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A perfect day in Munich

Munich certainly is Germany's most italian city, a perfect place for art, espresso and beer lovers, and so traditionally bavarian... But Munich is not only "gemütlich". There's a lot more to discover than the famous Hofbräuhaus and the Oktoberfest: contemporary art and science museums, street art, pop up galleries and more. Follow us on a stroll through the narrow streets of the old city, passing museums, churches, castles, parks, markets, and beer gardens. We might just introduce you to some hidden gems along the way…

Marienplatz

Colourful carillon figures
The carillon at the Old Town Hall
Two tall church towers and a golden statue of the Virgin Mary
The towers of the "Frauenkirche" and the "Mariensäule"
A winding staircase in a library
The law library at the new town hall © München Tourismus. Foto: Sigi Müller

The starting point of our itinerary is (of course) the Marienplatz, the city's main square, always bustling with life. The most impressive and dominant building on the square is without a doubt the New Town Hall, built by Georg Hauberisser towards the end of the 19th century as a typical example of Flemish neo-Gothic architecture.
Up on the tower of the Town Hall, the famous Glockenspiel made up of 43 bells chimes two to three times a day (every day at 11am and 12pm, as well as 5pm during the summer). At the sound of these bells, the figures on the tower's bay window come to life and start turning and dancing around as they re-enact two historic events.

In the middle of the square, on a column with a richly decorated pedestal, stands a golden statue of the Virgin Mary on a crescent from 1590. This work by Gerhard Hubert was erected in 1638 by Elector Maximilian I in gratitude for saving Munich and Landshut from destruction at the hands of the Swedes.

Old Peter & Viktualienmarkt

St. Peter's church tower
Tower of the "Alter Peter" church © München Tourismus. Foto: Jan Saurer
Picture of a heavily decorated white and blue maypole
The white and blue "Maibaum" at Viktualienmarkt © Bayern Tourismus

Close to Marienplatz you’ll find the church of St. Peter. It is the oldest surviving Catholic parish church within the old city walls of Munich. The Romanesque basilica that was built in the 12th century on a hill called Petersbergl was later extended into a Gothic church. After being destroyed by the great city fire of 1327, the church was rebuilt and consecrated again in 1368. Its present appearance, which is a mixture of many styles, was created over the course of centuries through repeated alterations and modernisations.

Viktualienmarkt - Munich's most picturesque market is located at the very centre of the city, in the immediate vicinity of Marienplatz. The beginnings of the market's tradition here date back to 1807, when King Max I Josef issued a decree to establish a market on the site.
The pavilions and stalls scattered around the square mainly sell high-quality food - from exotic fruit and local vegetables to French cheeses and local traditional cured meats and various Italian delicacies. Numerous small catering outlets offer Bavarian specialities, which make the market a very popular lunchtime destination for locals and visitors alike. The market is open from Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., but each stall has its own opening hours. The focal point of the market is a large beer garden. Next to it stands an over 30-metre-high maypole painted with white and blue stripes, the so-called "Maibaum". The decorations surrounding the pole all reference the Viktualienmarkt. You will find market stalls, beer barrels or flags in the colours of Munich - yellow and black. At the very top of the maypole you’ll see statues of St Florian and St Boniface, the patron saints of brewing.

Frauenkirche

Panoramic image of the Munich skyline, including the two towers of the St. Mary's Cathedral

The St. Mary's Cathedral (or "Frauenkirche", Church of Our Lady), built in the 15th century by Jörg von Halsbach, is Munich's most important church and a landmark of the city. Its characteristic twin towers have become both a symbol of Munich and a measure of height for the surrounding buildings in its historic centre. According to tradition, buildings in the old town must not be taller than the temple towers, i.e. over 100 metres tall.

Jakobsplatz

Cubic, modern building containing a synagogue.
The Ohel Jakob synagogue © München Tourismus. Foto: Jörg Lutz

St. Jakobs-Platz is an important site in Munich's old town as it is home to many valuable cultural and social institutions such as the Jewish Centre Munich, the Munich City Museum and the Angerkloster monastery.

