Looking for things to do in Munich when you visit? You’re in luck!
As the second most visited city after Berlin Munich is often considered an alternative, more low-key destination, in Germany.
Indeed, the city is beloved by residents and visitors both for its historic monuments, its fascinating museums, and its laid-back vibes. The Bavarian capital also boasts a unique range of architectural styles, from stunning 18th-century rococo and the more modern neoclassicism that characterized the 19th century.
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Things to Do in Munich
Munich is also known as the German capital of beer, given the multitude of travelers visiting the city during Oktoberfest and its well-known Biergarten attracts hundreds during the summer months.
So, what is there to see and do in Munich? Read on for 16 of our recommendations. If you are looking for places to stay in Munich make sure to scroll down all the way to the end of the article! Happy travels all!
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See the Marienplatz
Dating back to the 12th century, Marienplatz is probably one of the most visited monuments in Munich.
A popular meeting point for locals, the medieval square lends itself perfectly to photos thanks to its imposing neo-Gothic buildings, its stone gargoyles and its central column surmounted by a statue of the Virgin Mary.
On warm days, the square is filled with street musicians and artists, entertaining visitors and locals alike under the watchful eye of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel clock, located on the north side of the square.
Take a moment and admire this impressive clock constructed in 1908, which counts 43 bells and reenacts the history of Munich along more than 30 life-sized figures.
Visit the Residenz Palace
Another must-do in Munich is paying a visit to the Residenz, one of the most striking 14th-century buildings in Bavaria. The former royal palace of the Wittelsbach family and the largest city palace in Germany, the Munich Residenz includes ten courtyards and 130 rooms, including a museum, a two-story chapel, and a magnificent Baroque ancestral room.
You will spend hours exploring the buildings and the courtyards and admiring the beauty of the gardens. Furthermore, the Residenz is located near Marienplatz, making it easily accessible by foot.
Picnic at the Englischer Garten
Sightseeing in Munich doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to museums and historic buildings. One of the most pleasant spots to visit and even spend hours at is the Englischer Garten, the largest urban park in the world. In fact, this 18th-century park is even larger than New York’s Central Park, with 50,000 m.
Popular for relaxation and activities such as jogging and cycling, the park features a Greek temple, a 25-meter-high Chinese tower, and even a nudist sunbathing area.
There’s also an awesome small island at the southern end of the park where you will stumble upon an authentic Japanese tea room.
If you prefer to stick to beer, you will be happy to know that the Englischer Garten is home to several beer gardens as well!
The Englischer Garten is open all year round and admission is free but if you want to explore the gardens with a guide check out this tour.
Munich’s Beer Halls & Gardens
When in Bavaria, do like the Bavarians. This applies also to beer. If you want to blend in and do like the locals, visit one of Munich’s many beer halls. Far from being tourist traps, these iconic beer havens are where locals come to relax and enjoy a good pint. Many of these establishments brew their own beer and will serve local specialties such as pretzels or bratwurst.
If you visit Munich in the summer months, then you will be happy to find out that you can switch to open-air beer palaces, better known as Biergarten or beer gardens. Find your seat at the long wooden tables and get started on enjoying some delicious local beers under the shade of chestnut trees in good company.
Some of the best beer halls and gardens in Munich are:
If going it alone isn’t your thing, you can also opt for this 3.5 hour tour that takes you to some of Munich’s best beer halls and breweries. Prost!
Try a Muncher Weisswurst
The Münchner Weisswurst, or white sausage from Munich, is without a doubt, the most iconic specialty of the Bavarian capital. Made with minced veal and pork, it was traditionally prepared in the morning and consumed for breakfast. So why not skip your hotel breakfast and have a go at this culinary specialty?
You can find it in all Biergarten or beer halls but also local restaurants where it is served with sweet mustard and pretzels, and of course, Weissbier (wheat beer). This will definitely be a breakfast you (and your stomach) will remember for a long time.
Get Your Surf Fix Eisbach Canal
Did you know that you could surf in Munich? That’s right, the city is actually the birthplace of river surfing, a sport that is practiced all year round at the Eisbach Canal, a little manmade river that flows through the English Garden.
Head to the bridge near the Haus der Kunst Art Museum, where the river forms a standing wave about one meter high, which attracts professional and semi-pro surfers, even during the colder months. Since it is an artificial wave created on a concrete break, there is no need for paddling to catch the wave, making it suitable for experienced surfers. Nonetheless, you can still enjoy the show and snap a few photos from the bridge.
Admire Contemporary Art at the Pinakotheken
If you are into contemporary art, don’t miss a chance to visit the Pinakotheken, a complex of contemporary art split into three collections: the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, and the Pinakothek der Moderne. The first features a collection that includes more than 700 artworks and showcases the development of art from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and the Baroque up to the end of the Rococo period.
