Merging its rich and tumultuous history with a quirky and distinctly modern edge, Munich is among Germany’s most visited cities.
And with good reason, when you consider you can mix up long days by exploring quaint cobbled streets and dining on the hearty Bavarian fare. Not to mention watching FC Bayern work their magic at the Allianz or knocking back steins in an authentic Bierhalle.
It’s for these reasons and so many more that Bavaria’s historic capital offers something for any and every kind of traveller.
Whatever brings you here, you can’t truly tick this eclectic city off your list without a stroll around Munich’s historic Old Town (or Altstadt). Its network of narrow streets throws up surprise after surprise, and it won’t be long until you stumble across the superb Marienplatz.
Thought of as the city’s beating heart for many a century, this public square is the place where anything, and everything, seems to happen. Lined on all sides by spectacular architecture and superb visitor attractions, it’s the perfect place to start your journey through this exciting German city.
How to get to Marienplatz
Like many German cities of a similar size, Munich benefits from public transport that’s speedy and easy to use. The Bavarian capital boasts several different networks that help you hop across town. These include the U-Bahn underground metro, S-Bahn rail system, tramway, and plenty of buses.
If your accommodation is in a central part of Munich, walking to Marienplatz should always be an option (and a good one at that). There are tonnes of exciting little restaurants, bars and boutiques hidden in the network of streets that wind their way towards Marienplatz.
You never know what you might find along the way when you go on foot. But suppose you’re running to a tighter schedule or your accommodation means you need to travel into the city. In that case, Marienplatz is well served by public transport.
Which station is nearest to Marienplatz?
Being the city’s spiritual centre and the main gathering space of its citizens for hundreds of years, Marienplatz is served by its own dedicated transport stops. The U-Bahn stop is directly beneath Marienplatz square and emerges out onto it, with both the U3 (orange) and U6 (blue) lines calling past here.
If it’s easier to travel by tram, the Marienplatz (Theatinerstrasse) stop is just 200 metres north of the Marienplatz. It’s served by 19, N19, and 31 route trams.
Those heading into town from the furthest reaches of Munich may find the S-Bahn most handy, and there are two stations of similar distance from Marienplatz. One is Karlsplatz around 600 metres to the west, the other being Isartor just 650 metres south-east. Both are stopped at by almost all S-Bahn services running through central Munich, including the S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S7, and S8 lines.
Which public transport ticket is best?
If your two feet are how you intend to get around Munich the majority of the time, it’s often best to buy single, return, or day tickets as and when you need. These can be purchased through machines at any transport stop across the city, and the great news is that they won’t only apply to the mode of transport you’re buying them on either. Munich’s transport system is integrated. That means you can use any combination of the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, tram, and bus to get to where you need to be, provided the full length of the journey is permitted by the ticket.
If you’re spending a few days in the Bavarian capital and plan on fitting a lot into your trip, a Munich CityTourCard could prove valuable. This special ticket allows you to use Munich’s public transport without limit for as many days as you specify, from just 24 hours up to a maximum of six days. Not only that, but you enjoy a little discount at more than 80 major attractions, bars, and eateries across the city. This can really start to add up if you use your card wisely. Prices range from €13.90 for a one day card and top out at €41.90 for the full six days.
Exploring the Marienplatz
With almost a millennium of history to point to, it’ll come as no surprise to hear that Marienplatz has changed through the years. Today, the collection of buildings and monuments that line the square make for a fascinating blend that help tell the tale of this incredible city. Here are just a few landmarks to look out for:
Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus)
Marienplatz Town Hall’s original incarnation is believed to have been constructed between 1470 and 1480. Finished in the Gothic style, it boasts a relatively simple yet authentically medieval exterior, along with an impressive 55-metre tower that today houses a toy museum.
New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus)
The Marienplatz New Town Hall took more than 40 years to build. It was finished in 1908. The Neo-Gothic structure is far more ambitious in scale and grander than its predecessor. More than 100 metres long and with an 85-metre tall tower known a the Rathausturm, it’s one of the most prominent marks on the Munich skyline.
St Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)
The Peterskirche (also known as Marienplatz Church) is Munich’s oldest Catholic church, thought to date back as far as the 12th century. Having seen its fair share of damage from fires, sieges, and wars over the years, the structure today is a patchwork of Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo style features.
Mary’s Column (Mariensaule)
The monument that would give the square its now-famous name, the Mariensaule was added to Marienplatz in 1638. A golden statue of the Virgin Mary, the Patrona Bavaria, sits atop a long Corinthian column and is said to watch over the entire state of Bavaria.
Did you know? The landmark is used as the official ‘centre point’ of Munich; it’s the place all signposts outside of the city point towards!
Located in the New Town Hall’s tower, the Glockenspiel’s displays attract audiences from around the world. At 11:00 and 12:00 each day (as well as 17:00 in the summer months), the building appears to come to life as mechanical dancers waltz to four different songs.
