The capital city of the largest state in Germany, home to the annual beer festival called Oktoberfest, and witness to history that changed the course of the world, Munich has a lot to offer to any traveler. From visiting elaborate museums and beautiful gardens to strolling down opulent palaces and historical marketplaces, there are a number of interesting things to do in Munich.
It does not really matter if you are traveling solo or with family, if you are backpacking or seeking luxury, if you are here for a couple of days or a month. Munich has something for everyone. Here’s a list of the Munich attractions that you need to visit.
Things to Do in Munich
1) Munich Residenz
A trip to the Munich Residenz is definitely one of the best things to do in Munich. The Residenz was the formal royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs and is the largest city palace in Germany today. It ceased to be a royal palace in the early 20th century when the monarchy came to an end. It was then opened to the public as a museum.
The Residenz still retains its grandeur which is amply reflected in the architecture and furnishings. Galleries, rooms, and cabinets boast of ornate ceilings, classical ornaments, and elaborate furniture. The Antiquarium or The Hall of Antiquities deserves a special mention here. Considered the most precious gem of the palace, the Antiquarium suffered little damage during the Second World War and still retains much of its original glory.
2) Marienplatz in Munich
Marienplatz, the central square of Munich, is the heart of the city. Wandering through the square and taking in the sight of historical buildings all around you is probably the most archetypal thing you can do in Munich. This historic square dates back to 12th century AD and is a popular meeting place for locals.
Here you can see the impressive New and Old Town Halls and Mary’s Column topped by the golden statue of the Virgin Mary. At walking distance are the historic churches of Peterskirche, Frauenkirche, and Heiliggeistkirche. Marienplatz is also home to Munich’s famous Christmas markets every winter. If you want to feel the nerve of Munich, you have to come here.
3) Deutsches Museum
Apart from being popular in Germany, Deutsches Museum is one of the largest science and technology museums in the world. Models of atoms, human cells, sailing boats, windmills, industrial robots, submarines, aircraft, and more – you name it and the museum has it. Visitors have often said that doing a thorough tour of the Deutsches Museum can take up to 4 days.
The museum has something for everyone even if you are not interested in digging deeper into the realms of science. This is the perfect place to visit especially if you are traveling to Munich with your kids.
The two-tier Glockenspiel (metallic clock) is one of top Munich tourist attractions. Although it is located at the New Town Hall in Marienplatz, it is an experience in itself. Twice a day – 32 life-sized figures and 43 bells on the Glockenspiel come to life to depict the wedding of a 16th-century duke, a jousting match, and a traditional Bavarian dance.
Hundreds of people gather below the town hall to watch this delightful performance. You can feel the exuberance around you as people cheer and clap, children squeal with laughter and the elderly watch with rapt attention. The Glockenspiel is definitely an act to be experienced when in Munich.
Read about a similar clock owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad. You can even see the video in this post.
5) Alte Pinakothek
The Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest art galleries in the world. It has an enviable collection of more than 800 Old Master paintings from Germany, Italy, Netherlands, France, and Spain. Peter Paul Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, and da Vinci are some notable names on display here.
The museum includes several main galleries and a number of smaller rooms. You can spend hours wandering through these corridors and appreciating quality art. Some of the paintings that you should not miss are the Self-Portrait by Albrecht Durer, The Fall of the Damned by Peter Paul Rubens, and The Little Fruit Seller by Bartolome Esteban Murillo.
If you like museums, you might also enjoy reading about the Vatican Museum.
6) Schloss Nymphenburg
The Nymphenburg Palace is a Baroque palace located just outside of Munich. Built in the 17th century, Schloss Nymphenburg was used as a summer residence for Bavarian monarchs. The palace is complex of the main palace building, pavilions that include a bathing house, a teahouse, and a hunting lodge, various museums, and a beautifully landscaped garden.
Many of the rooms still have their Baroque décor intact. A few others were remodeled in Classical or Rococo styles later on. The hunting lodge, or Amalienburg as it was called, is an exquisite piece of art with rich Rococo motifs and beautiful woodcarving. The Hall of Mirrors and the Pheasant Room are especially striking.
7) Peterskirche – St. Peter’s Church in Munich
Peterskirche or St. Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Munich. It was built in 1169 AD in the Romanesque style. The church has gone through a number of restorations owing to which you can find bits of Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo architectural styles here.
A visit to Peterskirche is considered as a key place to visit in Munich. It is not only an architectural stunner but also hosts the spooky skeletal remains of St. Mundita. The church also, has a tall steeple which is used as a viewing platform by tourists. From here, you can enjoy some beautiful panoramic views of Munich.
8) Frauenkirche – the largest church of Munich
Frauenkirche is another pretty Gothic church in old town Munich and is also the largest church in the city. The two very conspicuous onion domes of the church make it one of the most identifiable churches on the horizon. Highlights inside the church include the Teufelstritt, or Devil’s Footstep, a footprint-like mark where it is believed the devil stood and an ornate 15th-century stained-glass window. If you wish, you can also climb nearly 100 steps to get to the top of the cathedral for a wonderful view.
9) Englischer Garten (The English Garden)
The English Garden is one of the largest public parks in the world. It is larger than New York’s Central Park and includes a Japanese teahouse, a Greek temple, a Chinese pagoda, and a couple of beer gardens. The park is covered with meadows of green grass, endless trails, and a beautiful lake at the center of it.
The Englischer Garten is the best place in Munich for a leisurely stroll. Getting a beer or two and watching the world go by makes for a wonderful afternoon here.
Viktualienmarkt or the Food Market is Munich’s oldest farmers’ market that was built in the early 19th century AD. The market has now become popular with foodies and is the best place in the city to shop for fresh produce and quality Bavarian specialties.
There are about 140 shops and stands here, most of which have been run by families for generations. Apart from delectable Bavarian specialties, the market also offers a taste of international cuisines, thereby making it a food lover’s paradise. Besides, it houses a huge beer garden at the center of it, one that can seat as many as 600 people at the same time. After all, who would mind some amazing food and a mug of beer!
If you wish to explore beyond boundaries, Munich offers great day-trip options as well. You can see the top sights of Bavaria including the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein – one of the 12 most beautiful castles in Germany, take a trip to UNESCO World Heritage city of Regensburg, or experience history at the Dachau Concentration Camp. Does a boat trip on Lake Konigsee sound even better?
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This post including the pictures has been shared by my guest author - Soumya. She is an Indian travel blogger, a freelance writer, a history buff, and a full-time mom. She has traveled to more than 20 countries around the world and blogs about her trips and experiences on her blog Stories by Soumya. You can catch her on twitter - @soumyagayatri