25 Best Things to do in Munich
Photo: Kavalenkava/Fotolia

Germany's unofficial southern capital of Munich is a cosmopolitan playground for travelers. Home of the world-famous Oktoberfest, Bavarian waitresses in Dirndls, traditional Lederhosen (leather pants), beer, and sausages, the city also offers a modern take on Bavarian traditions. Mediterranean-style street cafés and highbrow art galleries stand alongside Mitteleuropa beer halls, centuries-old buildings, and beautiful museums, while well-heeled power dressers walk beside Lederhosen-clad thigh-slappers. The central Marienplatz Square in the Altstadt (Old Town) features historical landmarks such as Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (town hall) and other world-class sights, as well as spectacular views of the Alps.

»Alte Pinakothek

Alte Pinakothek

The Alte Pinakothek (Old Pinacotheca) is a museum of art situated in the Kunstareal area in Munich. One of the oldest galleries in the world, the Alte Pinakothek features a world-renowned collection of Old Master paintings spanning from the 14th to the 18th centuries, including works by Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Vincent van Gogh. Built in 1836, the Neo-Renaissance design of the Alte Pinakothek is different from that of the typical early 19th-century castle-like museums that were the norm and features the use of skylights and northern lights for the cabinets. The Alte (Old) Pinakothek is so named for this collection, which features “older” works, while the Neue Pinakothek features works from the 19th century. The Pinakothek der Moderne displays modern art.

Barer Straße 27, Eingang Theresienstraße, 80333 München, Phone: +49-89-23-80-52-16 Photo: Anselm Baumgart/Fotolia

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»Asam Church

Asam Church

Asam Church (Asamkirche), also known as St. Johann Nepomuk, is a beautiful Baroque church on Sendlingerstraße considered to be one of the most famous buildings of the southern German Late Baroque period. Built between 1733 and 1746 by the Asam brothers as their own church, the building features a Baroque façade that has been integrated into the row of houses lining Sendlingerstraße on either side of it. The magnificent interior of the church is divided vertically into three sections, and the ceiling fresco “Life of Saint Nepomuk” is considered to be a masterpiece. Asam Church is situated just a few minutes’ walk away from the Sendlinger Tor (Sendling Gate).

Sendlinger Str. 32, 80331 München, Germany, Phone: +49-89-23-68-79-89 Photo: lagom/Fotolia

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»Bavarian National Museum

Bavarian National Museum

The Bavarian National Museum (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum) is a treasure trove of Bavarian art, culture, and history located in the center of the Prinzregentenstrasse, one of the city's four royal avenues. One of the largest museums in Bavaria and one of the most significantly important institutions of decorative arts in Europe, the Bavarian National Museum is divided into two sections: the folklore collection and the historical art collection. Built in 1855 by King Maximillian II of Bavaria in the style of historicism, the building is an artwork in itself and houses a large collection of European artifacts from late antiquity until the early 20th century.

Prinzregentenstraße 3, 80538 München, Germany, Phone: +49-8-92-11-24-01 Photo: g215/Fotolia

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»BMW Welt

BMW Welt

BMW Welt (BMW World) is a multi-purpose exhibition center next to the BMW Headquarters and Olympiapark in the AM Riesenfeld district in Munich. The center is used for several functions, including buyers taking delivery of their specially ordered vehicles in a dramatic staged experience, meetings, promotional events and special functions, and it serves as a showroom for displaying the latest models of BMW cars and motorbikes, as well as two BMW Group brands, Mini and Rolls-Royce. BMW Welt also has a range of shops selling BMW-branded merchandise and accessories and a casual restaurant. Visitors can enjoy guided tours through the center and the BMW Museum, which is also on site.

Am Olympiapark 1, 80809 München, Germany Photo: ipq7/Fotolia

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»Deutsches Museum

Deutsches Museum

Officially known as Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik (German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology), the Deutsches Museum (German Museum) is the world's largest museum of science and technology. Founded in 1903 and home to over 28,000 exhibited objects from fifty different fields of science and technology, the museum welcomes about 1.5 million visitors per year and is the largest museum in Munich. The main building of the museum is situated on a small island in the Isar River, which is famous for rafting wood dating back to the Middle Ages.

Museumsinsel 1, 80538 München, Germany, Phone: +49-8-92-17-91 Photo: Andy Ilmberger/Fotolia

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The Eisbach (meaning “ice brook” in German) is a small man-made river that flows through the Englischer Garten in the heart of Munich. The two-kilometer river is a side arm of the Isar River, and it features a man-made wave that attracts surfers from around the world. It gained a huge following after the 2011 movie Keep Surfing by Björn Richie Loeb. The cold, shallow water of the river forms a standing wave of about a meter in height at a bridge near the Haus der Kunst and is popular with surfers and whitewater kayakers. There is also a second standing wave on the Eisbach located a few hundred meters downstream, which is wider and therefore is a less demanding wave.

