Nowhere is this more on show than through the Bavarian capital’s eclectic selection of visitor attractions, including a world-class lineup of museums that covers everything from history and art to motoring and sport.
If you’re in town for a short break or long weekend, time will be of the essence. So to help you get started, here are some of our top picks for Munich museums.
Whether you’re an art aficionado, history buff, car enthusiast, or a football fanatic, Munich truly has something for everyone.
- BMW Museum
- Deutsches Museum
- New Pinakothek
- State Museum of Egyptian Art
- Museum Brandhorst
- Alte Pinakothek
- FC Bayern Museum
- The Beer and Oktoberfest Museum
- The Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism
- Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art
There are few things more quintessentially German than BMW. And this legendary car marque has been proud to call Munich home since its founding over a century ago. With this inextricable link to the local area, there’s no other city on earth they could have considered for their international museum. It spans a newly-built, high-tech site by Munich’s Olympic Park.
Inside the BMW Museum Munich is a rich tapestry of motoring history, featuring everything from the earliest cars and motorcycles to a glimpse at the driving technology of tomorrow.
The spectacular Deutsches Museum has been a Munich institution since 1903, and today lays claim to being the largest museum of science and technology in the entire world, with more than 28,000 artefacts on show.
Nestled on a small island in the Isar River, this temple to physics and engineering includes everything from replica coal and salt mines, through to a cave with stone age paintings and even a planetarium. There are superb kids’ exhibits that are sure to spark young minds, so the Deutsches Museum Munich is an excellent choice for visitors of all ages.
When the fascinating Neue Pinakothek was completed in 1853, it was the first museum in the world devoted to the permanent exhibition of works by contemporary artists. It’s hardly surprising when you consider what a defining time this was for European art, with Neoclassical, Impressionist, Art Nouveau and Gründerzeit movements all finding their swing around the 19th century.
Though these works are no longer at the forefront of modern art, the Neue Pinakothek remains a spectacular journey into the creative genius of pioneers like Liebermann, Manet, Van Gogh, and Cézanne.
Bavaria might not be an obvious setting for one of the world’s finest collections of Ancient Egyptian art, but that’s precisely what’s on offer at this one-of-a-kind museum. Across this newly constructed site, you’ll spot more than 2,000 permanent pieces from the predynastic and dynastic periods, as well as artefacts from Assyrian and Babylonian culture.
The Egyptian Museum in Munich features obelisks, sphinxes, and sarcophagi stored within its underground halls. These are flooded with columns of natural light from above, making for a truly magical brush with ancient history.
This eccentric modern art museum in Munich is a must for architecture enthusiasts, with the complex’s colourful ceramic exterior being a work of art in its own right. Inside, you can cast your eye over 200 pieces collected by the Brandhorst family that were donated to the city upon the death of Anette Brandhorst in 1999.
Contemporary works to look out for include those by Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Bruce Nauman – among many others.
Another Munich art museum option is the Alte Pinakothek, which specialises in works from the 14th to the 18th centuries. Across grounds that are suitably beautiful and ornate for the fine art residing inside, you’ll catch a glimpse at one of history’s most valuable collections of European art, with works handed over from the personal possessions of Bavarian royalty through the centuries. Highlights include pieces by da Vinci, Raphael, Albrecht Durer, and Peter Paul Rubens.
Right beside their home at the Allianz Arena, the FC Bayern Museum is a heartfelt and passionate tribute to Germany’s most famous football club. Any and all fans of the beautiful game will enjoy this journey through Bayern’s history, spanning triumphant victories, bitter defeats, and fierce rivalries. With unseen interactive exhibits and a chance to gawp at the trophy cabinet, FC Bayern Museum is a must for sports fans.
Beyond FC Bayern, there’s one other thing that Munich is synonymous with. Snaking its way through a traditional Bavarian house, the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum is a celebration of the region’s most famous export. Visitors can learn all about where the hoppy stuff comes from and how it gets made. Of course, you’re not going to spend all that time talking about beer without trying some, so stick around and enjoy some samples at the end.
