Combining an incredible past with an eye for the future, Munich is a fascinating city that makes for a superb European city break. Once the seat of rulers and kings, the narrow winding streets of the Old Town have so many stories to reveal, while modern draws like art museums, supersize sports arenas and high-tech car plants keep this city front and centre for culture and innovation. With so many sides to the Bavarian capital, it can be hard to know where to start with things to do in Munich, Germany.
Thankfully, if you have a few days in town, some careful planning should ensure you get all the main sights in. To get you going with your city break itinerary, we’ve put together our top 10 things to do in Munich, along with some great recommendations for places to get your fill and part with your spends. So let’s get started!
Catch a match at the Allianz Arena
The home of Germany’s most successful football team, the unmistakable Allianz Arena is an icon of modern Munich. This one-of-a-kind stadium has been the place where FC Bayern Munich work their magic since 2005. Its 75,000+ capacity and futuristic design mean that a trip to the Allianz is an experience in its own right, even before any balls are kicked. But you simply won’t get the full experience unless you attend a match, where you can expert Bavarians to raise the roof for the home side and an atmosphere that rivals the best stadia in the footballing world.
Marvel at the Frauenkirche
With its twinned towers having peered over the people of Munich for more than 500 years, the Frauenkirche is the city’s original architectural icon. Owing to the building height limitations in the Bavarian capital, this spectacular Catholic church remains one of the two most prominent features on the city skyline today. Inside, its ornate and majestic interior opens up to reveal hidden chapels, tombs and beautiful artwork everywhere you look.
Toast with a tankard at the Hofbräuhaus
If you think Munich is all about standing on stools and swinging a stein around – you’re not totally off the mark. The city’s historic bierhallesare part of its history and charm, and the most famous might just be the Hofbräuhaus. Considered the ‘cradle of Bavarian tavern culture’, this sprawling mansion has been serving locally brewed beer to Munich’s residents and guests for hundreds of years.
Soak up the atmosphere at Marienplatz
Considered the beating heart of Munich, Marienplatz has been at the centre of city life since the 12th century. Home to both the city’s Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) and neo-Gothic masterpiece New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), simply soaking up the atmosphere here is one of the top things to do in Munich. No matter what time of year you visit, there always seems to be something happening at Marienplatz, but you’re in for a treat if you visit in the wintertime. The square and its surrounding streets are where you’ll find Munich’s world-renowned Christmas Markets, easily one of the best things to do in Munich in December.
Step into magic at Neuschwanstein Castle
You don’t need to be a fan of fairytales to appreciate the jaw-dropping beauty of Neuschwanstein Castle, but it certainly helps! Perched atop a rocky outcrop at the foothills of the Alps, this spectacular fortress is the real-life inspiration for the Disney’s Cinderella Castle that you’ll find at its parks across the globe. The castle’s whimsical architecture and beautiful setting combine to make any visit a truly special experience. Just a couple of hours southwest of the city by direct train, it’s one of the best things to do in Munich in winter when the landscapes are cloaked in snow.
See the site of Munich’s famous festival at Theresienwiese
The home of the world’s largest annual public festival for more than 200 years, Theresienwiese is a showground like no other. This sprawling event space sits just on the eastern edges of the city centre and is where all of Munich’s biggest and best celebrations happen. If you’re lucky there might just be something on while you’re in the city, but even if not, Theresienwiese is easy to reach and well worth a stroll around.
Eat, drink and be merry at Oktoberfest
For more than two centuries, the last week of September and first week of October has been Munich’s most spectacular time of year. Oktoberfest began as a public festival in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of the King of Bavaria, and such a good time was had by all that it has been held annually ever since! Though it’s moved with the times, Oktoberfest still retains a traditional touch and you can expect lederhosen and folk tunes aplenty. With millions of litres of beer being glugged down over the course of the festival and a host of eateries, games and funfair rides to mix up the day with, Oktoberfest is a true one-of-a-kind party.
Experience history at Dachau Concentration Camp
As the “Hauptstadt der Bewegung” or “Capital of the Movement” of the Nazi Party, Munich’s history is deeply intertwined with the rise of fascism in the 1930s, which would eventually lead to the Second World War and The Holocaust. Though a deeply difficult period of the city’s history to reflect on, Germans take the view that it is vital we learn the horrors of the past to ensure they are not repeated. The Dachau Concentration Camp is just out on Munich’s outskirts and was one of the facilities where the Nazi regime held prisoners of war, Jews, Jehovah’s witnesses, homosexuals, the disabled, and any other group deemed to be an enemy of the state. At the site you will find memorials to those who perished here and a poignant and moving explanation of the horrors that took place.
