The last time we were in Munich we had a day trip planned to the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein with a bus to Prague on the next day which left us no time to explore the city of Munich itself. We did regret this later and were waiting for another trip to Germany to plan a visit to Munich.
We explored the best of what the city of Munich has to offer and then headed to the historical city of Nuremberg on a day trip from Munich. Munich offers its visitors with unique attractions, stunning architectural buildings and lots of museums. 2 days in Munich would be enough to cover some of the top things to do in Munich but if you are looking to visit every museum then you would definitely a couple of days more.
How to Reach Munich
Franz Josef Strauss Airport is the main airport in Munich which serves both domestic and international flights. Munich is also well-connected with other major cities in Europe by buses. We traveled from Munich to Prague by Flixbus during our first visit and the second time we traveled by bus from Ljubljana to Munich. The buses are comfortable with stops to stretch your legs. There are also buses from Munich to Zurich, Vienna, Berlin, Salzburg, and many other cities.
Getting Around in Munich
The Munich Old Town is compact and can be easily explored on foot. There has plenty of historical sights and churches to explore in the old town. To visit places like Nuremberg and Dachau Camp there is a good frequency of buses, trams, and trains (suburban railway lines – S-Bahn).
Things to do in Munich – Day 1
Karlsplatz is an important square in Munich surrounded by Baroque buildings, the prominent being the neo-baroque Palace of Justice. There are numerous stunning neo-baroque architectural buildings and palaces adorned with sculptures, rich stucco work and wrought-iron railing on balconies in the Kardinal-Faulhaber street. Most of these buildings are occupied by banks and administrative buildings.
In the same street is the church Salvatorkirche a colossal Gothic church. The street ended at the Wittelsbacherplatz Square dominated by an equestrian statue of Elector Maximilian I and surrounded by several palace buildings including the former concert hall Odeon.
Walking further we came across the Odeonsplatz which is another main squares in Munich. The square is surrounded by numerous historical buildings like the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior which was originally a 19th-century Concert Hall, the Munich Residenz, Feldherrnhalle and the magnificent Theatine Church.
Feldherrnhalle was a surprise it was a piece of Florence in Munich. Feldherrnhalle is a monumental structure commissioned by King Ludwig I as a tribute to his army. The loggia adorned with statues is similar to the famous Loggia Dei Lanzi. The Feldherrnhalle is a popular venue for the open-air concerts in Munich.
The magnificent 17th-century Theatine Church stands next to the Feldherrnhalle with its striking bright yellow Rococo facade flanked by two towers.
The church is built in Italian Baroque style with sumptuous interior decorated with rich stucco work and beautiful frescoes.
The 14th-century royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria draws visitors for its impressive collection consisting of frescoes, tapestries, porcelain, and antique furniture. Residenz Museum holds the royal collection exhibited in over 120 rooms.
Also not to miss on your visit to the Munich Residenz is the Treasury which has an amazing collection of artwork in gold and precious. There is a separate ticket for the Treasury. The Renaissance room Antiquarium is the most stunning part of the museum adorned with frescoes and sculptures.
The Cuvilliers Theater hosts concerts in the ornate Rococo hall. If you are in short of time just wander the palace grounds dotted with beautiful fountains, courtyards and the building architecture featuring Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and neoclassical elements.
If you are looking to rest your feet next to the Munich Residenz is the Hofgarten Renaissance style public garden. The garden has a 17th-century pavilion for the goddess Diana at the center surrounded by the flower bed and monumental fountains.
The narrow cobblestone streets here are lined with cafes, restaurants and high-end branded shops. Go on a shopping spree or stop by for a cup of hot coffee. When we visited it was raining intermittently so a coffee with a chocolate pastry was a perfect break.
Just before the Marienplatz, an alley on right leads to another magnificent church Frauenkirche which dominates the city skyline with two onion-domed towers. The 15th-century gothic church has one of the largest church halls adorned with beautiful stained glass windows and important artworks.
Also not to miss inside the church are the ‘devil’s footprint’, a cenotaph to Emperor Ludwig IV and beautiful chapels. The south tower of the cathedral can be climbed up for splendid views of the city rooftops and the old town.
