Combining a rich history with a knack for all things new, Munich is one of Europe’s true must-see cities. Whether it’s catching FC Bayern bring home a trophy at the Allianz Arena, soaking in the period architecture at Marienplatz or dropping by the world’s largest public festival – Oktoberfest – the Bavarian capital offers up all kinds of one-off experiences.
With its supersized stadia and contemporary car plants, Munich is a place firmly focused on the future. But a captivating heritage is what truly gives this city its edge. And if scratching the surface of that and delving deep into the Munich of a time gone by sounds like your kind of adventure, a trip to Nymphenburg Palace is a must.
Set among the now-sprawling city’s western suburbs, this spectacular palace and its beautiful grounds are one of Germany’s best-loved landmarks. Wider even than the famous Versailles, this former home of Bavarian rulers is among the finest estates in all of Europe.
Sounds like something you won’t want to miss, right? So let’s discuss how to get there.
How to get to Nymphenburg Palace
Nymphenburg Palace is very much within Munich’s urban fabric, but sits some distance outside the central area where most people choose to base themselves when they visit. When it was constructed several hundred years ago, the palace sat among rolling green countryside, but Munich’s growth has since seen the estate enveloped on all sides.
The upside of this is that it’s nice and easy to get Nymphenburg Palace via public transport. Very much in line with the stereotype of a German city, Munich’s transport systems are fast, efficient, and reliable, not to mention reasonably priced.
Which station is nearest to the Nymphenburg Palace?
You’ll get closest to Nymphenburg Palace by travelling via tram or bus. Schloss Nymphenburg stop is directly outside the front of the palace and you certainly won’t miss the estate from here! Number 12 trams run along this route from the city centre, while N17 buses start out at Karlsplatz and stop in the same spot.
Alternatively, you could use the U-Bahn, though the nearest stop is a bit of a walk from the palace gates. This station is Gern station, which is called through by U1 and U7 line trains. Getting off here, you just need to head a little south along the street you emerge on (Waisenhausstrasse), before taking a right turn when you spot the canal. This waterway leads right up to the Nymphenburg Palace, taking about 25 minutes to reach in total.
Laim S-Bahn station isn’t too far away either, with S1, S2, S3, S4, S6 and S8 services stopping here. The S-Bahn is the best way to get into Munich if you’re staying right on the outskirts, and the palace is a gentle 20 minutes’ stroll north of the Laim stop.
Which public transport ticket is best?
If you’re only passing through Munich or like getting around on your two feet, you’ll be best buying tickets only when you need them. Depending on your plans, this could be a single, return or day ticket, all of which are available at every transport stop.
The bonus of doing this is that the same ticket can be used across different modes of transport. For example, if getting from A to B is best done by tram at first before changing for the U-Bahn, your ticket allows for this.
Staying in Munich a few days and hoping to pack a lot in? Then the Munich CityTourCard should be a much better fit for you. Equipped with one of these, you can zoom around on Munich’s public transport as and when you like, for anything from one to six days. Prices start at €13.90 with some big discounts available for groups, not to mention money off at 80 attractions and eateries across the city!
Exploring the Nymphenburg Palace
With its beautiful baroque facades and sprawling landscaped grounds, the Nymphenburg Palace Munch is widely considered the jewel in the city’s crown. Its 632-metre frontal width gives just some indication of the scale and ambition of this noble house as you approach, giving you just a taste of what’s to be uncovered in the sprawling palace grounds.
As you make your way around Nymphenburg Palace, here are a few things to keep an eye out for:
The Central Pavilion
Being one of the oldest parts of the building, the central selection of the palace hosts the Steinerner Saal (Stone Hall) with its beautiful ceiling frescoes. More than three stories tall, it makes for the grandest and most theatrical spot in the Nymphenburg. Off here are networks of former bedrooms and galleries, each adorned with classical portraits and elegant tapestries.
One of the two wings later added by Max Emanuel, the South Pavilion hosts a smaller dining room which features the Gallery of Beauties – paintings of 36 women who were said to be the most beautiful in all of Munich at the time. It’s in the former stables of the South Wing that you’ll find the palace’s dedicated carriage museum, Marstallmuseum, which boasts one of Europe’s greatest coach collections.
At the other side of the house, the largely inaccessible northern wings host a beautiful chapel as well as several smaller function rooms and concert halls. One area you can explore is the Museum of Man and Nature, which has been operating from this part of the building since 1990.
No palace is complete without its grounds, and the gardens at Nymphenburg certainly live up to the building itself. The current design of the gardens remains almost entirely a Max Emanuel intended, and today lays claim to being one of the largest city gardens in the world. As you explore, you’ll uncover gentle lakes, winding canals, and sculptures of the gods of ancient Greece.
One real highlight of the Gardens are the ‘Park Palaces’. Added over the years by various emperors, these elegant follies add another dimension to this beautiful estate.
Nymphenburg Palace History & Facts
The fascinating history of Nymphenburg palace is one that’s interwoven with prestige and nobility. The earliest parts of the building date as far back as 1662, however, the site was constantly added to by rulers and emperors over the centuries before it would become the spectacular estate we see and know today.
A gift to a new heir
Enlisting the help of architect Agostino Barelli, the first sections of what would later be known as the Nymphenburg Palace were completed to commemorate the birth of Max Emanuel. With a new heir to their throne, his parents Elector Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy wanted a summer home they could escape to outside the hustle and bustle of a burgeoning Munich. The work was finally complete by 1679, which coincidentally was the same year Max Emanuel would take the throne.
