What images conjure up in your mind when you think of Munich? Is it the world-famous Oktoberfest, the traditional lederhosen and dirndls, beer steins, sausages, and pretzels? Okay, yes, but there is so much more to this modern cosmopolitan Bavarian city. Museums, art galleries, world-class hotels and dining, and shopping. All within the beautiful backdrop of the Alps and river Isar winding itself through the city.

You wouldn’t expect anything less from the largest and the capital city of Bavaria, and the third-largest city in Germany, following Berlin and Hamburg. Let this be your guide to the must-see places, attractions, and top things to do in Munich Germany. Here are my Munich favourites. 

Munich Landmarks: Must See Places

My Favourite Munich Square: Marienplatz

Start your visit to Munich by visiting the lively Marienplatz. It’s the central square, or heart of the city, since being founded in 1158. Admire all of the historical buildings that surround Marienplatz. Munich’s must-see attractions include the New Town Hall, or Neues Rathaus, and the Old Town Hall or Altes Rathaus. Almost in the middle of the square stands Mary’s Column, or Mariensäule, from 1638, signifying the end of the Swedish occupation of the city during the Thirty Years War. And how Marienplatz got its name. 

One of the best things to see in Munich is the famous Glockenspiel. A cuckoo clock where 43 bells ring out followed by a carousel of more than 30 dancing figures at 11 am-noon, 5, and 9 pm. Marienplatz plays host to all of the city’s biggest festivals like Oktoberfest and the annual Christmas market – which is known as being one of the best Christmas markets in Bavaria. 

My Favourite Munich Architecture: Munich Residenz

building with bronze statue

If you love architecture and history then a must-see is Munich Residenz or residence. This palace served as a place for government and residence for Bavarian dukes and kings from 1508 to 1918. Today it is known as one of the most important palace museums in Europe. Every room is more impressive than the next. Especially the Cuvilliés Theatre, a lavish opera house. One of the best architectural details of the palace was its 10 courtyards. Making this one of the best must see things in Munich. 

My Favourite Munich Garden: Hofgarten

garden with covered copula

The Hofgarten is the court garden of the 17th century Munich Residenz. At the center of the garden is the beautiful pavilion called the Diana Temple. The intricate octagon-shaped pavilion, featuring eight entrance archways, is pretty spectacular. We were lucky enough to catch a spontaneous classical concert. Trust me, it is a wonderful place for a stroll and happens to be along the way to many other attractions like the Englischer Garten.

My Favourite Munich Art Gallery: Alte Pinakothek

Alte Pinakothek, built in 1836, is one of the oldest art galleries in the world. King Ludwig I of Bavaria wanted to create the largest museum in the world and for it to resemble a castle. The museum is known for its extensive art collection of Old Masters’ paintings spanning 14th to 18th-century painters. Of all the Munich museums in the city, this is a must visit in Munich.  

My Favourite Munich Church: Asam Church

ornate details inside church

The 18th-century Baroque church is considered to be one of the most important buildings in Bavaria. What makes this unusual is that it was built by two brothers, as a personal church. The lighting within the church is meant to convey a message. The pews are in darkness representing suffering on earth, the middle section is lighter for the Emperor and the light flooding in from above represents God and the light of heaven. 

Best Things to Do in Munich

My Favourite Munich Beer Hall: Hofbräuhaus

fresco ceiling with lanterns

Despite it being an extremely touristy thing to do, you can’t go to Munich without visiting Hofbräuhaus. This famous beer hall dates back to the 16th century. It offers the traditional German beer hall experience complete with a live brass band. You can’t help yourself, to join in during the chorus of “eins, zwei, g’suffa” (one, two, down the hatch). 

Hofbräuhaus has more than 100 active groups of regulars. The oldest regulars’ table has already been held for 70 years, as well as, keeping their kegs under lock and key. When you enter the hall, you seat yourself. It might take a few circles around the large hall before you find a spot at one of the long tables along with others. Of all the tourist attractions in the city, this one will be among the most fun. Prost!