Englischer Garten, Munich, Germany Photo: stefanbi 1974/Fotolia

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»Englischer Garten

Englischer Garten

The Englischer Garten (English Garden) is a large urban park in the center of Munich that stretches from the heart of the city to the northeastern-most city limits. Established in 1789 by Sir Benjamin Thompson, the park was laid out in the style of an English country park, thus named Englischer Garten, and it continually evolved throughout the centuries with the addition of green spaces and various buildings. Today the Englische Garten offers a variety of recreational activities and pursuits, including nearly eighty miles of jogging and cycling paths, fields for soccer, a Japanese teahouse and beer garden, and stunning city views from the Monopteros.

80805 Munich, Germany, Phone: +49-89-38-66-63-90 Photo: belamy/Fotolia

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»Hofbräuhaus am Platzl

Hofbräuhaus am Platzl

The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is a world-renowned beer hall and institution that attracts visitors from around the world to enjoy Munich-brewed beer. Originally built in 1589 as a ducal brewery for Bavarian dukes and kings, the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl still upholds the 400-year-old Stammtisch tradition, a time-honored system of standing reservations for regulars at certain tables. The unique vaulted hall at the heart of the Hofbräuhaus called the Schwemme boasts a proverbial Bavarian “gemütlichkeit” (coziness) that exudes a quintessential Bavarian ambiance and serves locally brewed beer along with traditional Bavarian dishes to both locals and visitors alike.

Platzl 9, 80331 München, Germany, Phone: +49-8-92-90-13-61-00 Photo: driendl/Fotolia

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»Linderhof Palace

Linderhof Palace

Linderhof Palace (Schloss Linderhof) is a magnificently preserved palace near Ettal Abbey in southwest Bavaria. Also known as the “Royal Villa,” the Linderhof Palace is the smallest of three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and one of the most artistic and stylistically sophisticated buildings of the 19th century. Modeled on the small 18th century French palaces with Baroque and Rococo sculptural elements and influences from the age of Louis XV of France, the Linderhof Palace is surrounded by inspiring gardens and parklands that were designed and established by court garden director Carl Joseph von Effner in 1874. Linderhof Palace was the only palace that King Ludwig II of Bavaria lived to see completed.

Linderhof 12, 82488 Ettal, Germany, Phone: +49-8-82-29-20-30 Photo: Vlada Z/Fotolia

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Marienplatz (Mary’s Square) is a central square in the middle of Munich that has been the center of the city since 1158. Named after the Mariensäule, a Marian column erected in the center of the square in 1638 in celebration of the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years’ War, the square is lined with historic buildings, including the New City Hall (Neues Rathaus). Once home to medieval markets, celebrations, and tournaments in the 12th century, the square is today a popular tourist attraction among those who come to see the famous Glockenspiel in the Neues Rathaus’ tower and the Gothic ballroom and tower of the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus). A bustling pedestrian zone Marienplatz with Karlsplatz is lined with numerous restaurants and shops.

Marienplatz 1, 80331 München, Germany Photo: Noppasinw/Fotolia

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»Mike's Bike Tours

Mike's Bike Tours

Explore the beautiful city of Munich on two wheels on a guided bicycle tour with Mike’s Bike Tours. Tours are led at a comfortable pace to all of the city’s most famous and popular attractions, as well as some hidden treasures, including architectural masterpieces, historic sites, and beautiful parks. Interactive sightseeing tours in English are led by local professional guides who share their knowledge and passion for the city and make use of carefully planned routes using cycle lanes, car-free streets, and park trails. Children are welcome, and tours include comfortable bikes, a local meal, and refreshments. Signature tours include Classic, Superior, Third Reich, and the Deluxe Bike Tour.

Phone: +49-(0)-89-25-54-39-87 Photo: Mike's Bike Tours

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»Munich Residenz

Munich Residenz

Once the former Royal Palace of the monarchs from Munich’s House of Wittelsbach, the Munich Residenz (Münchner Residenz) is the largest city palace in Germany, and it is open for visitors to explore and enjoy. The Residenz is divided into three main parts, namely the Alte Residenz, the Festsaalbau, and the Königsbau. It features ten courtyards, 130 rooms, the Cuvilliés Theater, and the Herkulessaal (Hercules Hall), the primary concert venue for the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Other notable features of the Residenz include the Byzantine Court Church of All Saints and the Marstall, which was once the Court Riding School and the royal stables.

