Munich, Germany is home to history, culture, art galleries, museums, and of course, who can forget the famous Bavarian beer? There are so many cool and unique things to do in Munich that you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic time visiting the Bavarian capital!
Bavaria was once an independent German kingdom in its own right. Today, Munich is packed full of regal royal residences, opulent summer palaces, and some of the most extensive collections of art in Europe. Tradition still lingers in the cobblestone streets of the Altstadt (Munich’s centuries-old Old Town), where you can shop for traditional lederhosen before popping into an ancient beer hall for a large stein of the local brew.
Then there’s Oktoberfest (which we are positive you’ve heard of!), the English Gardens, food markets, and soccer games to experience. With so many things to see and do in Munich, you might not know where to begin.
That’s why we’ve put together our list of the best things to do in Munich to help you plan your next getaway to the Bavarian capital. Try out these unique Munich bucket list recommendations, and we’re sure that you’ll have an incredible time exploring this amazing German city!
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15 Things to do in Munich
1. Take a Walking Tour of the Altstadt
Is it your first time in Munich? Then head straight to the Altstadt, where you can find the best of Munich’s Old Town all in one easily walkable area of the city. In fact, even if you’ve been here before, we know you’ll want to get back to the historic heart of the city because there’s always a nook or cranny just waiting to be rediscovered!
The Altstadt (or Old Town) is a maze of pedestrianized streets and squares, towered over by medieval buildings and churches that have stood here, much unchanged, for centuries. The best way to see the Old Town is on a guided walking tour, as there are so many layers of history to unravel that you’re going to need an expert local guide to help.
The main sights to see in the Altstadt are many, but you can start in the Marienplatz, where many guided tours depart from. Marienplatz is Munich’s central square, and here you’ll find the Neues Rathaus (the new city hall), the famous Glockenspiel, the Marian Column, and the Altes Rathaus (the old city hall).
Walk through the old, often cobbled streets, and shop for lederhosen and traditional Bavarian clothes in the shops, catch street performers and the odd public protest in the plazas, see the tall Gothic spires of the Frauenkirche, and stop off in a classic Munich beer hall when you need refreshment.
2. Take a Step Back in Time at the Bavarian National Museum
If you’d love to learn more about Bavaria’s long history, then one of the top things to do in Munich is to visit the Bavarian National Museum. Located in a grand and opulent building that was built in the 19th century by the museum’s founder, King Maximillian II of Bavaria, you’ll find two collections of artwork that tell the story of the region’s gilded past.
The first collection of art is the Art Historical Collection, where you can find some of Europe’s most important cultural assets, stretching far back to the medieval era. The second collection is the Folklore Collection, where you can immerse yourself in more local and folkloric artwork that expresses the character and folk tales of Bavaria.
The lavish museum isn’t only home to artwork. You’ll also be able to delve into history as you explore rooms and corridors stacked with weapons and armor, furniture and pottery, and so many more artifacts and exhibits collected from centuries past.
3. Eat, Drink, and Shop at the Victuals Market
If you’re feeling peckish, take a stroll through Munich’s famous Victuals Market, where you’ll find a satisfying mix of street food, fusion food, and traditional Bavarian food being cooked up in the Old Town.
The Victuals Market (or Viktualienmarkt, as the locals say) is primarily open from Monday to Saturday, although you may find that some stalls and the beer garden stay open on Sundays. The market has around 140 different stalls, covers an impressive area of some 22,000 square meters, and is stuffed full of great food and drink to try out!
You’ll find that the main focus of the market has always been fruit, vegetables, and other locally sourced farm products. In fact, the market was always traditionally a farmer’s market, and produce was brought into the city from the countryside to be sold to the citizens of Munich. That tradition continues today, of course, but you’ll also find that the variety of goods on offer has expanded massively.
You can purchase Munich-style souvenirs from tourist-focused market stalls. Plus, you’ll find fresh meats, fresh Bavarian cheeses, and freshly brewed beer for sale. There’s honey, herbs, olives, and wine, and street market-style stalls serving up everything from sauerkraut to gyoza.
4. Learn about Bavaria’s Royal Past at the Munich Residenz
You don’t have to spend long in Munich to realize that the old royal family is still a big deal in Bavaria. The House of Wittelsbach ruled over the Kingdom of Bavaria from 1805 until 1918, when they were dethroned in the wake of World War I.
The family can trace their lineage back much further than 1805. They are thought to have been related to the Holy Roman Emperors, while their relatives can be found in almost all of Europe’s royal families, including the House of Windsor in the United Kingdom.
The Munich Residenz is the former seat of the House of Wittelsbach, and you’ll love how much of their heritage and everyday family life has been preserved in this palatial residence. This is the largest city palace in Germany, and there are 130 different rooms and 10 separate courtyards spaced around the enormous Hofgarten.
