Bavaria is one of Germany’s most popular travel destinations and the state capital Munich is undoubtedly one of the must-dos. Most famous for its Oktoberfest, Munich also has plenty of other highlights to offer all year round. Whether historic buildings, exciting museums, beer gardens, or world-class football, there is a lot to discover in the city on the Isar. Here’s our lowdown on the best things to do in Munich. Get ready for heaps of fun.
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Things to do in Munich
Below we have compiled a list of the top Munich attractions (in no particular order). Consisting of a mix of well-known bucket-list sights and many lesser-known hidden gems, the following is our opinionated list of what we consider to be the best things to do in Munich.
1. Climb the tower at St. Peter’s Church
If you don’t know what to do in Munich, start with cultural sites like St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche). St. Peter’s Church is Munich’s oldest church and dates back to the 11th century.
Originally built in Gothic fashion, the church has undergone several stylistic renovations over the years in the form of Renaissance and Baroque elements.
The highlights of St. Peter’s white-and-gray interior are the trompe l’oeil medallions, the 15th-century Schrenk Altar (the oldest surviving altar in Munich), and the glittering 18th-century high altar with its statue of St. Peter surrounded by the Church Fathers.
Don’t miss the rather bizarre relic in the second chapel on the left: the gilt-covered and gem-bedecked skeleton of St. Munditia on display in a glass coffin.
The patron saint of “spinsters,” St. Munditia is rumored to be beheaded with a hatchet in the early fourth century by the Romans for her Christian faith.
In her hand, she holds a glass container filled with dried blood, a relic of her martyrdom. The skeleton eerily stares at you from its resting place on a cushion with two false eyes in its skull.
The church’s interior also contains priceless artwork and other standard extravagances that you would expect from a historic church.
Above all, St. Peter’s Church is mainly worth visiting to take in the spectacular view from its 91-meter (299 ft) tower, affectionately known as “Alter Peter”—”Old Pete.” Looking out from here gives you an intimate bird’s-eye view of the Munich metropolis.
St. Peter’s Church is open daily from 07:30-19:00. The tower is usually open from 09:00-18:30. The entrance to the church is free while admission to the tower viewing platform costs 5 EUR.
Keep in mind that the climb to the top of the tower of St. Peter’s Church is a taxing one (over 300 steps). The stairs are very narrow in certain places, so there can be a bit of waiting during peak periods. I also wouldn’t the tower climb recommend for anyone with vertigo or claustrophobia.
2. Check out Marienplatz
Set in the heart of Munich’s Old Town (Altstadt), the Marienplatz is a parallelogram-shaped square that is the true centerpiece of Munich. It is one of the must-see sights in Munich and the city’s busiest pedestrian zone.
Marienplatz was formerly a market square, and it has witnessed all of the most important events in Munich’s history. It packs a lot of personality into a compact frame and is home to numerous tourist attractions and fun things to do, including Christmas markets, protest rallies, and other events.
Marienplatz is watched over by the Marian Column (Mariensäule), erected in 1638 to celebrate the city surviving the occupation of Swedish forces during the Thirty Years’ War.
Shown here are two of the four statues of putti depicting fights with different beasts, symbolizing Munich overcoming adversities, the dragon representing famine, and the serpent representing heresy.
Marienplatz is also home to the famous Fish Fountain (Fischbrunnen), Munich’s most famous fountain. It comprises a bronze fish sculpture atop a central column surrounded by figures of three bronze butcher boys, pouring water into the basin from buckets.
The square’s eastern corner is home to the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus). This picturesque Neo-Gothic building dating back to the mid-15th century is situated in the eastern corner of Marienplatz and features both a grand hall and a tower (formerly the gateway to Munich).
On November 9, 1938, the propaganda minister of the National Socialist government, Joseph Goebbels, gave a hate-filled speech and called for a pogrom against the Jewish population in the ceremonial hall of the Old Town Hall of Munich. It was the starting point of the staged “Kristallnacht”, which in turn was a prelude to the Final Solution.
3. Wander around the Old Town
One of my favorite things to do in Munich is simply wandering the warren of streets in the Old Town (Altstadt) With a history spanning centuries of building and rebuilding, Munich’s Old Town is one of Europe’s most architecturally interesting.
Like all major German cities, Munich was badly hit by Allied air raids during World War II. By the end of the war, 90 percent of the historic Old Town was pretty much reduced to rubble.
The word ‘Munich’ derives from the Old High German term Munichen, which means “by the monks”. A monk is also depicted on the city’s coat of arms.
In rebuilding their city after the war, Münchners tried to respect tradition as much as possible. The Old Town was rebuilt leading up to the 1972 Munich Olympics and an amazing job was done to restore the buildings.
The architecture of Munich’s Old Town is an interesting and unique mix of buildings. From Middle Age churches and historic edifices to contemporary synagogues, there is a lot to see.
Of particular interest are the three surviving medieval gates—Karlstor, Sendlinger Tor, and Isartor, the sole remnants of a defensive wall that once encircled the Old Town, forming part of the city’s fortifications against invaders.
Karlstor has a Neo-Gothic appearance whereas the Sendlinger Tor sports two ivy-clad side towers. Isartor is one of the most-photographed Munich landmarks and is the only gate that has been preserved in its original form.
4. Stop by the Church of Our Lady
Towering above the streets of the Old Town, the massive Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) is Munich’s spiritual heart and the Mt. Everest among its many churches.
The main body of the landmark church was built between 1468 and 1488—a record time in those days and stands on the site of an earlier Romanesque parish church.
It sustained severe bomb damage in WWII and the late-Gothic brick cathedral was restored by architects and workmen using whatever remains they could salvage in the rubble, along with modern innovations.
The Church of Our Lady is famous for its two huge towers. Each tower is 99 meters high and topped with distinctive onion-dome-like cupolas which are typical of the Renaissance.
The twin towers of the Church of Our Lady were supposedly inspired by the Dome of the Rock shrine in Jerusalem.
The church’s cavernous interior—it is over 100 m (330 feet) long and 41 m (132 feet) wide, is relatively spartan with a stark, clean modernity.
The Frauenkirche’s highlights are the winged Memminger Altar, the stained glass windows, the exquisite Statue of St. Christopher, and the individual chapels dedicated to saints and apostles. Of particular note is the epic black marble cenotaph of Emperor Ludwig IV of Bavaria.
Don’t forget to check out the so-called “Devil’s Footprint” (Teufelstritt) near the church’s entrance. Popular lore dictates that the architect of the Frauenkirche, Jörg von Halspach, made a deal with the devil to complete the construction of the church in the agreed 20-year time frame.
The devil agreed to finance the project, but only if no windows were added to the cathedral. However, von Halspach secretly added windows to the cathedral!
When the church was complete and the devil realized he’d been hoodwinked. At this very spot, the cheated devil stamped his foot in fury and left a small footprint with a tiny spur at the heel.
The Church of Our Lady is open from 08:00-20:00 (Monday-Saturday) and 08:30-20:00 (Sunday and public holidays). The entrance to the church is free.
5. Be enthralled at the Deutsches Museum
If you only had time to visit one museum in Munich, it should undoubtedly be the Deutsches Museum. That’s because the Deutsches Museum is widely considered to be one of the best science and technology museums in the world.