Cenotaph of Emperor Louis IV
We could capture the domes of the church again later when sauntering the old town in Neuhauser street. It is here that you will find another gorgeous church of Munich, the St. Michael’s Church.
St. Michael’s Church
The Renaissance church has an impressive facade with several statues depicting the family tree of Bavarian Wittelsbach dynasty. The interior of the church has a magnificent barrel-vaulted ceiling adorned with rich stucco-work and the crypt houses tombs of Wittelsbach dynasty including Bavaria’s popular King Ludwig II (who built the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle) amongst many others.
Marienplatz is the main square located at the heart of the Old Town of Munich. Marienplatz is dominated by Mary’s Column and is surrounded by some of the important historic buildings.
The Mary’s Column topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary was erected to celebrate the end of the Swedish invasion in 1638.
During the medieval times, the square was a marketplace and a venue for tournaments. Today the square holds one of the most beautiful traditional Christmas Markets of Germany.
The 14th-century Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is the original town hall. It houses a toy museum collection which includes historic toys in the tower of the building.
The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) has an imposing facade decorated with statues, turrets, and arches. The New Town Hall houses the office of Mayor, the Munich Tourism Office, administrative offices and a restaurant.
Every day at 11 am and 12 pm the 100-year old Glockenspiel in the tower of the New Town Hall chimes and the figurines put up a show which is something not to miss.
Visitors can take an elevator up to the tower of the New Town Hall for great views of the Old Town and the surrounding.
Our next stop was the St Peter’s Church and we stumbled across this gorgeous building at the end of Rose Street opposite the Rindermarkt (cattle market) richly decorated with stucco work, frescoes, and bas-reliefs. Ruffinihaus is a group of three houses which houses several shops and offices.
St Peter Church
In the adjoining street of the Rindermarkt is the magnificent Romanesque style church of St Peter, the oldest church in the city. The elaborate Rococo interior of the church is decorated with rich ceiling frescoes, gothic paintings and several ornate gilded sculptures. The 299 steps climb up to the church tower offers a wonderful panoramic view of the Munich City.
Foodies do not miss a visit to this bustling food market. Viktualienmarkt was originally a farmers’ market. The food market has numerous stalls selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, spices, and more.
There is also a beer garden in Viktualienmarkt, stop by to taste some traditional Bavarian beers accompanied by some local delicacies.
Things to do in Munich – Day 2
Nymphenburg Palace is a baroque palace that has served as the summer residence of the Bavarian rulers. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the palace by tram from Karlsplatz (Munich Center). Visitors can take a tour of the palace which includes the main palace, two museums chariot museum, and porcelain museum and the landscaped gardens which are dotted with numerous small palaces and pavilions.
The tour of the main palace consists of a walk through the Great Hall and the rooms of the apartments which are richly decorated with frescoes and stucco work. The chariot museum or the MarstallMuseum has a collection of stunning carriages and sleighs owned by the Wittelsbach family.
The porcelain museum in the upper floors holds an equally amazing collection of unique porcelains dating from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
There are separate tickets for the main palace, museums and the garden palaces or visitors can buy a combined ticket which will save them a few Euros. Do make note that the garden palaces and the chapel are closed during winter (16 October to March) even the fountains are not operational.
Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau was the first concentration camp of Nazi in Germany opened in 1933. The entrance into the camp is through the same gate which the prisoners used marked with the phrase ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’ which means ‘work makes you free’. The camp was opened in 1933 and has over 32,000 documented deaths and many 1000s undocumented.
Visitors can walk through the campgrounds, numerous memorials, cramped labor bunkers, gas chambers, and the crematorium. Audio-guided tours are available and guided English tours can be joined if you are looking for more information. The museum walks through the history of the Nazi regime, Dachau camp, and the WWII. There is also a 20 minutes movie about the history and use of Dachau Camp.
The Concentration Camp Memorial Site is located in outskirts of Munich can be reached by underground which takes around 20 minutes from the city center. Board the S2 line to the Dachau station and then a bus (726 or 724) to the Memorial.
