The capital of Bavaria, Munich, is an exuberant place to visit. With a combination of exotic sights, beautiful Baroque churches, and a fabulous collection of museums, this city has something to offer for everyone. Kunstareal of Munich, a cluster of art museums, is home to some of the most beautiful masterpieces. Even a week would not suffice to witness all of them.These unmatched collections were gathered by the Wittelsbach monarchs who used to live in Bavaria until the 20th century. Munich also houses some of the world-famous German exports such as BMW, and even the FC Bayern, and the famous Oktoberfest, which is the two-week-long beer-fueled merrymaking that happens every autumn. The number of things to do in Munich is many. You only have to explore!
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Tip: If you intend to use public transportation in Munich, make sure to take a ride on the local subway for ultra-modern art.
Here is a list of the best things to do in Munich –
1. Explore art at Alte Pinakothek
The Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest galleries in the world dating back to 1836 and is one of the best places to visit in Munich. The Neo-Renaissance design of the museum has been a model to those museums that have opened up in Rome, Brussels, and St. Petersburg. King Ludwig I ordered the art gallery to house the fantastic collection of the Wittelsbach dynasty that was started by Duke Wilhelm IV in the 1500s.
The stellar features of the gallery are the 800 Dutch, Spanish, Flemish, Italian, and German paintings made between the 1200s to the 1800s which are of great quality. Those who come under the limelight are Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer, and van Dyck who are represented by several paintings. You will also come across Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Hans Baldung Grien, Hieronymous Bosch, and Rembrandt, to give a few prestigious names.
2. Visit Munich Residenz
The Munich Residenz started as a 14th-century castle built for the Wittelsbach monarchs on the northern edge of Munich. It burgeoned for many hundred years into a sublime palace complex that consists of ten courtyards and 130 rooms. Several dukes, princes, emperors, and kings have given grand statements in various styles such as Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neoclassical.
The vastness of the palace complex and the greatness of its art make the Munich Residenz one of the finest places to visit in Munich. You can make several visits to cover the entire complex. However, a few musts should be checked off in things to do in Munich, such as the Italian Renaissance Grotto Courtyard, the luxuriously decked Antiquarium banquet hall, and buildings in the Baroque Ancestral Gallery.
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Did you know?
The most popular dish in Munich is white pork sausages.
3. Visit Neues Rathaus
A favourite of postcards, Neues Rathaus, is undoubtedly one of the top Munich tourist places. Neues Rathaus is Munich’s town hall in Marienplatz. A Gothic revival wonder, it is a gorgeous monument. The facade is adorned with pinnacles, niches with small trefoil arches, and statues of the four kings of Bavaria on the tower’s bay. In less than a period of 20 years, between 1880-1900, the population of Munich doubled. As a result, the Neues Rathaus, that was completed in 1874, had to be expanded barely 20 years after its completion.
The facade has a length of 100 metres, and the building was expanded to 400 rooms. You can also head into the scale to 85-metres, from where you can witness the Alps on cloudless days. Ever since 1908, the Glockenspiel has chimed at 11:00, 12:00, and 17:00 every day between March and October. The automation act out episodes from the 1600s. One of the top things to do in Munich, the Neues Rathaus cannot be missed!
4. Relax at the Englischer Garten
A very expansive park area, you are sure to be struck by the size of the Englischer Garten. The park begins from the left bank of the Isar in the north, reaches behind the Residenz, and continues to go on. Established in the 18th-century, the Englischer Garten covers an area of about 370 hectares. One of the world’s largest urban parks, it holds vast expanses of lawns, pastures, tree groves, waterways, and a lake. Even bigger than New York’s Central Park, the Englischer Garten has pretty sights to take in.
In 1972, a Japanese tea house was added for the Olympics, and in 1790, the Chinese Tower was first erected. An astonishing feature of the park is the provision of surfing down the man-made river, Eisbach. It has a strong current that causes the formation of a static wave that can be ridden by experienced boarders for a minute at a time.
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Fun Fact: Munich is considered to be the beer capital of Germany.
5. Explore the art marvels in Neue Pinakothek
With an eye for contemporary art, King Ludwig I of the 19th-century collected several invaluable pieces from that time. In Neue Pinakothek, over 400 paintings are on display from the 1800s. These paintings cover all the influential movements in history. The works of German Romantics such as Caspar David Friedrich and Karl Friedrich Schinkel can be found here.
You will also come across French Realists such as Delacroix and Courbet and Impressionist Art by Degas, Monet, Ganguin, Cézanne, and Renoir. You can spend some time understanding that details of each movement or shoot across periods to explore various other artworks by Goya, Rodin, Klimt, Turner, and Munch. One among the best Munich tourist places, Neue Pinakothek must be visited.
6. Go shopping at Marienplatz
Placed right in front of the Neues Rathaus, Marienplatz is sure to be brimming with people, both locals and tourists, who will be shopping or sightseeing. Among the top Munich attractions, this square has continued to be the centre of the city since the 12th-century. It has been named for a Marian column that had been raised here in the 17th-century. Marienplatz is the mark of celebration of the withdrawal of the Swedish troops from Munich in the 30 Years’ War. December is the best time to visit Marienplatz when the Christmas market is at its best.
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Did you know?
If you love swimming and sunbathing naked, Munich has several places designed just for this!
7. Marvel at the architecture of St. Peter’s Church
The oldest church of Munich was built at the end of the 1100s but was destroyed by a fire as early as 1347. It was reconstructed in the Gothic style, and there have been several extensions over the years. Today, only the Renaissance and Baroque elements remain in the architecture of St. Peter’s Church. Resting atop a hillock called Petersbergl, the church offers a view of the famous landmarks of Munich with a telescope after a climb of the tower’s 299 steps. This is one of the top 15 things to do in Munich.