Spread across six floors and spanning almost 12 miles of halls, the Deutsches Museum lays claim to being the largest museum of science and technology in the world. Over 28,000 scientific and technology items are on permanent display at the museum.
The Deutsches Museum brims with exhibits on everything from agriculture to decorative arts, telecommunication, and musical instruments.
As I’m big on science I was enamored with the engaging exhibitions of machine-building, geodesy, metallurgy, photography, robotics, aerospace, aviation, and hydraulic engineering.
There are tons of interactive displays at the Deutsches Museum and I liked that there are plenty of items that visitors can operate themselves. Demonstrations of working machinery and film shows often take place.
Even if you’re the sort of person for whom science is an unfathomable bore, visiting the Deutsches Museum might change the way you think about technology and engineering.
With more than 20 sections on offer, it would take at least a week to view all the exhibits on every floor in detail. It can be pretty overwhelming after a while, so it’s wise to prioritize what you want to see.
The Deutsches Museum is open daily from 09:00-17:00. The entrance costs 15 EUR and is worth every cent. To save time, you can also book your ticket online through the museum website.
The Deutsches Museum has two other branches in the Munich area – the Verkehrszentrum which houses an amazing collection of urban transport exhibits and the Flugwerft Schleissheim on the history of aviation.
Both the Verkehrszentrum and the Flugwerft Schleissheim operate the same opening hours as the main museum.
6. Get your art lover on at the Alte Pinakothek
If you’re any kind of art connoisseur, you should make a stop at the Alte Pinakothek. It is housed in a huge early 19th-century Neo-Renaissance building rebuilt after World War II.
With numerous Old Master paintings from across the European continent, the Alte Pinakothek holds one of the most acclaimed art collections in the world.
The remarkable collection goes back to the Renaissance and was started by the ruling Wittelsbachs (the family who ruled Bavaria for 700 years) at the beginning of the 16th century.
It has grown over the centuries and comprises more than 700 pieces. The inventory reads like a Who’s Who of European stalwarts, including masterpieces by Dürer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Raphael Titian, and Da Vinci—plus one of my absolute favorites, Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
Some of the best things to see at the Alte Pinakothek are:
- El Greco’s dramatic The Disrobing of Christ
- Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Adam and Eve
- Albrecht Altdorfer’s elaborate The Battle of Alexander at Issus, which depicts in dizzying detail the decisive moment of Alexander the Great’s victory over the Persian King Darius
- Albrecht Dürer’s Self Portrait and Four Apostles
- Frans Hals’s regal portrait of Willem van Heythuysen Posing with a Sword
- Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s satirical The Land of Cockaigne, which depicts the vices of idleness, gluttony, and sloth
- Peter Paul Rubens’s epic Last Judgment
A bonus of visiting the Alte Pinakothek right now is that a selection of 18th- and 19th-century masterworks from the adjacent Neue Pinakothek are on display since the latter is currently closed for restoration.
The Alte Pinakothek is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00-18:00 (until 20:30 on Wednesday and Thursday). The entrance costs 7 EUR.
7. Chill in the English Garden
A first-time visit to Munich isn’t complete without a stop at the English Garden (Englischer Garten). One of Europe’s largest city parks, it came into existence thanks to the vision of Sir Benjamin Thompson, an American officer who ordered that the swampy terrain around the Isar River be developed for military use.
It was opened to the people of Munich in 1792 and remains the green lung of Munich to this day. The English Garden is so named because it is laid out in the manner of English landscaped grounds—reminiscent of the rolling parklands in which English aristocrats liked to surround their country homes.
The park stretches for about 5 km (3 miles) from the center. Comprising more than 1,000 acres, it has more than 75 km (47 miles) of paths and walkways, 15 km (9 miles) of streams, and more than 100 bridges.
The English Garden is a destination for an expansive array of outdoor activities. The large urban park is a paradise for walkers, joggers, cyclists, musicians, and football players.
It is the ideal place to take a breather from pounding the pavement while sightseeing. You can wander for hours and admire the meadows of lush grass among the trees, flowers, and sunbathers. You can also rent a rowing boat or pedalo and mess about on the water.
Nude sunbathing is still practiced in some parts of the English Garden so don’t be surprised to see naked bodies bordering the flower beds and paths. However, people strolling around in the buff is much less common nowadays than they were in the past.
The park also boasts plenty of built things to see such as scenic fountains and eclectic decorative and monumental constructions. Towards the middle of the park atop an artificial hill is the Monopteros—a Neoclassical Greek-style temple from 1838.
The English Garden is also home to the Chinese Tower (Chinesischer Turm), one of Munich’s most iconic landmarks. The five-story wooden pagoda in traditional Chinese style dates back to 1789. At the foot of the tower is one of Munich’s most popular beer gardens.
The English Garden is open 24/7.
8. Watch the surfers on the Eisbach Wave
Being over 300 km (190 miles) from the nearest sea, the last thing you would expect to see in Munich are surfers. However, at the base of the artificial Eisbach Stream flowing through the English Garden, anyone can catch some waves and hang ten.
The Eisbach Wave (Eisbachwelle) is a man-made wave created by strategically submerging concrete blocks in the artificial Eisbach Stream. It has been surfed since the early 1970s and is now a hot spot for professional surfers.
The wave is barely half a meter high and about 12 meters wide. However, the wave is only suitable for very experienced surfers as the forceful current means surfers have to be riding the second they hit the water.
The Eisbach Wave is surfable year-round unlike in the ocean, where surfing often depends on tides and seasonal weather phenomena. Whether during the day or at night, 365 days a year, you will always meet surfers at the spot.
Due to its uniqueness, the Eisbach Wave has become a cult Munich attraction and shouldn’t be missed if you’re visiting the city. You’ll often encounter crowds of locals and visitors cheering on the daredevils.
9. Explore the Residenz
The Wittelsbach family, who ruled Bavaria for 700 years, built the massive Residenz (Residence) complex from 1385 onwards. This vast palace, with a history almost as long as that of the Wittelsbach family, was the seat of government and residence of the Bavarian dukes, electors, and kings from 1508 to 1918.
Over the centuries, the rulers of Bavaria transformed what had been a simple moated medieval castle into a sumptuous palace laid out around ten courtyards. Added to and rebuilt over the centuries, the complex is a mishmash of various styles, including Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical.
Although severely damaged during World War II, it has been restored to its original condition. It is now home to the Residenz Museum, a concert hall, the Cuvilliés Theater, and the Residenz Treasury.
The Residenz Museum has some 130 apartments, chapels, and ceremonial rooms of art and furnishings collected by centuries of Wittelsbachs. In my opinion, the elegance and brilliance of the Residenz are comparable to that of Versailles, Caserta, and Schönbrunn.
As you weave your way through the rooms, you’ll encounter priceless sculptures, exquisite furniture, dramatic frescoes, and cascading crystal chandeliers.
Some of the highlights of the Residenz Museum you shouldn’t miss are:
- Grotto Court: The courtyard contains an artificial grotto made of volcanic tuff decorated with volcanic crystals, colorful seashells, and a gilded bronze sculpture of Mercury.
- Ancestral Gallery: Designed like the famous Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, except that instead of mirrors, there are portraits of the Wittelsbach ancestors, set into gilded, carved paneling
- Antiquarium: The magnificent barrel-vaulted Antiquarium is the largest secular Renaissance hall north of the Alps. It is decorated with magnificent frescoes and filled with Roman and Greek busts.
