By Rachael Funk
Haben sie gehört das Deutsches band? If you’re traveling through Munich, you probably have heard the German bands! While you’re enjoying the land of giant pretzels and Lederhosen, maximize your free time with these free activities in Germany’s unofficial southern capital!
1. Daydream your way through the BMW Welt
Float through the BMW plant’s impressive showroom where you can learn about the brand and products of the BMW Group. Even if you aren’t an automobile fanatic, the experience is still worth the trip to take in the gorgeous setting.
2. Join a free walking tour
Walking tours in English are easy to find if you pass through Marienplatz. Start your trip with a detailed introduction to the city from a local guide for free – what could be better?
3. Take a trip to Olympiapark
The beautifully kept grounds of the 1972 Summer Olympics provide a picturesque escape if you want to recharge away from the crowds of the city. If you happen to be visiting in August, bring a blanket and take in a free concert from the top of the Olympiaberg hill.
4. Relax in Englischer Garten
Larger than New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park, Munich’s English Garden is nothing short of a wonder to behold. Take a leisurely walk through the endless grounds and scope out your favorite way to seize an afternoon. You can find jugglers, artists, kite flyers, biergartens, a Japanese tea house, a lake, and even a place to sunbathe.
5. Catch a wave with the Eisbach surfers
If you’re not an experienced surfer, it may be better to just watch this one. At the south end of Englischer Garten, you can observe thrill seekers take on the Eisbach and brave the strong currents in such a cramped, rocky space.
6. Visit Marienplatz for the Glockenspiel show
Every morning at 11am sharp, people gather in the city square to watch the 15 minute show. As the 43 bells begin to chime, stories are acted out with 32 life-sized figures; the top story shows the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata or Lorraine and the bottom story shows Schäfflertanz, which was danced in the streets in the 1500s to cheer people up during difficult times. There is another show at 5 pm and during the summer, a daily show is added at noon.
7. Tour Frauenkirche
Also located on Marienplatz, the imposing presence of the Church of Our Lady is hard to miss. Dip inside to walk the Devil’s Footstep, which is rumored to be a mark left by the devil himself. Ascend the towers for an unsurpassable view of Munich and the Bavarian Alps.
8. Watch a public training session at the FC Bayern München training facility
Getting tickets to an actual game is quite a feat, but if you are a soccer fanatic, you can sit in on a public practice free of charge! A ten minute walk from the Mangfallsplatz U-Bahn station, the training sessions are held weekly at the team’s headquarters. Make sure to check the website for the schedule before you show up!
9. Take in the courtyards and historical gardens of Residenz
The largest city palace in Germany, the Residenz dates back to the 14th century. A tour of the museum does require an entry fee, but you can walk through the grandiose grounds for free. Featuring several courtyards and the Hofgarten, which was laid out under King Maximilian I, there is plenty of Residenz to see in the sunshine!
10. Go for a bike ride along Isar River
The same river that prompts surfing at its Eisbach stretch is an attraction itself! Fed by the Alps, the banks of the river provide a picturesque backdrop for a day at the water. Take your place among the bikers, rafters, and sunbathers and let the waters of the Alps wash away your woes.
11. Squeeze into Asamkirche
This small church is easily overlooked in a city full of vast cathedrals, but don’t miss out on this one! The unassuming building is locked into a row of connected buildings in the city, but one step inside will reveal the true opulence of this lesser-known gem. Inside, the building is dripping with ornate decorations and the best of Baroque architecture.
12. People watch at Gärtnerplatz
One of Munich’s trendiest areas, this is where you should go if you want to meet cool locals. Have a barbecue at the river or kick back in the square, and you’ll be making new friends in no time.
13. Soak in the culture of Chinesischer Turm
Located in Englischer Garten, this is one of Munich’s most famous biergartens. Join the young, lively crowd on weekends to hear brass bands perform on the first floor of the tower. If you happen to be in Munich in July, you can join Kocherlball, which gathers massive crowds of participants in historical outfits and Bavarian costumes for a dance at the tower.
14. Have a one-person parade through Königsplatz
Also known as “King’s Square,” this square was modeled after the Acropolis. Experience the Mediterranean flavor of the square while you admire the pillared architecture and the surrounding landmarks. Throwing yourself an actual parade may be a little over the top, but hey. You’re on vacation.
15. Take in the atmosphere of Wiener Platz Market
Munich’s smallest permanent market, this is a great option for people who prefer a less crowded market experience. Fewer tourists in an adorable section of town, this market is ideal for sampling local Bavarian specialties.