some scenery.
To be honest, I didn’t do any research and didn’t know anything about this lake, so originally we had no plan to stop there. But seeing how beautiful the drive from Grossweil to Kochel was, I poked a finger on the map and chose a few locations where to stop. And to our surprise, there were quite a few sites that could keep us busy much longer than one hour that we spent there.
And here they are:
Before reaching Kochel, we stopped in Schlehdorf to get a glimpse of the first foothills of the Alps and photograph a scenic area with a footbridge, reeds overgrown in water, and wild swans peacefully floating nearby.
We also got lucky with the weather when a heavy sky with clouds was hanging over the lake being reflected in its waters. Together with the jetty and hut on the opposite side, they created a beautiful setting for photos.
Overall, we spent only around 20 minutes in the area but with a few trails and activities nearby it could be much longer.
If you have time to slow down, don’t miss also Schlehdorf’s museum under the open sky. It tells a wonderful story about the traditional ways of life in this part of Bavaria through a big territory with historic buildings and small gardens.
Near it is a Museum Brewery with a restaurant where to stop for a traditional Bavarian meal or something sweet with tea. And since the brewery is located on the hill, there is a large outside roof terrace with a wonderful view of Kochelsee and mountains.
Kochel is a big village on the lake famous for being a base for hikers who look to go on a hike around Kochel lake, to Jochberg mountain peak, Herzogstan, or one of the waterfalls, for example. One of the nearby is Lainbach waterfall which is only a 2 km walk from the center.
We stopped in Kochel to have a late breakfast but also ended up walking around the village for the views of houses at the foot of the mountains.
If you would like to grab a morning meal too, check out Lenas cafe or Bauern cafe. We ate in the second one which is part of the traditional Bavarian guesthouse with a nice garden and non-touristic atmosphere. It was a perfect break before a long day full of adventures.
If you go on a hike, maybe you would like to relax after it in the well-known Kristall Therme Trimini, another place Kochelsee is famous for. There you will find indoor and outdoor thermal pools and a sauna area great for stress relief.
After leaving Kochel towards the next lake Walchensee, the road meanders through a beautiful forest full of waterfalls. I suggest you make a quick stop to go on a forest walk towards one of them – Kesselberg waterfall.
You’ll see the parking area somewhere here from where it takes less than 10 minutes to walk to the falls that flow in cascades. Once you reach the first small waterfall, follow the path down to a bigger one where on a hot summer day people even splash.
We’ve seen so many impressive waterfalls in so many countries around the world that I wasn’t sure this waterfall was going to surprise me. Yet I couldn’t help but appreciate its beauty and enjoy a refreshing stroll.
Walchensee is another lake in Bavaria with turquoise water and green alpine panorama which quickly became a real postcard paradise for photographers and nature lovers. The impressive landscape is only a small part of the advantages why to visit it as there are also many leisure activities in the area.
And because of them, Walchensee deserves a separate day trip from Munich or even a full weekend getaway. So you shouldn’t miss it on the way to Mittenwald too!
The first stop you can make (where we stopped too) is Cafe am See with gorgeous panoramic views of the lake and mountains. If you are hungry, get their sausages or one of the pies, I read reviews of others saying they are delicious.
We ordered only coffee (see my quick video here) which was enough to be able to stay there for half an hour while appreciating the scenery. I saw people ordering beer and eating their own food with it.
If you’ll be visiting Walchensee in summer when the weather is nice, there is a boat rental shop by the cafe where you can rent a boat, kayak, or catamaran to float around. If that’s not your cup of tea, continue your journey and don’t miss one of the following sites:
This is a mountain gondola (costs 16 euros round trip for adults) that opens up a view of Walchensee and glaciers on the main Alpine ridge when the weather is sunny.
From the mountain station of the Herzogstandbahn, you can also continue to the summit pavilion via the Berggasthaus Herzogstand. There you can enjoy the view of the north side with Kochelsee and the wide plain towards Munich.