Covering the darkest period in Munich’s history, this moving museum explores the city’s role as the ‘Hauptstadt der Bewegung’ or ‘capital of the movement′ of the Nazi Party. The newly constructed complex sits on the site of the former Brown House, which served as the party’s headquarters. It is dedicated to understanding what allowed fascism and hatred to spread in and from the city so that we can ensure it never happens again.
This small and eclectic museum is set within a former substation. It’s one of the world’s first to be dedicated entirely to urban art. Expect to see colourful graffiti pieces and guerilla sculpture work among the museum’s quirky collection.
Visiting the Nymphenburg Palace
One of the oldest and most famous sites in all of Germany, Nymphenburg Palace is the place to put at the top of the list when choosing which museums in Munich to visit. West of the city among its own landscaped park, it’s considered to be one of the most spectacular royal palaces in all of Europe.
The Palace was the primary summer residence of Bavaria’s royal rulers during the 17th and 18th centuries. Added to over the years by the most influential German artists, architects, and landscapists of their era, the palace stands today as a whimsical and captivating expression of German creativity through the ages.
Today, much of the palace and its spectacular grounds are open to the public. Within various wings of the estate are self-contained museums and exhibitions. At the same time, architectural features such as the Great Hall are attractions in their own right.
Tip: To access the palace, you’ll need to pay an entry fee. This costs €15.00 for adults between April and 15th October, while it’s €12.00 for adults between 16th October and the end of March. All visitors under 18 can enter for free.
The Munich Residenz
Standing proud at the heart of the city in some form since 1385, The Residenz Museum Munich is among Germany’s oldest estates. The home of Bavarian kings and dukes for several centuries, the facility is built mostly in the Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo styles with almost no expense spared on its proportioned exterior and lavish interiors.
The complex contains a whopping ten courtyards, which helps make this one of the country’s largest castles. Today, some of these outdoor spaces are used for rock concerts and Christmas markets, just one example of the way Munich loves to meet the old with the new.
Heading inside, the labyrinth of 130 rooms is adorned with antique furniture, delicate oil paintings, and centuries-old tapestries everywhere you look. Parts of the Munich Residenz even serve as dedicated museums to crafts like pottery and jewellery. Wherever your interest lies, it’s impossible not to be blown away by the scale and beauty of the Munich Residenz.
Tip: To access some parts of the residence, you’ll need to pay an entry fee. This costs €9.00 for adults, while all visitors under 18 can enter for free but they’ll still need to reserve a ticket.
Getting around Munich
Germany has a reputation for speedy and efficient transport, and you certainly won’t be disappointed by Munich. Moving across the city is easy and reasonably priced, with entire networks of suburban trains (S-Bahn), underground trains (U-Bahn), trams, and buses to get you from A to B.
It goes without saying that walking is always an option in Munich, with so much to see and do at the heart of the city you never know what you might find. It’s a reasonably cycle-friendly city too, but we’d only recommend this if you’re familiar with getting around busy urban areas on two wheels.
Choosing a public transport ticket
Here’s the best bit. Munich’s multiple transport options are all integrated, which means one ticket will take you from S-Bahn to U-Bahn to bus and back.
If you’re only in the Bavarian capital for a day or two, it may make the most sense to buy a single or group day ticket. But if you have a busy itinerary packed full of attractions like the museums listed above, the Munich CityTourCard is a superb way to go. For as little as €13.90 for 24 hours, up to €41.90 for six days, you can use the city’s transport to your heart’s galore. Not only that, but you’ll get an exclusive discount on entry prices at more than 80 top attractions around Munich and beyond.
With a world-class lineup of museums, alongside a whole host of other cultural draws and sights to see, a trip to the beating heart of Bavaria makes for the perfect short break.
Taking the train to Munich?
It's easy to take the train to Munich from the main destinations across Europe. Travel direct from Prague to Munich in just 4h 56m on a high-speed Deutsche Bahn service, or why not whizz from Berlin to Munich on another direct DB train in about 4h 49m. Frankfurt to Munich is also another well-connected route, taking just 3h 12m.
Ready for your next train journey to Munich? Check out our guide to trains in Germany to learn all about the German trains, timetables and popular routes.