Are you looking for the best things to do in Munich? Do you know what Munich is best known for? Or are you wondering how long you need to spend in Munich? Join us as we spend a weekend and find the 6 best things to do in Munich…
History, heritage, nature, and local food and beer… lots and lots of beer! Munich is a city which promises much, so we were excited to visit as part of our Southern Germany road-trip taking in the best sights of the Black Forest and Bavaria.
Perhaps best known for BMW and the Bayern Munich football team, we wanted to find the best things to do in Munich during our weekend stay. So here are our top tips for the best things to do in Munich…
1... Visit the Many Churches & See the City from Above at St Peters Tower
Munich has a lot of churches! There are over 25 in the city, with many located right in the city centre making it easy to visit them in one day.
As we’re walking along the pedestrianised Neuhauser Strasse, we notice a lot of people entering a pretty-looking building on the left. We follow them in to see where they’re going, and our eyes are met by a huge barrel-vaulted roof inside a massive church!
St. Michael München… Germany’s first Renaissance Church
St. Michael München is one of the oldest churches in Munich and is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps.
The interior is all white and shines bright with the sunlight pouring through the high windows, and the gold ornate altar and decorations dazzle above the dark pews.
As we leave the church an elderly Spanish couple stop us and ask for a photo. Thinking they mean one of them in the church, we take their phone and ask them to pose. But no, it seems like they want a selfie with us! We are dressed in lederhosen and dirndl, but we’re quite surprised by the request all the same!
Frauenkirche… Cathedral Church of Our Lady
Less than a 5-minute walk from St.Michael is Frauenkirche, Munich’s cathedral. It is Munich’s most famous church, and the two towers are landmarks of the city.
The exterior may not be the most intricately decorated, but the sheer size is quite overwhelming as it literally towers over the surrounding cafés and restaurants in the slightly cramped feeling square.
The interior is also quite simple in comparison to most other Gothic churches, having been reconstructed following WWII to a plainer design. One feature to look out for though is the Wittelsbach Monument and Bishop's Crypt... a memorial to the House of Wittelsbach dynasty and commerates Ludwig of Bavaria.
Be careful during your visit though… legend has it that the devil himself has set foot in the church and has left a footprint in the entrance hall!
St. Peter’s… Munich's Oldest Church
The third church we visit in the centre is on the other side of Marienplatz. St Peter’s Church, or Peterskirche, is Munich’s oldest church dating back to the 12th century.
The interior is a mix of styles, from Baroque to Gothic, and some of the features and art on show are simply stunning!
The highlight of the church though is the tower and viewing platform. We find the ticket office on the opposite side of the tower and pay the €2 to enter and start our ascent to the top.
It’s a very hot and sunny day, and the 306 steps to the top are quite a challenge, but the views when we reach are well-worth the effort!
We follow the viewing platform all around the tower, getting 360° views of the city. Marienplatz and the Neues Rathaus are just below, Frauenkirche is next to that, and we can see the rides at Oktoberfest at Theresienwiese. On the south side of the tower, we can even see all the way to the Brandenberg Alps on the horizon!
While you can climb up quite a few of the towers in the city centre, we recommend going up St Peter’s Tower. This gives 360° views of the city, as well a perfect front-on view of the Neues Rathuas on Marienplatz with the two towers of Frauenkirche next to it. It’s quite an effort to get to the top, but it’s well worth it!
2... Admire the Architecture of the City at Marienplatz & the Neues Rathaus
As we’re walking between the churches in the city centre, some of the other buildings we pass are even more impressive!
The most amazing building in the whole city is the Neues Rathuas on Marienplatz, the main city square.
The New Town Hall is the home of politics, and where FC Bayern Munich celebrate their (usual annual) Bundesliga title wins. But the building has architecture to rival the most impressive Gothic cathedrals!
Other sights to look out for are the Karlsplatz Fountain and Karlstor Medieval Gate which act as entrances to the city centre from the Hauptbahnhof direction. And close to Residenz on Odeonplatz is Feldherrnhalle… a monument to the Bavrian Army, and another church, Theatinerkirche. As well as lots of other pretty looking buildings!
The best views are from St Peter’s Tower opposite, giving unobstructed views from above as Marienplatz can get very busy making it difficult to get a good clear view and photo.
3... Surf & Relax in the English Garden
In how many city centres can you surf?? The Eisbachwelle at the entrance to the Englischer Garten is a man-made surfers paradise, with constant waves created by a railway sleeper on the river bed.
When we arrive on the tram, we can see the line of people stood on the bridge watching the river below. We cross the road and join them, and the line of people watching is only beaten by the line of surfers waiting for their turn on the banks of the river.
Each surfer takes their turn, jumping onto the wave and surfing for as long as they can, until the wave beats them, knocking them off the board and sweeping them away to be replaced by the next person in line.
After a few minutes watching, we move on and take a walk further into the park.
The English Garden is the largest inner-city park in World, and so called as it resembles the natural landscape of an English park. But some of the features in the park are far from English!
Before we get to that though, as we’re walking along the side of the river, one of our friends decides he wants a go in the river. He jumps in and the strong current sweeps him away out of our sight, until we catch up with him clinging onto a bridge!
This is a very popular activity in the summer months, with groups of people all basking by the side of the river in their swimwear.
