Munich Travel Guide: 13 Things You Can’t Miss

After our troubles in Frankfurt and not-so-great first impression of Germany, you might be surprised to hear this ended up being our absolute favorite country that we visited in Europe. I don’t know if it was the perfectly groomed lush green countryside, the fact that drinking beer for breakfast is perfectly acceptable, or that it is a country so rich in history that had us dreaming of moving there. Could we drive our Honda Forza from Thailand all the way to Germany? These dreams were quickly washed away when we paid over $3 for a bottled water. Regardless, we fell in love with Munich, the city in the heart of Bavaria and just a day trip away from the Alps, Germany’s famous castles and the most charming Bavarian villages along the Romantic Road.

We only allotted 3 days in Munich, and we quickly realized this wasn’t enough. But our trains and Airbnb’s were already lined up so we had to make the most of our time there.

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One of the best decisions we made was to sign up for the Sightseeing Munich hop-on hop-off bus tour. While we aren’t usually a big fan of tours, we really enjoyed the Big Bus Tours in Hong Kong and Paris and found it is an efficient way to cover a lot of ground when you have limited time. The audio guide is an added bonus because you learn so many interesting facts about the history, people and architecture that you probably wouldn’t have known otherwise. And the best part is, you are still in control of your time and schedule for the most part. If you decide to go with the bus tour, you can purchase your tickets online in advance on their website or from the tourism office located in Marienplatz, the city centre. So, what are those must do/must see things that you can’t miss in Munich? Let’s get started…

13 Things You Can’t Miss in Munich

1. Start in Marienplatz

marienplatz glockenspiel munich

Marienplatz is Munich’s most famous square located in the heart of the city and is where much of the action takes place. It’s full of tourists and locals, street performers, stunning architecture and the home to many festivals and markets throughout the year. The old and new Town Hall buildings are located here so this is a great place to start exploring the city, especially if you want to visit the tourism office in the new Town Hall. The Glockenspiel is also housed in the new Town Hall building and comes to life every day at 11 am and 12 pm. If you happen to be close by, check out the 32 figures reenact historical events of the city. To be quite honest, it’s a little overrated so I wouldn’t go out of your way for it.

2. Take a Stroll to Karlsplatz

karlsplatz fountain munich

Referred to by the locals as Stachus, Karlsplatz is another popular and very beautiful square in the center of Munich. The streets were renovated back in 1972 and the section between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz was pedestrianized and is now a popular shopping district full of great shops and eateries (above ground and underground). Karlsplatz is recognizable by the large fountain out front in the summertime, which transforms into an open-air ice skating rink in the winter months.

3. Drink a Radler at Viktualienmarkt

 Just around the corner from Marienplatz is Munich’s colorful outdoor farmer’s market. Here you will find an array of cheeses, produce, flowers, meats and baked goods as well as traditional Bavarian eateries and biergartens. Order a refreshing Radler (mix of beer and lemonade) and a brat and have a chat with your neighbors. It’s a great spot for meeting people and/or people watching 😉

4. Experience Hofbrauhaus

Hofbrauhaus is Munich’s most famous beer hall and it is really an experience. Although it is full of tourists, you will find locals among the crowd as well. Take a seat next to a local, order a big beer and some tasty Bavarian food from one of the servers dressed for the part and enjoy the traditional music from the live band. We can personally vouch for the delicious spaetzle (quite similar to macaroni and cheese) and the brats with sauerkraut!

5. Take a Ride to the Top of the Olympia Tower

Olympiapark is a beautiful park in the Oberwiesenfeld area of Munich that was constructed for the 1972 summer Olympics. Chill out among the lake, try some delicious currywurst and then take the elevator to the top of Olympiapark Tower for 360 views of the city. The fee is small and the line is not usually long.

6. Take a Tour of the BMW Welt and Museum

bmw museum munich

bmw museum munich

Located just across from Olympiapark is the BMW Welt, as well as the plant and museum. This seems to be a favorite among the males, but it is sure to wow just about anyone. You can pay for a guided tour or explore bits of it on your own. Learn about the history, explore the show rooms and exhibitions and view some of BMW’s oldest and most recent models.

7. Spend a Day in the English Garden

english garden munich

The English Garden is the Central Park of Munich, only bigger! In fact, it is one of the largest public parks in the world. You could easily spend an entire day here sunbathing (clothing optional in certain areas), partaking in a game of football, hanging out in one of the park’s biergartens, taking a horse and carriage ride, visiting the Japanese teahouse, discovering waterfalls, and so much more.

8. Watch the River Surfers in the Eisbach

eisbach river surfing munich

Although located in the English Garden, this deserves a special mention. This man-made wave was created in the river that runs through the English Garden. A number of local river surfers come out each day and entertain the masses of people that line up along the bank to watch while they practice their skills. This is free entertainment at it’s finest.

9. Take a Dip in the Isar River

swimming in isar river munich

There are various spots along the Isar River in Munich that make for great swimming in the hot, summer months. We caught this couple taking a dip in these lovely pools while we were still bundled up in jackets.

10. Explore Nymphenburg Palace

nymphenburg palace

This gigantic baroque palace was the summer residence of former rulers of Bavaria. There is a fee to tour the inside of the palace but you can peruse the gardens for free.

11. Visit a Museum

bavarian national museum

Munich is home to some of the finest museums and galleries in the world. There are museums to suit everyones’ taste, whether your interest is in art, history or even beer. One of the most popular museums is the Deutsches Museum, one of the oldest and largest technology and science museums in the world. There is even an interactive kid-friendly section to keep the little ones from getting bored.

12. Party with the Locals at One of Munich’s Many Festivals

 Among the most famous of these festivals is obviously Oktoberfest, but this is only one of the many festivals that take place in this party city (and probably the most touristy). We just happened to be there to celebrate the city of Munich’s Birthday. Among every corner was a stage with some kind of performance or live music, various street artists, and tons of beer and food!

13. Take a Day Trip Outside of the City

eagles nest hitler tea house

eagles nest hitler tea house

While the city of Munich can keep you busy for weeks on end, make sure to allow time to step outside of the city into the beautiful countryside. Munich is a great base for many day trips, most famously the Neuschwanstein Castle, Dachau Concentration Camp and a drive along the Romantic Road. While we wanted to take advantage of all of these, we really only had one day to spare. We talked to many people that raved about the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s tea house nestled among the snow-capped Alps. This turned out to be one of the best days on our 22-day European adventure and we can’t recommend it enough. All of these day tours can be arranged through the tourism office located in Marienplatz. While you can attempt to venture out on your own, having the guide filling our heads with invaluable information and sitting back enjoying the most stunning views of our life was worth every penny (which was approximately 77 euros each). Don’t miss the video of our adventures in Munich!

Munich Video Guide


Commenting area

  1. The English Garden and market look like my kind of activities! Looks like the food was great too!

    • Charlie and Brittany September 2, 2015 at 10:33 am · · Reply

      The food is seriously delish!! And the English Garden is one of our favorite parks. We’ve spent many days there just lounging and people-watching. very entertaining 🙂

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