The vibrant city of Munich is more than a quick stop on a grand tour of Europe. Munich is a destination in itself. There are enough great things to do in Munich to fill a week or more!
There are more museums than you can visit in a week for history and art lovers.
Food travelers can experience everything from fine dining at 11 Michelin-starred restaurants to lively beer halls serving bratwurst and sauerkraut washed down with big steins of Bavarian beer.
Perhaps the best-known attraction many people add to their wish list of things to do in Munich is a trip to Oktoberfest. Beginning in mid-September, Oktoberfest draws more than 6 million visitors for two weeks of beer-related fun.
If your visit to Munich does not coincide with the Oktoberfest shenanigans, there are still plenty of festivals to enjoy. Let’s take a look at 25 of the best things to do in Munich.
Recommended tour: Free Walking Tour of Munich
The 25 Best things to do in Munich
When the people of Munich come to celebrate, it is here in the lively public square at the heart of the city. Since 1158, the Marienplatz has been the gathering place for anniversary festivities, Christmas Markets, and lively celebrations for their beloved football club, FC Bayern Munich.
Stop for a coffee and watch as visitors and locals go about their day. Some of Munich’s best shops and restaurants are located here, and many great museums are nearby.
Step into the Herrmann Geschenke shop around the corner to shop for Hummel figurines, an old fashioned German souvenir.
At the center of the Marienplatz, you’ll see the Mariensaule, a column with a gold statue of Mary at the top. Mother Mary watches over Bavaria as its patron saint.
Plan to be at the southwest side of the Marienplatz at 11:00 am or 12:00 pm daily to see the show and hear the 43 chiming bells of Munich’s iconic Glockenspiel. The show will also chime at 5:00 pm during the high season from March through October.
This elaborate clock was built on the Neues Rathaus or New City Hall. The wood carvings portray the 1568 wedding of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine.
The wedding was a festive, and expensive, two-week event. A joust was held right there in the Marienplatz square, and the figures you see on the clock portray the knight from Bavaria defeating the knight from France.
Cuckoo clock shops at the square sell German-made clocks that make an excellent souvenir.
Popular Tour: Munich Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
The Viktualienmarkt, or Victuals Market, is a large open-air market located a short 5 minutes walk south of the Marienplatz. With 140 stalls and shops, you’ll want to spend hours here.
The farmers market stalls are flaunting their produce, fish and meat. You’ll also find shops selling unique items and souvenirs. Shop for Lebkuchenherzen or gingerbread hearts, an authentic German souvenir that’s not for eating, it’s for show.
There is a colorful maypole here adorned with figures depicting the trades that are typical to Munich.
The Viktualienmarkt is open year-round on Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm and Saturdays from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm.
Recommended Tour: City walk Old Town and Viktualienmarkt
3. Residenz Museum
For good luck and great wealth in the coming year, here is what you do in Munich.
Head to the Residenz Museum, next to the Hofgarten. Find the four lion statues out front with half animal and half human faces. Rub the lion’s nose, as so many others have done before you, for good luck and great wealth.
The Residenz Museum is an opulent palace turned museum. It’s the former residence of the House of Wittelsbach, the rulers who governed Bavaria.
The museum complex includes the private apartments of the Wittelsbach family, the treasury for their crowns, and the Cuvillies Theater.
4. Cuvilliés Theater
If a live performance of a classic concerto is one of the things you would like to see in Munich, then check online for performances at the Cuvillies Theater.
This over-the-top rococo theater has seen many operas, plays and concertos over the years. With tickets to a performance, you too can sit in the opulent red and gold interior and admire the view.
5. Munich City Museum
The Munich City Museum, or Munchner Stadtmuseum, is an impressive 25,000-square-foot museum that tells the history of Munich. Exhibits include graphic design, furniture, paintings, arts and crafts, photography, toys, puppets and fashion.
There are permanent exhibits, including one on the rise and fall of National Socialism in Munich from 1918 to 1945 and rotating exhibits.
If there is only one museum you will see in Munich, make Munich City Museum the one.
6. Bayerisches National Museum
The Bayerisches or Bavarian Museum is an impressive 140,000 square spread over three floors. The collection began with artwork collected by the Wittelsbach family. You’ll find art dating back to late antiquity, the 3rd through 7th centuries.
One of the most impressive pieces is an ancient safe or cabinet made for Elector Maximilian I of Bavaria, which was used for his collection of expensive gold coins. The cabinet is covered in ivory and blue lapis lazuli.
Also on display are a stunning collection of nativity sets, a 17th-18th century doll house, an antique baroque chess set, arms, armor and more.
7. The Pinakothek Museums
There are three museums in the Pinakothek trinity, the Modern, Alte and Neue Pinakothek.
The Pinakothek der Moderne is a modern art museum with 20th-century paintings, prints, drawings, architecture and furniture design. Don’t miss the ceramics collection on the second floor. Auto enthusiasts will admire the collection of antique cars and motorcycles.
Alte Pinakothek features art from the 14th to the 18th centuries. Visit the masterpieces from German, Flemish, Dutch, French, Italian and Spanish artists.
