The Viktualienmarkt is a daily food market in the heart of Munich and attracts thousands of locals, gourmets, and tourists each day.
I love the Viktualienmarkt. I honestly do! Personally speaking, you haven’t seen Munich if you haven’t sampled the food at my favorite food market. What makes the Viktualienmarkt so special is that it is not an exclusive tourist thing. Quite to the contrary – locals like me love to shop there because of the high quality and freshness of the products on sale.
As a tourist, it gives you the unique opportunity to sample the full panoply of Bavarian cuisine and even partake in a bit of tradition! Join me on my tour!
Also, make sure to read my guide on how to spend one day in Munich. Viktualienmarkt is only one of the many options you have in my hometown.
What to do at Viktualienmarkt in Munich
I’m going to start my tour with the beer garden in the center of the Viktualienmarkt, and you will shortly see why. You see, for us, Bavarians beer gardens (or Biergarten how they are properly called) are almost holy. Wait a second, skip the almost! We proud ourselves on having invented them. So if you want to partake in an important part of the Bavarian tradition, there is no way around getting a mug of beer in the beer garden on the Viktualienmarkt.
At a Bavarian beer garden, you will be only served fresh beer directly tapped from the barrel. No bottles, cans or whatever obscenities the rest of the world does with our national drink – here you will get the real deal. The Viktualienmarkt is special, however. What kind of beer is served changes on a daily basis according to a rotating system among the leading Bavarian breweries! Check the sign above the beer counter for the brewery of the day (Hacker Pschorr in this case).
Now, why am I starting with the beer garden? Here is why: You can bring any food you like to any beer garden in Bavaria. You have to buy the drinks, but whatever foodstuff you take along is up to you (there is actually a law guaranteeing you this right!). This is an important fact about Bavarian beer garden culture foreigners seldom take advantage of. At Viktualienmarkt you really should.
So here is what I recommend you to do: Tour around the market first, put together a nice picnic of Bavarian delicacies and then find yourself a sunny spot in the beer garden. Go to the counter (beer garden means self-service!), order a mug or two and enjoy your finds in the heart of Munich!
What to eat at Viktualienmarkt
The Viktualienmarkt is home to many vendors – each specialized on one product. Some sell vegetables, other poultry or venison, and yet others fruit or even flowers. Certainly, most groceries will require cooking or some other preparation, so that’s not an option for you.
But that doesn’t mean you need to get home empty handed! What you can and should get is some Bavarian cheese! (Did I mention I love cheese?) Ask for “Obatzda”, a special Bavarian cheese mixture that you will find on any starters menu in a traditional restaurant.
Coming from the Marienplatz you also have to check out the impressive row of butchers right at the entrance. I’d recommend you to grab yourself a couple of sausages and some warm Leberkas. Leberkas (or Leberkäse) is a baked loaf of very finely ground beef and pork and usually served with mustard seasoning and inside a bread roll. There is hardly a more authentic Bavarian meal to pick (I eat it at least once a week!)
You might want to check out the many fruit stalls as well. With all the cheese and sausages you will want to have something lighter and fat-free to nibble at as well. If you want to opt for the authentic Bavarian picnic, you would have to get some radish and pickled cucumbers.
If you don’t like beer you might consider buying a fresh fruit juice at these stalls. Please bear in mind, though, that you can’t bring your own drinks to the beer garden (but you will get non-alcoholic drinks at the counter as well, have no fear!)
What to see at Viktualienmarkt
You might have been wondering already what that big ornate tree in the middle of the Viktualienmarkt is. That, my dear foreigners, is a Maibaum. The maypole is another important part of the Bavarian culture you shouldn’t miss. Every city, every tiny village, and ever beer garden will have one.
The maypole is erected on the first day of May, followed by traditional dance and, yes you might have suspected that, accompanied by drinking beer. The colorful signs are sponsored by craftsmen and local business and, as you can see, make for a particularly nice picture!
Throughout the Viktualienmarkt you will also see many fountains. These are actually newer additions, dating back from the 1950ies. Every single one of them was erected in honor of a famous Bavarian comedian, actor or musician.
Last but not least you should not disregard the many flower stands. As a tourist, you probably will have a hard time taking them along home. Personally speaking, I really love seeing them. It kind of lightens me up (okay, okay I’ll willingly admit that I frequently buy me a bouquet or two there ;-)).
If you like to see the madness from above, do check out my guide to climbing the adjacent tower of St. Peter’s church for the best view in Munich.
My favorite place at Viktualienmarkt, Munich
Whenever I go shopping at Viktualienmarkt I make sure to drop by at the café Frischhut. This probably won’t appear in a lot of tourist guides, if any at all. For me, it is a true insider tip and the best place to end your tour through the Viktualienmarkt. It is located not directly on the market but rather across the street leading around the market on the right-hand side (here’s a google maps link).
Now, first of all, let’s agree on setting all those fancy diet ideas aside for a second, and rather give in to the glutton within you that loves the deep fried stuff! Here is the good news: Café Frischhut only sells fried dough food! Krapfen, Ausgezogene, and Striezel – those are all very authentic pastries you will find at every German bakery.
Some, like the donut-shaped discs called Ausgezogene, are regional Bavarian specialties, while you will find the jam stuffed Krapfen all over the country (for some reason it says Schmalznudel on the picture, not Ausgezogene).
What makes the café Frischhut so special is not the product range. Like I said you will find these pastries everywhere you go. But at my insider’s tip for Viktualienmarkt you can watch how they fry them for you. Authentic German pastries freshly made for you, how can it get any better? If you got the time, I recommend you to sit down and try the Rohrnudeln with plum filling and vanilla sauce – my all-time favorite treat!
How to get to Viktualienmarkt in Munich
Getting to Viktualienmarkt is quite easy. Still, I will put in some directions. The best idea is to start at Marienplatz. That’s the main square right in the middle of the city. Facing the city hall (picture above) you will have to turn right and walk all the way across the square.
You will be now walking towards the toy museum (that’s the one with the white belfry and the ornate roof). Just turn right before the actual gate and follow the road and you are already there. All in all the Viktualienmarkt is perhaps only 100 meters away from Marienplatz, so there really I no way to miss it.
Hope this information was helpful. Got any questions – ask right away and I’ll try to help you with more insider tips!