A local’s list of the most important tourist attractions and things to do in Munich, Germany.
Are you wondering what to do in Munich? Are you currently planning a trip to my beloved hometown but you are not sure how long to stay and what are Munich’s must-see attractions?
Then you came to the right place. I, as a local, compiled a massive list of the 50 best things to do in Munich for you. I decided on a good mixture between hidden gems and the top tourist highlights, so you don’t miss out but also get the chance to see Bavaria’s capital in a different light.
I have been living here for almost 20 years now. Despite running a travel blog and traveling the world for more than 30 years, I never ever considered moving. Why? Because there are just so many things to see in Munich and this city is just beyond awesome!
Paris or Rome might be older and more spectacular, but Munich managed to stay a small town at its heart. The mountains are very close, tradition is pretty much alive, and the surrounding regions are very affluent. They often call Munich the “metropolis with a heart” and maybe that’s why millions of tourists come to see it each year.
If you are having a hard time choosing among all the famous landmarks, there is another guide on my blog focusing on how to spend 24 hours in Munich you might want to check out. Anyways, here we go:
Still looking for a hotel in Munich? Here’s my list of the best hotels in Munich!
Every tour of Munich should start at its heart. The central square is called Marienplatz (Our Lady’s Square) and has been the main square of Bavaria’s capital for almost a thousand years. The most famous landmark is the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), although the rest of the square is just as lovely. It is possible to climb up the tower of the town hall. Marienplatz even has its own website.
Pro tip: Visit at 12 o’clock to see the famous chime with 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures reenacting various ancient stories for more than 10 minutes!
2. Munich Residenz
The Munich Residenz is the ancient city castle (one of the largest in the world) of the Bavarian kings. It now houses a museum and one of the finest gem collections in the world. The whole complex is quite huge, but it’s more than worth to take your time. Plan your stay on the official website.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to walk around the Residenz to see the court garden and enjoy a cool beer in its beer garden.
3. Alter Peter
Munich has many fantastic churches. But there is one, you absolutely can’t skip: St. Peter’s Church. It’s one of the favorite tourist attractions in the city because the church tower offers you the most spectacular panorama of the inner city. Here’s the website with opening hours & prices (German). Certainly one of the top tourist attractions in Munich!
Munich and its beer are world-famous. There is a continuous tradition of more than 1.000 years of brewery art you can partake. The Hofbräuhaus is probably Munich’s most famous beer hall and has been copied all over the world. It’s a tiny tack touristic, but still authentic and needs to be mentioned among the top 10 must-see places in Munich. Here’s the website.
For me, the Königsplatz (Square of the king) is the secret highlight of Munich. The square, kept in a classical Greek style, is home to two wonderful art museums. But even if you don’t plan to go inside, I am sure the fantastic architecture of the square will leave its mark on you. Here’s the website of the Glyptothek, one of the two museums.
6. English Garden
If Marienplatz is the heart of Munich, the English Garden is its soul. The picturesque landscape garden is a local’s favorite (much like Central Park in New York). You will see the residents having picnics, playing sports or enjoying the beer gardens within – so the ideal place for people watching!
Englische Garten is particularly beautiful in winter. If you want to find why visiting my hometown during the colder months is totally worth it, then read my guide to the best things to do in Munich in winter.
Pro tip: You can rent a horse carriage to drive (or rather let you drive) around the English Garden.
Very close to the center (actually only 100 meters away from the Marienplatz) you will find a gourmet food market called Viktualienmarkt. On this farmers market, you can sample many traditional delicacies. There is also an authentic beer garden you might want to check out! I wrote a guide to Viktualienmarkt that has all the details.
The Kunstareal (art area) is located in the district “Maxvorstadt” and home to a couple of world-class museums called “Pinakotheken”. There is one for each epoch: old art, modernity, and contemporary. Works from Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Monet, but also Gerhard Richter, Salvador Dali, and Joseph Beuys. Here is the official website.
As there are so many museums, you really should consider staying 3 or 4 days in Munich. Here’s a little guide with sample itineraries to show you how much time you will need to see most of it.