The Neue Pinakothek museum’s motto is “Rediscover the 19th Century”. Check out the artworks from famed artists such as Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Max Liebermann, and Paul Cézanne.
Sundays offer discount admission for only one Euro.
8. Deutsches Museum
Deutsches is Munich’s museum of science, engineering and technology. There is also a good children’s area with hands-on exhibits called the Kids’ Kingdom.
You’ll find exhibits on chemistry, robotics, energy, physics, musical instruments and more. There is an on-site cafe, and Sundays have discounted admission for only one Euro.
9. Munich Museum of Egyptian Art
The State Museum of Egyptian Art or Staatliche Museum Agyptischer Kunst is located in the cultural hub of Munich.
A short 20-minute walk from the Marienplatz, this area is concentrated with colleges and museums, including the Pinakothek Museums and Museum Brandhorst.
In the Egyptian museum, you’ll find art and antiquity objects on display which aim to educate people on 5,000 years of Egyptian history, art and culture.
On Sundays, admission is only one Euro, and you can rent the media guide for an additional Euro.
10. Munich’s Nazi Documentation Center
Munich’s Nazi Documentation Center, Nsdoku Munchen, was built where the former Nazi Headquarters, called the Brown House, once stood.
The museum aims to educate people on the rise of national socialism and the founding of the Nazi Party in Munich.
It’s a sobering display of historical texts, documents, photographs, and film projections. Museum visitors glimpse the rise of the Third Reich and Hitler’s brutal regime.
The Nazi Documentation Center and the audio guides are free so that history will never be forgotten.
Recommended Guided Walking Tour: Third Reich & WWII Tour
Whether you are a beer drinker or not, the Hofbrauhaus should be at the top of your list of things to do in Munich. The Hofbrauhaus is a lively, casual beer hall that’s great fun for the whole family.
This huge indoor beer garden has long tables perfect for sharing and making new friends. The hall is built to hold up to 1300 fun-loving patrons.
Oom pah pah bands play while servers bring beer in large steins, and Bretzl ladies navigate the hall selling freshly made pretzels.
The food menu is hearty bavarian homestyle cooking. Dishes like pork, veal, weisswurst, sauerkraut, spaetzle, and bratwurst.
The beer here is produced in accordance with the beer purity law of Bavaria. The original purity law stated that only water, barley and hops could be used in the brewing process. Later, yeast was added to the list as yeast was most likely an assumed ingredient.
While you are there, step into the gift shop and buy a Hofbrauhaus beer stein as a reminder of your trip to Munich.
Recommended tour: Evening Bavarian Beer and Food Culture
12. St. Peter’s Church
Just south of the Marienplatz is Munich’s oldest catholic church, St. Peter’s cathedral. Step inside to see the ancient sculptures, paintings, and sacred relics.
One of the particularly unique things you will see in Munich that is on display here is the jeweled skeleton of St. Mundita. It is at the foot of St. Mundita that young ladies would kneel to pray for their future companion.
For an impressive view of the city and the Marienplatz below, you can climb the 14 floors of narrow stairs with 306 steps to the top of the bell tower (56 meters high).
13. St. Michael’s Church
St. Michael’s renaissance church is easily recognized by its barrel vault roof. It’s here that Bavarian King Ludwig II, the fairytale king, was laid to rest in 1886.
Built for the Jesuits as a spiritual center of the Counter-Reformation between 1583 and 1597, It is the largest Renaissance church in the Alps.
Tours of the crypt are available, where 40 additional members of the Wittelsbach family are also buried.
Popular Tour: Tour old town
Frauenkirche, with its twin domes spires, is Munich’s landmark church. This imposing romanesque building was consecrated back in 1494.
A great deal of damage was done to the interior of the church during WWII, which has since been restored.
A noteworthy feature, steeped in legend, is the teufelstritt, or devil’s footprint. This black mark, shaped like a footprint, is located at the entrance to the church.
15. Englicher Garten
The Englicher Garten, or English Garden, is the largest city park in all of Europe. It’s 910 acres with one end within a short walk of the Marienplatz. There is plenty of open green space for picnicking and sunbathing, with areas of shade trees.
At the park entrance, the waves of the man-made Eisbach river create an area where experienced surfers clad in wetsuits surf to the delight of onlookers.
The man-made Kleinhesseloher Lake is at the center of the garden. Motor boats and pedal boats are available to rent to take a tour around the lake amidst the ubiquitous swans and geese.
Every summer, for one day in July, a costume festival called the Kocherlball takes place at the park’s Chinese Tower.
A Japanese Tea House at the park’s southern end seasonally conducts traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
If you prefer a beer over tea, the English Garden is home to several beer gardens, including the Chinescher Turm, Seehaus and the Aumeister.
16. Schloss Nymphenburg
The Nymphenburg Palace takes the number one spot in many travelers’ lists of places to see in Munich. The stately palace and gardens are in the heart of Munich, easily accessible by public transportation.
Construction of the Palace began in 1664 and served as the summer palace for the reigning Wittelsbach family.
The sizeable main villa contains vast hallways decorated with paintings and separate king and queens bedroom. The sleigh bed where Ludwig II was born is displayed in the queen’s bedroom.
