With approximately 1.5 million inhabitants, Munich is the third-largest city in Germany and the twelfth-largest in the European Union. The total area of the Munich metropolitan is an impressive 31 hectares. Over a length of 13.7 kilometers, the Isar winds its way through the city and offers recreational activities on its banks.
The capital of Bavaria is best known for its beer-fuelled autumn Oktoberfest, but there’s more than just this on offer in this lovely city.
TAKE A WALKING TOUR
If you’re short on time in a new city – especially one as big as Munich – then a walking tour is a really good way to get your bearings.
The historic heart of Munich is full of beautiful architecture, from the Medieval city gates and Gothic Neue Rathaus (New Town Hall) to the ornate churches, fountains and market squares. And while you’re at Marienplatz, don’t miss the glockenspiel – this mechanical clock has 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures which puts on a 15-minute show with scenes from Munich’s history at 11 am and 12 pm every day (plus an extra show at 5 pm between March and October).
EAT YOUR WAY AROUND THE VIKTUALIENMARKT
The Viktualienmarkt is Munich’s biggest outdoor food market. It started life as a farmers’ market where people would come to do their weekly food shopping. But now it’s a real foodie hub, where you can buy gourmet local produce, from cheese and meat to bread and honey. There are tables in the middle where you can grab a seat underneath the chestnut trees and eat what you’ve bought if you buy a drink (being Munich, of course, there’s a beer garden there).
CHECK OUT SOME REAL BEAUTIES: CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF OUR LADY
Both onion domes of the Gothic cathedral and city parish church known as the Frauenkirche (full name: “Dom zu unserer Lieben Frau” or “Cathedral of Our Dear Lady”) are an unmistakable symbol of the city of Munich.
It is located in Munich’s Old Town, not far from the centrally located Marienplatz. Construction on the cathedral began in 1468 under Prize Sigismund, who commissioned Jörg von Halsbach with its construction. In World War II, the Frauenkirche was very heavily damaged by airstrikes but was later rebuilt and renovated in several construction phases. The south tower of the cathedral can be climbed and offers a unique, wide view across the rooftops of Munich and on to the Alps. In the entrance of this imposing late-Gothic interior, you encounter among other things the legendary devil’s footprint on the floor of the church. Also worthy of note is the tomb of the princes in the space under the chancel. The oldest resting place in Munich for the Wittelsbachs is also the grave of Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian (1282 - 1347).
CLIMB THE TOWER IN ST PETER’S CHURCH
For an alternative view of Marienplatz, head up to the top of St Peter’s Church for a panorama down onto the square and out across the city. St Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Munich and is on a hill so you can’t miss it. It was rebuilt after being badly damaged in the Second World War. There are 299 steps to climb to get to the top and there’s not a huge amount of room along the way, but the views are worth the effort – if it’s clear you can even see as far as the Alps. Another great thing to see is one of Munich’s most bizarre relics - the jeweled skeleton remains of Saint Munditia
VISIT THE ENGLISCHER GARTEN
Munich’s English Garden is one of the largest city parks in the world. It was built in 1789 to look like an English country park, with lawns, lakes, and pavilions, and is a huge green oasis with lots of shady spots for a sunny day. It’s a great place to hire a bike and explore.
There are a few uniquely Munich touches thrown in too – like the beer gardens, the Greek temple-style Monopteros and especially the surfers. Yes, local surfers don’t let being miles from the sea stop them, instead, they catch a few waves on the Eisbach river in the middle of the park. A concrete break means there are constant waves, and the bridge over the top is the perfect vantage point to watch their tricks (and some impressive wipeouts).
RELAX IN A BEER GARDEN
Munich really loves its beer, and there are around 1000 beer gardens all across the city and they are packed on a sunny day. Most famous is the Chinese pagoda (Chinesischer Turm) in the English Garden – the only place where you can grab a liter of beer and listen to a Bavarian band playing inside a Chinese temple. It opens at 10 am so you can call in for a Bavarian breakfast – beer, Weißwurst (white sausages) and a Brez’n (pretzel). There’s another beer garden in the park alongside the Kleinhesseloher lake or try the giant Hirschgarten – the largest beer garden in the world with 8000 seats.
TAKE A WALK AROUND THE OLYMPIAPARK
Just outside the city center, the Olympiapark was built for the 1972 summer Olympic Games. Unlike some old Olympic sites around the world, this one’s still going strong and is another great green space to explore if you fancy escaping the city. There are lots of different things to do around the park – climb up onto the stadium roof, check out the views from the Olympic Tower, boat on the lake or visit one of the summer concerts, film screenings, and events.