- Rich Chapel: This small room is a masterpiece of Mannerist architecture. It is richly decorated with colored marble, gilded reliefs, and scagliola panels.
- Green Gallery: This long gallery is named for its green silk damask wallpaper and has 70 paintings, arranged in tiers, alternating with mirrors and gold stucco everywhere.
The Treasury (Schatzkammer) in the Residenz contains the treasures of the Wittelsbach family collected over three centuries. It is one of the most important collections of its ilk in Europe.
Highlights of the Treasury include the crown of Heinrich II, a bejeweled 16th-century gold Renaissance statue of St. George Slaying the Dragon, and the Bavarian crown insignia.
The Cuvilliés Theater is one of Europe’s finest rococo theaters. Famous for hosting the premiere of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo, the ostentatious horseshoe-shaped theater is decorated entirely in red and gold.
The Italianate Hofgarten, or Court Garden, is one of the “green lungs” of Munich. To the north of the Residenz, it’s a charming park with fountains, radiant flower beds, and lime tree–lined gravel paths.
In the center is the Hofgarten temple, a striking octagonal pavilion honoring Diana the Roman goddess of the hunt.
Practical Information For Visiting the Residenz
The Munich Residence is open daily throughout the year except for January 1st, Shrove Tuesday, December 24th, 25th, and 31st.
From 1 April-16 October, the Residenz Museum and Treasury are open from 09:00-18:00 (last entry at 17:00), and from 17 October-31 March, the Residence Museum is open from 10:00-17:00 (last entry at 16:00).
The Cuvilliés Theater operates different opening hours depending on the time of the year. It is open 1 April-31 July and 13 September-16 October from 14:00-18:00 (Monday-Saturday) and from 09:00-18:00 (Sundays and public holidays). The final entry is at 17:00.
From 1 August-12 September, the Cuvilliés Theater is open from 09:00-18:00 (Monday-Sunday). From 17 October-31 March, it is open from 14:00-17:00 (Monday-Saturday) and from 10:00-17:00 (Sundays and public holidays). The final entry is 1 hour before closing time.
The Hofgarten is open 24/7. Free entrance.
The individual entrances to the Residenz Museum and the Treasury cost 9 EUR each while the entrance to the Cuvilliés Theater costs 5 EUR.
The combined ticket (Residence Museum + Treasury + Cuvilliés Theater) costs 17 EUR. No tour is required for your visit and you’re free to explore independently.
One visit will probably not be enough to see the entire complex, so prioritize what you want to see.
10. Stuff your belly with hearty Bavarian Cuisine
Tasting authentic Bavarian cuisine is one of the best things to do in Munich. Traditional Bavarian cuisine is built on rural traditions from the 19th century.
Although there’s nothing fancy about Bavarian food, the dishes are very tasty and satisfying. The ultra-filling dishes are monster trucks of fat, carbs, and proteins.
These are the dishes you must try when visiting Munich. Needless to say, leave your diet behind!
a. Weißwurst: Weißwurst is one of the most well-known German sausages and arguably the most iconic Munich food. It is a parboiled grey-white sausage made of a mixture of finely minced veal, back bacon, and spices stuffed into pork casing.
Served with a dollop of sweet mustard, weißwurst is commonly eaten for breakfast and pairs well with a refreshing wheat beer.
b. Schweinshaxe: A quintessential Bavarian dish, schweinshaxe is a hunk of delightfully tender, juicy pork knuckle on the bone, all wrapped in a sheath of golden crackling and crispy skin.
It is served in a dark and malty beer gravy and comes with potato dumplings, potato salad, or mashed potato. Though it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing dish to look at, one bite is all it takes to make you fall in love with this Bavarian classic.
c. Schweinebraten: Schweinebraten (roast pork) is a real Bavarian favorite. The meat is then basted with dark lager beer while it is roasting until the rind develops into crispy crackling.
It is served in a dark beer sauce with dumplings and cabbage salad on the side. The succulent pork is finger-lickin’ good and orgasmic to the taste buds!
d. Käsespätzle: Spätzle is a kind of soft egg noodle made from a batter of eggs and flour. Käsespätzle is what the name suggests – it is made with layers of spätzle and grated cheese (käse).
It is then garnished with crunchy fried onion. Käsespätzle is a convenient option if you are a vegetarian.
Unctuous and full of flavor, käsespätzle is the ultimate comfort food. The next time you have mac n’ cheese, you’ll realize how inferior it is compared to käsespätzle.
11. Delve into the history of BMW at the BMW Museum and BMW World
Just in town and love automobiles? The BMW Museum and BMW World are your must-see Munich automotive stops. Bayerischen Motoren Werken, better known by the acronym BMW, has been around for more than a century, so it has one of the most storied automotive histories of any automaker.
With the company’s global headquarters in Munich, a visit to the BMW Museum & BMW World is a great way to gain insight into how this Bavarian brand became one of the world leaders in the motor industry.
Set in a sleek, stylish interior, the BMW Museum comprises several themed ‘sections’ that examine the development of BMW’s product lines. It features a permanent collection composed of 120 production cars, sports cars, motorcycles, the modern BMW range, and futuristic prototypes, realized by BMW during its history.
Among the prized items you might spot are the famous Dixi, the BMW M1, the BMW 501, and the BMW 507.
You can also see exhibitions of how BMW is researching alternative forms of engine and energy resources along with glimpses of future propulsion technologies and designs the company is experimenting with.
The adjacent BMW World (BMW Welt) is a multi-purpose facility that serves as a delivery center for new BMWs as well as a corporate showroom and a theme park. Along with exposing vehicles, the BMW World features special activities and interactive installations.
Even if you have just a fleeting interest in cars and engines, the BMW Museum and BMW World are worth visiting. Plus, you can admire the cutting-edge architectural designs of both buildings.
Built in concrete, the BMW Museum is a windowless, silver-painted structure. It consists of a bowl-shaped building with a flat rooftop that bears the famous blue and black BMW logo.
You can also marvel at the adjacent BMW Headquarters building. 19-story office building, clad in silver aluminum, resembles the four cylinders of a car engine.
BMW World was built in 2007 and its entirely unique architecture is a masterpiece in itself. The incomparable deconstructivist design concept is characterized very much by the unique roof structure (high-grade steel panels between solar modules) and the so-called double-cone tornado.
Practical Information For Visiting the BMW Museum & BMW World
The BMW Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00-18:00 (last admission at 17:30). The BMW World is open from 07:30-24:00 (Monday-Saturday) and 09:00-24:00 (Sundays and public holidays).
BMW World is free to visit, but the BMW Museum charges 10 EUR. No advance booking is required but you can book your ticket online through the museum website if you want to save some time.
The BMW Museum & BMW World are located about 5 min apart from one another.
12. Experience farmers’ market–style shopping at Viktualienmarkt
Locals and tourists alike tend to adore Viktualienmarkt. Located in the Old Town, it contains around 140 booths with merchants selling everything fruit, meat, dairy products, and other local food items.
In addition to shops, you’ll find food stalls and small eateries throughout.
Here, visitors can purchase some wine, grab a beer or coffee, snack on a variety of ready-to-eat pretzels and charcuterie, or pick up some ingredients for lunch or dinner from the fruit, seafood, and meat stalls.