The Jewish Centre consists of the main Ohel Jakob synagogue (Hebräisch: אהל יעקב Zelt Jakobs), the community centre of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, and the Munich Jewish Museum, which opened in 2007.  The museum highlights and celebrates the diversity of Jewish history and identity.

Located nearby you'll finde the Munich City Museum, will be closed for renovation until at least 2031. Its adjacent café and cinema are going to remain open for visitors until 2027.

Beer, Oktoberfest & Hofbräuhaus

A white building: Entrance to the Oktoberfestmuseum
The Oktoberfestmuseum is open all year round © München Tourismus. Anna-Lena Zintel
A colourful merry-go-round at the Oktoberfest
The “Wiesn” takes places in September every year

Everyone knows that Munich is most famous for its beer and brewery tradition. If you can't make it to the Oktoberfest (locals call it "Wiesn" and it starts mid-September), you can always get some insight into its rich history by visiting the Oktoberfestmuseum - where you'll also get to taste test some beer, of course.

Or you can continue on to the Hofbräuhaus - it is a beloved establishment and one of Munich's most popular attractions. Thousands of tourists and beer lovers visit the iconic venue every day to enjoy its famous golden brew in international company. The sounds of a Bavarian orchestra and the presence of Bavarians dressed in traditional costumes create an atmosphere reminiscent of the Oktoberfest. And the numbers speak for themselves: over 10,000 litres of beer are regularly served here in a single day.

Old Court & Imperial Castle

The monkey tower at the Old Court
Visit us at the Infopoint and find out all about the legend of the monkey tower! © München Tourismus. Foto: Sigi Müller
A fountain at the Old Court
© Infopoint Museen und Schlösser/ Sabine Wieshuber
A crowd of people in old-timey costume gathered at the Old Court
© Infopoint Museen und Schlösser/Nathalie Schwaiger

The Alter Hof served as the first main residence of the Wittelsbach family in Munich from the 13th century to the 15th century. Later in history, the pension office and tax authorities were located on the premises. After the Alter Hof suffered considerable destruction during the Second World War, it was rebuilt in 1950. The oldest parts of the building have been used by the Free State of Bavaria for cultural facilities since the general refurbishment was completed in 2003.


The eastern side of the courtyard now houses the State Office for Non-State Museums in Bavaria and the Infopoint Museums and Palaces in Bavaria. In the late Gothic arched cellar, which dates back to around 1300, you can visit the "Munich Imperial Castle" exhibition, which will offer you a glimpse into the rich history of both the site and the city of Munich itself. Admission is free.

Residence & Cuvilliéstheater

Bronze monument depicting Maximilian I. Joseph on his throne
The Munich Residence is located right by the National Theatre and the Bavarian State Opera © Infopoint Museen in Bayern/Hanna Hillenbrand

For more than five centuries, the palace in the centre of Munich has served the Wittelsbacher family as its main residence. Its origins date back to 1363, which is when construction of the Gothic castle located within the city walls began. Over the course of centuries, a huge architectural complex consisting of interconnected buildings in the style of various different time periods was created.

Today, the Residenz is home to a public museum, the world-famous treasury and the Cuvilliéstheater. The unique rococo court theatre was built between 1851 and 1753 in collaboration with several distinguished Munich artists.

Odeonsplatz & Hofgarten

A golden lion statue in front of the Field Marshals' Hall
Lions watch over the Feldherrnhalle at Odeonsplatz © München Tourismus. Foto: Sigi Müller
Bird's eye view of the court garden at the Munich Residence
The court garden of the Munich Residence © München Tourismus. Foto: Redline Enterprises

The Odeonsplatz is located at the northern end of the old town and is surrounded by buildings of great historical significance. The most important of these is the Theatinerkirche. This church, one of the first Baroque churches in Bavaria, was built in honour of the birth of the heir to the throne, Maximilian Emmanuel, in 1662.

