A 10 day Bavaria itinerary by train: Visiting the land of pretzels and castles during Covid
Updated: Nov 18, 2021
Like most travellers, I hadn't taken a plane in almost two years because of Covid. Germany was the first country that opened two-way quarantine-free travel with Singapore just two months ago, via Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights.
Being travel-starved, I decided to visit Munich and Bavaria on my own. Here’s my 10 day itinerary for having a great time in the land of beer, sausages and pretzels, even during Covid!
Germany entry requirements
Germany allows fully-vaccinated visitors from certain countries to enter quarantine-free and without a pre-departure test, including Singapore.
If your country is classified as a high-risk area, you can still enter without quarantine if fully vaccinated. All you need to do is fill in a digital registration form prior to entry, and show it to immigration.
Singapore became a high-risk area the day before my trip, and thankfully my plans were largely undisputed as I was fully vaccinated.
Do check their official government site for entry rules, as these can change anytime. I’d also advise saving your vaccination certificate as a PDF in your phone.
Furnishing proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid or a negative ART test is required to enter most indoor venues, including restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions such as museums and castles.
Bring along a medical-grade mask too (FFP2/ surgical/ KN92 masks are good), as these are required for all indoor venues including train, tram and bus transport. Germany doesn’t accept cloth masks.
Once you’ve sorted out the nitty-gritty, it’s time to enjoy your trip proper!
Day 1: Landing in Munich
I arrived in Munich on a red-eye flight from Singapore at 7am. If you’re travelling to Munich from an international destination, chances are you’ll land in the morning.
As I planned to use Munich as a base to explore the rest of Bavaria, the next order of business was getting transport from the airport to my accommodation in central Munich.
I opted for the Lufthansa Express Bus for comfort and convenience. This comes every 20 minutes, and took around 45 minutes to reach Munich Central Station. The cost was 18.50 euros for a two way journey, and you can also pre-book tickets online and save 1 euro.
As it was still too early for check-in, I left my luggage at the hotel and had an early lunch at the nearby Münchner Stubn - a popular restaurant with classic Bavarian dishes. I had the roast pork, though honestly I found it rather average. I had way better food that evening and during the rest of my trip!
As I’m pretty non-functional after a sleepless night flight, the rest of my afternoon was spent checking-in and chilling at the hotel.
For dinner, I headed to the nearby Kashgar Uyghur restaurant, where I savoured delicious traditional lagman noodles.
Hotel recommendation: I stayed at ArtHotel Munich for the duration of my trip, and can’t recommend it enough. Staff were extremely friendly and helpful, my single room was spotless and bigger than I expected and the rate included complimentary breakfast every morning. The location was perfect too - just a 5 minute walk to Munich Central Station.
Being a typical 3-star European hotel ,don’t expect certain amenities like a toothbrush or toothpaste (shampoo and soap are included though). The staff were kind enough to give me small packets of them, but mentioned that they usually charge for these.
Day 2: Day tour to Neuschwanstein Castle
I was up bright and early to visit Bavaria’s most talked-about attraction - Neuschwanstein Castle.
I took a day tour with Radius Tours, a fantastic Munich-based company. I was so glad I did, after my guide told me that interior tours to the castle are booked out months in advance! If you would like to visit the inside of the castle, it’s best to get a guided tour or book tickets online a few months prior.
My day trip involved a two hour train + bus ride to the castle, through the scenic Bavarian Alps. Along the way, our guide told us more about King Ludwig II , the Bavarian monarch who built Neuschwanstein. What stood out was his alleged clinical insanity and his mysterious death via drowning at Lake Starnberg.
The castle itself was an absolute marvel, and well worth the 20 minute hike up. In autumn, it looked exceptionally gorgeous with surrounding foliage. The interior tour was rather short though, with only 15 rooms available for viewing (no pictures are allowed).
Tip: Unfortunately, the castle’s viewing platform at Mary’s Bridge is closed till end 2022 for repairs. You can however, still get a scenic view from a “hidden” hiking spot. Our guide led us past the castle and to another walking trail, where we got fantastic views of the surrounding alps. A little further up and we saw the castle itself peeking out from surrounding trees.
After arriving back in Munich at around 6:30pm, I had dinner at Condesa near Munich Central Station. Expect yummy and affordable Mexican food like quesadillas and tacos.
Day 3: Day tour to Nuremberg
It was yet another early start today with Radius Tours. This time round, I booked a full day tour to Nuremberg, a city that’s roughly two hours away from Munich by regional train.