A major attraction of the Viktualienmarkt is the maypole (maibaum) in its center which is painted in the Bavarian colors of blue and white.
Maypoles enjoy a common presence throughout Bavaria and were formerly used to indicate which crafts and services were important to the local area. These motifs are still visible today on the Viktualienmarkt’s maypole.
The bottom of the maypole celebrates the Munich Purity Law of 1487 which stipulated that Munich beer could consist only of three ingredients: barley, hops, and water. The Munich Purity Law of 1487 was kind of a predecessor to the famous Reinheitsgebot, the purity law that has governed beer brewing in all of Germany since 1906.
Tradition dictates that the only beer sold at the famous Oktoberfest festival has to be brewed within the city limits of Munich. The six Munich-based breweries that are allowed to provide beer for the Oktoberfest festival are Augustiner-Bräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu (Spaten).
Most of the market stalls at the Munich Viktualienmarkt are open Monday-Saturday from 08:00-20:00.
If you really want to dine like a local in Munich, you can sign up for an insightful Viktualienmarkt Gourmet Food Tour.
13. Make a beeline for the Hofbräuhaus
Munich is inevitably associated with beer and has several beer halls popular with locals and visitors alike. On that note, no visit to Munich would be complete without making a pilgrimage to the much-mythologized Hofbräuhaus (“Royal Court Brew House”).
Established in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V to satisfy the thirst of his court, the Hofbräuhaus is not only the number one tourist attraction in Munich but also the world’s most famous beer hall, seating more than 4,000 drinkers.
Admission to the beer hall was restricted to only the royal family and their guests for over two centuries and it was only in 1828 that the citizens of Munich were allowed to drink there for the first time, and it soon turned out to be a popular habit.
Over the years, the hallowed halls of the Hofbräuhaus have been patronized by famous figures such as Mozart, Lenin, Louis Armstrong, Mikhail Gorbachev, John F. Kennedy, and George H. W. Bush.
The most celebrated part of the Hofbräuhaus is the beautifully frescoed Schwemme, the historic beer hall on the ground floor.
Here, some 1,000 beer aficionados sip down their brew at wooden tables while listening to the sounds of an oompah band. Servers in Dirndl and Lederhosen bustling back and forth carrying multiple steins and trays of food add to the festive atmosphere.
Even if not planning to eat or drink here, sneak a peek inside the upper floors. The Coat of Arms Hall (Wappensaal) is lined with painted coats of arms of the administrative districts of Bavaria while the vaulted Festival Hall (Festsaal) has a lovely rustic feel about it.
On 24 February 1920, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists held their first meeting in the Festsaal of the Hofbräuhaus (Festival Hall). During this gathering, though not the main speaker, Hitler impassionately presented a twenty-five-point program of ideas that were to be the basis of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazi Party). The Hofbräuhaus played a such pivotal role in Hilter’s rise to power that the National Socialists would celebrate the founding of the Nazi Party here every year on its anniversary.
The Hofbräuhaus is open daily from 11:00-24:00. Even if not planning to eat or drink here, it’s still well worth visiting. The Hofbräuhaus must be experienced!
If you want to spend an enjoyable evening sampling the best of traditional Bavarian food and beer, consider signing up for the excellent Bavarian Beer and Food Culture Tour.
While visiting Hofbräuhaus is indeed a quintessential Munich experience, it is by no means the best beer hall in Munich. The atmosphere at Hofbräuhaus is one of a kind but the beer served there is average and the food is mediocre. Plus, its legendary reputation means that tourists far outnumber the locals.
14. Catch some R&R at the Olympic Park
Lying north of the city center, Munich’s Olympic Park (Olympiapark) was built on the collected rubble from the bomb-devastated ruins of World War II.
In preparation for the 1972 Summer Olympic Games, a former airfield and parade ground was transformed into an Olympic park, featuring hills, an artificial lake, a communications tower, and sports facilities spread across nearly 3 sq km (1.15 sq mi).
The games then were much less elaborate than the current versions and unlike many former Olympic sites around the world, the area is still in everyday use. The complex draws people year-round as the park is a premier venue for various sporting and cultural events.
In addition, you’ll find swimming pools, saunas, tennis courts, gyms, a minigolf course, an ice-skating rink, and even an artificial lake that are all open to the general public. The Olympic Park is a haven for joggers, cyclists, inline skaters, and people just wishing to unwind.
The Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion) is the main showpiece of the Olympic Park. Designed by architectural firm Behnisch & Partners, the elegant, airy stadium with a transparent, undulating, tensile roof is still considered to be a masterpiece of modern architecture.
The stadium is capable of seating 69,250 spectators (80,000 at the time of the games). It was on this hallowed turf in 1974 that the German men’s national soccer team won the FIFA World Cup.
To cap off your visit, take the elevator to the top of the 291m-high Olympic Tower (Olympiaturm) for the best panoramic view of Munich and a look at the Bavarian Alps.
History 101: The Munich Olympics Massacre
Rather than the achievements of US swimmer Mark Spitz or Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut, the Munich Olympics are inevitably remembered for the terrorist attack on the Israeli Olympic team, eventually leaving 17 people dead. Ten days into the 1972 Olympic Games in the early morning of September 5, eight members of a Palestinian terrorist group known as “Black September” killed two Israelis and took nine others hostage at the Olympic Village. The terrorists demanded the release of 234 Arab guerrillas jailed in Israel and safe passage for themselves and their hostages. During a botched rescue attempt by West German security forces at Fürstenfeldbruck, a military base west of Munich, all of the hostages, one police officer, and five of the terrorists were killed. Incredibly, the Games resumed 34 hours later. Avery Brundage, the then International Olympic Committee president, issued a famous pronouncement, “The Games must go on!” and so they did.
15. Admire the elegance of Odeonsplatz
Odeonsplatz is considered to be the most beautiful square in Munich and I concur. This historic square on the periphery of the Old Town was laid out by Ludwig I of Bavaria in the 1800s.
Ludwig I had a penchant for all things Italian and the Italian influence on him is evident through the square’s architecture.
Overlooking the square from the south is the Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshalls’ Hall), an arcaded loggia filled with statues honoring Bavarian generals. Built in the 1840s, it is modeled after the famous Renaissance-style Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.
It has bronze statues of Count Johann Tserclaes Tilly (who led Catholic forces in repelling the Swedes out of Munich in the Thirty Years’ War) and Karl Philipp von Wrede (a hero of the Napoleonic Wars), guarded by Bavarian lions.
Odeonsplatz is deeply entrenched in Nazi legacy, as is the case with a lot of other famous Munich landmarks. It was here on 9 November 1923 that police foiled the so-called Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler’s attempt to topple the Weimar Republic (Germany’s government after WWI).
The ensuing clash resulted in the deaths of four policemen and 16 Nazis. Hitler was subsequently tried and sentenced to five years in Landsberg Prison where he wrote (or dictated) his infamous autobiographical manifesto, Mein Kampf.
Although Hitler’s putsch in Munich was unsuccessful, the Feldherrnhalle later became hallowed ground where the Nazis worshipped their “fallen martyrs.” During the Third Reich, all citizens passing by the monument were obligated to give the Nazi salute.
