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Munich is the Bavarian capital famous for its beer-drinking culture, buzzing nightlife, classical architecture, and stunning natural surroundings.
While Bavarians typically have a laid-back lifestyle, you’ll find some of the best things to do in Munich are packed full of adventure and exploration.
With clean air, good food, stunning castles, and tons of history, you’ll find there are plenty of reasons to venture to Munich, and not just for Oktoberfest.
If you’re thinking of traveling to Bavaria and are not sure what things to do in Munich, then don’t worry. This guide has all the most popular attractions in Munich, including some hidden gems.
1. Admire the City’s Stunning Churches
No trip to Munich would be complete without taking a visit to one of the city’s stunning churches. St Peter’s Church is the most iconic church as it’s the city’s oldest church.
It was originally built in 1100, but after a fire destroyed large parts of the building in 1347, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style that you see today.
Over the years it has been extended and added to, both in its architecture and its artwork on the inside. The 15th-century gothic paintings you’ll find in the church belong to renowned painters such as Jan Polack, and Johann Baptist Zimmermann, as well as a sculpture of St Peter by Erasmus Grasser.
The Frauenkirche is another important church in the city, which is most notable for its pair of twin towers, which make it one of the highest buildings in Munich. Where the other churches in the city are rich in Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque, and Renaissance styles, The Frauenkirche has a simple facade.
The church is famous for housing the tomb of Louis IV, the Roman Emperor from the 14th century. There’s also a strange shoe print in the entrance that legend says was left there by the devil.
Asamkirche is another extravagant church worth checking out. It was designed by the Asam brothers in the 18th century in a Late Baroque style. It’s famous for being wedged in a small space between two buildings.
Another beautiful church worth stopping by is Theatine Church. Located in the Odeonsplatz you won’t miss the yellow facade of this Baroque-style church. It was built in the 17th century by Italian architects, which is why it has some Romanesque touches to its design.
The church is famous for being the resting place of several Wittelsbach family members.
St Peter’s Church
- Hours: 7.30 AM – 7.00 PM
- Address: Rindermarkt 1, 80331 Münich
- Hours: 8.00 AM – 5.00PM (Monday to Saturday) 9.30 AM – 5.00 PM Sunday
- Address: Frauenplatz 12, 80331 Münich
- Hours: 9.00AM – 6.00PM Saturday – Thursday, 1.00 PM – 6.00 PM Friday
- Address: Sendlinger Str. 32, 80331 Münich
- Hours: 7.00 AM – 8.00 PM
- Address: Salvatorplatz 2A, 80333 Münich
2. Check out the Deutsches Museum
Munich receives 129 days of rainfall each year, so it’s always a good idea to plan things to do in Munich when it rains.
One of the best rainy day attractions in Munich is the Deutsches Museum. This is the world’s largest science and technology museum and features 28,000 exhibits from over 50 fields of science and tech.
Learn about the history of almost everything, from transport to computers, to agricultural and food technology, as well as see exhibits on chemistry, physics, astronomy, and aerospace travel. The museum is so large, you could easily spend a whole day here and not see it all.
- Hours: 9.00 AM – 5.00 PM
- Address: Museumsinsel 1, 80538, Münich
3. Visit the Largest Palace in Germany, The Palace of the Munich Residenz
The Palace of the Munich Residenz, or The Residenz as it’s commonly referred to, is the former home of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria between 1508 and 1918.
It’s the biggest palace in Germany and was also used as the house of Bavaria’s government for over 400 years. It has 10 courtyards, 130 rooms, a chapel, a theater, stables, and a court garden (Hofgarten).
The palace has had a turbulent history, having been largely destroyed in World War II. However, it has been mostly restored and now houses a museum showcasing the most lavish artwork, antiques, and treasures collected by the royals over the years.
- Hours: 9.00 AM – 6.00 PM (10.00 AM – 5.00 PM in the winter)
- Address: Residenzstraße 1, 80333, Münich
4. Visit the Iconic Oktoberfest
Yes, there’s more to Munich than Oktoberfest, but if you happen to be visiting in October, then you cannot miss this festive beer-drinking festival. It is undoubtedly the most unmissable thing to do in Munich in fall.
This iconic festival runs for two weeks, always ending on the first Sunday of October (hence the name, Oktoberfest). It started in 1810, as a celebration of the marriage of the prince of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.
The first festival ran for five days and finished with a horse race. The following year, it was combined with the state agricultural fair, extending the festivities to two weeks.
By 1818 the festival started introducing beer and food which started out as little booths, but as the years went on the booths grew in size to huge beer halls. Today you’ll find more than 6,000 brewers from across Bavaria set up temporary structures as part of the festival. Some beer halls can occupy as many as 6,000 people.