The second important building on the Odeonsplatz is the Feldherrnhalle - the Field Marshals' Hall. The three-aisled open hall was built from 1841 to 1844 to honour the Bavarian army. In November of 1923, during the Beer Hall Putsch (a failed coup d’état), the Nazis fought the police at the foot of the Feldherrnhalle. After Hitler and his party came to power in 1933, they utilised the square to spread fascist propaganda .

The south side of Odeonsplatz is surrounded by the wall of the Court Garden (Hofgarten), one of the city's oldest parks. Its geometric layout is based on two perpendicular avenues, at the intersection of which stands a small 17th-century garden temple - the Hofgartentempel, decorated with a statue of Bavaria, which serves as a popular meeting place for musicians and tango or salsa dancers in the summertime.

One of the city's most important streets, the Ludwigstrasse, also begins at Odeonsplatz. This boulevard is home to many representative buildings such as the Ludwig Maximilian UniversitySt. Ludwig's Church and the State Library (Staatsbibliothek). The Ludwigstrasse ends at the "Siegestor", a triumphal arch from the 19th-century, modelled after similar arches in Paris and Rome.

Fünf Höfe & Kunsthalle

Two women dressed in impressive tulle dresses
Victor & Rolf, Current exhibition at the Kunsthalle. Ellen von Unwerth, Suite Haute Couture, Paris, Town & Country, 2023, Late Stage Capitalism Waltz Haute Couture, S/S 2023 © Ellen von Unwerth
A woman in a dress resembling a framed abstract painting that has been split in half
Philip Riches, Wearable Art Haute Couture, A/W 2015 © Philip Riches

A key part of the 5 Höfe concept are its art venues. Among the most important of these is the renowned painting and sculpture gallery Kunsthalle. It specialises in presenting spectacular temporary exhibitions such as "Rembrandt - Tizian - Bellotto" , "Keith Haring" and "Peter Lindbergh". Its current exhibition about the famous dutch fashion designer duo "Victor & Rolf" will run until October 2024.

English Garden, Haus der Kunst (House of art) & Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum)

People relaxing at a beer garden, the Chinese Tower can be seen in the background
Beer garden next to the Chinese Tower © München Tourismus. Foto: Tommy Lösch
A small round greek temple on a hill
The Monopteros at the English Garden © München Tourismus. Foto: Tommy Lösch
Panoramic picture of the city taken from the hill at the English Garden
Panorama of the city © Bayern Tourismus. Foto: Jörg Lutz
Beer garden next to a lake
Beer garden at the Kleinhesseloher Lake © München Tourismus. Foto: Tommy Lösch
Multiple people swimming in a lake. There's a small round temple in the background.

At almost four hundred hectares, the English Garden is one of the world’s oldest and largest urban parks. It was created on the left bank of the River Isar between 1789 and 1815 under the patronage of Prince Karl Theodor. The creators of the garden, which stretches from the city centre northwards, included Count Rumford, Reinhold von Warneck and Fridrich von Sckell. The garden resembles a landscaped English park and serves as an oasis for recreation, sports, picnics, sun bathing and games. 

The Haus der Kunst, an important contemporary museum with a turbulent history, hosts fun exhibitions and is located right at the entrance of the Park near the Eisbach. 

Closeby you’ll also find the Bavarian National Museum, known for its unique baroque, silver, furniture, textile, arts and crafts collections and exhibitions.

Kunstareal

An art piece resembling a life size space ship.
The space ship “Futuro” has landed in front of the Alte Pinakothek © München Tourismus/Andreas Heddergott
A giant fountain with an angel statue at its centre. There's a yellow mansion in the background.
The Lenbachhaus © Pixabay
A set of steps at the Königsplatz. The Glyptothek can be seen in the background.
A perfect place to bask in the sun and recharge: the Königsplatz © Bayern Tourismus
White headless sculpture with wings.
The antique collections © Infopoint Museen und Schlösser/Nathalie Schwaiger

In the Kunstareal you will find 18 unique museums and over 20 galleries - from egyptian artifacts at the SMÄK to design masterpieces at the Pinakothek der Moderne, from antique sculptures at the  Glyptothek to modern architecture at the architecture museum of the TUM, from old masters at the Alte Pinakothek to pop art at Museum Brandhorst.