Nearby is the Theatine Church of St. Cajetan (Theatinerkirche). This 17th-century Late Baroque church was inspired by the Sant’Andrea della Valle Basilica in Rome.
The church’s magnificent mustard-yellow facade is outstanding, with its ornate niches, reliefs, Doric columns, and Ionic pilasters. In addition, the church crypt is home to the graves of 25 members of the Wittelsbach family.
Most impressive are the snail-shaped volutes topping its massive twin towers. They are modeled on those of the famous Basilica of Saint Mary of Health in Venice.
16. Discover Munich’s dark side and take a walking tour focused on WWII and the Third Reich
As the former capital of the Nazi movement and birthplace of the Nazi Party, Munich’s recent past is rife with darkness.
On WWII-themed walking tours led by knowledgeable local historians, you can see places where Hitler met his supporters, find out why his ideas were successful in Munich, and where his followers demonstrated.
You get to see the bars and cafés where Nazi Party members met as well as the original sites, buildings, and streets, where these bleak events unfolded.
But not all is grim as you will also learn about some of the most famous Munich resistance fighters who are sadly not mentioned as much as they should be.
17. Soak Up the Wittelsbach Lifestyle at the Nymphenburg Palace
One of the most notable Munich attractions, the Nymphenburg Palace (Schloss Nymphenburg) is an exquisite Baroque extravaganza surrounded by a 200-hectare (494-acre) park dotted with lakes, pavilions, and hunting lodges.
Nymphenburg Palace was erected originally from 1664 to 1674 as a simple cube-shaped building commissioned by the Elector Ferdinand Maria and his consort Henrietta Adelaide to celebrate the birth of their son.
However, Prince Elector Max Emmanuel and his successors added more features and structures, until Nymphenburg became the largest palace in Germany. The façade of the main palace is immensely wide, and at 632 m (2,073 ft) even surpasses Versailles Palace.
The palace interior, while interesting, is much less extensive than the Residenz—you can visit only 16 rooms. Upon entering the palace, you walk into the spacious Great Hall (Steinerner Saal), one of the grandest and best-preserved Rococo rooms in Bavaria.
Richly framed with stuccowork, the hall is marvelously decorated with frescoes by Johann Baptist Zimmermann. The frescoes depict incidents from mythology, especially those dealing with Flora, goddess of spring, and her nymphs, for whom the palace was named.
Several royal rooms are on display, including the antechamber, audience chamber, bedchamber, and the Birth Room (Geburtzimmer) of mad King Ludwig II.
The most famous room of the Nymphenburg Palace is King Ludwig I’s Gallery of Beauties (Schönheitengalerie). The room is decorated top to bottom with no fewer than 36 portraits of the most beautiful women of his day (all of them painted by Joseph Stieler between 1827 and 1850).
Among the women portrayed are Helene Sedlmayr – a shoemaker’s daughter, and Ludwig’s ravishing, but notorious, lover Lola Montez – the Elector’s infatuation with her pushed Munich to the brink of rebellion, and Ludwig abdicated shortly afterward.
There are plenty more sights to discover at the Nymphenburg Palace complex aside from the main palace.
To the south of the palace buildings, in the block of low structures that once housed the court stables, is the Marstallmuseum. The Marstallmuseum contains coaches, carriages, and sleighs that once belonged to the Bavarian rulers.
Look for the coronation coaches of Karl VII and Max Joseph. I really loved the ornate state coach of Ludwig II. The magnificent coach is completely gilded and Rococo carvings cover every inch of space except for the panels faced with paintings on copper.
On the upper floor is the Bäuml Collection which is home to thousands of beautiful pieces of fine porcelain from the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory.
The symmetrically designed French gardens to the rear of the palace with an 18th-century canal and cascade form the main axis of the entire palace and its gardens. They give way to an English-style landscaped park, which was created by using the existing forest.
Featuring a large lake and gravel walks extending into woodland, the sprawling park is a favorite spot with Münchners and visitors for strolling, jogging, or frittering away a lazy afternoon.
Of the numerous structures in the park, Amalienburg is the one worth seeking out most. This hunting lodge was created in the mid-18th century for the Electress Amalia by François Cuvilliés (of Residenz fame).
The hunting theme is present through the first few rooms but most impressive is the Hall of Mirrors, a dizzying symphony of silver ornaments on a faint blue background.
Practical Information For Visiting the Nymphenburg Palace
The Nymphenburg Palace is open throughout the year except on 1 January, Shrove Tuesday, 24-25 December, and New Year’s Eve.
The Nymphenburg Palace, Marstallmuseum, and Museum of Nymphenburg Porcelain are open daily from 09:00-18:00 (April to 15 October) and 10:00-16:00 (16 October to March).
The Nymphenburg Park Palaces (Amalienburg, Badenburg, Magdalenenklause, Pagodenburg) are open daily from 09:00-18:00 (April to 15 October). Keep in mind that the final entry to all the buildings of the Nymphenburg Palace is 30 minutes before the stated closing time.
The Nymphenburg Palace Park is open from 06:00-18:00 (November-March), 06:00-20:00 (April & October), and 06:00-21:30 (May-September). The entrance to the park is free.
The entrance to the Nymphenburg Palace costs 8 EUR and the entrance to the Marstallmuseum with Museum of Nymphenburg Porcelain costs 6 EUR. The combination ticket for the three costs 12 EUR. You can purchase a ticket both on-site or through the museum website if you want to avoid any waiting time.
18. Stop by the Pinakothek der Moderne
Opened to much fanfare in 2002, the Pinakothek der Moderne is home to four outstanding collections that together represent the largest modern art gallery in Germany. It is Munich’s version of Tate Modern in London or the Center Pompidou in Paris.
Modern art, graphic art, architecture, and applied design combine this striking, light-filled, glass-and-concrete complex. Explore where your interest dictates as you’re spoilt for choice.
The modern art collection is worth checking out. Key artistic movements from Cubism, through Weimar-era Neue Sachlichkeit to Surrealism, Pop Art, and beyond are well represented.
Outstanding artworks by Picasso, Magritte, De Chirico, Franz Marc, Klee, Kandinsky, Dalí, Francis Bacon, Max Beckmann, David Hockney, and Warhol can be found here. They are presented at alternating exhibits.
I particularly enjoyed the applied design section where you can trace the evolution of design from the industrial revolution through Jugendstil, Bauhaus, and Art Deco to today.
It encompasses some 100,000 pieces, including furniture, light fixtures, kitchenware, jewels, ceramics, vehicles, power tools, consumer electronics, typewriters, communication devices, toys and games, clocks, sports equipment, and graphic designs.
Retro artifacts like classic chairs, first-gen Apple Macs, and spool tape recorders, are some of the highlights. Don’t forget to check out the Audi design wall with 1,800 miniature models of the UR-Quattro made from aluminum and displayed to resemble a vertical car carpet.
The Pinakothek der Moderne is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00-18:00 (until 20:00 on Thursdays). The entrance costs 10 EUR. It is well worth visiting for modern and contemporary art lovers.
19. Cheer on Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena
Germans take their love of football very seriously and no team is more beloved (and loathed) in the country than FC Bayern Munich. So, for a real taste of Munich culture, head north to the Schwabing-Freimann borough to watch FC Bayern Munich in action at the Allianz Arena, Bayern’s dramatic football stadium.