Pro tip: Visit on Sunday when the entry fee is just one euro for each museum (excluding special exhibitions). My favorite one is the Pinakothek der Moderne
9. BMW World
Everyone knows, Germans produce the best cars in the world (okay, there is some debate over that *grin*). If you are a fan of BMW, then you absolutely have to put the BMW Welt on your list of things to see in Munich. It’s a mixture between a car saloon and a museum. Above all, the building is extremely beautiful! Here’s the link to the official website.
Pro tip: There is an excellent Michelin-starred restaurant inside the BMW World you might want to check out. Book away in advance. It’s called Esszimmer.
10. Oktoberfest / Theresienwiese
Oktoberfest might be the most famous export article od Munich. These days, you will find Oktoberfests all over the world, but none as good & authentic as the original. Each year millions of tourists come to visit Munich during those two weeks at the end of September (yes, not October). Read my insider’s guide to Oktoberfest here.
But despair not. The Theresienwiese (as the festival ground is called) hosts a couple of other wonderful events throughout the year. In winter and spring, there is the Tollwood, for example.
11. Cathedral of Our Dear Lady
The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is the largest church (and cathedral) in Munich – it is also one of the oldest. It is probably the most iconic sight in my hometown. The insides are rather austere, but nevertheless quite impressive!
Pro tip: They are currently renovating the towers, but once that is done, it is possible to climb one of them!
12. Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau is, strictly speaking, not located in Munich anymore. There are regular speed trains leaving the city in the North of Munich (~30min), so it’s not a far trip. Here you can see the infamous concentration camp where thousands of Jews (and political prisoners) were killed in the cruelest and inhumane way imaginable. It’s a grim place, but one you should definitely visit because of its utmost historic significance.
Looking for other day trip options from Munich? Check out my list of 20 suggestions!
13. Go on an Art Nouveau walking tour
Most people hearing the words ‘Art Nouveau’ will probably think of Paris or maybe Brussels or Vienna. Few know that Munich was one of the epicenters of the art movement and many houses from that time survive. I compiled a detailed walking tour for you here. If you are looking for free things to do in Munich that are currently still off the mass-tourism radar, then I’m sure you will enjoy it!
14. Castle Nymphenburg
One of the most beautiful castles in Germany is certainly Schloss Nymphenburg. An amazing landscape garden surrounds the sprawling palace and it’s easy to spend a whole afternoon here. Check out my detailed Nymphenburg guide here.
Pro tip: Nymphenburg is also home to one of the best porcelain manufactories in the world.
PS: Also check out my list of the top 10 castles near Munich.
15. Deutsche Museum
The Deutsche Museum (German Museum) is the most visited museum in Germany. Unlike other museums, it doesn’t focus on art, but rather technical history. Cars, airplanes, computers, chemistry – there are virtually thousands of rooms filled with modern and ancient gadgetry. Here is the official link.
16. Hellabrunn Zoo
Hellabrunn is an ancient zoo that doesn’t only focus on sustainability and proper animal welfare, but also on conservation & wildlife protection around the world. Animals like the Przewalki’s horse are now running around in their natural habitat again thanks to the continuous effort of this zoo. Here’s a link to the official website.
The Theatinerkirche is probably the most beautiful church in Munich. High baroque has never been seen in such a majestic way before. Unlike other churches from that time, the interiors are kept in all white, creating an almost surreal experience. Here’s the official website.
Pro tip: Attend the Sunday morning service to hear the famous church music
18. Day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle
The most famous castle in the world? That’s an easy answer: Schloss Neuschwanstein. You will not find it in Munich, but rather near the city of Füssen. It’s quite easy to get to King Ludwig’s fantasy castle by train (here’s how to get there from Munich). The best thing: There are a couple of other beautiful castles nearby (like Hohenschwangau).
Pro tip: You absolutely need to buy tickets in advance if you want to see the inside during the high season.
19. Christmas Market (Christkindlmarkt)
Wondering when to visit Munich? One of the best times is certainly the holiday season. In December half of Munich is transformed into one gigantic Christmas market. The smell of mulled wine, gingerbread, and the famous German sausages are everywhere. Read my guide to the Christmas market in Munich here.
20. Watch a soccer match at Allianz Arena
The Allianz Arena is one of the most recognizable soccer arenas in the world. The FC Bayern Munich is, on top of that, also one of the best soccer clubs in the world. So, why not attend a soccer match during your stay to see both? Plan your tour on the official website.