Walk the historic halls of the Munich Residenz
The seat of Bavaria’s rulers for hundreds of years, the spectacular Munich Residenz is the largest urban palace in Germany. Across hundreds of rooms, halls and courtyards are priceless artworks, artefacts and tapestries, while the architecture itself is a sight to behold. Extended and reworked by the Wittelsbach dynasty through the ages, a tour of the Munich Residenz is among the best things to do around Munich and a fascinating journey through this city’s past.
Among the grandest estates in all of Europe, Nymphenburg Palace is the former summer residence of Bavaria’s rulers. Along with its spectacular landscaped grounds, Nymphenburg Palace is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and among the best things to do in Munich with kids. With several parts of the building open to the public and multiple museums to discover inside, this is the perfect day out for lovers of history, art, architecture, and nature alike.
Great food is part and parcel of any city break, and Munich certainly delivers in this department. While hearty German fare like sausages and schnitzel are the order of the day, being the modern and cosmopolitan city it is, you’ll find something to suit all tastes in Munich. From Michelin-starred excellence through to family-run joints where every meal is prepared with passion, it can be hard to know where to start. Thankfully, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites to get you going.
- Broeding – classic Bavarian food with a thoroughly contemporary twist
- IZAKAYA– exceptional Japanese cuisine served in a space-age, uber sleek setting
- ROCCA Riviera – fresh and beautiful Mediterranean food, including some of the best seafood in the city
- Oanh 65 – colourful, aromatic Asian-inspired favourites like rice bowls and fragrant soups
- La Boheme – some of the best steak in all of Munich, along with an extra special Sunday brunch menu
- Chopan Schwabing – mouthwatering Middle Eastern cuisine including a host of grilled meats and colourful curries
- DinnerHopping – German and American comfort food served up as you tour the city in a classic U.S yellow school bus
- Pageou – Turkey meets Germany in this family-run restaurant, with a line-up of rich and delicious plates
- Schiller Braeu – part-brewery, part-restaurant with plenty of beer and local favourites like sausages and stews on offer
To learn more about these exceptional eateries and for many more great recommendations, take a look at our dedicated Munich restaurants guide.
Shopping in Munich
Like to come home with something special when you’ve been away? You’re in luck, as Munich is one of Germany’s premier shopping cities. From all the high street staples you know and love, to the biggest names in the world of fashion and some seriously exciting boutiques – the Bavarian capital boasts it all. If you’ve only got a few days in the city you won’t want to waste any time finding your feet, so here are some spots where you can scratch that retail itch.
- Marienplatz / Kaufingerstrasse – just off the city’s main square, this is where you’ll find all the high street names you’re familiar with, as well as a few German brands you aren’t.
- Glockenbachviertel – lining the western bank of the Isar, this arty little district is where you’ll find cool boutiques and independents
- Maximilianstrasse – the city’s most prestigious shopping street, with enormous global names like Gucci, Fendi and Chanel
- Viktualienmarkt– a staple of Munich life for centuries, this is the city’s main street market where you’ll find local wares and fresh produce
- Maxvorstadt / Schellingstrasse – surrounded by the city’s university district, this is where you’ll find some seriously good vintage and thrift stores
For more advice on where to go browsing, including a whole host of hidden gems, look over our guide to shopping to Munich.
Famous Munich Museums
With its long and incredible history, along with a knack for the arts and innovation, it’ll come as no surprise that Munich is home to some truly world-class museums. Covering everything from modern art to cars and football, you’ll certainly want to add one or more of these excellent museums to your Munich city break itinerary:
- BMW Museum – uncover the history of this iconic German car manufacturer
- Deutsches Museum – the world’s largest museum dedicated to science and technology
- New Pinakothek – thought to be the earliest example of a museum dedicated to contemporary art, this gallery displays European works from the Neoclassical, Impressionist and Art Nouveau periods
- State Museum of Egyptian Art – one of the world’s largest and finest collections of Egyptian art and artefacts, with more than 2,000 permanent pieces
- Museum Brandhorst – an eclectic modern art museum displaying the eccentric collection put together by the Brandhorst family
- Alte Pinakothek – a spectacular classic art museum displaying works completed during the 14th to 18th century period
- FC Bayern Museum – a fascinating insight into the history of Germany’s most successful football team
- The Beer and Oktoberfest Museum – an attraction dedicated to the culture and history of Germany’s most famous festival
- The Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism – a look into Munich’s role as the headquarter city of the Nazi Party
- Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art – set within a former substation, this museum celebrates graffiti and guerilla sculpture work
To learn more about what you can expect to see at these museums as well as some extra recommendations, take a look at our guide to Munich’s museums.
Need more information on the German rail network? Check out our dedicated page to trains in Germany.