Even if aren’t into football or can’t snag tickets on match day, you should still make the trip to the Allianz Arena to admire its architectural prowess and innovative technology.
Designed by the architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and completed in 2005, the Allianz Arena is widely known for its color scheme and futuristic appearance.
The three-tiered stadium resembles kind of looks like a giant tire laid alongside the Autobahn and has acquired the moniker the “inflatable boat” for its distinctive shape.
The unique feature of the Allianz Arena is that its exterior walls are made of large, inflatable, diamond-shaped ETFE cushions that allow the color of the façade to change to match the colors of the host team playing that night (red for FC Bayern Munich and white for the German national side).
Tours of the Allianz Arena offer something for every visitor, from a look inside the stadium to a museum detailing FC Bayern’s storied history and achievements (they are the most successful club in Germany) to an interactive club shop where fans can purchase team merchandise and more!
20. Seek out some quirky Munich sculptures
Who says architecture has to be serious? Throughout cities across the globe, you will occasionally encounter unconventional designs that leave you scratching your head.
Munich is no exception to this. Some of the quirkiest structures you shouldn’t miss in Munich are the “Walking Man” sculpture, the Futuro House, the Sweet Brown Snail, and the Endless Staircase.
As the sculpture title suggests, the Walking Man is a 17-meter (56 ft) tall sculpture depicting a stick man, with a determined and brisk gait. The sculpture, completed in 1995, is the work of American sculptor artist Jonathan Borofsky.
The Walking Man is located on the Leopoldstraße, next to the business premises of the Munich-based insurance conglomerate Munich Re. The wonderfully genital-liberated and faceless giant figure is a fun photo op.
Standing on the lawn in front of the Pinakothek der Moderne and looking like a stranded UFO, the Futuro House is an icon of space-age architecture. The eye-catching plastic-shelled holiday home is known for its hatch-style entrance, brightly-colored fiberglass shell, and intergalactic interior.
The futuristic house was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s and is one of several such models found across the globe. It embodies the era’s conviction in technological progress and obsession with all things space-related.
The Futuro House can be viewed from the outside free of charge at any time. The house’s interior is open Thursdays from 15:00-20:00 and weekends from 15:00-18:00.
The Sweet Brown Snail is a 4.5-meter (15 ft) tall snail sculpture that stands in the square in front of the main entrance Verkehrszentrum of the Deutsches Museum. It was designed in 2007 by Jason Rhoades and Paul McCarthy.
The supersized snail has a gray body and a brown shell and greets visitors with a sweet smile. The snail represents the desire for unlimited mobility as mirrored in the vehicles on display in the Verkehrszentrum.
Set in the rear courtyard of the KPMG Building, the Endless Staircase is one of the hidden gems in Munich. What looks like a real staircase is actually a whimsical art piece from 2004 by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.
The 9-meter (30 ft) tall double helix steel contraption ascends before descending, leading to nowhere as it is a closed loop. With its unique visage, the Endless Staircase certainly grabs the attention of any passerby, meaning it’s one of the best Munich Instagram spots.
Believed to reflect “movement without destination,” one can only speculate what Eliasson had in mind when he crafted this whacky installation.
Sadly, it is not allowed for visitors to walk on the staircase.
21. Be awed by the beauty of the Asam Church
Munich is full of hidden gems and the Asam Church (Asamkirche) is no exception. It is considered one of the most important buildings of the southern German Late Baroque period.
The church’s official name is Church of St. John Nepomuk, but it’s more popularly known as the Asam Church for its architects, the brothers Cosmas Damian and Egid Quirin Asam. Cosmas Damian specialized in frescoes while Egid Quirin specialized in sculptures and stuccos.
Its rather modest exterior gives little clue of the opulence and extravagant detailing within the small 18th-century church (it contains only 12 rows of pews).
The Asam Church is over-the-top Baroque, every inch of wall space is dripping with gilt garlands, stucco figures, rosy marble, paintings, and deep colors. Don’t miss the vivid ceiling fresco illustrating the life of St. John Nepomuk.
The Asam brothers lived in the house (Asam House) next to the Asam Church and initially did not intend to open the church to the public. Instead, they intended to use the church as their own personal spiritual retreat to ensure their salvation. They even designed their living quarters in a way that they could see the high altar from their bedroom window at all times. However, due to excessive public protests against the private church, it had to be made accessible to the general population.
The Asam Church is open 09:00-19:00 (Monday-Thursday and Sunday) and 13:00–19:00 (Friday). The entrance to the church is free.
22. Visit the Lenbachhaus
The Bavarian capital is also an excellent destination for museumgoers, so one of the best things to do in Munich is to visit the fabulous Lenbachhaus (Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus).
This museum has built its reputation on its stunning assemblage of artworks by the avant-garde “Blue Rider” (“Blauer Reiter”) group. In fact, it’s the world’s largest collection.
The Blue Rider was a short-lived (1911 to 1914), but highly significant European art movement founded in Munich. Abandoning realism, the artists explored the relationships between art, music, color, and spiritualism and painted expressively in vivid colors.
On display at the Lenbachhaus are more than 80 works of the Blue Rider group by Wassily Kandinsky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Paul Klee, Marianne von Werefkin, Franz Marc, August Macke, and Gabriele Münter.
The highlights of the Lenbachhaus include –
- Franz Marc’s Blue Horse
- Kandinsky’s Impression III
- Macke’s Turkish Cafe
- von Werefkin’s Self Portrait
In addition to the Blue Rider collection, the Lenbachhaus complex also holds an intriguing collection of 19th-century German art, 20th-century (New Objectivity Movement), a significant Joseph Beuys collection, artists’ rooms, photography, installations, and sculptures.
Don’t miss Rudolf Schlichter’s Portrait of Bertolt Brecht, Christian Schad’s Surgery, and Lovis Corinth Self Portrait with Skeleton.
The Lenbachhaus is open Tuesday-Sunday & public holidays from 10:00-18:00. On Thursdays the museum is open until 20:00.
Admission to the Lenbachhaus costs 10 EUR. You can purchase a ticket both on-site or through the museum website if you want to avoid any waiting time.
23. Check out some of Munich’s beautiful metro stations
If you’re on the lookout for non-touristy things to do in Munich, visiting some metro (subway) stations should be at the top of your list. A lesser-known fact about Munich is that it is home to some of the most beautiful metro (subway) stations in the world.
Not all the 100 or so stations of the Munich Metro (U-Bahn) are showstoppers, and there are only a handful of stand-out stations. Some of the most beautiful Munich metro stations are –
- Westfriedhof (U1 & U7): This is undoubtedly my favorite metro station in Munich. The station’s central platform is brightly lit in red, blue, and yellow by eleven gigantic domed lamps, each 3.5 meters (12 feet) in diameter. The station’s rough tunnel walls are illuminated in neon blue creating a dramatic, photogenic space. Not to be missed!
- Moosach (U3): The beautifully decorated wall panels are dominated by oversized flowers.
- Candidplatz (U1): Proving that some of Munich’s U-Bahn stations really pack a punch, the walls and pillars of Candidplatz are embellished with rainbow effects.
- Münchner Freiheit (U3 & U6): This station stands out for its brightly lit blue columns and mirrored ceiling.
