With a population of more than a 1.5 million and a surface area of about 310.4 km² Munich is the capital of Bavaria and Germanies third largest city, right after Berlin and Hamburgh. Anyone that plans to visit – there’s more to Munich than pretzels, tight leather pants and beer.
Munich is where old meets new and where the city meets country; a combination that provides a perfect playground for art lovers, photographers and history savvy explorers too.
Munich is also home to the world-famous BMW museum with modern showrooms displaying vintage cars, engines, motorcycles and even a car that was once owned by Elvis Presley.
The historic part of the city – home to the ornate churches, Medieval city gates and Gothic Neue Rathaus (New Town Hall) – offers a fantastic introduction to the city and is the best area where to begin your adventure.
I couldn’t have picked a better day and time to visit the beautiful Munich. The sky was crisp blue, the flowers were still in full bloom, and if it wasn’t for other places waiting to be explored and if it wasn’t for my train to depart in 24 hours, I could have stayed here longer, much longer.
Germany travel guide: Top 10 fantastic things to do in beautiful Munich
Either you have a day or a long weekend, Munich is packed with incredible things to keep you entertained throughout and if you are looking for all the highlights than this post is for you.
Given the size of Munich and the amount of cool stuff to see and do, we would never suggest spending only a day. But as I only had 24 hours, I managed my time wisely and saw quite a lot of attractions-all without feeling rushed or overwhelmed.
To answer the old-age question about how much time is needed to visit Munich – 2 full days would be a much better and anything above can give you the freedom to go on a day trip to explore nearby castles – Neuschwanstein Castle is a must-see attraction near the city, and so is the Salzburg – historic birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
So, below, in no particular order are our suggested – and tested – attractions for your trip to Munich.
#1. Wander around Marienplatz – the city square
Rise up early and make your way to Marienplatz, which translates to “St. Mary’s Square”. Munich’s central square is a home to famous Glockenspiel, the New Town Hall and the Old Town Hall.
Founded by Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria, Mareinplaz was once a place for tournaments, executions, markets and celebrations. Nowadays Marienplatz is the heart of the city where you’ll find locals and tourists shopping, sightseeing or just relaxing.
Don’t just rush through the square, make sure you admire the impressive Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) and its 300-foot-long façade decorated with numerous aches, statues and turrets.
Wander the maze of nearby laneways and come back in the evening, sit down for a beer or schnitzels and observe how different yet equally beautiful the square looks in the evening.
#2. Climb the tower in St.Peter’s Church
There are a couple of fantastic places in Munich you can visit to see the city from above. You can do so by making your way to the 85-metre high observation deck of Neues Rathaus, or you can choose to visit the oldest church in Munich and capture dazzling views from here.
St.Peters Church is located just steps away from Munich’s Marienplatz. Duck in for some peace and quiet, marvel at the richly decorated interior and then climb all the way to the tower.
To reach the viewpoint, you have to pay €3 (€2 if you are senior or student) and the stairs are very narrow, it’s also the only way up and down so mind other travellers, but seeing Munich from above with the views over the Marienplatz and New Town Hall are sure to impress anyone.
#3. Visit Englischer Garten
Munich is home to one of the largest urban green spaces known as The Englischer Garten – it’s one of the free things you can enjoy in the city.
Created in the 18th century, Englischer Garten is a local’s favourite place to relax and if you decide to go for a walk, try not to gawk at naturists enjoying the sunny days. Yes, nudity is well and truly allowed and embraced right in the heart of the city.
In the 370 hectares, you’ll find Japanese teahouse, tree groves, Chinese Tower, pastures and Eisbach River known for urban surfing. Due to its strong current, surfing is advised only for experienced surfers.
#4. See Siegestor, Munich’s Victory Arch
Munich’s Victory Arch, Siegestor is a war-torn triumphal arch that tells much of Munich — and German — history and it doesn’t take up much time to see it.
It’s an important symbol, a monument and reminder of peace, and also a beautiful arch to photograph – the front of it is richly decorated, and the rear has “Dedicated to victory, destroyed by war, urging peace” inscribed on it.
While the location of the arch, built from 1843 until 1850 under King Ludwig, is further away from the touristy area and on my recent visit was surrounded by road work making it more challenging to photograph, I was delighted to make my way here.
Nearby Munich University is also worth a visit, it is one of the top ones in all of Europe and has produced more than 35 Nobel Price winners.