Residenzstraße 1, 80333 München, Germany, Phone: +49-89-29-06-71 Photo: daisy_y/Fotolia

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»Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau

Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau

The Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus is an acclaimed art gallery and part of Munich’s art district known as Kunstareal. Built as a Florentine-style villa for the artists Franz von Lenbach in the late 1800s, the Lenbachhaus houses a variety of works by contemporary and Munich artists in styles such as New Objectivity and the Blue Rider. Featured masterpieces by Munich artists include Jan Polack, Wilhelm von Kobell, Franz von Stuck, and Hans Thoma, while contemporary artists include Kandinsky, Klee, Marc, and Münte in styles such as New Objectivity and the Blue Rider, and Fruhtrunk, Flavin, and Warhol from the 20th century.

Luisenstraße 33, 80333 München, Germany, Phone: +49-89-23-33-20-00 Photo: Kzenon/Fotolia

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»Museum Brandhorst

Museum Brandhorst

The Brandhorst Museum is a modern and contemporary art museum located in the Kunstareal, the city’s vibrant museum quarter and arts district. Founded in 2009, the museum displays about 200 exhibits from the modern art collection of Annette Brandhorst and Udo Fritz-Hermann. Consisting of over 700 works, the collection includes paintings, sculptures, and installations from American and European artists such as Bruce Nauman, Dan Flavin, Sigmar Polke, and Mario Merz and over 100 works by Andy Warhol. Designed by the German architectural firm Sauerbruch Hutton, the museum is housed in a rectangular building with a beautiful multi-colored façade of 36,000 vertical ceramic louvers. The museum frequently hosts temporary exhibitions, offers guided tours and educational programs, and has a restaurant and a shop.

Theresienstraße 35a, 80333 München, Germany, Phone: +49-8-92-38-05-22-86 Photo: Museum Brandhorst

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»Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Best known for being the inspiration for the castle in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Neuschwanstein Castle is a magnificent 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace set on a hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. One of the most popular castles in Europe, the palace was commissioned by the elusive King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a private refuge and was opened to the public after his death in 1886. King Ludwig adorned Neuschwanstein Castle with the operas of Richard Wagner along with the medieval legends from his works, creating an opulent atmosphere throughout the palace. The castle can be viewed by guided tours, along with King Ludwig's other castles, namely Hohenschwangau and Linderhof, his final home.

Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany Photo: olenatur/Fotolia

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»New Town Hall

New Town Hall

The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) is situated at the northern end of the Marienplatz and houses the city government, including the city council, offices of the mayor, and various administrative departments. Designed by Georg Hauberrisser and constructed in the Flemish Gothic style in 1867, the original building, the Old Town Hall, has remained standing and is located near the New Town Hall on the square. The building features beautiful ornate stone ornamentation, stained glass windows, soaring vaulted ceilings, and intricately carved wood workings. The crowning glory of the Neues Rathaus is its world-famous “glockenspiel,” which gives two presentations a day to crowds that gather to watch them on the Marienplatz.

Marienplatz 8, 80331 München, Germany Photo: Takashi Images/Fotolia

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»Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace

The Nymphenburg Palace (Castle of the Nymph) is a Baroque palace in Munich that was once the main summer residence of the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach. The castle boasts a 2,300-foot façade and stunning interiors with original Baroque detailing, along with Rococo and Neoclassical styles. The central pavilion is known as the Steinerner Saal (Stone Hall), and it features magnificent ceiling frescoes by Johann Baptist Zimmerman and Francois de Cuvilliés, including Helios in his Chariot. The Palace houses six museums, including the Schlossmuseum, Porzellanmuseum München, Marstallmuseum, Museum of Man and Nature, and the Erwin von Kreibig. The palace and the surrounding park are one of the city’s most famous attractions.

Schloß Nymphenburg 1, 80638 München, Germany, Phone: +49-89-17-90-80 Photo: Adwo/Fotolia

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»Olympiapark Munchen

Olympiapark Munchen

Constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics, the Olympiapark München (Olympic Park Munich) is situated in the area of Munich known as the “Oberwiesenfeld,” and it now serves as a venue for cultural, social, and religious events. Located in the Milbertshofen-Am Hart close to BMW and the O2 skyscraper, the park is divided into four sections, namely the Olympic Area, which includes the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Hall, and Olympic Tower, the Olympic Village, the Olympic Media City, and the Olympic Park, which includes the Olympic Mountain and Olympic Lake. The Olympic Stadium is currently used for hosting staged national and international competitions in Germany with seating for up to 70,000 people.