My Favourite Munich View: St. Peter’s Church

The original wooden St. Peter’s Church dates back to the 1100s. Destroyed by a fire in early 1300, it took 40 years to rebuild. In the early 17th century, the 91 m spire was added. 

Climb the 306 steps to the 56 m high platform to take in the best view of Munich. Overlooking the Marienplatz you will recognize all the key landmarks in Munich including the Olympic tower. On a clear day, you might be able to see all the way over to the Alps. 

My Favourite Munich Shopping: Kaufingerstrasse

Kaufingerstrasse is a shopping area that stretches for several blocks between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz. This entire area is exclusively designated for pedestrian traffic only. It also happens to be the oldest street in Munich. There is a great mix of independent boutiques, chain stores, and large-scale department stores to explore. Don’t forget to wander down some side alleyways for some interesting specialty shops. One of the things to do in Munich on Sunday is to join the locals and window shop. You will see them strolling through here even when the stores are closed to do just that. 

My Favourite Munich Market: Viktualienmarkt

market stand with carrots, artichokes

When the farmers market outgrew its original location at Marienplatz in the early 19th century, Vikualienmarkt was created. It offers more than 140 booths of seasonal produce, fish, meat, flowers and more. It’s a great place to go for lunch with lots of takeaway options and is open Monday to Saturday.

My Favourite Munich Park: Englischer Garten

The beautiful English Garden park was created in the 18th century. And, is one of the world’s biggest city parks. Yes, it’s even bigger than Central Park in NYC. Massive trees, wide-open spaces, endless paths, and small lakes – it’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Here you will find cyclists, runners, walkers, sunbathers and picnickers all coming to escape the busyness of the city. It’s one of the best free things to do in Munich.

greenery and piller structure in munich

The Englischer Garten is more than just a city park. There is a reason why it’s one of the best things to do in Munich. Unique to this park is Munich’s oldest beer garden, Chinesischer Turm, a small Greek temple called Monopteros, and a large duck pond featuring an abundant number of ducks. The most surprising activity always draws a crowd is at the Eisbach river where you’ll find surfing due to the strong currents. Lastly, there are lawn-mowing sheep. Yes, that’s right, sheep whose job is to keep the grass sheared.

My Favourite Munich Beer Garden: Chinesischer Turm

Traditional beer gardens originated in Munich and date back to the 19th century. It’s an outdoor area in which beer and food are enjoyed at long shared tables under a canopy of trees. Traditionalists will tell you there is a distinction between a wirtsgarten (where food is sold and served) and a biergarten (where patrons bring their own food). There are many beer gardens spread across the city, but my favourite was set in the Englischer Garten.

The 18th century Chinese Tower stands tall at 25 metres. It was built as a viewing platform. But today, it’s where you will find the brass band playing. This is the second-largest beer garden, with a capacity of 7,000 seats. The long wooden tables are arranged around the tower and under massive chestnut trees.

My Favourite Munich Day Trip: Dachau Concentration Camp

Of all the day trips you could take from Munich, put this one at the top of your list. The Dachau concentration camp, found just outside the city, was one of the first built and served as a model for all the other camps to follow.

black iron gate

Visitors follow the ‘path of the prisoner’ walking the same way prisoners would have after their arrival in the camp. The haunting entrance marked with the words Arbeit Macht Frei, or work will set you free, appeared at every concentration camp’s entrance point. Once inside you can visit the original barracks, courtyards, and crematorium. It is a moving experience, one that is indescribable, but necessary to learn and reflect on that part of our history.  

Best Places to Stay in Munich

Here are the best hotels in Munich that receive top ratings from guests.

  1. Rocco Forte The Charles Hotel: overlooking the Old Botanical5-star Garden this 5 star hotel offers spa and pool amenities 
  2. Beyond by Geisel: sits right in front of the Munich Town Hall for those that want to be in the center of the city
  3. DO & CO Hotel München: offers guests city views of the Marienplatz
  4. AMERON München Motorworld: a stylish hotel near the BWM museum perfect for car enthusiasts
  5. Or, start your own search here

As a holidaymaker…

Munich Germany is one of my favourite cities. It’s a wonderfully diverse city with lots of history, beauty, and things to do. I just love how you have a modern city within the beautiful backdrop of the Alps and the Isar river that winds itself through the city.