A beautiful cafe where to pause if you visit on a weekend (during the week sometimes they work too, depending on the weather and season). It has tables outside with a view of the lake and homemade cakes with coffee.
Viking movie set “Flake”
A very unusual sight for a German lake is the Viking village “Flake” on the western shore right by the main road which connects Munich with Mittenwald.
“The village” is kind of a big statement. In reality, it is a movie set on a small area behind the fence near the lake with several authentic huts and the imposing Viking ship.
It was built for the film “Vicky the Viking” and can now be visited free of charge by young and old. While the movie was super unpopular (and has low reviews), it is still fascinating to make a stop here to learn more about Viking life. On the first weekend in September, there is a Viking market which is also interesting to see.
Other things to do in Walchensee
Walchen lake offers many activities that are great for all types of travelers – adventure seekers, families with kids who are on a slow pace holiday, cyclists, hikers, and anyone else who is looking to have a relaxing day trip from Munich.
In summer (from July to September), it is a wonderful lake for swimming, kayaking, or paddle boarding. With a circular trail by the lake which is around 25 kilometers in length and 120 meters in altitude, you can either come to hike or bike on the mountain bicycle.
Some of the areas of the shore are suitable for kitesurfers and even divers.
Another waterfall on the way to Mittenwald for a quick stop. It is small and pretty, but worth stopping by only if you are driving through and have time to do it. The waterfall is next to the main road where you’ll drive with a parking area on the opposite side. Walking to it from the parking lot is easy and takes around 5 minutes.
However, if you plan a lot of activities for a day, it is probably better to skip this place to save time for the rest of the trip.
Krün is much more than a village that consists of a few streets and not clearly shown on a map. It is a whole municipality in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district that offers well-maintained hiking trails, numerous mountain huts, alpine lakes surrounded by incredible nature, and of course breathtaking mountain scenery.
You can make a stop here for great lakes and tours of Isar Valley. But the small village of Krun (located at an altitude of 875 meters) is also a nice destination since it gets lots of sun and is surrounded by mountains on all sides.
Some of my favorite places in Krun lay on the outskirts of the village in the east. There you’ll find beautiful alpine lakes and walking trails between green meadows and grey stones from a Karwendel limestone mountain range. The best way to check its great landscape is through a hike on the Isar nature trail that starts here.
And then there are a few other must-visit spots that you shouldn’t miss. They are three beautiful lakes situated next to each other – Barmsee, Grubsee and Geroldsee. Each of these lakes is good for swimming in summer and has a gorgeous mountain panorama.
Mittenwald is the next stop on this Bavaria road trip from Munich that deserves at least a few hours of time. However, since exactly in this town Bavaria meets Tyrol, Mittenwald becomes an ideal starting point for an active long holiday in the German mountains.
It is a picturesque ski resort town that stands on the old trade “route” between Verona and Augsburg. Until the 17th century, its prosperity was associated with trade but after that with handicraft production, primarily with the manufacture of violins.
Today Mittenwald is known as a climatic health resort perfect for mountain biking, hiking, and day tours around Bavarian Alps. If time allows, it is well worth spending here a night to be able to see the surrounding nature and historic streets with painted houses that are famous all over Europe.
The city’s prominent landmark is the Catholic parish church of Saints Peter and Paul. Originally built in the Gothic style, it became Baroque in 1740 thanks to the Wessobrunn architect. And then Geigenbaumuseum, a violin-making museum showcasing ancient instruments. Another place that is a must-visit is Ballenhausgasse, a picturesque quarter with many houses with loftmalerai.
But what makes Mittenwald particularly special is nature. With the number of cable cars, it is easy to visit local mountain peaks and go hiking. With a lake (Lautersee) that has a beach, dive site, playground, boat rental, and small restaurants, you can relax by the water and mountains during the summer. In winter, you can ride in a sleigh carriage on it.
