Munich to Verona by Train
The skies were warm and clear and I had just celebrated the last weekend of Oktoberfest by drinking a liter-sized stein of radler (lager and lemon soda) while singing Bavarian songs in a dirndl. At Munich’s Hauptbahnhof, I hopped on a train to explore the Austrian Alps on the way Verona, the city memorialized forever by Shakespeare’s star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. My trip from Munich to Verona had begun.
Munich consistently ranks among the globe’s best cities for quality of life. Verona is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The train journey between the two cities ranks high for sheer photo ops per mile. The train weaves through the fairytale landscape of Bavaria and the breathtaking vistas of the Austrian Alps into the rocky peaks of the Italian Dolomites.
Practicalities of traveling from Munich to Verona by train
While the turreted landscape of Renaissance Verona may seem a world away from Munich’s beer halls, this route is epic in terms of landscape and culture rather than in travel time. During the day (the night train takes longer) the entire journey takes less than 6 hours, yet features a non-stop reel of stupendous scenery. Snag a window seat, and keep your camera at the ready.
If you have a long weekend…
Kicking off the journey in Munich, you can sightsee your way south to Verona over a long weekend, with an overnight stop in Innsbruck to break up the trip.
If you have a week…
If you have more time, spend two nights in each city, with an optional stopover night in one of Bavaria’s picturesque villages, such as Mittenwald or Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Don’t be afraid to spontaneously hop off if a fetching village calls your name. Frequent service on this route from early morning through late in the evening means that another train will come along in an hour or two.
Night trains for the Munich to Verona route
Here’s the bad news about night trains to Munich: as of December 2014, night trains between Munich and Paris were indefinitely cancelled. For night train enthusiasts, that’s admittedly sad news.
Here’s the good news: the Pictor City Night Line train between Venice and Munich is still going strong. Departing once every evening in either direction, this route stops in Verona and allows you to easily do a round-trip journey with an overnight trip that conveniently brings you back to your departure point.
Munich’s Hauptbahnhof, the central station where international trains arrive and depart, smells like a bakery at all hours. That’s because it’s full of them! You can jump off the train between stops and choose between a staggering number of German delicacies, from the simple — giant brezen (pretzels) with frischkaese and schnittlauch (cream cheese and chives) — to elaborate Bavarian cakes.
During Munich’s famed Oktoberfest, the Hauptbahnhof feels like a giant party. In addition to the year-round bustling cafes, you can buy a traditional Bavarian outfit (dirndls for ladies, lederhosen for men) or a giant beer stein.
No matter when you visit Munich, kick off your morning with a visit to one of the city’s prime postcard backdrops. the Glockenspiel at the Rathaus, or New Town Hall. This century-old carillon is smack in the heart of the Old Town. It chimes at 11 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m., and draws a crowd of spirited onlookers. Overrated? Probably, but it’s still a classic Munich sight.
For a sight that’s decidedly not overrated, head to the nearby 14th century St. Peter’s – the city’s oldest church. Locals call it Alter Peter, or Old Peter. Climb the 306 steps up the tower for a lovely view over Marienplatz. On clear days you can see all of Munich, and if you’re lucky, the Alps.
Just over an hour by train from Munich, the longtime home of iconic composer Richard Strauss sits prettily at the foot of Mount Zugspitze. This is Germany’s highest mountain at 9,000 feet above sea level. Adrenaline junkies and alpine scenery fanatics should consider stopping here to walk across the rugged waterfall landscape at Partnach Gorge. There are also spectacular views at the AlpspiX viewing platform.
It’s a fun, laid-back ski village where you can walk to the chairlifts. Those with a fear of heights can still admire the ornate Bavarian architecture, and get a head start on exploring the local bierstuben.
German literary icon Goethe once called Mittenwald “a picture book come alive”. It’s a phrase that’s still apt for what some say is the loveliest village in Bavaria. The town center – a collection of well-preserved Medieval-era homes, complete with gables and ornately painted facades — is straight-up fairytale material. Meanwhile, hikers and cyclists flock here for the mountain trails.
With plenty of outdoor shops, it’s a good base to explore the stupendous Alpine landscape. In winter, the Luttensee ski area is a mere 10-minute bus ride from the Mittenwald train station. Hop on the Karwendel cable car in the warmer months. It climbs 2,244 feet up to Bavarian’s largest nature reserve.
Welcome to the storybook capitol of Tyrol. Here, older gentlemen still stroll around town wearing traditional felt hats, and it’s permitted to smoke cigars – yes, even inside. All this while you sip Augustiner beer and munch on Bavarian sausages at the Stiftskeller, the city’s most popular beer garden. Go hiking in the warmer months. In winter, the skiing and snowboarding is divine, with eight major ski areas. There’s a reason this town has twice been home to the Winter Olympics.
Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof is an easy 10-minute walk to the Old Town. Full of excellent art house cinemas, local cuisine like cheese spaetzle and goulash to keep you warm on the slopes (or just make those lederhosen fit more snugly), an Alpine Zoo, and even a bang-on Nepali restaurant, Innsbruck is the kind of place that some people dismiss a tourist trap. That’s probably because they want to keep its charms to themselves.
From Innsbruck, the train winds its way through the dramatic Italian Dolomites. By the time you get to Verona’s terracotta rooftops, you’ll be veritably drunk on scenery – and hungry for a plate of creamy risotto all’amarone. Pair it with a glass of Soave or Valpolicella from the local Veneto region.
Shakespeare immortalized Verona as the site of Romeo and Juliet’s tragic romance. UNESCO declared the whole city a World Heritage site. Despite these things, it’s all too often skipped over on the way to the more famous (and much more crowded) Venice, which is an hour away by direct train. In summer, don’t miss the chance to see opera at the 2,000 year old Arena di Verona or Shakespeare (in Italian) at the Teatro Romano. For a panoramic view of the city, stroll up to the Castel San Pietro.
Experience the Munich to Verona route for yourself with a Eurail Pass!