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A lot of visitors coming to Bavaria want to know how to get to Dachau from Munich. After all, Dachau Concentration Camp is one of the most popular and harrowing trips to take when staying in Munich for any length of time.
And, despite how angry Dachau might make you feel at humanity, I truthfully don’t think you should skip over it either.
Now I totally understand if you feel any reluctance about visiting Dachau Concentration Camp. My heart still sinks when reflecting on my own trip to Dachau – even though it was way back in the summer of 2015.
However, I don’t regret visiting Dachau, but yeah, without a doubt, this place haunts you.
In this post, I will cover the logistics on reaching Dachau from Munich, as well as ways to emotionally prepare yourself at the concentration camp.
Should I Take a Trip to Dachau from Munich?
Let’s talk about the emotions that will come into play when visiting Dachau from Munich. Honestly, visiting concentration camps isn’t easy on one’s mental state unless the person in question is a total and utter sociopath. Which I’m assuming you’re not.
Personally, I think if you’re able to handle simultaneous sadness and anger, you should do a day trip to Dachau the next time you’re visiting Munich.
Why? Dark tourism forces us to face the ugliest parts of humanity. And attempting to eradicate entire cultures, religions, races, and sexualities is pretty damn horrific. It’s important to acknowledge genocide even if the thought makes us feel sick.
At Dachau, you seriously wonder how anyone would be able to work in one of these camps and not vomit on their daily commute to “work.” Yet, it’s important to remember that people are capable of atrocities, and we should remain vigilant to combat against them.
Throughout Dachau, you’ll see many memorials saying the same two words: never again.
And yes, the Holocaust should never, ever, ever happen again. Nor anything similar to it.
Doing whatever we can to stop history from repeating gruesome events is one reason why it’s important to visit the concentration camps.
In the comfort of our daily lives, it’s so easy to slip into an indifferent state, and forget that intense hatred (unfortunately) still flourishes in our world, hatred strong enough to murder millions of people. We can’t allow such atrocities to keep happening over and over again.
However, even with all the benefits to visiting Dachau, you still know yourself best out of everyone else in your life.
For example, if you think you’ll have a panic attack or another strong emotional reaction in Dachau, then yes, don’t participate in this day trip. At the end of the day, your mental health needs to be a high priority on your travels.
Read More: Pocket Guide to Munich & Bavaria
Directions: How to Get to Dachau from Munich
You probably already know that Germany has a fantastic public transportation system that reaches all corners of the country. I’m jealous of their rail system, and wish we had an equivalent system in New Jersey.
As a result, you won’t have any problems taking a day trip down to Dachau.
However, for solo travelers and new international travelers, it’s still understandable that you’d feel a little nervous about using Germany’s public transit regardless of its high quality.
To help, I’ve broken this section on “how to get to Dachau from Munich” into two possibilities: the S train or faster regional train.
1. Dachau from Munich By S2 Train
The most effective and cheapest way to reach Dachau is by taking advantage of Munich’s S trains.
These particular trains depart from Munich Central Station, and the entire journey only takes about 25 minutes. You could easily visit Dachau in the morning, and still have a full afternoon and evening in the city.
From Munich, you will take the S2 Train head in the direction of Dachau/Petershausen.
As always, make sure to validate your ticket in Munich. You need to manually stamp your tickets at one of the designated machines. By not validating your ticket, you risk having a hefty fine slammed on your head. Trust me, it’s not a situation you want to find yourself in.
Upon arriving at the Dachau station, bus 726 will be waiting for you. Board the bus, and it will take you directly to Dachau Concentration Camp.
2. Dachau from Munich By RB Train
The RB Train is a faster and more expensive ride to Dachau. It only takes 10 minutes to reach Dachau using the RB train.
However, your options are limited in the sense that the RB trains only depart from Munich’s central train station. You’ll need to go there regardless of your accommodation’s location.
Furthermore, if time is important, I’d make a reservation on the RB train in advance so you don’t encounter any disappointments such as a sold out train or weird schedule.
Upon arrival, you still need to take bus 726 to reach Dachau Concentration Camp.
Read More: Purchase Your Lonely Planet Guide to Germany
Is a Guided Tour to Dachau Worth It?
Depending on your comfort level, it might be worth booking a small group tour to Dachau rather than go to the concentration camp without a guide.
I actually went to Dachau on a small group tour, and to tell you the truth, I’m happy that I decided to pay an experienced tour guide to show me this incredibly sad and dark period of German history.