One of the largest public parks in the world the English Garden in Munich is a green oasis in the midst of the towering buildings. There are plenty of things to do in the English Garden.
There are numerous monuments, beer gardens, restaurants and also Haus der Kunst, a museum for contemporary art all located in the park. There is a offers a 78-km-long path for cyclists and joggers, play area for kids and a lake where you can go boating.
The beautiful Greek-style temple from Monopteros built on a small hill offers wonderful views of the city of Munich.
There is also a 25-m high pagoda style wooden Chinese Tower surrounded by a beer garden is one of the largest in Munich. There is a Japanese teahouse along with a Japanese garden built on an artificial island. The tea house hosts regular traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Other Munich Attractions
Below are a few other interesting things to do in Munich if you have more days in Munich or if you like to squeeze in more places in the above itinerary.
Munich is home to three magnificent medieval gates which are the remains from the middle ages when the entire historic center of Munich was enclosed by a city wall. If you walk a couple of km further from the Viktualienmarkt you will come to Isartor. Isartor has beautiful paintings on its facade.
Karlstor is another imposing gate which is located near the square of Karlsplatz. The third gate is the 14th-century Sendlinger Tor which located south of the Munich Old Town.
Car Lovers don’t miss a visit to the BMW Museum.
The BMW Museum offers an insight into the BMW brand, its fascinating history, and lets you walk through a display of a priceless collection of their automobiles and motorcycles. At BMW Welt visitors can walk through manufacturing unit and learn about the production processes.
Visitors can join one of the guided tours for more in-depth information. While the Architectural Tour at BMW Welt walks visitors through the avant-garde design of BMW Welt, the guided tour of the BMW Museum lets you explore more about the BMW company with detailed information on the automobiles in the permanent exhibitions.
There is also a restaurant and souvenir shop in the complex.
If you can spare a whole day at Dachau camp then head to the Dachau town which has a charming Old Town with well preserved historical houses and a palace. Historic buildings include a 17th century St. James Church, Town Hall and Church of St. Nicolas and St. Mary. The Dachau Palace is a 16th-century Renaissance style castle which served as the residence of the Bavarian dukes. The palace garden offers panoramic views of the Munich City and the Alps.
Top Day Trips from Munich
There are also numerous tourist destinations around Munich which can be visited on a day trip from Munich. During our trip to Munich, we did day trips to Nuremberg and to the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein and we loved both the cities.
Nuremberg is a charming city in northern Bavaria. The historic old town has numerous magnificent churches, pretty bridges over the canal, a large market Hauptmarkt, fascinating historical sites, half-timbered buildings and the Nuremberg Castle which makes Nuremberg a must visit place when in Germany.
The fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein built by King Ludwig is one of the most beautiful castles in Germany. The castle sits on a hill amidst the lush green forests of Bavarian Alps overlooking the village of Hohenschwangau near Fussen. Visitors can tour the lavish rooms of the castle.
Rothenburg which has a well-preserved medieval old town with half-timbered houses, beautiful churches, castle and castle garden, and fascinating museums.
Salzburg one of the most beautiful places in Austria is also a top day trip from Munich. The charming Old Town has numerous medieval and baroque buildings, magnificent churches and palaces, museums and a range of outdoor activities.
If you have only one day in Munich start your day with a visit to the Munich old town and explore the squares, museums, and the churches and then end your day at the English Garden.
Best Time to Visit Munich
The best time to visit Munich is from March to May and from late October and November. The weather will be a bit chilly and it may even rain sometimes but these months have lower prices and fewer tourist crowds. We visited Munich twice both during the first week of November it was cold (carry warm clothes) and it rained only once.
Do make note that you can expect a lot of tourist and local crowd during the late September or early October for Oktoberfest, the popular beer festival. Oktoberfest Munich is the world’s largest beer festival which is an annual festival held in Munich since 1810.
June to August are the peak tourist season with hot temperatures. December to February is winter months with a good probability of snow.
Have you visited the Bavarian capital Munich yet? Which are the top Munich points of interest? Do share with us in comments.
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