Marienplatz Facts & History
The spectacular Marienplatz is almost as old as Munich itself and has been the primary space for its residents to gather for the best part of a thousand years. Founded in the 12th century by Bavarian ruler Henry the Lion, it has remained host to markets, celebrations, and protests ever since.
Originally known as the ‘Market Square’, Marienplatz was the emerging city’s central cultural hub, where farmers and artisans would travel to from across the region. Here they would set up a stall and sell their wares and produce to the people of Munich.
How did Marienplatz get its name?
Though its name is instantly recognisable and synonymous with the city of Munich, it’s only relatively recently in its history that Marienplatz became ‘Marienplatz’. In 1638, the Mariensaule (or Mary’s Column) was constructed in the square, supposedly as an emblem of gratitude to the Swedes for not destroying the city during the Thirty Years War. Following a cholera outbreak in 1854, the square’s name changed to Marienplatz (Mary’s Square in English) to both reflect the column and as a plea with God to stop the illness.
The market that the square had grown up around relocated to the present day Viktualienmarkt in 1807, but Marienplatz remained Munich’s beating heart. The area was fully pedestrianised for the city’s 1972 Olympic Games and has only gone from strength to strength as the centre of the action in the Bavarian capital.
Restaurants, Bars and Stores at the Marienplatz
As the centre of Munich, you quite literally cannot move for brasseries, boozers, and boutiques on and around the Marienplatz. The Old Town area is packed with some of the city’s most exciting and memorable names, along with a host of hidden gems that the locals would rather keep on the down-low.
With so much to see in the city, you don’t want to waste too much time sussing out the hotspots, so here are some great recommendations to get you going.
The best restaurants near Marienplatz
With its charming network of alleys and allees, Munich’s Old Town has been the home of restaurants since the late 18th century. Today, the offering is far more diverse than the distinctly Bavarian grub that would have been served at the time. However, no trip to Munich is complete without sampling some Schweinshaxn and Obatzder. Top spots to look out for include:
- Augustiner Klosterwirt – a rustic dining hall serving beautiful Bavarian food including favourites like schnitzel and pretzels
- Prinz Myshkin – light and colourful veggie restaurant with a menu full of exciting, fresh plates from all corners of the globe
- Kismet – tantalising smells and aromatic tastes go way beyond this restaurant’s simple interior, with its host of hearty Middle Eastern dishes
- Soumi - Soups and Bánh Mì – a family-run Vietnamese spot with some of the best pho in town, perfect for warming up on a cold day
- Restaurant Blauer Bock – an authentic dining experience with dishes that look as good as they taste, set within an ultra-cool interior
- Conviva im Blauen Haus – something of a local’s secret, with bare décor hiding some incredibly delicious and experimental plates
The best bars near Marienplatz
Bavaria’s pub culture is well known across the globe, culminating in Munich’s famous Oktoberfest. So it’ll come as no surprise that there are some excellent bars at the city’s heart, including everything from rustic taverns to chic cocktail spots. Be sure to keep an eye out for:
- Jaded Monkey – a popular spot with just the right amount of colourful concoctions and chilled out vibes
- Hofbräuhaus München – The most iconic beer hall in all of Munich, set across a sprawling network of rooms and with an always-on atmosphere
- The High – a must for mojito lovers, with a clean and lowly lit setting that comes alive in the late evening
- Unter Deck – one for live music lovers, this dimly lit basement bar is a local’s haunt but always welcoming nonetheless
- Prosecco – An LGBT+ night space with a raucous atmosphere and regular cabaret
The best shops near the Marienplatz
The Bavarian capital is highly regarded for its retail offering, and you’ve put yourself right at the heart of the action by calling in at Marienplatz. Walking north of the square will bring you out on Maximilianstrasse, one of the most famous shopping streets in all of Germany and home to huge names like Gucci, Dior, and Versace.
If those sound a little beyond the budget, you’ve still plenty of other options for shopping in Marienplatz. The network of streets to the immediate west of the square contains tons of international high street names you’ll recognise. Still, you may wish to call at the more distinctly German brands like Konen, Hirmer, and Esprit. You’ll stumble across a few independents and boutiques at either location, so Marienplatz shops really do tick all the boxes.
Opening Times and Prices
As a fully public space, you can visit Marienplatz at any time you like, and there are no charges to enter. While it’s at its most lively in the day, it’s well worth coming back to see Marienplatz at night when the buildings that line the square are beautifully illuminated. The atmosphere and events at Marienplatz change throughout the day and week, so it’s somewhere worth passing through at every chance you get while you’re staying in the city.
If you’d like a closer look at some of the square’s attractions, you could book a guided tour. For example, visitors can get a look around the New Town Hall through a two-hour walk through that runs at weekends and needs to be booked in advance, costing €18.00 per person.
Getting to Munich by train
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.