- Großhadern (U6): The bright yellow pillars and wall paintings depicting the geological strata of the soil make it one of the liveliest stations on the Munich Metro.
- Marienplatz (U3 & U6): This station is one of the best photo spots in Munich. Its rich orange-red color pattern on the mezzanine is quite intoxicating.
24. Hop around Munich’s lesser-known art museums
The Alte Pinakothek, Pinakothek der Moderne, and the Lenbachhaus aren’t the only art museums in Munich. The city is home to several other underrated art museums that demand exploration.
If you’re a fan of classical art, make a beeline for the Glyptothek. One of Munich’s oldest museums, this Ionic columned building is an excellent repository of art and sculpture from ancient Greece and Rome amassed by King Ludwig I between 1806 and 1830.
Notable exhibits include Archaic figures from the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina of 500 BC, a rust-colored grave statue of a youth from Attica, and the famous Barberini Faun—a remarkable depiction of a sleeping satyr from the Hellenistic period.
One of the most overlooked museums in Munich, the Schack Collection (Sammlung Schack) houses a substantial art collection built by Adolf Friedrich Graf von Schack, a diplomat who in later life devoted himself entirely to his literary and intellectual pursuits.
The museum boasts an exciting collection of 19th-century paintings, primarily landscapes and historical scenes, as well as legends and mythology. It includes works by Moritz von Schwind, Anselm Feuerbach, Karl Spitzweg, Franz von Lenbach, and Hans von Marées.
The Villa Stuck, the former home of Franz von Stuck, one of the founders of the Munich Secession and a tutor of Wassily Kandinsky, is one of my favorite Munich attractions. The magnificent villa combines Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) architecture with Neoclassical and Symbolist elements.
All the rooms are meticulously and thoughtfully laid out in dark, rich colors. As you tour the villa, be mesmerized by mosaics and paintings in a Pompeian style, stucco casts of ancient sculptures, coffered ceilings, illusionistic celestial vaults, abstract Jugendstil motifs, and a unique ensemble of ostentatious furniture.
The villa now serves as an art museum showcasing Stuck’s own work as well as special exhibits of international modern and contemporary art.
25. Watch the glockenspiel & take a tour of the New Town Hall
Dominating the northern side of Marienplatz is the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), undoubtedly one of Munich’s top 10 sights. When the Old Town Hall became way too small for its purpose in the 19th century, it was decided to build a new building based on the town hall of Brussels.
Although the structure looks medieval, it was actually built between 1867 and 1909. Its exuberant façade is long pointed arches over the doorways, screaming gargoyles, flying exterior buttresses, and a roofline bristling with spires.
The many sculptures and intricate details on the façade allude to Bavaria’s legends and history, and many allegorical figures. It’s hardly surprising that the building features in myriad images and postcards of Munich.
The New Town Hall is famous for the glockenspiel (a chiming clock with mechanical figures) that takes place on its 85-meter (279-ft) high clock tower. At 11:00, and 12:00 (from March to October additionally at 17:00), it plays a knight’s tournament and local dance (Schäfflertanz) with 32 life-size figures.
Within the walls of the New Town Hall are more than 400 rooms, including boardrooms. Nowadays, the Lord Mayor and the City Council hold their meetings in the building’s magnificently decorated conference rooms.
The New Town Hall’s interior is famous for its vaulted ceilings, the large meeting room, the small meeting room, and the Law Library (Juristische Bibliothek).
The large meeting room is dominated by the monumental mural Monachia by painter Karl von Piloty, which depicts significant personalities from Munich’s city history over several centuries.
Equally impressive is the opulent interior of the small meeting room. The wood paneling on the walls, the canopy-crowned leather sofas, a grandfather clock with a richly decorated case, and an elaborately carved oak wood ceiling are worth noting here.
The crowning glory of the Munich New Town Hall is undoubtedly the Law Library. The Law Library is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world and one of Munich’s best-kept secrets.
The stunning art nouveau library looks like something out of the Harry Potter realm and is an absolute joy to visit. With its oak cabinets and multiple stories of colorful books, it is framed by two ornate spiral staircases leading to two surrounding galleries with gilded wrought iron grilles.
26. Snap photos of the Bavaria Statue & the Victory Gate
A stroll around Munich will see you passing many notable statues and monuments. Two of the most famous monuments and statues in Munich you shouldn’t miss are the Bavaria Statue and the Victory Gate.
The Bavaria Statue is a monumental, 18.5 m (61 ft) high statue that overlooks the vast Theresienwiese, home of many events – most notably the Oktoberfest.
It was designed by Ludwig Schwanthaler and cast by Ferdinand von Miller between 1844 and 18500. Considered a technical masterpiece, this unusual statue was the first colossal statue made entirely of cast bronze since antiquity.
The statue is of the patroness and female personification of Bavaria. She stands elegant and assured, holding an oak wreath in her hand, while a lion sits at her feet.
The Bavaria Statue’s design echoes the famous Statue of Liberty in New York City, however, it predates by some 35 years.
You can even climb the 125-odd steps through this colossal dame’s bronze body to the small observation platform inside her head. From here, you have a unique perspective of the Theresienwiese and the surrounding districts.
The Victory Gate (Siegestor) stands on the long avenue Ludwigstraße at the junction with Leopoldstraße, the principal street in the district of Schwabing.
Designed by Friedrich von Gärtner, it was built in the mid-19th century to honor the achievements of the Bavarian army during the Wars of Liberation (1813–15) against Napoléon. The triumphal arch is modeled on the Arch of Constantine in Rome.
The Victory Gate is covered in bas-reliefs depicting battle scenes, medallions, and personifications of the Bavarian provinces. The arch is crowned by the figure of Bavaria riding in a chariot drawn by four lions.
It was badly damaged during World War II but was later restored in such a way as to leave the extent of the damage visible. After the war, the gate was inscribed with lines that translate as “Dedicated to victory, destroyed in war, an entreaty for peace.”
27. Get a history lesson at the Bavarian National Museum
A must-see in Munich for hardcore museum buffs, the Bavarian National Museum (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum) is well worth the visit.
Starting as an institution to preserve Bavaria’s historic and artistic treasures, it is really a cultural journey through time, principally from the early Middle Ages to the 20th century.
The museum itself is housed in a palatial late-19th-century edifice that is a mishmash of Romanesque, German Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo styles.
The collections are spread across over 40 rooms laid out on three floors linked by grand staircases. The basement contains a unique collection of Christmas cribs and a section devoted to folk art, including many woodcarvings.
Painting, sculpture, and crafts up to the 18th century are on display on the ground floor. to A major focus here is on the late Gothic wooden sculptures from southern Germany, which also includes winged altarpieces and carvings by the great sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider.
The upper floor contains collections of the Rococo, Jugendstil, and modern periods. On display are antique clocks, ivory carvings, musical instruments, Nymphenburg and Meissen porcelain, Tiffany glass, Biedermeier art, and precious items used by the Bavarian royal family.
The Bavarian National Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00-17:00 (until 20:00 on Thursdays). The entrance costs 7 EUR.
