Best known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration, hosting the 1972 Summer Olympics (marred by the Israeli hostage crisis), and home to major multinational companies like BMW, Munich is also the capital of the German state of Bavaria and a top tourist destination. There are a myriad of things to see and do in Munich which features numerous museums, theaters, world class restaurants, biergartens, architectural landmarks and more. With so much to see and do in Munich, where do you start? Here are our top 10 things to see and do in Munich, Germany.
Marienplatz is the central square for Munich and has been since 1158. The square was originally known as Schrannen but was changed to Marienplatz (i.e. St. Mary’s Square) after the erection of large column in the center of the square called the Marian column dedicated to St. Mary to celebrate the end of the Swedish occupation.
The Alstadt (Old Town) square is a must see as it is home to other attractions on this list as well as featuring a bustling, high energy environment with street performers, musicians, restaurants beer halls and more. If you want a true taste of old Bavaria, this is where you need to go.
Church of Our Lady
One of the most photographed landmarks associated with the Munich skyline, the Frauenkirche or Church of Our Lady is a short walk from the Marienplatz. It’s distinct gothic architecture features two domed towers. The church was finished in the 1400s, was demolished by allied bombs during World War II and rebuilt shortly after the war.
When visiting the church, be sure to go to the top of south tower for spectacular views of Munich and the Bavarian Alps.
Neues Rathaus – Top 10 Things to See and Do in Munich, Germany
The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) is located within the Marienplatz along its north side. Built in 1867, New Town Hall’s neo-gothic structure features a main façade that includes almost the entire line of the house of Wittelsbach in Bavaria.
The real treat though is the Glockenspiel in the tower balcony. Time your visits to Marienplatz so you can the Glockenspiel in action. The two levels of the Glockenspiel represent stories from Munich’s past and run daily at 11 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.
St. Peter’s Church
Another landmark located in Marienplatz, St. Peter’s Church, or Alter Peter (“Old Peter”) as the locals refer to the church, was build in the 11th century and is a must see for its history and architecture.
There are more than a few attractions at the church but be sure to check out the bejeweled skeleton of St. Munditia and climb the 299 steps to the top of the church’s tower for a breathtaking view of Munich’s center.
To describe the expansive public park in Munich known as “The Englische Garten”, you would have to equate to any of the world’s famous public parks such as Central Park in New York. Built in 1789, the English Garden park is of the largest public parks in the world, stretching from the center of Munich to its northeastern city limits.
Along its 48.5 miles of paths, fields, garden areas and monuments, you’ll find soccer fields, a boating lake and numerous beer gardens. To see most of the park, get their early, rent a bike and travel around the park.
Deutsches Museum – Top 10 Things to See and Do in Munich, Germany
If you love museums, you won’t be disappointed by Deutsches Museum. The museum features almost 12 miles of halls dedicated to science and technology.
You’ll find exhibits on transportation, musical instruments, aviation and more. There is a planetarium and a children’s section that features interactive exhibits.
Bayerische Staatsoper Opera House
Home to the Bavarian opera and ballet companies, Bayerisches Staatsopera and Bayerisches Staatballett, the Opera House is short walk from the Marienplatz along its northern boundaries.
You can tour the opera house or, better yet, splurge for tickets. If you do want to attend a show, make sure you buy tickets a few months in advance.
Home of FC Bayern Munich, if you’re a sports fan, especiall football/soccer, then you will really love Alianz Arena. The stadium seats 75,000 and is an incredible experience to spend that day within watching a football match. The Arena though is best known for its color changing exterior. It is the first stadium in the world to employ technology that allows the exterior walls to change colors.
You can tour the Arena or go during the season and watch a match. You won’t be disappointed in the experience.
Nymphenburg Palace – Top 10 Things to See and Do in Munich, Germany
One of the largest royal palaces in Europe, Nymphenburg Palace is located just west of Munich and was the summer home of the Wittelsbach family. The palace was built in 1664 and sits on over 500 acres of land. It’s best to visit the palace during spring or summer when the grounds are in full bloom.
When visiting, be sure to check out the “Gallery of Beauties,” a portrait gallery of 36 beautiful women during the time the of King Ludwig 1 who commissioned the exhibit. Other attractions: Marstallmeseum, a museum of royal carriages, Amallienburg hunting loge and the Pagodenburg.
A short walk from Marienplatz is the world famous Hofbrauhaus. Founded in 1589, the Hofbrauhaus is one of the world’s best known beer halls. Whether you like drinking beer or not, a visit to Hofbrauhaus is a must to experience a true Bavarian style beer hall and garden.
The main floor, called the Schwemme, has space for over 1,000 drinkers. At times, it’s like a mini Octoberfest in the famous beer hall with live music, people randomly dancing and more. By the way, the food is pretty good as well.