The central location in Bavaria makes it a great launching point to explore nearby, including Austria. 

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  1. I appreciate this list. I hope to go to Germany soon and Munich will definitely be a stop. Would love to see that art museum known for the Old Masters. The Hofbrau Haus would be fabulous too.

  2. Great list of places to visit in Munich! Actually I was born in Munich and lived there for the first 20 years of my life and I still have family there. And even as a “local” I like a lot of the places from your list. My favorite church is the Assam church too! It was built as a private chapel for the Assam brothers.

  3. We plan to visit Germany in October after a trip to Greece and hence this is a great insight into what not to miss as Munich will feature in our plans. Love the Hofgarten which looks so refrehing. And when I saw the picture of Alte Pinakothek museum, I first thought it was a castle. Wouldn’t miss it as museums are a great way to understand history of that place.

  4. Asam Church is so beautiful! I’ve never been to Munich but it’s so close to us. The English garden is beautiful and the architecture is charming. I’d have a beer or two here, I know it’d be good!

  5. A couple of years back, my hubby had an opportunity of moving to Munich on work. However, things did not finally work out and we declined the offer. Now I wish I hadn’t . This is such a lovely place with some of my favorite things to do. I can see why Englischer Garten is your favorite – it would have been mine too if I were staying here. As a traveler, I would not like to miss the concentration camp tour. It has always been on my list

    1. Munich has all the things I love about visiting any major city: historic buildings, architecture, gardens, art galleries, museums and more. I love them all! It must have been difficult, though, to visit Dachau. I remember my own visit to Buchenwald was emotionally draining and difficult. It’s a history that needs to be known, but it’s so incredibly sad.

  6. Germany is still a whole undiscovered spot for us. We definitely would plan to spend some time in Munich. So your guide of favourites would be very helpful in planning our visit. The Asam Church may be the most ornate we have ever seen. Not sure where I would look first. But hubby will be sampling the many beer halls! Once things settle down in Europe, Germany is definitely on our plans for a long trip.

  7. I love Münich and I visit it quite often, because I have relatives there. My favorite place to hang out is Marienplatz, which is particularly beautiful at Christmas time. I also found the Englischer Garten very interesting. It’s the only city park where I’ve seen totally nude people sunbathing in the middle of the park.

  8. Munich Germany is easy to fall in love with. I’m happy I made the trip to Dachau Concentration Camp, it was somber but history is so important. I loved watching the surfers on the Eisback river and I was happy to see Asam Church on your list, it is gorgeous!

  9. All I could think of when reading about the Hofbrauhaus was when the Griswold went to Germany. Haha.. But I would say I want to experience the Hofbrauhaus when I get a chance to visit Munich. I also like the local favorite, the south cemetery. There’s something about old cemetery that intrigue me. And this one dates back to 16th century! So much history there!

    1. Visiting Hofbrauhaus is definitely touristy, but loved going! You kinda have to experience it.

  10. Thank you for your comment. I never saw the Engineering Building, and agree about Hoftgaden, it is beautiful.

    1. Munich is such a happening city with a fusion of old world charm and modern metropolis.From the Glockenspiel with its carousel of dancing figurines really spikes my imagination and temptation to see it. The St. Peter’s wooden church, the Beer garden and the authentic Englischer garten makes Munich a visitor’s delight.

  11. I loved Munich for many reasons and one of the main reason was its beautiful architecture and many museums. The Hofgarten which was formerly the court garden of the Residenz, is really a nice place to stroll around. I also loved Engineering museum here.

  12. I have yet to make it to Munich. What a beautiful city! Hofbräuhaus is definitely a must! as well as the Alter Südfriedhof, as I’m a sucker for old cemeteries. The English Garden looks lovely too.

    1. Thank you Lara for commenting. I do hope you are able to see this capital city of Bavaria one day, it is a mix of modern city with a traditional past. Definitely worth visiting.