We started the morning with a walking tour around the medieval old town, including the Craftsmen's Courtyard featuring artisanal crafts, market square and St. Sebald Church.
We then visited the courtyard of the Imperial Castle, where a viewing area treated us to a bird’s eye view of the city.
Nuremberg is filled with quaint photo spots too. The Pegntiz river runs through it, so there are lots of uncrowded places with scenic views of the river.
If you have time, I recommend a short walk through Weißgerbergasse (Tanner’s Lane). This wasn’t part of my tour but I made a quick stop there during lunch. It’s filled with colourful half-timbered houses, and I couldn't get enough of them!
For lunch, our guide recommended Bratwursthäusl, the oldest restaurant in the city. It’s known for producing the original Nuremberg Bratwurst, and I got a hotdog for only 4.50 euros!
After lunch, we took a tram to the other side of town to visit the former Nazi rally grounds, where six Nazi party rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938. Our guide shared how Nuremberg was a Nazi stronghold thanks to its strategic location, strong support from the people and easy train connectivity to the rest of Germany.
I was struck by how massive these grounds were, covering roughly 11 square kilometres. Now converted into giant parkland, noteworthy rally sites included Ehrenhalle and Zeppelinfeld, where hundreds of thousands of SS troops and supporters gathered.
After a long day of walking, I returned to Munich in the evening for dinner at VI VADI Cucina Italiana, a cosy Italian restaurant with delicious pizza.
Day 4: Day trip to Regensburg
Another day, another day-trip! This time, on my own. I decided to visit the medieval town of Regensburg, which was one of the few German cities to survive WWII largely unscatched. Regensburg is an easy 1.5 hour direct train ride from Munich Central Station.
Tip: If you’re travelling out of Munich on Germany’s regional trains, get an all-day Bayern ticket for 25 euros (get them directly from the ticket machines at the station to avoid counter service fees). You can read more about the Bayern ticket here, but it basically allows you all-day regional travel within Bavaria on trains, trams and buses. It’s a great cost-saver if you’re travelling out of Munich!
The day I visited Regensburg, it was cold, wet and foggy and I regretted not wearing a thicker winter coat. Temperatures vary drastically between Bavarian cities (it was 6 degrees in Regensburg and 12 degrees in Munich), so be sure to monitor the weather before travel!
Regensburg’s old town is very walkable, with the highlight being its iconic 12th-century Stone Bridge . Cross the bridge for a lovely photo opp, with its pink clock tower, St Peter’s Cathedral and other medieval buildings in the background. The bridge traverses the Danube and links the old town to Stadtamhof, a tiny island with colourful houses.
I had lunch at the Historische Wurstküche, just next to the Danube River. This is one of the oldest sausage kitchens in the world, built in 1146 AD. I ordered sausage and sauerkraut, but both were honestly way too salty for my liking!
I enjoyed touring the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus). Visit the tourism information centre next door to book guided tours (around 7 euros) of the town hall. The tour was a highlight, with insight into the town's history and visits to the rooms where parliamentary sessions were held.
I also saw pitch-black dungeons and the torture chambers where criminals were kept to extort confessions!
The rest of my day was spent walking along the city’s streets and photographing other points of interest.
In the evening, I returned to Munich for dinner at Bento Ngyuen, a simple Asian restaurant with food like Pho and chicken curry rice.
Day 5: Day trip to Zugspitze (the German Alps) and Eibsee lake
Raring for some natural scenery, I decided to visit Germany’s highest peak near the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
This was a pretty long day from Munich, but still very doable in my opinion. There are a few travel bloggers who have written useful posts on getting from Munich to Zugspitze - this one by Curiosity Saves Travel being particularly comprehensive.
Basically, I followed her advice and bought a Garmisch Summer-Ticket (it's available in fall but travelling in winter involves a different ticket). It came at a hefty 70 Euros, but covered my round-trip train journey to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, followed by a change to the Zugspitzbahn (cogwheel train) which goes all the way up to the Zugspitze.
I departed Munich early in the morning, and reached the Zugspitze Glacier three hours later. Here, you can eat in the open-air Gletschergarten restaurant, go sledding and walk the glacier trail to the highest church in Germany.
Be sure you come with good hiking shoes, as the walk up towards the church is icy and slippery.
From the glacier, a frequently-running cable car takes you all the way to the Zugsptize’s peak itself. Here, I enjoyed more stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped alps of Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.
If you’re gutsy, you can also climb the very steep trail to the Golden Summit Cross, which I saw a few brave souls doing.