#5. Relax in a beer garden or beer hall
Attending the worlds largest beer festival Octoberfest and singing along “Ein Prosit. Ein Prosit. Der Gemütlichkeit.” either in freshly purchased German drinking outfit or not – is one of the best travel experiences in Europe.
If your visit to Munich falls outside of the festival dates, usually between September and October, you can plan your visit around Fruihlingsfest. Fruihlingsfest is sort of a mini-version of Octoberfest that takes place in springtime (April to May).
Either way, whenever you happen to be in Munich, make the most by visiting many of its beer halls, listening to live music and absorbing the vibes.
- Hofbräuhaus | Is the largest beer hall in Germany, thus the most famous in Munich, where a staggering amount of 5,000 people can be seated. It’s opened every single day and the beer and the food here is incredible, and so is the atmosphere.
- Weisses Bräuhaus | Is one of Munich’s classic beer gardens where they brew their own wheat beer.
#6. Visit the Munich Residenz
The Munich Residenz, once a 14th-century castle for the Wittelsbach monarchs, is the most famous tourist attraction in the city and for the right reasons.
Here you can feast your eyes on Rococo, Baroque, Renaissance and Neyoclassic styles as well as marvel at the Antiquarium banquet hall which is the largest, oldest and most magnificent room in the building. With the length of 66 metres, it’s bound to leave an impression.
A few other not-to-miss sights in the Munich Residenz include gilded moulding in the Baroque Ancestral Gallery and the Italian Renaissance Grotto Courtyard.
- Munich Residenz can be easily reached by public transport, and the admission depends on what you are most eager to see. Residenz Museum cost €7, Treasury is also €7 and a combined ticket is €11.
#7. Wander around Viktualienmarkt
Located just steps away from Marienplatz, Viktulianmarkt is bursting with wonderful local products spanning over 100 outdoor and indoor stalls to bring home. The market is packed with plenty of stuff, and this is where you can try one of Munichs classic dishes- leberkäse –
If you like to learn more about regional cuisine, you can look up one of the food tours, meet up other travellers and sample heaps of traditional Bavarian sausages, pickled delicacies and try cheeses you’ve never heard of before.
#8. Relax at Hofgarten
The Hofgarten with the Bavarian State Chancellery building on the Eastside is one of the most beautiful parts of Munich and makes for an ideal place to go for a walk. There are plenty of water fountains, benches to sit down and relax as well as many blooming flowerbeds.
The beautifully maintained garden makes for a lovely retreat, and if your timing is good, you might even be able to enjoy some music as the temple that was once used to celebrate the hunt for the royals is now used as a venue for various street performers.
When to go to Munich
Any time can be the best time to visit Munich. The summer months are wonderful albeit very busy, but it’s when the whole city seems to live outdoors – you’ll find people eating, drinking and enjoying life in one of many cities parks.
Octoberfest is celebrated all over the world, and you can find something in your own country, but nothing comes close to being in Munich and experiencing the atmosphere with another 7 million visitors. The beer festival is free yet expects to pay premium prices for accommodation – always book in advance.
- For Christmas Markets | For die-hard Christmas fans, Munich’s Christmas markets opening from the end of November, are a dream come true events were to browse through the packet stalls and marvel at beautifully decorated trees?
- For Octoberfest | The world-famous Octoberfest originally started in 1810 on 12th of October with the marriage of Prince Ludwig to Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen when they invited the whole town to celebrate the union. Nowadays it begins on the third Saturday of September and lasts between 16-18 days, with well over 7 million litres of beer being consumed.
Getting to and around Munich
Munich’s Franz Josef Strauß Airport (MUC) with two terminals and two runways is the main cities airport where you’ll find a medical centre, plenty of restaurants and cafes, post office, cash machines, basic groceries and a tourist office. There are also free strollers for little fliers as well as 30-minute free WiFi.
- By bus / The best option to get from Munich Airport to the city centre is with Lufthansa Express Bus. Departing 7 days a week and every 15 minutes, this direct transfer will set you back for €10.50 one-way or €17 return.
- By taxi / A taxi ride costs around €60 and you can arrange one beforehand or pick one up outside the terminal. And you can also use the metro S8 or S2 to reach the city centre.
Munich is divided into 25 different districts, and Altstadt is the most famous one because it’s where the many cities attractions are located such as Marienplatz and Viktualienmarkt.
To get around Munich, you can use its modern transport system including the tram, metro, bus and tube.
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Now, over to you!
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