Scared of heights? Then the Olympiaturm television tower might be something you want to skip. As the imposing tower stands right in the Olympic Park, you should go anyhow. Unlike in other cities, Munich managed to transform the stadiums for the Summer Olympics 1972 into an area for social, cultural, religious and sports events. There is even a Sea Life Park. Here is the website to check out the impressive event schedule
Pro tip: There is an excellent restaurant at the top. Book a table for the sunset menu, as it is the best time to enjoy the view.
22. Circus Krone
Munich has a very famous circus. In the wintertime, you are able to attend the shows in the winter quarter. They usually got three different shows, some focusing more on animals, others on artists. Here is the website.
23. Bavarian National Museum
Bavaria has a very old and very interesting history. There is a whole museum filled with it. Sounds boring? It’s anything but that! Personally speaking, it is my favorite museum in Munich! Here’s their website to get a first impression.
24. Bayerische Staatsoper
Did you know I am also writing opera reviews? Well then, it might not come as a big surprise that I’ll recommend an evening at the Bayerische Staatsoper. The interior is fantastic, but so is the ensemble. It is, frankly speaking, among the top 10 operas in the world (if you ask me). So, don’t miss it! Book tickets on their official website. (And drop me a comment, if you are wondering what to see!)
Expressionism is one of the most discussed art movements in history. Names like August Macke, Franz Marc, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and Paul Klee instantly come to mind. As the Expressionism was very strong in Munich, there is a whole museum filled with masterpieces from that time – a collection unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Check out the Lenbachhaus here.
Odeonsplatz is another one of Munich’s beautiful squares. It sits right in between the Theatinerkirche and the Residenz and is a place of quite a historic importance. It was here Adolf Hitler attempted his first coup.
One of the most photographed highlights in Munich is probably the Friendsengel (I should know since I live very close to it). It’s pretty much just a big column topped by an angel (hence the name) surrounded by a big park. Beautiful nonetheless!
28. Villa Stuck
If you love Art Nouveau, you might want to check out the Villa Stuck. It was once the home of the famous painter Franz von Stuck. The pristine Art Nouveau villa is now a museum, but parts of the original interiors survived. Here’s the website.
29. Herrenchiemsee Palace
One of the most beautiful day trips from Munich is probably Herrenchiemsee. The beautiful island is home to a spectacular castle, built by the same king who built Neu Schwanstein, and just as beautiful. Check it out here.
30. Botanical Garden
Tired of all the museums? Then check out Munich’s botanical garden. More than 21,2 hectare and greenhouse covering more than 4,500 m² will truly impress you with their beauty. Here is the official website.
Pro tip: Visit in spring, when they host a spectacular spring flower show.
31. Chinesischer Turm / Beer Garden
No visit to Munich is complete without a visit to one of the famous beer gardens of my hometown. The best place for tourists to enjoy this important part of Bavarian culture might be the Chinesischer Turm. Put it on your list of things to do, as a lot of locals will be here on the weekends as well. Link to the official website.
32. Cuvilliés Theatre
Ever wondered how German Royalty watched operas? Then visit the Cuvilliés Theatre. The beautiful Rococo theater is one of the few surviving court theaters in Germany (so many got bombed or dismantled). Find out more here.
33. Haus der Kunst
Haus der Kunst is a private museum for contemporary art. The whole complex is one of the biggest and most important of its kind in the world. Exhibitions change almost on a monthly basis and there are usually a couple of them at the same time. Here is the link to the official website.
Pro tip: Visit the so-called Golden Bar and enjoy a cocktail or coffee in a historic setting.
34. River Isar
Wondering where all the young locals hang out in summer? Then you should take a walk along the river Isar. The banks are basically one big park, where locals have picnics, go jogging or enjoy a cool beer after work.
35. Therme Erding
The Therme Erding is one of the biggest thermal springs in the world and a particularly fine place to visit in Munich on a rainy day. There is a huge area for kids with water slides and so on, but also a gigantic sauna park (off-limits for kids). Book tickets here.