28. Go on a day trip
Having sampled the charms of Munich, it’s good to briefly escape the city and go on an adventure. One of the best ways to do this is to take a day trip somewhere. Some of the best day trips from Munich I can heartily recommend are –
a. Neuschwanstein Castle — If you have time for only one castle in all of Germany, make sure it’s Neuschwanstein, “Mad” King Ludwig II’s magnificent castle. Neuschwanstein is like a fairytale castle created by Disney except it’s real, complete with battlements, gables, lookouts, spiral stairways, towers, and gates, even courtyards.
b. Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial — Established in 1933, the small town of Dachau is infamous worldwide as the site of the “model” Nazi concentration camp, which was built just outside it. The memorial poignantly preserves the memory of the camp and the horrors perpetrated there.
c. Rothenburg ob der Tauber — One of the most popular day trips from Munich is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a top tourist stop along the fabled Romantic Road. Its web of cobbled lanes, higgledy-piggledy houses, and towered walls cements its well-earned reputation as Germany’s most beautiful wall-enclosed medieval town.
d. Eagle’s Nest — Erected in 1939 on the high-altitude slopes of Obersalzberg by Martin Bormann, who intended it as a 50th birthday gift for Adolf Hitler, Eagle’s Nest quickly became the Führer’s favorite residence. It is an eerily fascinating point of interest and on clear days, the views from the top are breathtaking.
e. Salzburg — Known for its splendid architecture, sweeping vistas, and serene pockets of quiet nature, Mozart’s birthplace is well worth the visit from Munich.
f. Königsee — With its emerald-green water and fjord-like setting between steep mountain ridges, Königssee is Germany’s highest lake (603m). It is one of Europe’s most scenic bodies of water and crossing the serene lake makes for a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.
Getting To Munich
Munich Airport (Flughafen München) is located 28.5 km (17.7 mi) northeast of Munich. The quickest and most reliable way to get from Munich Airport to the city center is by taking the suburban train.
The S1 (direction Ostbahnhof) and S8 (direction Herrsching) S-Bahn lines connect the airport to Munich city center at 10-minute intervals from about 04:00 to 01:00. The trip from Munich Airport to Munich Central Station (Munich Hauptbahnhof) takes approximately 40 minutes.
The station for the commuter rail service is situated beneath the airport. The single fare between Munich Airport and the city center costs 13 EUR.
If you plan on using public transport later in the day in Munich, you should buy the day ticket for 14.80 EUR. Tickets can be purchased with cash or card from one of the automated ticket machines.
Before boarding, remember to validate your ticket as failure to do so will incur a fine.
The cheapest way to get from Munich Airport to Munich city center is by taking the Lufthansa Express Bus. The journey from Munich Airport to Munich North/Schwabing takes approximately 25 minutes while the journey from Munich Airport to Munich Central Station takes about 45 minutes.
Buses operate seven days a week at 15-minute intervals from 06:30 to 22:30. Tickets cost 11.50 EUR (single trip) and 18.50 EUR (roundtrip).
Taxi fares between Munich Airport and the city center are high – around 60–70 EUR.
How To Get Around Munich?
Munich is a splendidly walkable city and wandering on foot remains the best way to explore Munich and discover its many treasures.
However, since Munich is a large city and some of its attractions are quite spread out, it’s probably not feasible to just walk everywhere even when you have several days in Munich. The best way to get around Munich is by the efficient public transportation system.
Munich’s easy-to-use public transport includes the U-Bahn (subway), the S-Bahn (trains), buses as well as trams. It’s also worth knowing that all major attractions in Munich are easily reached by public transport, and with one ticket you can seamlessly switch from one form of transport to another.
A single ticket in Munich costs 3.70 EUR. You can also opt for a Munich day ticket (valid until 06:00 the following day) which costs 8.80 EUR.
Children under 6 years of age travel for free while kids from 6 to 14 years of age get a concession on their tickets.
Public transport tickets can be purchased from ticket vending machines found in all U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, as well as from the onboard machines on buses and trams. You can also purchase tickets online or via the “MVV” app.
You can use the very useful intermodal Journey Planner for getting around Munich with public transport.
If you are visiting Munich in the warmer months, getting around on a bicycle is also a good alternative and a fun way to see the city. With its flat terrain, Munich is tailor-made for cyclists and many streets have dedicated bike lanes.
The easiest way to rent a bicycle in Munich is by signing up for MVG Rad, the city’s bike-sharing system which has service points all over the city. Bike rental with MVG Rad costs 9 cents per minute or 12 EUR per day.
For more information click here (only in German) or download the MVGO app.
In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Munich on bike, check out this excellent Munich Bicycle Tour.
If you’re not up for a long walk or cycle around Munich, you could also get around on a segway, which can cover a larger area than a walk-around.
In case you’re interested in seeing the highlights of Munich on a segway, check out this highly-rated Munich Segway Tour.
For those craving an audio guide and extra comfort, you can also get around the city with Munich Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.
You probably won’t need to use taxis during your 24 hours in Munich as the city is so well served by public transport.
However, should you want to use a taxi, you can hail a taxi on the street, order one online or by telephone, or pick up one at one of the numerous taxi ranks located strategically across Munich. Taxi-München eG is one of the companies you can check out if you want to call a taxi.
How many days are enough to see Munich?
Three to five days is a good amount of time for a first-time traveler to get a solid introduction to Munich. However, if you have a week it’s highly recommended you take a few Munich day trips.
Is the Munich Card/Munich City Pass Worth It?
For sightseeing in Munich, the two most common travel passes that allow you to access the most important attractions/museums for free or at a discounted rate, as well as free access to public transportation are the Munich Card and the Munich City Pass.
The Munich Card offers unlimited travel on all public transport in Munich and offers discounts at more than 80 tours, attractions, restaurants, and theaters.
On the other hand, the Munich City Pass is more of an all-inclusive pass that offers not only unlimited travel on all public transport but also offers free admission to the most famous museums and sights in Munich.
If you have to invest in one, I would personally recommend getting the City Pass (at least for one or two days) as it is really good value for money and might certainly be worth buying for your time in Munich.
Ultimately, whether the Munich Card/Munich City Pass is worth buying and truly cost-effective depends on your needs and interests and the range of sightseeing activities you have planned.
Where to Stay in Munich
The variety of accommodation in Munich is vast, and it’s possible to find something to suit all tastes and budgets. The majority of hotels and hostels can be found on the periphery of the Old Town and in Schwabing.
If you choose a place further from the center, make sure that it has good public transport connections.
N.B. Munich is a major location for international trade fares so keep in mind that accommodation of any sort can be harder to find in Munich when trade fairs take place in the city and during Oktoberfest.
Hostel: Wombat’s City Hostel Munich Hauptbahnhof, a great choice next to Munich’s main railway station
Budget: B&B Hotel München-Olympiapark, a solid option near the Olympic Park
Mid-range: Hotel Torbräu, an excellent choice in the historic Old Town, just 400 m from Marienplatz
Splurge: Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor – a concept by Hyatt, a sumptuous choice in the trendy Schwabing district
Further Reading For Your Munich Visit
That summarizes our comprehensive guide to the best things to do in Munich. However, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Munich!
Further Reading For Your Munich Visit
→ Find out how to spend one perfect day in Munich!
→ Check out our ultimate 3 Days in Munich itinerary!
→ Read our guide to visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp!
→ Check out the 16 foods you must try in Munich!
→ Discover the higlights of the Bavarian capital on our free self-guided Munich walking tour!
More Information About Germany
Do you agree with our list? What are some of the best things to do in Munich? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!