One more stop that we made on our Mittenwald Munich road trip was Leutasch Gorge and its waterfall trail. Being located outside the town partially in Germany and for the most part in Austria, it is probably one of my favorite Bavaria highlights. And I am fully convinced that it should be on any list of best Mittenwald things to do! Although the gorge is open only in the warm summer months.
Leutasch Gorge is a deep gorge with a walking route structure of steel walkways, stairways, and bridges that form a path 970 meters long. The path goes through, over and around the gorge. While walking along, you can admire terrific views of the gorge and its surroundings.
The route consists of two parts with one of them being longer and descending inside the canyon. The gorge spirit and his goblins and water gnomes are said to live in the bubbling river and in the bizarre rock faces. So besides being a stunning place where to walk, Leutasch is also an entertaining sight where to learn some interesting facts and have fun.
The hikes around the gorge are free of charge, including the panorama bridge up at a dizzying height. Additionally to free hiking trails, there is also a privately owned short walkway to a 23 meter high waterfall inside of the gorge. It is only open in the warm summer months and costs €3 – but it’s so worth it!
You can visit this canyon either from the Austrian side coming by car or from the German side when entering the hiking trail from Mittenwald. For entrance fees and opening hours, check the Leutasch Klamm website using a translation option.
Other Places of Interest Near Mittenwald
This road trip from Munich to Mittenwald goes through one of the most beautiful mountains in Germany. This is why within a very short drive, you can reach other points of interest and incredible nature.
Among the most popular places are Garmisch-Partenkirchen town, Eibsee (alpine lake), Alpspitze and Zugspitze mountains, Höllentalklamm gorge (similar to Leutasch but deeper and you hike on a lower level), Partnach gorge, and the town of Grainau.
And then in the opposite direction from Mittenwald another scenic road winds towards Tegernsee and beyond through Bavarian Alps.
Where to Stay on Munich to Mittenwald Route
If you want to have a big Bavaria road trip adventure then, of course, you don’t want to return back to Munich on the same day. It will be much easier and stress-free to stay away from the city in a traditional Bavarian village or somewhere close to the mountains.
The stretch of the road between Munich and Mittenwald is seriously beautiful, particularly that part that starts at Walchensee and goes to the Austrian border. The number of places to stay is big and reasonably priced. Everyone can choose something to his taste and budget while slowing down in one of the most charming parts of Bavaria region.
Here are some of the best places where to stay on this road trip through the Bavarian Alps. I check-marked them for myself on my wish list of accommodation options:
– Schloss Elmau Luxury Resort – top pick if budget allows. It is a luxury 5-star castle-hotel with multiple spas and a hipped roof in a very nice location with views of the Alps. Situated between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald. The hotel is so beautiful and with so much on offer that it may be difficult to do anything else than just spend all your time there.
– Landhaus Sonnenbichl – a 3-star hotel in a traditional Bavarian house on the hilly part of Mittenwald which opens up views over the town and Karwendel mountains. The hotel is run by a family who goes above and beyond to make every guest feel at home from the first minute.
– Haus Bergrausch – a budget option for families in Krun town. This guesthouse is a traditional Bavarian house from the outside with very modern furnishings inside. Because of its wonderful reviews, central but quiet location, and spacious living quarters, it is one of the best places to stay in Krun.
Munich Travel Essentials
Here is a quick list of helpful websites that you can use to plan your trip to Munich:
- Use iVisa to check if you need a tourist visa to Germany and whether you can apply for it online or not.
- Get travel and medical coverage with SafetyWing, my preferred insurance provider for single short and long-term trips.
- Find the best hotel deals in Munich and Germany through Booking.com.
- Find a rental car on DiscoverCars that has the best deals in the Bavaria region.
- Use GetYourGuide to score incredible day excursions from Munich.
- Pick up a copy of easy German phrases for everyday use while on a vacation in Germany.
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