Germany travel guide: How to spend a fantastic day in beautiful Munich

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.

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One of many lavish rooms at Munich Residenz.
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Early mornings are best for exploring big cities, and Munich was no exception – I found only a handful of tourists roaming around.

 

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.

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Munich’s New Town Hall is a truly magnificent neo-gothic building that dominates the north side of  Marienplatz.

 

 

#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. 

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Fantastic views over Munich city are well worth the small entry fee.

 

 

#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.

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Munich’s surfing on a manmade river that flows through the park known as the Englischer Garten.

 

 

#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.

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Triumphal Arch in Munich is 24 metres in length and 21 metres high.

 

#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.
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One of many of Munich’s beer gardens.

 

#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. 
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A visit to be remembered – exploring Munich’s Residenz.

 

#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.

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Viktualienmarkt – Munich’s largest outdoor market.

 

 

#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.

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The German Government building, with its glass domes ceiling, is a beautiful building.

 

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.
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Did you know that Munich’s cinema, the Neues Kino Gabriel, is the oldest cinema in the world?

 

 

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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The main railway station in the city is the Munich Hauptbahnhof.

 

 

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Now, over to you!

Have you ever been to Munich? Let us know in the comments!

Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Munich and have travel-related questions!

 

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

50 thoughts on “Germany travel guide: How to spend a fantastic day in beautiful Munich

  1. I’ve spent many a happy hour wandering around Munich and can confirm that’s a great list of things to see and do in a day. I would add the Spatenbrauhaus to your list plus a visit to Dahlmayrs. There’s a couple of Munich posts on my blog one from this May/June and another from Xmas 2017.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Sheree for reading and your suggestions, I’ll definitely check out your blog posts. Munich is a fun-loving city, and I had a great time visiting the beautiful churches and outstanding museums and palaces. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. Aiva

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    1. Munich is a fantastic place to visit, and I can’t believe I’ve waited for so long to go there! Although Munich has long been a must-visit destination for beer lovers, there’s plenty to do for art and history buffs too. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We have never been to Munich. The last time we were in Germany was in 1984 on a tour that stopped in Bonn and Nurnberg. Not sure why we have not been back. I guess there are just so many other places to see. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Allan. Yes, there are just so many other places to see that it can be challenging to pick a travel destination. Munich has numerous parks, gardens, open-air markets, churches, palaces, museums, and a whole lot of other things to explore. I’m glad I had a chance to see the top highlights in the city. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Aiva, you’ve such beautiful photographs! I’ve never been but it seems like a lovely place, the castles, the churches, the old buildings, the beer bars! Wow! It is filled with the things I like, except surfing…well, ok, I like it a little bit…great informative article and fantastic photography! My greetings and all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Francisco, for your lovely words and never-ending support! Munich is such a beautiful city, and I quickly learned that the locals – Münchners – refer to their city as being the real capital of Germany. If you adore Disney-like castles, cobblestone alleys and one of a kind beer culture than you’ll love Munich. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Mark, I hope you had a great time exploring Munich, it is undoubtedly a beautiful city. As it was my very first time in the city, I was utterly impressed by everything I saw, especially the outstanding neo-gothic New Town Hall that dominates the square. Would love to go back one day to explore more of Bavaria. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. Aiva

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    1. With six big breweries within city limits, endless amounts of incredible museums and city parks, it can be challenging to see everything Munich has to offer. Not to mention world-famous Christmas markets – one of the reasons why I would love to go back one day. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, how exciting, living in Germany must have been lots of fun! Visiting Munich and seeing old European buildings was such a delightful experience and it was also an excellent opportunity to freshen up on my rusty German. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Visiting German Christmas markets is very high on my travel wish list too, imagine all those beautifully twinkling lights and slowly falling snow and lots of comfort food to keep you warm. Thanks for reading, Caroline. Although my time in Munich was short, it was a great introduction to the Bavarian region. It’s a wonderful place that’s full of magic and friendly people. Have a good day. Aiva

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  4. I’m born in Munich and I have lived here a great part of my life and I still love it 😍 I like your blog. ❣️By the way: Would you be interested in a cooperation? I would translate your blog into German and you mine in English? If that sounds like something you can imagine, contact me ❣️

    Like

    1. I love Munich too; it’s a beautiful city to see, rich in culture and history. And if you want to eat some real German food and drink some authentic German beer on your trip, then Munich is a place to be. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post. I really must do Germany properly one of these years. I did a day trip to Cologne when I was in Belgium as a teenager. Then, on the Viking River cruise with my mom several years ago we had several day stops in different German towns, but I feel like the riverboat was my “home” and I was just dipping in and out of German towns. I didn’t realize it was quite so close to Salzburg, another place I want to go to, so that’s all the more reason to go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Many years ago we made a short trip from Salzburg to Bavaria and ever since then forgot how much we loved everything about it. One of the best things about this German city – when you’re in Munich, you don’t need to travel far to get a hefty dose of nature, either you desire to see beautiful mountain tops or quiet lakes. And with Salzburg, Nuremberg and Neuschwanstein Castle only a short distance away there are even more reasons to love it and to return to it. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We loved Munich too – such a fun-loving and festive city. It was so cool to see the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz and to sample many of its fantastic beers! Thanks for stopping by and safe travels. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much for your offer, it would be fantastic to walk around Munich with a local on hand to learn everything that guidebooks don’t portray. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

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  6. My friend is from Berlin and has been asking me to travel Germany with her and after reading this post, I think I’m convinced! Such great writing and extremely helpful recommendations! Thank you for including costs and free activities for us budget conscious travellers 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You would love exploring Munich! It is a beautiful city and a home to centuries of old buildings and numerous amazing museums! There’s plenty of green spaces and lots of great food too, plus you are just a stone’s throw away from Austria! Thanks for reading. I hope you make it to Germany one day to see your friend. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and thanks for stopping by. I was surprised by Munich and its intriguing museums and art galleries and countless neighbourhoods each of them with their charm. With only 24 hours in the city, I missed out on many attraction, Alte Pinakothek being one of them. Yet another reason to return one day. Have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s true! In Munich, you can visit Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site – Nazi concentration camp memorial & museum, with photographs, documents & reconstructed cell blocks.

      Like

    1. Wow, how exciting! Having just visited Munich, I can only imagine what it looks like in December with all the twinkling lights, festive activities and fresh snow! Hope you are writing a post about it, would love to find out how you got on. Thanks for stopping by and safe travels. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

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