Munich to Zurich by Train: Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? Maybe the reason a lot of us love to travel so much is that traveling resembles the sense of adventure we felt in those books when we were kids. This week, we invite you to live out the Choose Your Own Adventure fantasy as you plan out your train trip from Munich, Germany to Zurich, Switzerland.

Munich Marienplatz, Germany

Munich, Germany. Photo courtesy of Patrick Holler, who entered it in our Picture Perfect contest.

Munich has been in the spotlight lately for a casual, laid back event you might have heard of once or twice – Oktoberfest. But even the most hardy amongst us can’t spend our entire Munich trip in the beer tent, so here are a few sights to explore during that brief but enjoyable post-drinking, pre-headache haze.

You’ll probably want to start in Marienplatz, the square in the city center. This is an excellent starting point for your adventure because you can choose almost path you can imagine: Do you want to shop? Great. Museums? Yes. Food? Probably wise after all of that beer.

For the shopping, you’ll want to head towards the boulevards known for luxury and high fashion: Ludwigstrasse, Maximilianstrasse, Kaufinger Strasse, or the Tal. If you can only afford to window shop on these elegant streets, you might want to follow up this visit with a stop in the Schwabing district, known for its hipper, quirkier shops and atmosphere, to actually grab some souvenirs for your friends.

Alternatively, you could choose the path that leads you to the city’s museums, many of which are world-renowned. Try the Deutches Museum – the world’s largest science and technology museum – or the Brandhorst Museum – housing a collection of art that dates from 1945 to today – or even stop by the BMW Museum – we assume you know what that one covers.

If your chosen path is the path of least resistance and maximum relaxation, try out one of the many beautiful city parks, like the English Garden – it’s charming, scenic, and completely free! Or hang out by the Eisbach River to watch the surfers while you attempt a tan as golden as the brews you’ll later drink in the Chinese Pagoda beer garden. We assume that, at this point, you may be missing the beer tents.

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland

In Zurich, your options are equally abundant and alluring. While Munich is a lively and enchanting place to lie in a park or sit in a beer garden all afternoon, Zurich is more of a city that caters to the excitement of nightlife. Check out the city’s oldest club, the Mascotte, or opt for a house music show at the famous Kaufleuten Bar. Apparently there isn’t an official closing time for bars in Zurich, so – the party only ends when you choose your next adventure.

If you do decide to venture out in the daylight, take a stroll by Lake Zurich or stop by one of the city’s over 50 museums. If you are traveling with a Swiss Pass, the pass will grant you free entry into any museum in Switzerland, and it will also allow you to travel for free on any buses or boats within the country. Zurich is a hub of train, boat, and plane travel in Europe, so why not join the commotion with a scenic boat ride or two?

Of course, part of the adventure is taking a train ride between the cities. Here’s a quick guide that will take the stress out of booking your train – you’ll need to save the decision-making for choosing between beer gardens and the BMW museum later on.

Munich to Zurich by Train

Munich to Zurich on EuroCity train

Munich to Zurich on EuroCity train

Train: The train from Munich to Zurich is direct (no need to change trains along the way) and it’s called the EuroCity train. Both first and second class are very high-quality and comfortable, but first class will have less seats and therefore feel much roomier and quieter.

Travel time: Just over 4 hours (distance is about 196 miles)

Traveling with Point to Point tickets versus a Rail Pass: Since this train is popular and can fill up quickly, seat reservations are required. Your point to point ticket will include a seat reservation in the price. If you’re traveling with a rail pass instead, the pass will cover the ticket price of the train, but you will need to purchase a seat reservation supplement. Seat reservation supplements generally cost between $7 and $20, depending on the train.

The rail passes that cover this route are the Eurail Global Pass, Eurail Germany-Switzerland Pass, and the Eurail Select Pass including both Switzerland and Germany.

And, best of all: Zurich is very centrally located in Europe, and Munich is one of the busiest European train stations. These cities aren’t only perfect for their own localized Choose Your Own Adventure stories – they are perfectly poised to get you started with the rest of your European train adventure. Where will you choose next?

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