For lunch, I ate at the highly-recommended Panorama 2962 restaurant at the summit. The Currywurst (sausage with curry ketchup and fries) was especially tasty, with a very generous portion.
After lunch, I headed down the alps by cable car, which was also included in my ticket price. The ride offered me stunning views of Eibsee lake at the foot of Zugspitze. I spent about an hour hiking round the bottom of the lake, which reminded me of Canada with its coniferous trees and sparkling blue water.
At around 4pm, I caught the train from Eibsee station back to the lake. The mountainous scenery in the Garmisch region was especially rewarding, with rolling green meadows, cows and cute houses.
Being pretty exhausted from the long day, I had a quick falafel bowl takeout from Munich Central Station’s food court.
Day 5: Overnight at Rothenburg
My overnight stay at the fairy tale-eque town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber was actually a spur-of-the-moment decision! I originally wanted to do a day trip there, but decided that three hours from Munich and back wouldn't give me much time to enjoy the town.
So I packed an overnight bag and booked a hotel for one night! I was glad I did, because the city ironically comes alive once the tourist hordes for the day are gone.
Getting there involved two train changes, including a very stressful transfer because of a delay ( I only had a few minutes to change trains!) Luckily, the connecting train waited for passengers as Rothenburg is a popular destination.
I reached around lunch time and checked into my hotel. After which, I had delicious rigatoni at Restaurant Michelangelo.
This was followed by a walk around the town, which is pretty compact. Walking around felt like taking a trip back in time! The colourful half-timbered houses were really akin to living in a fairy-tale.
Rothenburg’s most popular photo spot is Plönlein, a small square with picturesque buildings and two towers of the old city wall in the background. The Market Square is very photogenic too, surrounded by beautiful houses, shops and restaurants.
If you’re a museum buff, make a beeline for the Medieval Crime Museum, with an impressive collection of torture devices. I found the shame flute particularly amusing, used to punish bad musicians. Also, the pig masks for people who acted like pigs (perhaps they snorted excessively or ate too much).
For something more light-hearted, check out the cheery Christmas museum. This consists of historical exhibits describing the origins of Christmas and its associated objects like cards, nutcracker dolls, toys and decorations. There’s also a huge shop where you can get all kinds of Christmas gifts.
Rothenburg’s old city walls are still intact too, with certain sections you can climb up to and walk around.
After a yummy schnitzel and apple strudel dinner at Restaurant Goldenes Lamm, I took a much raved-about Night Watchman tour (9 euros).
Simply show up at the town’s market square at 8pm on Friday or the weekends, and a guide dressed in medieval garb will show you around Rothenburg and tell you fascinating stories about its past. I’d say it was especially magical to see the town at nightfall too!
Hotel recommendation: I only booked my hotel the night before, and managed to find an affordable single room at Gasthof Zum Breiterle.
This turned out to be a great choice. Whilst rooms and toilets are small, I had a comfortable sleep and a lovely breakfast the next day. The location was perfect too, just a 10 minute-walk to both the town centre and train station.
Day 7: Train back to Munich and Nymphenburg Palace
In the morning, I caught the train for another three hour ride back to Munich. There was an unfortunate 1.5 hour delay because some refugees were caught on one of the trains.
With only the afternoon left, I made it just in time to visit Nymphenburg Palace - the summer residence of the Bavarian Kings. I recommend queuing in line early to visit the palace interior, as it closes at 4pm.
Whilst the interior rooms were pretty grand, I was more impressed by the ones at Munich Residence. The exterior grounds are where Nymphenburg really shines. In particular, the massive gardens.
Seeing the palace at sunset was particularly memorable too. On your way out, there’s also a small lake where adorable swans roam about freely!
Dinner was at the iconic Hofbrauhuas, Munich’s most famous beer hall with delicious pork knuckle, pretzels and live music. Getting a seat is pretty challenging at dinner time, so if you’re in a group I recommend coming early.
Day 8:Munich Old Town and Munich Residence
My next two days were spent exploring what Munich itself had to offer. I started the morning with a walk to the Old Town.
At the Marienplatz (central square), the highlight is the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. This tourist attraction clock is on the tower of the New City Hall (Neues Rathaus). At 11am and noon every day, a crowd gathers to watch the glockenspiel chime and its figurines enact stories from Munich’s past for 15 minutes. It’s pretty fascinating to watch, even if it does get draggy after a while.
For a panoramic view of the city, head to the St Peter’s Church tower. You’ll have to climb around 300 steps and pay 5 euros, but the bird’s eye view is worth it - even on a rainy day like mine was!