  13. Wow. I am in awe at all of the beautiful architectural patterns that can be found around the city. St. Peter’s Church looks incredibly beautiful, but the Frauenkirche which you’ve taken some great shots of also piques my interest. I would have to see both for sure. The English Garden also looks like the perfect place to spend a sunny day, and that’s incredible that it’s larger than Central Park.

  14. We’ve never been to Munich, but will definitely visit someday. The Chinese Tower looks quite interesting, and when the weather’s nice it’s certainly cool to have a beer there. We’d also love to visit the cemetery, as we both love exploring old cemeteries for the funerary sculptures. The Hofgarten looks quite nice too, it reminds us a bit of Echternach, a town here in Luxembourg. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment. It would be such a short trip from Luxembourg, hope you get a chance to go one day soon.

  15. Living in the Philippines, surrounded by the ocean, I find it unusual to see surfing on a river! I love photographing moody scenes so I would want to check out the old cemetery. Of course, I’d love to experience the beer garden in Munich. 🙂

    1. Hi Jing, the ability to surf is based on how they set up their water flow through, it creates a reverse wave and current which creates the opportunity to surf. It is actually more difficult than doing it in the ocean. It was quite fun to watch.

    1. Thank you for commenting Jenn and Ed. I would love to visit the Holocaust museum in DC, as I am fascinated by this history. There is something eerie about visiting not just a museum but the actual site where these tragic events took place.

  16. I have never been to Germany, but Munich looks like a great place to visit. I know my husband and I would love the beer hall, Hofbräuhaus. I would love to see the Hofgarten. I love visiting gardens when I travel.

    1. I agree Wendy, visiting gardens and parks is one of my favourites when travelling. I hope you get to see it one day soon. Thank you for commenting.

  17. I would just love to visit Munich and will keep your suggestions for when I get there! I love sitting back and soaking up a city’s vibe so I think I would start with Marienplatz, the market (very long German name!) and Alter Südfriedhof. Can’t wait to go!

    1. Thank you Alison for stopping by and commenting. I hope you get to see the city one day and get to check out some of the sites. It is a very walk-able city, despite its size, and makes for a great home base to explore some of the smaller Bavarian towns within a short distance.

  18. Yep, you pretty much guessed my exact image of Munich! Lol. I admit to not knowing much about it beyond that. But this all looks so wonderful! I would love to visit the biergartens and that church is STUNNING.

    1. Thank you Dani for your comment and so happy to hear that you learned a bit more about the city. The church is pretty spectacular and size is deceiving in this photo, it is not until you are standing beside and and walk its exterior when you realize its sheer size.

    1. How wonderful that you used to live there, would love to know what some of your favourites are – please share if you can. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  19. The only part of Munich that I’ve seen is the airport, and while it is a super nice airport, I’d really like to see more of the city! Lol. Even though it’s touristy, I’d love to check out the beer hall. It sounds really overwhelming but such a quintessentailly German experience! And it’s hard to imagine a city park larger than Central Park!

    1. Thank you Maggie foe your comment. Agreed, it is a bit too touristy, and normally we avoid such experiences, we actually are so glad we did. The Englischner park is quite something, be sure to leave lots of time to walk around.

  20. The last time I was in Munich, I was a teenager. It was nice to jog some old memories (as well as “visit” some new places) through this amazing article!

    1. Thank you. I too revisited after not being in Munich since a teenager. It is amazing how some places instantly bring a flood of memories back. Hope you get a chance to revisit like I did and discover it with new eyes. Thank you for commenting.

  21. I absolutely agree on most of your favourites, except I enjoyed Palauner Brauhaus better than the Hofbrauhaus (too many busloads of tourists there). I also highly recommend a daytrip to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich, what a fairytale!!

    1. Thank you for your comment Esther. Agreed. The high volume of tourists instantly made this place something I would t normally do, but in the end I loved the fun atmosphere and we happen to sit right beside the 70-year regulars, who welcomed us. Yes, love the idea of the day trip to Neuschwanstein too.

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