You’ll also see parades with wagons and floats, as well as funfairs, live entertainment, and lots and lots of dancing. It’s traditional to dress up in dirndl or lederhosen.
It’s estimated that more than 2 million gallons of beer are consumed during Oktoberfest, which makes it one of the best things to do in Munich for young adults (over the age of 18, of course).
- Hours: 10.00 AM – 10.30 PM
- Address: Theresienwiese, Münich
5. Explore the Fairytale Castles of The Bavarian Countryside
If you’re tired of the city and you want to explore the surrounding scenery, then you absolutely must make sure to visit the most stunning castles in the Bavarian countryside.
There are several castles in the region, but the most notable are Hohenschwangau Castle, Linderhof Palace, and Neuschwanstein.
Linderhof Palace is the splendid former home of Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, and the only castle that he was able to complete. Hohenschwangau Castle was his former home and where he grew up.
Arguably the most beautiful castle is the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein, which is said to be the castle that Disney modeled their castle after. It was built for Richard Wagner by King Ludwig II in the 19th century.
The castles in Bavaria were constructed not as fortresses to protect them from their enemies, but as lavish homes for the royal family and their friends. They are architecturally beautiful, and nestled amongst the Alps mountain range, are a sight that you’ll never forget.
- Neuschwanstein Castle (9.00 AM – 6.00 PM Monday – Sunday)
- Hohenschwangau Castle (9.00 AM – 4.00 PM Monday – Sunday)
- Linderhof (9.00 AM – 6.00 PM)
- Neuschwanstein Castle: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau
- Hohenschwangau Castle: Alpseestraße 30, 87645 Schwangau
- Linderhof Palace: Linderhof 12, 82488 Ettal
6. Learn about Motor History at the BMW Museum & BMW Welt
One of the biggest enterprises to come from Munich is the luxury vehicle manufacturer, BMW. If you’re interested in learning about the manufacturer’s history, the BMW Museum has exhibits showcasing more than 100 years of BMW.
But BMW is not only a master in vehicle engineering and technology, and they prove this with their architectural triumph, the BMW Welt. The futuristic building combines innovation with mobility, everything that BMW strives for in its business model.
The BMW Welt is an interactive museum that allows visitors to play with the latest and future models of engineering produced by the company.
The BMW Museum and the Welt are across the road from each other..
- BMW Museum 10.00 AM – 6.00 PM Tuesday – Sunday, Closed Monday.
- BMW Welt 7.30 AM – 12.00 AM Monday – Saturday, 9.00 AM – 12.00 AM Sunday
Address: Am Olympiapark, 80809, Münich
7. Shop for Souvenirs at Viktualienmarkt
Located in the heart of Munich is Viktualienmarkt, the oldest and most buzzing farmers market selling souvenirs, fruit, vegetables, and good food and beer in Munich.
You’ll also see a Maypole in the center of the market that features figures of traditional trades and crafts from the area. The beer garden is the perfect place to sit and enjoy a snack between sightseeing.
The market has 140 stalls selling fresh produce and trinkets. It’s the perfect place to pick up souvenirs before heading home.
- Hours: 7.30 AM – 6.00 PM (Monday to Friday) 7.30 AM – 1.00 PM (Saturday) closed Sunday
- Address: Viktualienmarkt 3, 80331 Münich
8. Watch the Glockenspiel Come to Life at Neues Rathaus
One of the most stunning pieces of architecture is the Town Hall of Munich, known locally as Neues Rathaus. The Gothic Revival building is the most striking building in the Marienplatz square, with several spires and statues decorating its facade.
But what brings people to the town hall is not to renew parking permits, but to see the Glockenspiel move.
This motorized wooden installation has come to life every day since 1908, where it dances and chimes three times a day.
- Hours: 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 5:00 PM
- Address: Marienplatz 8, 80331 Münich
9. See Some of the Oldest Paintings in the World at Alte Pinakothek
The Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest art galleries in the world and features a huge collection of Old Master paintings, dating as far back as the fourteenth to the eighteenth century.
The building was built in 1826 and was designed by Leo von Klenze as a place to house King Ludwig I and the Wittelsbach family members’ collection of art. For its time, it was structurally and conceptually advanced by adding skylights to some galleries.
Some notable pieces are Virgin and Child by Leonardo di Vinci, The Last Supper by Giotto, and The Descent from the Cross by Rembrandt van Rijn.
- Hours: 10.00 AM – 6.00 PM Thursday – Sunday, 10.00 AM – 8.30 PM Tuesday and Wednesday, Closed Monday
- Address: Barer Str. 27, 80333 Münich
10. Surf the Eisbachwelle River
Perhaps one of the most unique and adventurous things to do in Munich is to go surfing. Yes, you read that right.