You’ll learn how the palace began life as a humble castle back in 1385. But with each successive ruler adding their own touch, centuries later the Munich Residenz has evolved into a sprawling complex that’s layered with history.
You’ll need a few hours to tour through the entire palace, the treasury, the many different halls, and the church and the courtyards. If you’re in a rush, visiting the excellent Residenze Museum will give you a fantastic idea of what else is in store.
5. Admire the Grandeur of Nymphenburg Palace
If you’re interested in learning about Bavaria’s royal family in more detail, one of the best things to do in Munich is visit the Nymphenburg Palace. Located on the western edge of Munich, this vast, opulent royal complex was designed to not only be a summer palace for the House of Wittelsbach, but it was designed to be a lavish statement of power and wealth.
One of the largest royal palaces in Europe, work began in the mid-17th century. Although the majority of the palace is built in a distinctively baroque style, successive Bavarian kings would also add their own unique elements to the grounds and the buildings.
While Nymphenburg is the primary palace to tour, the surrounding grounds are home to several smaller palaces which you can also visit. The Amalienburg Palace was built as a pleasure palace for the wife of the Emperor, while the Badenburg Palace was designed as a bathing pavilion for the royal family.
The landscaped gardens can take you hours to walk through, and you’ll find sculptures, fountains, great lakes, pagodas, and endless symmetry that’s been carefully nurtured for centuries. Nymphenburg Palace truly is a sight to behold. That’s why it’s one of our favorite places to visit in Munich!
6. Escape the City in the English Garden
You’ll love how Munich is a green and leafy city. There are plenty of opportunities to escape the urban streets and to reconnect with nature, and that’s without ever leaving the city center! If you only have time to visit one park during your stay in Munich, make sure you visit the English Garden.
The English Garden is Munich’s most popular public park, and you’ll find it extends for many miles along the River Isar from the main entrance by the Munich Residence. When you start strolling through the gardens, you’ll quickly realize that, yes, this is one of the largest and most expansive urban parks in the world.
The English Gardens were first opened in the late 18th century and were initially designed by a British scientist and soldier who was in the service of the Bavarian King. The gardens are a year-round favorite, and you can enjoy summer picnics in the sun, colorful walks in autumn, and snowy strolls in winter.
You’ll find a lot going on in the English Garden, too. Urban surfing takes place on the park’s artificial rivers, outdoor performances take place in the amphitheater, and the beer garden is always packed with locals and tourists alike. No matter what time of year you’re visiting, the English Garden is a must-do Munich attraction.
7. Get Artsy at the Alte Pinakothek
Art lovers are going to love the Alte Pinakothek, one of the best sights in Munich to visit when you’re touring the city. The Alte Pinakothek focuses on historic art, and that’s quite appropriate given that this is one of the oldest art museums in the world!
Since 1836, the Alte Pinakothek has been collecting and preserving the work of Europe’s Old Masters. These were famed painters and artists who produced work from the medieval era up to the 1800s. The museum began simply as a place for the Bavarian royal family to store their personal collections, but it has since evolved into Bavaria’s most impressive public collection.
There are thousands of works of art in the collection, but there’s only space for some 800 paintings to be displayed. The oldest date back to the 13th century, and you’ll find works from all over Europe collated in the Alte Pinakothek.
If medieval history isn’t your thing, don’t worry, because just across from the Alte Pinakothek, you can visit the Neue Pinakothek (the new art museum). There’s no modern art on display here, but there is newer art. And by new, we mean paintings from the 19th century, rather than the 18th century and earlier.
8. See Munich’s Darker Past at Dachau Concentration Camp
Munich is a vibrant, modern, yet historic city to visit, but at some point during your tour, the time will come when you start to wonder what role Bavaria played during World War II. This dark period of modern history isn’t too visible across Munich, but travel into the suburbs, and you can visit the preserved remains of Dachau Concentration Camp.
Be prepared for an emotional day out when you visit Dachau Concentration Camp. It’s certainly an experience, but it’s also one of the must-do things in Munich if you have any interest at all in the city’s past.
When you visit Dachau, you’ll learn that the concentration camp was one of the first to be established in Germany. Opened in 1933, the camp was in operation right until the end of the war in 1945. Today, several of the former barracks have been rebuilt, and the entire camp has been turned into a memorial and museum for the countless victims who were killed here during the dark days of the Nazi regime.
9. Take a World War II Tour of Munich
If you’re interested in learning more about Munich’s darker past, then a World War II-focused walking tour is going to be the best way to delve deeper into the city’s often hidden history. Munich is often considered to be the birthplace of the Nazi party because it was in the city’s beer halls where the first Nazis began to meet and plot their ideologies.
A walking tour will take you to the most important sites associated with the build-up to World War II, the rise of the Nazi party, and the events that took place during the conflict itself. As well as seeing the darker side of Munich, you’ll also have a chance to learn about the people that resisted the Nazis, as you see monuments around the city dedicated to the heroic actions of individuals who stood up to the regime.