Spiridon-Louis-Ring 21, 80809 München, Germany, Phone: +49-8-93-06-70 Photo: CPN/Fotolia

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»Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower)

Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower)

The Olympic Tower (Olympiaturm), built for the 1972 Olympic Games, is situated in the Olympic Park. Standing at a height of 954 feet, the tower features an observation platform at the top of the tower that boasts breathtaking 360-degree views of the city, a 230-seat revolving restaurant at 600 feet, and an impressive Rock Museum displaying a variety of rock and roll objects and memorabilia. Visitors can reach each level by two high-speed elevators that can take up to thirty people to the top of the tower in approximately thirty seconds. The Olympiaturm also serves as a broadcast tower for Deutsche Telekom.

Olympiapark, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7, 80992 München, Germany Photo: kos 29/Fotolia

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»Paraworth Munich Tandem Paragliding

Paraworth Munich Tandem Paragliding

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Marktstr. 58, 836464 Bad Toelz, Hagen, Phone: +49-17-29-24-26-44 Photo: Paraworth Munich Tandem Paragliding

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»Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church)

Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church)

Otherwise known as Alte Peter (Old Peter), St. Peter's Church is the oldest church in Munich and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Built in 1180 on the same site where 8th-century monks had established a monastery, the Roman Catholic Church was constructed in a Romanesque/Gothic style and named after the area where it was built, which the monks called Peterbergl, or Peter's Hill. A Renaissance steeple and a Baroque choir were added during the 17th century, and the church was later completely renovated in an elaborate Rococo style. The church has survived a rich and turbulent history and has many beautiful artworks to show for it, including paintings by Johann Baptist Zimmerman and sculptures by 15th-century artist Erasmus Grasser.

Rindermarkt 1, 80331 München, Germany, Phone: +49-8-92-10-23-77-60 Photo: Tupungato/Fotolia

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»Theatine Church of St.Catejan (Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan)

Theatine Church of St.Catejan (Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan)

The Theatine Church of St.Catejan (Theatinerkirche St. Kajetan) is a glorious Catholic church in Munich. Founded by Elector Ferdinand Maria in 1662 and built between 1663 and 1690, the church was designed by the Italian architect Agostino Barelli and constructed in an Italian high-Baroque style with two high towers and a 230-foot high dome. The church features an elaborate Rococo-style façade completed by François de Cuvilliés in 1768 and its beautiful Mediterranean appearance – its yellow hue has become an icon for the city. The church is administered by the Dominican Friars and is also known as the Dominican Priory of St. Cajetan.

Salvatorplatz 2A, 80333 München, Phone: +49-8-92-10-69-60 Photo: Mikhail Markovskiy/Fotolia

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Theresienwiese is an urban space in the heart of the Ludwigvorstadt-Isavorstadt borough of Munich and the official grounds of the world-renowned Munich Oktoberfest. Bordered by the Ruhmeshalle and the Bavaria Statue in the west and the Esperantoplatz Square in the east, the space spans 4,500,000 square feet and has its own station on the Munich U-Bahn system. Named after Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen, wife of Crown Prince Ludwig I, whose wedding took place in the space in 1810, Theresienwiese also hosts annual spring and winter festivals every year, as well one of Germany's largest flea markets in April.

Theresienwiese, Bavariaring, 80336 München, Germany, Phone: +49-8-92-33-00 Photo: norbel/Fotolia

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»Hellabrunn Zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn)

Hellabrunn Zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn)

Situated on the banks of the Isar River, Hellabrunn Zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn) is an 89-acre zoological garden and animal park near the quarter of Thalkirchen in southern Munich. The zoo is home to over 19,000 animals and nearly 800 species and features a variety of exhibits and houses, including an Elephant House, a Jungle House with gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys and alligators, a Savannah House with giraffes, and an aquarium with a piranha feeding area. Other attractions at the zoo include the bat house known as Dracula’s Villa, a Polarium and a range of breeding and conservation programs. The zoo has several restaurants, shops, and children’s play areas.

Tierparkstraße 30, 81543 München, Germany, Phone: +49-89-62-50-80 Photo: kamera_d/Fotolia

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The Viktualienmarkt is a square in the center of Munich that hosts a daily food market every day. The Viktualienmarkt evolved from an original farmer’s market to the gourmet food market it is today. It covers an area of 240,000 square feet with over 140 stalls selling exotic fruit, cheeses, flowers, fresh fish, poultry, game, herbs, and spices. The market is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, with special opening hours for specific bakeries, restaurants, and flower shops. The Viktualienmarkt also hosts several traditional and folkloric events such as brewers' days, gardeners' days, summer festivals, the opening of certain vegetable seasons such as asparagus, and the dance of the market women on Shrive Tuesday.

Viktualienmarkt 3, 80331 München, Germany, Phone: +49-89-89-06-82-05 Photo: Vlada Z/Fotolia

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25 Best Things to Do in Munich