"Can you recommend the best rail daytrips from Garmisch-Partenkirchen?"...or cities such as Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Zürich, Interlaken, etc. It's a good question that pops up frequently in my email inbox. I'd love to have enough time to research and answer each one but like the old saw about "give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and..." Well, you get the idea. So here's how to identify great rail daytrip destinations from European cities.

You'll need a copy of the Michelin Green Guide for the country to be visited and a 1:400,000 or 1:750,000 scale map of the region. Use these aids to make a list of interesting towns and villages near your headquarters city. You're looking for towns Michelin awards one, two, or three stars to, or at least ranks as "interesting." Then get on the Website (or any website with complete European rail timetables) and check the rail schedules between your headquarters city and the towns on your destination list. If you're traveling from Interlaken you'll soon discover that Bern, the Swiss capitol, is just 51 minutes away, Kandersteg in the mountains is a little more than an hour by train, and Lauterbrunnen is 30 minutes. From Munich it's less than 90 minutes to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, 38 minutes to Augsburg, and about an hour to Prien on the Chiemsee (Ludwig II's spectacular but least-known castle, Herrenchiemsee, is on an island in the lake). If your headquarters is Salzburg you can get to Bad Gastein in about an hour and a half, to Werfen in 40 minutes, and Zell am See is about an hour and 40 minutes. So get out the maps, point your browser to a rail timetable, and figure out your own daytrips.