Between going off to the battlefields during the Spanish War, Max Emanuel had two pavilions added to the palace which would bring the main house to its current size. Returning from battle he brought with him a collective of French artists, who would not only help finish his parents’ grand vision but also help to make Munich the thriving city of the arts that we know today.
The flourishing of the Nymphenburg
Subsequent rulers would put their own stamp on the summer residence at Nymphenburg, including the beautiful park palaces that are scattered around the estate. The more famous of these – the Amalienburg – was the contribution of Emperor Charles VII and designed by architect François de Cuvilliés. This elegant little hunting lodge is considered to be one of the finest examples of the German Rococo style in all of the country. Another famous alteration was the work to embellish the spectacular Grand Hall, which remains in this beautiful finish today.
A moment in history
While the estate has always been of significance in the worlds of art and architecture, this grand palace would cement its place in history in July 1741. It was here that the aptly named Treaty of Nymphenburg was signed, bringing an end to wars between historic rivals France, Spain and Austria.
The people’s palace
Some half-century after this, the palace began its role in public life when Charles Theodor opened the grounds to all visitors in 1792. Today, almost all of the complex is open to the public, though it does remain a home and chancery for the head of the House of Wittelsbach, a famous German-Bavarian dynasty.
Restaurants, Bars, and Shops at the Nymphenburg Palace
Munich’s beautiful Nymphenburg Palace sits a clear distance outside of the city’s centre, almost 90 minutes walking from Marienplatz. As such, its surrounding area has a much more suburban vibe and you won’t find anything near the concentration of bars, restaurants and shops as you’d find in the middle of town.
Not to worry though, you still have several great options for each of those in the quieter streets surrounding the Nymphenburg. In fact, it could be the perfect excuse to get away from the crowds and uncover a hidden gem!
The best restaurants near the Nymphenburg Palace
Once set among sprawling countryside, the Nymphenburg is now tightly packed in by suburbs like Moosach and Villenkolonie Gern. This is certainly no disappointment though, with much of these areas being leafy residential zones that are a pleasure to stroll through. You could always call in at a friendly local eatery too, with top picks including:
- MOZZAMO – seriously authentic Italian food that goes one better than much of the city centre offering, along with a stylish décor and sunny outdoor terrace
- Backspielhaus– an adorable coffee spot with counters overflowing with fresh pastries and sweet treats that you simply have to try
- Canal Grande – simply sublime, photo-worthy Italian cuisine served up on a charming waterfront setting
- SchlosswirtschaftSchwaige Nymphenburg – the palace’s on-site offering, with rustic wood-panelled rooms where you can tuck into a traditional Bavarian feast
- SchlosscaféimPalmenhaus – another on-site option that caters for lunchtime favourites and a German twist on afternoon tea, all set among a beautiful palm-laden greenhouse
- Kleine Rose – fresh and flavourful Greek food including colourful salads and aromatic grilled meats, all in a cosy and traditional setting
The best bars near the Nymphenburg Palace
Being a little off the tourist trail, the suburbs around the Nymphenburg aren’t exactly a party spot. They are pleasantly sophisticated however, and this could be the perfect place to rub shoulders with the locals and get to know the real Munich. If that sounds good, we have to recommend:
- Gorilla Bar – a tiny, friendly little haunt with some seriously superb mojitos and occasional live music
- Peaches Neuhausen – an American themed spot with a great atmosphere and pizza for when you get peckish
- Traffic Bar – an unassuming interior opens up to a superb selection of gins and a welcoming, chilled-out vibe that’s hard to beat
- VolkartBar de tapas – a romantic, dimly-lit tapas bar that’s perfect for some sangria or an Estrella (and the food’s great too!)
The best shops near the Nymphenburg Palace
Want to treat yourself to a special something to remember your trip by? You’re in luck. Munich is a city renowned for its top tier retail scene, and there’s something exciting to be found in every neighbourhood of the Bavarian capital – from the international fashion brands of Maximilianstrasse to the vintage haunts of the university district.
There’s not a huge amount to browse in the area around Nymphenburg Palace, but what is there is a must-see for fashion lovers. Yaqoob Mode Boutique is a woman-led independent with loads of one-off pieces, while MAMAHUHU™ serves up simple and elegant Japanese art inspired tees. Walking back towards town, don’t miss the Nui Concept Store or the excellent Alpenraum boutique.
Opening Times and Prices
When you visit the Nymphenburg Palace, you will find many areas of the estate are free to access, including the grounds which you can stroll around at your own will. But if you want to experience Nymphenburg properly and in full, you’ll need to buy a ticket in advance.
There are three separate ticketed attractions available. One ticket gives you access the Palace itself. Another allows you to enter the carriages museum (Marstallmuseum) and Nymphenburg Porcelain Museum, while the final offers you entry to the ‘park palaces’ – miniature homes scattered across the estate.
While these can be bought individually, the ‘combination’ ticket is very reasonably priced and gives you the full of experience. Prices for this for 2020 are:
Adult (1st April – 15th October):
Adult (16th October – 31st March):
Child (under 18 years) and Student:
No matter when you visit Munich, the Nymphenburg should be open. It closes for only five days a year: Shrove Tuesday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years’ Eve and New Years Day.
Nymphenburg Palace opening times for the ticketed areas of the grounds are:
1st April - 15th October:
09:00 – 18:00
16th October - 31st March:
10:00 – 16:00
Last entry is always 20 minutes before close.
As for the grounds, these have slightly extended opening hours throughout the year:
January, February, March, November, December:
06:00 – 18:00
06:00 – 20:00
May, June, July, August, September:
06:00 – 21:30
Take in the sheer scale and splendour of one of Europe’s grandest surviving palaces, when you stop by the beautiful Nymphenburg estate during your trip to Munich.
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.