8. Tour the Deutsches Museum
Similar to the Alte Pinakothek, the Deutsches Museum can keep you occupied for a whole day. It rests on an island in the Isar, the Museumsinsel, and covers the development of science and technology in Germany. From nanotechnology and reproduction to aerospace, astronomy, and hydraulic engineering, you will be engrossed with the wide variety of fields within this museum. Each area consists of several interactive exhibits which will seem very interesting to kids as they can push buttons, pull levers, and crank wheels. For the young and the old, exploring the exhibits of the Deutsches Museum is one of the fascinating things to do in Munich.
9. Appreciate modern art at Pinakothek der Moderne
Although Pinakothek der Moderne is locally known as “Dritte”, meaning the third, it comes after the Alte and Neue Pinakothek. However, it is still very essential. This art gallery is comprehensive and is home to artwork by the famous names from the last 100 years. The best feature of the gallery is the work of Expressionism, from the groups of Brücke and Blaue Reiter and even artists such as Kirchner, Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Klee, and Emil Nolde.
In the area of Modernism, you will find the works of Francis Bacon, Braque, Otto Dix, and Picasso, to name a few. Further on, you will come across artwork from the 1960s to contemporary times such as those by Andy Warhol, Lucio Fontana, and Sigmar Polke among many others. Pinakothek der Moderne also conducts exhibitions for applied art or industrial design, photography, architecture, and drawings.
Did you know?
The Neues Kino Gabriel in Munich, existing since 1906, is probably the oldest cinema in the whole world!
10. Experience Munich nightlife
A place where beer is not a drink but a tradition in itself, Munich is a fantastic place to dance the night away. Once the sun sets, the city becomes a paradise for party animals, and Munich nightlife is at its splendid best. Taste the freshly brewed beer, sip on some delectable cocktails, and let the night guide your energy.
Some of the best places to experience Munich nightlife are –
Best craft cocktail bars:
- Flushing Meadows
- Boilerman Bar
- Giesinger Brau
- Munich Distillers
Best dive bars:
- Couch Club
- Robinsons Bar
Best wine bars:
- Weinhaus Neuner
- Grapes Weinbar
Best night clubs:
- Harry Klein
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Note: The pubs and bars remain closed on Sundays and Mondays. Ensure to check the opening hours before planning a visit.
11. Visit the Asam Church
The Asam Church derives its name from its mid-18th century designers, who were the brothers Asam, one a painter and the other a sculptor. A fascinating feature of the Church is that it is a private chapel that does not attend to any religious order. This feature, along with the narrow space, allowed the brothers to break some of the Baroque rules of layout and interior decor.
The church is west-facing, and the crucifix located opposite the pulpit hangs at an unusually low height. The unique ceiling frescoes and stuccowork lining the nave make it one among the first buildings of the German late-Baroque style. A visit to the Asam Church is among the most exciting things to do in Munich.
12. Head to the BMW Museum
The man who made the design of the popular BMW Headquarters, Karl Schwanzer, also made plans for the futuristic BMW Museum. It reached completion in 1973 with its galleries on a Guggenheim-esque spiral. As you go on a journey of the brand’s technological development, you will notice that the showrooms are airy and spacious. You will find here vintage cars, motorcycles, turbines, aircraft, and engines.
Outlandish concept cars belonging to the last two decades are also on display here. Everything that you will see here will be accompanied with information through multimedia. One of the most fun-filled things to do in Munich, an exploration of the BMW Museum is a must for all automobile lovers.
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Did you know?
The BMW owned by Elvis Presley is one display in the BMW Museum!
13. Have a day out at Olympia park
While several former Olympic venues tend to be forgotten, the Olympia park of Munich continues to be an accessible location for a day out. A large activity centre, the park has the provisions of zip-lining, water sports, and skiing. Summer has several amusements and the park always has places to grab some delicious food.
The Olympia park has been the witness to a few historical events. One grim event was the massacre of the 11 Israeli team members in the year 1972. You can even visit Building 31, where the Israeli team was staying. The Olympic stadium had also had happy moments such as the happening of the World Cup Finals in 1974 when Germany defeated the Netherlands.This is one of the best things to do in Munich.
Did you know?
The major streets of Old Town Munich were closed down for the Olympics of 1972, making them open to pedestrians only. Ever since then, they have remained the same!
14. Go swimming in Müller’ sches Volksbad
Situated on the right bank of the Isar, Müller’sches Volksbad is a unique swimming pool. For those who have a liking for Art Noveau design, swimming here is one of the most relaxing things to do in Munich. Your swim and sauna sessions are sure to be made interesting by Carl Hochede’s Classical motifs, the beautifully patterned stuccowork on the ceilings, fabulous lamp holders, and the wrought iron bannisters.
15. Experience the Oktoberfest
Attracting over seven million visitors and a beer consumption of about 7.5 litres, the very popular Oktoberfest is a 16-18 day festival that commences on the third Saturday of September. The history of the festival goes back to 1810 when Prince Ludwig got married to Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. In 1896, the breweries of the city made huge beer tents for the celebration of the marriage and since then, the main activity of Munich has been the drinking of beer.
14 tents have been set up permanently to hold up to 8,500 revellers in each. These tents are located in Theresienwiese, in the western part of Munich. Though these tents have a huge capacity, they fill up very fast. Ensure that you reach there early if you wish to save a seat for yourself. Do not miss out on the amusements and funfair rides and make sure that you savour the alcohol with bratwurst, pretzels, and schnitzel! Without a doubt, one of the most fun things to do in Munich, plan your visit to the city during the time of the Oktoberfest.
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Did you know?
Munich is home to over 60 beer gardens!
Get ready to feel the energy of the city fuel you as you treat yourself to the many things to do in Munich!