Munich undoubtedly ranks as one of Europe’s most intriguing destinations. It presents a fascinating contrast of history and modernity and is a place where proud traditions are juxtaposed with a forward-looking outlook, making it one of Europe’s most important centres for cutting-edge technology and development. Munich, considered as one of the best cities in Germany, is filled with many interesting attractions for visitors. If you’re planning a trip to this stop-worthy city, then keep reading for our recommendations of ten of the best things to do in Munich, in no particular order.
From the centre of Munich stretching out towards the north-east of the city is one of the world’s largest urban parks, the Englischer Garten, or English Garden. Covering an area greater than either London’s Hyde Park or New York’s Central Park, it is the perfect place to relax, escape from the bustle of the city and breathe some fresh air. Entrance is free.
Tip: Several beer gardens are also located within the grounds for those in need of refreshment.
Head to the Eisenbach River to witness one of the more peculiar sports practised in Munich. In the 1970s, locals began to ride the waves created by the gushing Eisenbach and the sport of river surfing was born. This activity is now popular in many cities throughout the world, but Munich is where it began, and nowadays locals think nothing of seeing a wet-suited surfer carrying a board through the streets of this city that is located so far from the sea.
Tip: A good spot to watch is near the the ‘main wave’ at Haus der Kunst, on the edge of the English Garden.
It is impossible to talk about Munich without mentioning the city’s world-famous beer festival. The event has been held annually since 1810 and now attracts up to six million visitors each year, taking place from mid-September until the first week of October. Accommodation prices during Oktoberfest can double and it is often impossible to secure a seat in the beer tents – but despite the craziness and chaos, it is something everyone should experience at least once in their life. Possibly the most unmissable of all the things to do in Munich. For more information, please read our insider's guide on Oktoferbest.
Tip: On weekends, get there as early as you can. Lines start forming from 7 am and you will only be served if you are seated.
Bavaria is the heartland of Germany’s beer culture and a region that also boasts its own distinctive style of cuisine. It is impossible to truly understand a place without tasting the food and drink, and sampling local products is a must. Join a local food tour for EUR 30 – EUR 45* and you will be able to try Bavarian culinary specialities, taste Munich’s famous beer and visit a brewery to learn about how Bavarian beer is brewed.
Visit the Allianz Arena, home of Germany’s biggest and most successful football club, Bayern Munich. Tours for individual visitors are available, with a combination ticket that grants entrance to the club museum costing EUR 19* for adults. For those lucky enough to be in possession of a match day ticket, a special match day tour is also available for EUR 49* for adults.
Tip: Reserve your tickets well in advance because this is a very popular tourist attraction in Munich.
Many first-time visitors to Munich are astounded by the diverse range of elegant architecture on display and the best way to take it all in is to join a tour. Many options are available, including walking tours (EUR 15*), bicycle tours (EUR 30*) or even Segway tours (EUR 75*). What they all have in common is that a knowledgeable guide will be able to explain the history and significance of the buildings to help you fully appreciate and understand everything you see. Architectural highlights include the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall), the Glockenspiel (Old City Hall) and the Frauenkirche among many others.
Munich is home to a large number of museums, many of which are world-class and rival, if not surpass, those in Berlin. Among the most famous are the Pinakotheken, in fact three separate museums displaying collections of art from different periods, and the Glyptothek, the world’s only museum dedicated to ancient sculpture. Others worthy of consideration include the City Museum of Munich, which deals with the history of the city, and the BMW museum, for those interested in learning more about Munich’s iconic luxury car brand. Most museums cost EUR 4 – EUR 10 for adults, with reductions for concessions and children.
Tip: If you’d like to save money, plan your dates accordingly as many city museums have a reduced admission fee of EUR 1 on Sundays.
A harrowing but poignant day or half-day trip from Munich takes you to the Dachau concentration camp memorial. There, you can learn about the horrors and atrocities that took place at the site from the early 1930s until the end of the Second World War. The memorial is located around 16 km from Munich, and tours can be organized from the city. It is also possible to visit independently; by public transport, the site can be easily reached by train and then bus. Entrance to the memorial is free and audio guides are available for a small charge.
Tip: Dedicate an entire morning or afternoon to visit Dachau Concentration Camp. It will take around 5 hours (including travelling time) to take a proper tour of the Memorial.
What better way to discover the best things to do in Munich than with a local? ‘Greeters’ are volunteers who welcome visitors to the city and provide a free guiding service to help tourists understand something of Munich’s history and heritage. You can ask these knowledgeable locals any questions about the city or the region and they will also take you to some of the ‘secret’ places that you are unlikely to find in your guidebook.
Tip: You can meet a greeter in Munich by filling a simple form at www.munich-greeter.de
Germany is famous the world over for its fairy-tale castles and in Munich, there is one just on the outskirts of the city. The palace was built as a summer residence for the rulers of Bavaria and construction was begun in the mid-17th century. The palace and grounds can be visited. Entrance to the palace is EUR 8.50* for adults and EUR 6.50* during winter; EUR 11.50* for adults and EUR 9* during summer.
Tip: Plan a visit in the summer months (June – August) as some buildings are only accessible in summer.
A short list of only ten items of what to do in Munich can barely do the city justice. Between cultural visits, architectural tours, culinary discovery and the chance to witness slightly bizarre sports, a trip to the Bavarian capital leaves many with a strong desire to return again and again to discover more of what the city as to offer.
Want to visit Germany but don't know where to go? Check out the best cities in Germany that are definitely worth your visit. Many of these cities are home to the top hiking trails in Germany as well. If hiking is not your thing then please have a look at the top vacation packages in Germany for 2018 that can easily be extended to Northern or Eastern European countries.
*Prices listed in the article are as of January 2018