For lunch, consider the fantastic Ratskeller Munich at the old town hall itself, with its beautiful stained glass decor and Bavarian cuisine. I chowed down on the veal schnitzel and it was one of my favourite meals in Munich!
My pre-departure Covid test : In the early afternoon, I did my obligatory pre-departure test to return to Singapore. Mine was done at a site called Corona Testelle at the Deutsches Museum. I waited 20 minutes to get my PCR swab (75 euros), and breathed a sigh of relief when I tested negative five hours later (the average turnaround time).
You’re given a slip of paper with a site to log in to and download your testing results. Be sure to take a photo of the login details as soon as you get the paper! Also, save a PDF of your results to easily board your flight.
In the late afternoon, I headed to Munich Residenz, the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. Whilst the exteriors of Neuschwanstein and Nymphenburg were grander, Munich Residenz’s interior far outshines all of them. There are over 150 rooms, and many of them are open for viewing.
The hallways and King’s and Queen’s quarters were particularly impressive, as well as an exhibit of luxurious dinnerware the royals used. They were living the high life indeed!
My advice: If you can only see one palace interior in Munich, make it Munich Residenz.
My night ended with dinner at HaxnBauer near the Marienplatz, where I met up with some friends for dinner and feasted on more pork knuckle, sausages and my personal favourite - kasspatzen ( Bavarian mac and cheese).
Day 9: Third Reich Walking Tour, Victuals Market and English Gardens
On my final day in Munich, I started with another WWII tour (The Third Reich Walking Tour) organised by Radius Tours.
Munich was actually the birthplace of Nazism, and as we walked around the city we learned about Hitler’s rise to power there, and saw places where he gave rousing speeches.
We also visited the Feldherrnhalle at Odeonsplatz, the site of the brief battle that ended Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch (a failed military coup in 1923). If you’re a WWII history buff and interested in how Munich became the ‘Capital of the Nazi Movement’, this tour is for you.
After my history lesson, I had lunch at Victuals Market near the Marienplatz. This large, open-air farmer’s market is filled with stalls selling fresh produce like fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, wine and tasty Bavarian food.
I bought amazing brie cheese from one of the kindest local sellers at a shop called St. Michaelshof, where lots of other organic products are sold too. And just next door was a fantastic pretzel place!
With the sun setting early at 5pm, I spent the late afternoon renting an e-scooter to travel around English Garden, Munich’s largest urban park. It really is massive, so I recommend renting a bike or e-scooter ( using ride apps like Bird) if you want to cover more of the park. Walking around would take all day!
Popular sights are the Monopteros structure (which gives a nice view of the gardens), the Eisbach waves and the Chinese Tower with a beer garden just next door. The beer garden was closed and an eerie deserted land (it was really dark by 5:30pm) when I visited on a Tuesday though, so do check opening hours.
Dinner was at Hans IM GLÜCK, which boasts delicious and affordable burgers.
Day 10: Flight back home
Sadly, it was time to leave Bavaria the next day, but I flew back to Singapore happy and content with my Bavarian adventures!
If your flight is in the afternoon, you can probably squeeze in a morning of shopping around the Marientplatz. I did that the night before, but a morning shopping spree is possible if you want to maximise your time in Munich.
The Galeria Kaufhof is great for gifts and souvenirs, with all kinds of chocolates and goodies on sale!
Just be sure to leave enough time to check in for your flight, especially if you need to show your pre-departure test to the airlines before flying back home.
A few additional tips
Bavaria’s a great place for solo travel. It was my first solo trip, and I found Munich and the surrounding regions safe. Of course, use common sense and don’t put yourself in danger. I even met a fellow Singapore solo female traveller on my Third Reich tour, and spent the rest of the day hanging out with her.
Food portions are hugeeeeee, especially compared to those in Asian countries like Singapore. One meal can be easily shared amongst two people, or request a kids’ / downsized portion if the restaurant allows.
When using public transport, download the Deutsche Bahn app where you can book train tickets, check train timings, connections and delays. It was my go-to navigator for taking trains both within Munich and to other Bavarian cities.
Tipping is customary in German restaurants, but the amount isn’t set in stone. I tipped an average of 8 to 10% per meal. No one will give you hate if you really run out of cash and can’t tip though.
According to my hotel’s staff, Covid testing sites may pop up and close down in Munich. My desired testing site shut down when I was there, and I had to scramble online to find another one. Be sure to search for an appropriate testing site and make an appointment (especially if you require a PCR) at least 3 days before your departure flight.