The Eisbachwelle River is a man-made river that stretches for 2 kilometers through Munich city center. It flows through the Englischer Garten and connects to the Isar River.
In one section, a man-made wave has been created. It’s the largest city-center river wave in the world and has been a popular spot for surfers for over 40 years.
You can access the wave through Englischer Garten, which is the perfect outdoor space to have a picnic with the fresh produce you find at Viktualienmarkt.
The wave is quite powerful so it’s not recommended for beginner surfers, but even if you don’t surf, it’s fun to watch.
- Hours: Open 24 hours but not recommended at night
- Address: Prinzregentenstraße, 80538 Münich
11. Learn About the History of Bavaria at The Bavarian National Museum
The Bavarian National Museum is considered one of the most important museums in Germany. It has two major collections; the historical art collection and the folklore collection.
It was founded in 1855 by King Maximilian II of Bavaria as a place to store his large collection of European artifacts, some dating as far back as medieval times. The museum has three floors and over 40 exhibition rooms.
The museum is best known for its carved ivory, textiles, glass paintings, and tapestries from before the 19th century. It also has a sculpture room, which showcases pieces from some of the biggest names in art history, such as Erasmus Grasser, Hans Leinberger, Adam Krafft, and Ludwig Schwanthaler to name a few.
It also features several examples of traditional Bavarian furniture, pottery, and artifacts relating to religious folklore, as well as Bavarian wood carvings. Some of the most intricate wood carvings are of nativity scenes.
- Hours: 10.00 AM – 5.00 PM Tuesday and Wednesday, Friday – Sunday, 10.00 AM – 8.00 PM on Thursday, Closed Monday
- Address: Prinzregentenstraße 3, 80538 Münich
12. Listen to a Classical Music Concert at The Residenz
Classical music has a big part of German history, having been home to some of the greatest composers of the early 19th century: Johan Sebastian Bach, Richard Wagner, and Ludwig van Beethoven, for example.
If you’re interested in classical music, you’ll want to make sure to check out a concert at The Residenz. This gorgeous theater was where the Dukes, Kings, and Princes of Bavaria came to watch some of the most iconic composers and musicians. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was said to have once played here.
The theater is located in the former Residenz palace complex and hosts The Residenz Soloists, and members of the Munich Philharmonic, every Saturday and Thursday evening.
The concert program changes every week, but you can often hear the works of Baroque and Classical composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart. The concerts are available all year round and are one of the best things to do in Munich in winter.
- Hours: Thursday and Saturday, 6.30 PM
- Address: Residenzstraße 1, 80333 Münich
Munich Residenz Concert: In the heart of Munich: the Residenz Serenade. Enjoy a classical concert in the Hofkapelle, where Mozart himself used to play, then enjoy a dinner or beer and wine tasting! Reserve your ticket here.
13. Swim at Müllersches Volksbad
This stunning Art nouveau–style swimming pool and Roman Bath is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a few days of exploring.
The Müllersches Volksbad baths have been operating since 1901 and were the first indoor swimming pools to open in Munich.
The ornately detailed pool complex features several indoor and outdoor swimming pools, including separate men’s and women’s swimming pools, a spa, saunas, and a café.
In the summer, an outdoor pool is open, which is the perfect place to cool off when the weather gets too warm. The outdoor pool is closed in the winter, which makes this one of the best things to do in Munich in summer.
- Hours: 7:30 AM – 11:00 PM
- Address: Rosenheimer Str. 1, 81667 Münich
14. Check out the Endless Staircase: Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Umschreibung’
Perhaps one of the most impressive and unique pieces of architecture in the city is Olafur Eliasson’s Umschreibung, otherwise known as the endless staircase.
This impressive structure is hidden in a courtyard of an office block and was created by artist Olafur Eliasson. The installation is called Umschreibung which in German means circumscription or periphrasis.
It’s supposed to symbolize movement without a destination and has been a popular photo spot for tourists since it opened in 2004.
- Hours: 24 hours
- Address: Ganghoferstraße 29A, 80339 Münich
15. Eat Bavarian Cuisine at Hofbrauhaus
Munich has many classic dishes that you have to try while you visit. Knödel, Weisswurst, Schnitzel, Pretzels, and for dessert lovers, Apple Strudel are all popular Bavarian dishes that you have to try!
One restaurant that’s known for serving all the best Bavarian dishes is Hofbrauhaus. The tavern was built in the 16th century by Bavarian Duke Maximilian I and has the most authentic tavern vibe. It has three floors and a beer garden, but even with all this space, it’s still incredibly popular.
It’s best to book a table to avoid disappointment.
- Hours: 11.00 AM – 12.00 AM
- Address: Platzl 9, 80331 Münich
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