The Neue Pinakothek was founded in the mid-19th century by King Ludwig I as the first European public museum exclusively dedicated to contemporary art while the Pinakothek der Moderne consists of four different museums and is focused on art, architecture and design of the 20th and 21st centuries. Check the Pinakotheken website to find out more about the opening hours and admission fees.
Discover a Baroque Gem, the Asamkirche
The Asamkirche is an 18th-century church designed and built by two brothers, sculptor Egid Quirin Asam and painter Cosmas Damian Asam. Located on Sendlinger Strasse, at the southern border of old Munich, it is one of the best-preserved examples of Baroque architecture in Germany.
The surprising fact about Asamkirche is that it was a personal chapel, unrelated to any religious order. Beautifully ornate with gold-plated columns and an imposing fresco depicting the life of St John Nepomucenus, the church is open to the public daily for free, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pro Tip: Make sure to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Test your DNA at the Deutsches Museum
One of the oldest and largest science and technology museums in the globe, the Deutsches Museum offers hours of exploration thanks to its remarkable scientific and technological exhibits.
Located on an island in the Isar River and split across six floors, the museum includes interactive exhibits, labs and live demonstrations. Families with small children will appreciate the kid’s zone, where the younger ones can have fun while learning. There is also a special hall of fame where renowned scientists and Nobel laureates, including Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg and Max Planck are honored.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to pass by the DNA Visitors’ Laboratory, where visitors, with the help of young scientists, can do their own experiments and use lab equipment. If you want to learn to isolate your own DNA, a one-hour class is available on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Take a Dip at Müllersches Volksbad
On warm summer days, there is another thing to do in Munich to stay cool. Visit the Müllersches Volksbad, a real Munich institution.
This stunning, completely renovated Art Nouveau building, is undeniably one of the most beautiful pools in Europe, constructed in 1901. At the time, they were the largest baths in the world. Located right in the center of Munich, on the banks of the river Isar, this establishment impresses with its architecture and décor.
Have a dip at the Roman steam bath, with its open-air courtyard, and be amazed at the magnificent Baroque murals and bronze statues but for the ultimate German experience, you should not miss the “Aufguss sauna”, which starts off on the hour. The ritual involves someone pouring herbal water on the hot rocks and swinging towels around to get the heat to propagate. Fair warning, this is not for the faint of heart.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to bring your own towel to avoid having to buy one on the premises.
Enter the BMW World
Are you a car enthusiast, or simply need a break from museums and galleries? If so make sure to visit the BMW museum, which is located in the Olympia park (also worth a visit, mind you), a vast Olympic park created for the 1972 Summer Olympics.
Here, you will get to see more than 100 models created by the famous car manufacturer, including motorcycles, sports cars and commercial vehicles. The building itself has a futuristic design, with the shape of a giant silver bowl.
The museum is directly connected to the BMW Welt, a showroom dedicated to the theme of the future where the latest models of vehicles are on display.
Now that you have whet your appetite looking at those cars, why not get your hands dirty at the BMW and MINI Driving Academy Maisach, located 40 minutes out of Munich? Here, you can enjoy specialized driving courses where you can learn everything from theory to mastering driving maneuvers at high speed like a boss. A great and unique way to have fun and get behind the steering wheel of one of the BMW cars or even a Mini.
Get Lost in the Side Streets of Maxvorstadt
Not all those who wander are lost, but sometimes getting lost is the best way to find your way. For those days when you don’t feel like having a clear schedule but just want to enjoy the city, one thing to do is to get lost. Our top pick is the Maxvorstadt district, which is situated north of the historic city center.
The neighborhood is also called the “university quarter or brain of Munich”, because of the high number of universities and museums in the area. For example, this is here that you will find the most prominent contemporary art museum in Munich, the Haus Der Kunst, but also several art galleries.
Depending on the time you explore it, you will rub shoulders with culture fans or party people, which makes it an interesting place in its own right. Here you will find trendy cafés, alternative bars, independent stores, bookstores, art galleries and boutiques as well as a plethora of small restaurants and bistros. Perfect for an afternoon of hanging out and exploring.
Visit Munich’s Awesome Christmas Markets
Munich is home to one of the best Christmas markets in all of Germany. For more information on how to celebrate Christmas in Munich, and in the country as a whole, have a look at our article on X-mas markets in Germany!
Where to Stay in Munich
There are many great hostels and hotels in Munich. We wrote about some of our very favorites –
And there you have it folks, a starter’s guide to things to do in Munich. There are many other exciting and interesting attractions and activities in Munich for you to discover as you continue researching one of Germany’s best cities. Enjoy your trip, and as always – happy travels!!
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