36. Go on a Third Reich Tour
Hitler lived for a very long time in Munich. In a way, the whole Nazi movement started here. There are a couple of tour agencies offering special Third Reich tours. If you are not interested in that part of German’s past, you could book a standard Segway or bicycle tour instead.
37. Museum Buchheim
If you are interested in seeing the rural part of Bavaria, you could opt to do a day trip to Bernried on Lake Starnberg. I really love the museum for its utterly beautiful architecture. Website of the museum.
38. Climb the Bavaria statue
New York has the Statue of Liberty and Munich has the Bavaria. The colossal statue overlooks the festival ground of the Oktoberfest and you can actually climb it as well.
The so-called Asamkirche (Asam’s church) is one of the most (if not the) important architectonic works from the era of the Late Baroque. The whole church is barely 8 meters wide and 22 meters long and fits neatly in between two city houses. A true masterpiece!
40. Egyptian Museum
Personally speaking, I am not a big fan of museums focusing on ancient art. Most of them are quite dusty and rather boring. The Egyptian Museum in Munich is different. It was relocated only a couple of years ago and the showcases are very modern and interactive. You can read my detailed guide here.
41. Watch the surfers at the Eisbach
The so-called Eisbach (ice creek) is a small creek running through the English Garden. At its southern end, you will find an artificial wave where locals go surfing right in the middle of the city. They even have their own website.
Pro tip: End (or start) your walk through the famous English Garden here. There is a bus stop (Haus der Kunst) only 50 meters away (Bus line 100).
42. Schloss Schleißheim
You haven’t seen enough castles yet? Then Schloss Schleißheim might be a good place to explore. The beautiful castle is quite an insider tip. Even most locals I know haven’t been here either. This is why I wrote a more detailed Schleissheim palace travel guide for you here.
43. Eat a Weißwurst
Probably the most authentic food you could possibly eat in Munich is called Weißwurst (white sausage). The sausage dates back to the 19th century and was created in Munich, but is now popular in Bavaria as a whole. Tradition dictates to eat it before noon and together with a fresh brezel. You will find them on the menu of most restaurants.
44. Go on a brewery tour
Munich is home to the oldest, continuously brewing brewery in the world. Weihenstephan started out in 1040 AD, but the latest evidence suggests that the monks in the former monastery already brewed the famous drink starting in 768 AD. Don’t miss that part of Bavarian culture and go on a brewery tour.
45. Shop at Maximilianstraße
Want to go shopping? Then walk along the royal avenue of Munich. The Maximilianstraße starts at the opera and there is virtually no major fashion brand you won’t find here. Chanel, Gucci, Dior – it’s easy to spend a small fortune here (or just marvel at the outrageous displays!).
Pro tip: Walk all the way to the end to see the beautiful Bavarian Parliament.
46. Jewish Museum
Want to know more about the Jewish past of Munich? Then visit the Jewish Museum. It’s right in the center of the tour and an architectonic gem. More information here.
47. Müller’sches Volksbad
How about visiting a public bath. But not just any: The Müller’sche Volksbad is an authentic Art Nouveau bath that has been in use for more than 100 years. The swimming pool is so utterly beautiful! Find more info on opening times and prices here.
Dallmayr is probably the most famous gourmet shop in Germany. Do visit to buy some authentic souvenirs or just gawk at the spectacular food displays. Official website.
49. Memorial to the White Rose
The White Rose was a very famous non-violent resistant movement during the Nazi regime. Most of them were ultimately sentenced to death for distributing leaflets and pamphlets. The memorial can be found inside the Ludwig Maximilian University. Learn more about it here.
50. City wall
Munich is an old city. Maybe not as old as Rome or Paris, but still old. Parts of the old city wall survived. Visit the Sendlinger Tor or the Isar Tor to see the old city gates!
Other things to do in Munich
Woah! Are you feeling exhausted already or are you looking for other places to visit in Munich? Truth be told, I haven’t even listed half of the museums, almost none of the many, many theaters and none of the rooftop bars. This article already has more than 3,000 words and I really did not want to make it any longer!
Still, after two world wars, you’d think most of Munich’s history got devasted. And in a way that is true – there is no real old town. But as soon as you leave the city, there’s plenty of half-timbered houses and hidden gems. The Fürstenfeld Abbey is just one of them.