DISCOVER THE DEUTSCHES MUSEUM
The giant Deutsches Museum is so big that you could probably fill a whole rainy week in there if you needed to. But even if you’ve only got a short time it’s worth calling in and seeing some of the wide range of exhibits from the world of science and technology. There’s everything from historic planes to astronomy, computers to recreated salt and coal mines.
Some exhibits are in English and there’s tons to look at, as well as lots of interactive exhibits for kids – of all ages. Queues can be big though, especially on a rainy day, but you can buy tickets online (we did it while we were in the queue) and skip to the front straightaway.
NEW SCHLEISSHEIM PALACE
French elegance is reflected in the facade, and pervades the lavishly decorated interior. Highlights include the Great Hall, the Victorian Hall, and the Great Gallery. Since 1978, the palace houses the State Gallery of European Baroque Painting.
EXPLORE THE GRAND RESIDENZ
Munich’s Residenz was home to Bavarian royalty and seat of the government from 1508 to 1918. From outside it’s an imposing but fairly plain building, but inside its all-out opulence with gold, frescoes, statues, and marble everywhere you look. Take an audio tour to see some of the highlights of its 130 rooms. There’s the arched Antiquarium (hall of antiquities), a banqueting hall covered in paintings, the elaborately decorated Reiche Zimmer (ornate rooms) and the Schatzkammer (treasure chamber) with piles of jeweled swords, crowns, and royal artifacts.
SOAK UP THE ATMOSPHERE IN A BEER HALL
There’s a beer-drinking opportunity for all weathers in Munich – beer gardens on a sunny day and beer halls when it rains. These cozy halls are social spots, serving their own brews on shared tables, with local dishes to soak up the beer. The Hofbräuhaus is most famous, where tourists mix with Lederhosen-wearing gents to drink beer in liter steins and snack on pretzels from waitresses in dirndls while a Bavarian band plays. Come by day if you want it quiet or join the party at night. Or for a more low-key, local feel try the Paulaner, Augustiner or Schneider halls. I recommend the Augustiner - as you can choose outside/inside - both are really good choices. And for my personal taste - it is the best beer in the city of Munich (just my personal opinion - a result of many years of tasting)
GO FANTASY CAR SHOPPING AT THE BMW WELT AND MUSEUM
Munich is the headquarters of car giant BMW, and they’ve built a couple of attractions for car fans at their site near the Olympic Park. First, there’s the BMW-Welt, a giant car showroom with the latest models, concept cars and some historic favorites on display. It’s free to look around, but if you want to find out more you can pay to go into the BMW Museum in a separate building across the road. Even if you’re not hugely into cars, the buildings’ striking modern architecture is worth checking out – and there’s even a Michelin-starred restaurant on site.
VISIT THE CITY’S ART MUSEUMS
Munich is a great city for art lovers with its own art museum district known as the Kunstareal. It’s home to museums covering Greek, Roman and Egyptian art. But best-known are the three Pinakothek art- museums – the Alte Pinakothek for Old Masters, the Neue Pinakothek for 18th- and 19th-century European art, and the Pinakothek der Moderne for contemporary art. So you can choose your favorite period and dip into their wide-ranging collections.
VISIT A BAYERN MUNICH HOME GAME
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WHEN THERE IS OKTOBERFEST...
You are a lucky person...
Munich - famous for Beer, Lederhosen & Bayern Munich Beer, BMW, Oktoberfest, FC Bayern Munich - this city is a success story on its own. Besides, it is a really nice place to have a city break. Find inspiration and travel packages with our Oktoberfest Munich packages. All you have to know about Oktoberfest (and how you can book a table) you can find on our Oktoberfest Blog.
WHAT TO DO AROUND MUNICH
Once you are in Munich - you might as well visit some other interesting places in the Southern part of Germany or Austria.
In 2020 you can see the Oberammergau Passion Play which is performed from spring to autumn in a small, cozy village close by. For more information see our specials for Oberammergau.
1. Schloss Neuschwanstein
Ludwig of Bayern has built this Fairy Tale Castle, which is only 45 km from Oberammergau is a must to visit - when you know you will not come back to Germany so soon.
2. Hitlers "Eagles Nest" - Obersalzberg and Kehlsteinhaus
The place which was Hitler's hideout is turned into a museum now. Very interesting to see and experience for travelers interested in history.
3. Salzburg - Jewel Of A city
Mozarts Birth Place and home to Europes most exciting Summer-Music Festival, Salzburg is for sure worth a visit. See a sample itinerary here.
4. Vienna - Emperor - Schnitzel and Fiaker
Get inspired by our Vienna itinerary!
Or enjoy a special Low Budget offer for Vienna
Vienna Shopping Ideas
You can also dive into the celebrations for 250 years of Beethovens birthday