Although I learned about the Holocaust in school, the guide shed some light on how truly wretched conditions were in concentration camps. His words broke my heart.
However, if you don’t want to be part of a tour, it’s still worthwhile (and easy!) to go to Dachau independently. Not to mention, Dachau has audio guides available to visitors who’d rather go to the camp without a group. I haven’t listened to the audio guide, but I’m assuming they’re high quality and worth listening to.
Ready to Reserve Your Place? Book Your Tour to Dachau
When Should You Visit Dachau from Munich
The time of year matters on your visit to Dachau.
Like most countries in Europe, summer is the most popular season for international travelers to come to Bavaria. I actually went to Dachau at the height of August, debatably the busiest few weeks of the tourist season.
Summer is a good time to visit Dachau from Munich, though, because you’ll spend much of your visit outside, walking from building to building. Just make sure to have a water bottle to stay hydrated. Bavaria was surprisingly hot in August.
While I’m sure visiting Dachau is fine other times of the year, unpredictable cold and rain could affect your visit, since (like I said) you’ll spend most of the time outdoors.
Ultimately, I think you should visit Dachau regardless of what time of year you plan on going to southern Germany.
Other Tips for Visiting Dachau from Munich
Now let’s talk about practical tips for visiting Dachau Concentration Camp.
Honestly, it’s an intense day trip that requires some proper planning on your end – especially if you choose to go without a guided tour.
I hope these suggestions help you have a smooth day trip on how to get to Dachau from Munich.
1. It’s Okay to Feel Emotional
To reiterate what I said in the beginning of this post: unless you’re a complete and total sociopath, it’s likely you’ll have some emotional reaction to the horrors at Dachau.
You’re allowed to cry at Dachau. Don’t suffocate your emotions or hide your tears.
For instance, when I went inside the crematorium, the combination of the summer’s heat and interior emotional turmoil forced me to go outside for a “break.” You’re well within your right to take a few minutes pause outside, away from the exhibits, at any point on the trip.
And again, don’t feel embarrassed if you cry. I promise you won’t be alone.
2. Demonstrate Respect with Photography
I’m sure some of you have heard about tourists demonstrating disrespectful behavior at the concentration camps. For example, this ABC article describes how holocaust memorials are combating classless selfies at major sites.
Use common sense, people. You know well enough that taking a happy selfie in places where millions of people were brutally murder is inappropriate. I shouldn’t even have to write this tip at all.
However, with my ranting about stupid selfies done, it’s perfectly fine to take photos of the camp buildings unless signs indicate otherwise. As for me, I’m not in any of the pictures at Dachau out of respect, but I still wanted pictures of my trip to not forget the lessons I learned at the concentration camp.
Photography is fine as long as you remember your manners. No goofy selfies. No ridiculous poses.
3. Reflect on Ways to Change Your Life
Dachau forces you think of ways to incorporate more compassion and understanding in your own life. Furthermore, the memorial is a somber reminder that “different” doesn’t equal “bad.”
Use the lessons of the Holocaust to implement a stronger moral compass into your world. For instance, volunteer for charities that help marginalized people if you’ve extra time in your daily routine.
You can also use the time at Dachau to remember to say a kind word to a stranger once a day. It costs no money and almost no time, but demonstrating kindness in this way does make our world a better place.
Take the emotional hardness at Dachau, and transform that pain to make a positive impact in the here and now.
4. Don’t Forget the Resources
Last but not least in this guide for how to get to Dachau from Munich, I want you to take the opportunity to learn as much as possible.
In addition to taking a self-guided or group guided tour of the camp’s buildings, you should also make sure to read all resources available to visitors.
For instance, many resources are available at Dachau Concentration Camp including George Stevens’ Irregulars’ color film of liberation. Keep in mind that this film is very disturbing. I think I have quite a strong stomach, but even so, this film caught me off guard.
You can also catch viewings of the documentary “The Dachau Concentration Camp 1933-1945” in the auditorium in the former maintenance building. I wouldn’t recommend bringing small children to see the documentary. Even the official site recommends the documentary only to visitors over the age of 14.
Last but not least, make sure to read Dachau Memorial’s official website to find the most current visitor information.
How to get to Dachau from Munich is a pretty simple trip, but the emotionally impact is intense, real, and raw.
How about you? Have you ever visited a concentration camp? How about another “dark tourism” site? How did going to this place change your mindset?
As always, leave all your thoughts in the comments. And remember, be respectful.