A World War II walking tour is one of the more experiential Munich activities, but if you have an interest in the city’s history, then it should be at the top of your Munich bucket list.
10. Zip Line over Munich’s Olympiapark
The Olympiapark was constructed in 1972 for that year’s summer Olympic Games. But rather than allowing the venue to go to waste after the events had ended, the city turned the Olympiapark into one of Munich’s largest public spaces.
As well as holding festivals, music concerts, and events all through the year, you can take a guided tour of the Olympic Stadium, visit the top of the Olympic Tower, and you can even zip line over the park!
You can also watch soccer games on the big screens during important tournaments, undertake a roof climb and rappelling session at the stadium, or sweat it out for a few hours in the Olympia sauna. There’s so much to do in Olympiapark that you could return time after time to experience something new!
11. Take a Pub Tour of Munich’s Oldest Beer Halls
If it’s fun things to do in Munich that you’re looking for, then your search ends with a pub tour of Munich’s oldest beer halls. Not only will you meet new travel buddies and learn all about the hallowed history of Munich’s beer halls, but you’ll have the chance to drink as much Bavarian beer as you like!
The German beer hall tradition goes back centuries, and the traditional establishments not only serve beer, but they brew their own beers too. The most famous Munich beer hall is the Hofbrauhaus, which has a history dating back to the 16th century.
The Hofbrauhaus is located in the Altstadt, and you’ll have a seriously awesome Bavarian experience as beer is served in steins by waitstaff dressed in traditional Bavarian outfits. There’s always an Oompah Band in the background, and you can try all the classic Bavarian beer hall food when you’ve worked up an appetite.
There are many more historic establishments across the city, too, which is why the best way to see the best beer halls is on a guided pub tour!
12. Catch a Game at the Allianz Arena
Germans love their soccer, and you can get involved with the sporting action by booking tickets to a game at the Allianz Arena. This is Munich’s premier soccer venue because the stadium is home to FC Bayern Munich, one of Europe’s top-tier clubs.
The stadium has enough seats for 70,000 fans, but you’ll still want to book tickets to important games well in advance to secure a spot in the stands. The Allianz Arena is a modern landmark in Munich, and you’ll love the unusual luminous exterior which allows the stadium to change colors at the flick of a switch.
If you’re interested in sports history, it’s also possible to book a stadium tour of the Allianz Arena. If you’re a big soccer fan, then the club shop is always a favorite stop for a bit of souvenir shopping.
13. Drink Steins and Dance at Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest needs very little introduction. The world’s largest beer-drinking folk festival is held every year in the Theresienwiese fairgrounds in Munich, and it attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.
The famous event begins in September, and it runs for two or three weeks until the first Sunday in October. During the festival, you can drink steins of Bavarian beer in the massive beer tents, which are set up across the fairground.
The beer tents are similar to Munich’s traditional beer halls, except this is on a scale much, much larger than you’ll find in the city. Oompah Bands play from morning until late at night, and you’ll need to get there early to secure a table in the tents.
14. Start Hiking from Munich to Venice
Okay, so very few people will have the time to hike the 358-mile long-distance walking trail that connects Munich, in Germany, to Venice, in Italy. But you can hike the sections that start in the Bavarian capital and head south toward the Bavarian Alps.
Munich is the starting point for this epic, cross-country trail that winds its way through the mountains into Austria before heading to Venice on the Mediterranean coast. There’s no doubt that this would be an incredible multi-day trek, but for most of us, we’ll have to be content with hiking from the starting point, through Munich’s suburbs, and then out into the Bavarian countryside.
In Munich, the hike starts in Marienplatz, the central square in the heart of the Old Town. The first few sections then lead toward Wolfratshausen and then onwards toward the Austrian border.
15. Day Trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps
Are you looking for an exciting day trip away from the city? Then one of the best Munich sightseeing trips is to Neuschwanstein Castle. Better known as the Fairytale Castle for its dreamy spires and Disney-esque architecture, Neuschwanstein Castle is located on a rocky outcrop in the Bavarian Alps, around a two-hour drive to the south of Munich.
It’s well worth the journey because this dramatic Bavarian castle is one of the most romantic in Germany. This wasn’t a castle that was built for defense. Rather, it was built in the 19th century by the King of Bavaria as a way to honor the famous composer Richard Wagner.
You’ll be astounded by the jaw-dropping views of the castle itself, and that’s before you even have a chance to take a guided tour through the halls, hallways, turrets, and towers. The surrounding alpine landscape is just as beautiful, and you can spend the rest of your day following hiking trails and taking short walks into the Bavarian Alps before making the trip back to Munich.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Munich. What’s your favorite thing to do in Munich?
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