And the Königsplatz is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Munich. Characterised by classicism and perfect symmetry, it surprises visitors with its architectural qualities and its wealth of antique culture. Built in the first half of the 19th century by architects Leo von Klenze and Georg Ziebland, the Königsplatz is the fulfilment of King Ludwig I's dream of creating a so-called Athens on the Isar. The most impressive building on the Royal Square is the Glyptothek, which is dedicated to the exposition of ancient sculptures. Among the museum's most valuable exhibits are the Barbarian Faun and the Eginets. On the opposite side of the Glyptothek you’ll find another classical building, the Museum of Antiquities Collection.

Fun fact: The architect of the Glyptothek, Leo von Klenze, also designed the entrance gate to the Royal Square known as the Propylaea. The monumental building, modelled on the gate leading to the Acropolis, is a combination of Greek and Egyptian styles.

The Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, which is located in the immediate vicinity, houses the world's largest collection of Blue Rider art. In addition to masterpieces by Gabriele Münter, Franz Marc, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee, it also exhibits art from after 1945, such as Joseph Beuys. The gardens of the former artist's villa of the painter Franz von Lenbach are accessible free of charge during opening hours and offer a wonderful break between visits to the museum. It also presents big exhibtions from impressionism to virtual reality.

Also nearby: the NS Documentation Center

Isar, Deutsches Museum (German Museum)

Exterior view of the Deutsche Museum next to the river Isar
Perfect for science lovers and families: the Deutsches Museum
The river bank of the Isar
The city beach at the Isar © Bayern Tourismus
Golden angel statue
The golden “Friedensengel” watches over the city  © Pixabay
Exterior view of the Alpine Museum
Reopened: the Alpine Museum © Infopoint/Sabine Wieshuber

On the banks of the river Isar, where you’ll find locals and tourists alike strolling around, relaxing and cooling down in the summer, the Deutsches Museum, one of the biggest and most well-known science museums in Europe, is located. 

A must for anyone who loves hiking and the mountains: the Alpines Museum on the Museum Island in the river just opened again after years of renovation.

Olympic Park & BMW World

Panoramic view of the olympic grounds during blue hour
The Olympic Park © Pixabay
A glowing blue building at nighttime.
Shiny and blue: the BMW World © München Tourismus/ Luis Gervasi
Panoramic view of the olympic park
The Olympic Park © Pixabay

The Olympic grounds are not only a historic site of past sporting exploits, but above all one of the city's main sporting, entertainment and tourist attractions.

Between 1969 and 1972, a team of architects led by Günther Behnisch carried out an innovative project to build a park with artificial hills and a lake fed by the Nympenburg Canal. The main Olympic buildings include a stadium, sports hall, indoor swimming pool and cycling hall. With their distinctive glass facades, the spacious buildings blend in perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace)

A giant lake in front of a castle
The summer residence of bavarian kings: Schloss Nymphenburg © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung

The Palace in Nymphenburg was established as a summer residence after the birth of the long-awaited heir to the throne, Max Emanuel, son of the Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, in 1662.

After King Maximilian I Joseph died at Nymphenburg in 1825, the palace remained a favourite residence of the Bavarian royal family. King Ludwig II of Bavaria (who reigned from 1864 to 1886) was born here on 25 August 1845.

The castle’s highlights include the great hall and the gallery of beauties: a collection of portraits of princesses, actresses and farm girls.

Don’t miss: the park and its pavilions (especially the Amalienburg in its exuberant Rococo style)! In the early nineteenth century the castle grounds were transformed into English landscape gardens by Friedrich Ludwig Sckell.

More exciting museums in the city centre:

Hania Hillenbrand, Nathalie Schwaiger & Lena Groenewald