After drying off and re-joining us, we head further into the garden as a group, passing the Greek inspired Monopteros im Englischen Garten on our way to the Chinese Tower (see what we mean by the features are not very English).
Next to the Chinese Tower is a self-service restaurant and lots of seating, and of course, lots of beer! We have some lunch, getting currywurst, chicken, and pork knuckle between us to try, and they’re all pretty good. Along with a MezzoMix... a German drink of Fanta and Coke mixed together!
The weather is starting to change as we sit for lunch though, with the sun disappearing behind the clouds and the wind picking up, so we go for the bus and head towards the indoors before the rain comes…
Bring your swimwear with you and jump into the river! The strong current will sweep you away so be prepared for a scramble to get back out, but the river is shallow so you can stand up.
For more information… the English Garden website
4... Explore Munich’s Heritage & History at Munich Residenz
Once the seat of the government and home to Bavarian Dukes, Princes, and Kings, Munich Residenz dates back to the 16th century and is one of the largest museum complexes in Germany.
With 10 courtyards and over 130 rooms to explore, and artwork and decoration in the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles, we could easily spend a couple of days just exploring here!
The weather has changed from the bright warm sunshine earlier today to cold rain, so it’s perfect timing for us to venture inside and explore the Residenz Museum.
Munich Residenz Museum
We get a free audio guide to listen to as we explore the labyrinth of rooms and corridors, and it’s much needed as the place is absolutely huge!
One of the first and most impressive rooms we come to is the Antiquarium. This hall is the oldest room in the Residenz, and is the largest and most lavish Renaissance hall north of the Alps.
The vaulted ceiling is stunningly decorated with art, and each alcove as we walk along the long hall has many busts on display.
Further into the museum, the Yellow Staircase is a show-stopping entrance to the apartments in the Royal Palace. With yellow walls to imitate the precious yellow stone that was prized by rulers of the ancient world, and a long marble staircase, as we walk up it, we can feel the grandeur!
The Royal Palace at Munich Residenz
The rest of the Royal Palace is just as grand and opulent, with room after room of elaborately decorated walls, chandeliers, furniture, and artwork. It’s hard to pick a favourite as the rooms are so different from each other but are equally as beautiful.
We continue on our tour, and as we enter one room, we feel like we’ve been truly transported back in time! We’re met by a group all dressed splendidly in their finest Bavarian wear! It only adds to the experience and makes the palace feel all the more special.
The Collections of the Royal Palace
Towards the end we pass by the Collections of the Royal Palace… hundreds (if not thousands!) of silverware, porcelain, furniture and more artwork, all displayed in glass cabinets and laid out as if still in use. It’s an impressive collection to rival any in Europe.
As we leave the museum the rain has stopped, and all of that history and culture has made us thirsty! So we walk the few minutes into the city centre and head towards some more history in the Hofbrauhaus…
The place is huge so make sure you have plenty of time if you want to see the whole museum. We only saw the Reidenz Museum as we were pressed with time and had to catch a flight, so missed the Treasury, Cuvilliés Theatre and the gardens. You can get a combination ticket for €17 for all, but would need at least half a day to see everything!
For more information… Munich Residenz Website
5... Try Bavarian Delicacies at the Best Bars & Restaurants in Munich
Germany may not be known as a culinary capital of the world, but traditional Bavarian food is hearty and delicious. Oh, and have we said that Munich loves beer??
The most famous beer hall in Munich (and perhaps the World) is the Hofbrauhaus, dating back to 1589!
Being a popular spot for tourists for over a century, it is the home of Bavarian beer culture and drinking a stein here is like no other experience (well, apart from at Oktoberfest see below!)
For more information… the Hofbrauhaus website
Augustiner-Keller is one of the biggest beer halls and gardens in Munich, and one of our favourite places we visit.
Heading there on Saturday night after having arrived in Munich, we’re met with the warm-up party for Oktoberfest with the beer garden full with people partying to the live band.
We get a table and order a round of steins, and are amazed at the strength of the servers as they carry more steins than we could drink! The food is also great, with us trying pork neck and pretzel dumplings amongst other dishes!
For more information… the Augustiner-Keller website
The Boilerman Bar
For a completely different vibe, head to the Boilerman Bar close to the Haupbahnhof.
We strike lucky when trying to find a late night bar still open for a final drink before calling it a night, and are really impressed by the upmarket cocktail hidden inside the 25hours Hotel.
The décor of the bar is really cool, and the cocktails are excellent!
For more information… The Boilerman Bar website
6... Party at Oktoberfest!
Oktoberfest is one of the things Munich is most famous for! The World’s biggest folk and beer festival is held every year in late September / early October.
We time our visit to Munich to coincide with Oktoberfest (ok ok, so Oktoberfest was actually the main reason for our visit!), and if you can you definitely should too!
Read our full blog on Oktoberfest for the full lowdown… Oktoberfest… the World’s Biggest Folk & Beer Festival
Munich promised much before we visited, and it didn't disappoint! We spent a great weekend here, and these are just our 6 best things to do in Munich. We didn't get to visit the BMW museum, or go to a Bayern Munich football game. So maybe a re-visit will be coming in the future and we can expand our list of the best things to do in Munich!