“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana.
My stomach tightens in knots as I hold back tears of emotion. They leak from the corners of my eyes. It’s impossible not to feel the haunting pain echoing in the past as I wander through the quiet forest. The dip in the ground was once a trench to collect blood, but now grass and flowers sway in the wind. I can feel it though, I can feel what happened here deep inside my body. I feel sick and out of place, but I can’t look away, forcing myself to acknowledge what happened here. Dachau Memorial is a place that is important for travelers from all walks of life to experience. It helps us learn from the past and put into perspective the immense amount of pain caused by the war. This day trip from Munich to Dachau Memorial is an absolute must when visiting Germany and it is easy to do on your own time during your stay in Munich.
AUTHORS NOTE: Dachau is now a place of respect and peace. You’re free to wander around the grounds at your own pace, learning from the museum, or simply just taking in the space. However, traveling from Munich to Dachau can be very emotional and it is important to take time to reflect on your well being. I’ve known friends and family members who have had to leave the museum or unable to enter the crematorium and bath house. That is perfectly fine. Do not push yourself to something you are not able to do. There are four church memorials where you are able to take a moment of prayer if you’re religious. Most of all, I hope we as humans learn from places like this and how important it is to study the past and vow to never repeat it.
Munich to Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Day Trip
Day Trip Stats
Length of Time: About a 4 hour day. One hour for transit and 3 hours, or less, to explore Dachau.
Skill Level: 10 HP. This day is very easy for anyone with mobility concerns or health issues. You just need to be comfortable standing and walking for a few hours, but there are places to rest. It can also be quite emotional as I mentioned, so 3 hours can be too much for some.
Options and Cost to get to Dachau: The cost of the transportation ticket. An individual day ticket is about 12 Euros, with a group of 2-5 costing about 25 Euros. This will cover your train and any bus needs. It is free to enter the memorial site, with audio guides setting you back 3 euros. If you drive, parking is 3-5 Euros.
- Small backpack.
- Water bottle or camelback.
- Check the weather and dress appropriately. In Summer bring sunscreen or a hat. In winter, a hat and gloves and a warm jacket.
- Tissues if you’re likely to get emotional.
- Good walking shoes.
- They have a cafe for food, but bring a snack if you want to save money.
How to Get from Munich to Dachau Tours and Trains
Dachau is one of the easier day trips from Munich, as the S-bahn or suburban line goes straight from Munich Hbf to the Dachau station. Catch any U-bahn line to the central station, then catch the S2 S-Bahn, or just get on the S2 line where it connects. You can purchase your single or day ticket, ensuring that it will cover the two inner zones of the Munich transportation system. Exit the S2 at the Dachau Bahnhof. The ride will take you about a total of 20 minutes. Once you arrive at the station, you must walk under the bridge and up a flight of stairs to where the buses pick you up. Board any of the busses that gather in this station, it should be bus 726. Ride this bus until you arrive at the memorial center. The bus basically goes in a giant circle and if you miss your stop, don’t panic. This will be the same bus you catch the way home as well. Exit the bus and follow the crowd, signs or turn right and cross through a parking lot to the memorial center.
To access Dachau by car take the 308 or highway 8 follow signs for Dachau.
Munich to Dachau Guided Group Tours
If you prefer to visit Dachau on a guided tour, so you don’t have to worry about transportation or to have like-minded people to chat and decompress with afterward then have a look at some of these options. The first is a half day tour that includes transportation and a guide that is authorized to give you a tour once in the camp – which is not common. The second option is a full day tour, which is only two hours longer than the half-day but gives you more time at the camp. The last option is a full day tour covering several aspects of Nazi and WWII history in Munich, such as Dachau, a Munich walking tour focusing on WWII and personal recommendations from your guide, who is a local WWII expert.
Exploring Dachau Memorial Center
Once you walk up to the visitor center you can choose to go in and purchase an audio guide. This is recommended for anyone who wants to fully immerse themselves in the history and of the area.
It is really up to you how you want to explore this. You can follow the audio guide through the areas, or explore at your own pace. The museum is quite large and can take up to an hour or more to read and experience everything. I skimmed through the museum taking time in areas that interested me or seemed important while skipping a movie here or an exhibit there. After the museum, you can walk around and enter a barracks, where you learn about the living conditions of the prisoners. After the only standing barracks, there is a long walk-way dead-ending at the religious memorials. You will find four religions memorials, a Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Orthodox memorial, as well as a nunnery. Beyond that, you will find the crematorium, “bath” house and killing trenches. You can actually go in the crematorium and bathhouse if you choose. Entering there is unlike anything I’ve felt. It’s very emotional. Many people skip the killing trench, by accident as it is through a forest area. There is a path leading off the road to the crematorium. This is my favorite area of the memorial center as it’s in the woods and often quiet. It’s a good place to reflect and process your emotions.
Whenever you feel ready to leave the Dachau memorial, you can head home the same way you came. If you bought the day ticket you can continue to use it for transportation. If you’re not ready to go home explore the area of Dachau. Dachau is not just a memorial, but a charming suburb of Munich. I hope that by visiting places such as the memorial we are able to learn from our mistakes and fight so that history never repeats itself. Share this with your friends or family visiting Munich, so they too can experience the emotional history behind the day trip from Munich to Dachau Memorial.