Also in the main building is the Marstallmuseum, with a court-stable museum on the ground floor, filled with 40 opulent coaches and riding attire. On the upper floor, you’ll see the world’s largest display of Nymphenburg porcelain china.
Outside of the main building, still on the palace grounds, is the Amalienburg, an elaborate hunting lodge with a hall of mirrors at its center.
17. Bier and Oktoberfestmuseum
Just south of the English Garden and the Residenz Museum is an homage to all things beer! This small museum is located in the oldest house in Munich. Be ready for lots of steps on steep, narrow staircases.
One floor is dedicated to the history of beer making in Bavaria. The other two floors contain Oktoberfest memorabilia.
If beer making and Oktoberfest history are of particular interest to you, pay the extra euros for a guided tour. Tours require a minimum of 8 people.
Downstairs, on the basement level, a small restaurant serves beer and food and offers tastings of three beers.
The Bier and Oktoberfestmuseum is a short walk, less than 10 minutes, from the Marienplatz.
RecommendedTour: Bavarian Beer and Food Evening Tour in Munich
Theresa Meadow, Theresienwiese, is the site of Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest.
Beginning in mid-September, 6 million people will flock to this site to see the shows, parade and market stalls. Inside the massive tents, partygoers eat plenty of Bavarian food and drink lots of Oktoberfest beer.
If you have arrived in Munich outside the festival dates, you can still tour the meadow and see where the festivities happen.
At various times throughout the year, you can also find smaller events happening at this location, including the Tollwood festival in December and the Spring festival in mid-April.
At the center of Munich, the Hofgarten is an extensive garden created in the Italian Renaissance style, with elaborate pathways, arches and sculptures.
A black granite memorial to the Weise Rose, or White Rose resistance group, is at the northeast corner of the garden. Students from the University of Munich led the group.
Three of the students were executed as the led a nonviolent protest against the Nazi regime.
20. Funf Hofe
If you are ready for a little retail therapy, the upscale Funf Hofe shopping mall may have just what you need. You’ll find 60 brand-name stores plus cafes, bars, restaurants and art galleries.
21. Outside of the Munich City Center
Plenty of great sites just outside of the city should also make your list of places to see in Munich. Recommended Tours outside of the Munich City Center:
- Salzburg day trip from Munich by train
- Nuremberg day trip from Munich by train
- Eagle’s Nest – group tour
- Zugspitze Mountain Van Tour
- Berchtesgaden Foothills & Obersalzberg
22. Neuschwanstein Castle
In September of 1869, construction began on a castle built at the behest of King Ludwig II and, according to his instructions, would be “In the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles.”
Ludwig II was often called the fairytale king, and this is his fairytale castle. Neuschwanstein Castle’s design was famously used as the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
A visit inside the castle requires some planning, as visitors are only allowed into the castle with a guided tour. In the busy summer months, you’ll need to book your tickets well in advance.
Traveling outside of Munich, there are three possible ways to arrive at the castle. If you have a car, it will take about two hours to drive to the village of Hohenschwangau, where you will park and walk up the hill to the castle.
Public transportation is an option, although it is not a direct route. Take the train from the main train station, Munich Hauptbahnhof, to Fussen. From Fussen, the bus will take you to Hohenschwangau. The trip will take approximately three hours.
The easiest way to get to Neuschwanstein Castle is with a guided tour. There are plenty of guided tours leaving from Munich that will get you where you are going and provide a commentary plus a tour of the castle.
23. Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial
For 12 years, more than 200,000 prisoners were held at the Dachau Concentration Camp, with more than 41,000 people dying from starvation, torture, sickness and murder. The camp remains a sobering memorial and reminder of a horrific time in German history.
Visitors to the memorial site walk through the path of the prisoners, following their admission, life, suffering and death at the camp. While the camp remains a horrible reminder, it is an important thing to do in Munich so that history never forgets.
The Dachau memorial is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is no admission charge, but if you drive a car, there is a fee to park in the lot.
To reach the memorial by public transport, take the S2 train from Munich’s main station, the Hauptbahnhof, towards Dachau. The train ride will take 25-30 minutes.
Recommended: Dachau Memorial Site Full-Day Tour
24. BMW Museum
Fans of BMW can take the train from Munich’s central train station, the Hauptbahnhof, and be at the BMW Museum in 20 minutes.
You’ll depart the train at the Olympiazentrum station, and from there, it’s a short walk. Look for the iconic four-cylinder-shaped building.
25. Schleissheim Palace
If palaces dominate your list of things to do in Munich, add a visit to Schleissheim Palace. There are three palaces on the massive Schleissheim Palace grounds: the old, the new, and the Schleissheim.
The palace’s history goes back to Wilhelm V, Duke of Bavaria from 1579 to 1597 and a member of the lengthy Wittelsbach dynasty.
To reach the palace by public transport, you’ll take a 30-minute train ride to Oberschleisheim on the outskirts of Munich. From there, it’s a 15-minute walk to the palace grounds. By car, it’s a 20-30 minute drive.
Recommended: Evening Concert at Schleissheim Palace