By Briana Seftel
Known for beer, brats and lederhosen, Munich is the ideal starting point to a trip to Bavaria. Like Berlin, Munich is filled with world-class museums, historic monuments and a vibrant dining and nightlife scene.
What to Know
Founded in 1158, Munich (aka München) is the third largest city in Germany and the unofficial capital of Bavaria. Famed for its Oktoberfest drawing millions of visitors every fall, Munich bristles with energy and excitement year round. The spirit of the city is embodied by Gemütlichkeit, a term meaning “friendliness” that Bavarians live by.
When to Go
Munich sees most of its visitors from September to October during Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest in Munich is at the top of many traveler’s bucket lists, so you can expect higher room rates and large crowds at this time. Spring is another great time to visit, with the Englischer Garden in full bloom and beer gardens opening up for the season. Come winter, Munich is home to a lovely Christmas Market in the central Marienplatz.
How to Get Around
If you plan on sticking to central Munich, much of the city’s main attractions can be visited on foot. Munich also has one of the most efficient and comprehensive public transportation systems in Europe with the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and tram lines. For longer distances, renting a bike is a quick and environmentally friendly alternative to a getting a taxi. Bicycles can rented using the MVG (Munich Transport Company) rental system or Call a Bike run by the railway.
Where to Eat
Munich has one of the best food scenes in Germany, if not Europe! Indulge in Bavarian specialties like pretzels and different types of sausage, all while enjoying the ever-flowing lager. Below are some of our favorite places to eat (and drink!) in Munich.
- Hofbräuhaus Platzl 9 Phone: +49 89 290136100
- Viktualienmarkt Viktualienmarkt 3 Phone: +49 89 89068205
- Kochspielhaus Rumfordstraße 5 Phone: +49 89 54802738
- Dallmayr Dienerstraße 14-15 Phone: +49 89 21350
- Spezlwirtschaft Ledererstraße 3 Phone: +49 89 23232973
- Café Frischhut Prälat-Zistl-Straße 8 Phone: +49 89 26023156
- Augustiner Schwalbe 149, Schwanthalerstraße Phone: +49 89 23021447
- Augustiner-Keller Arnulfstraße 52, Phone: +49 89 594393
What to See
Marienplatz is the heart of Munich. The center of the Altstadt (Old Town), the pretty medieval square is dominated by Frauenkirche, an enormous twin-domed church, Old City Hall and New City Hall. Every day at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m (and at noon in the summer), crowds gather to watch the glockenspiel performance that features a Bavarian knight beating a French challenger in a jousting tournament.
Englischer Garden is one of Europe’s most beautiful city parks. This 900-acre park, which is larger than Central Park in New York, boasts beer gardens, walking trails, meadows, lakes and even a popular surfing wave stemming from the Eisbach river.
Serving as the home to the Dukes of Bavaria from 1508 to 1918, the Residenz is an elegant palace in Munich’s city center. A mix of Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Classic styles, the palace is home to a magnificent museum, plus ornate halls and rooms.
Just outside the city center, Nymphenburg Palace was built in 1664 as the Wittelsbachs' impressive summer palace. Stroll through the 490-acre park and admire the fine royal porcelain collection.
The trio of museums - Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek and Pinakothek der Moderne - are the centerpiece of Munich’s superb cultural attractions. All three museums offer something different, from Old World masterpieces to contemporary wonders. Visit one, two or all three!
BMW Welt and Museum
The futuristic BMW Welt and Museum is a thrilling look into the German car manufacturer. Even if you don’t know much about cars, the hyper-modern center is a real treat. See cars being delivered at the free BMW Welt and ogle at 125 BMW car models at the museum. If driving the autobahn is on your bucket list, you can rent a car by the hour!
Tips and Tricks
On Sundays, almost all shops, restaurants and supermarkets are closed.
All state-run museums are just one euro on Sundays.
Most restaurants and stores in Munich will only accept cash or EC-cards, which are like debit cards.
Before your flight home, leave a little extra time at Munich airport. It’s the only airport in the world with its own brewery!
King Ludwig II’s glorious palace near Füssen is a must-see in Bavaria. Said to have inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, Neuschwanstein was completed 1886, seven weeks after the death of the king. Inspired by the operas of Richard Wagner, the apartments and state rooms reflect the ideals set by King Ludwig who intended to use the palace for personal use.
Travel tip: If you plan on visiting during the months of July to September, reserve your ticket well in advance.
The second largest city in Bavaria, Nuremberg is the capital of the Franconia region. A popular stop for river cruises, Nuremberg's walled Old Town and Imperial Castle are perfect for exploring on a day trip. Dig into local specialties like Nuremberg sausage and gingerbread before heading to the top of Imperial Castle, where you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views over the city.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Looking for the perfect fairy tale Bavarian town? Rothenburg ob der Tauber is it. Consistently ranked as one of Europe’s prettiest towns, walking through this town is like taking a step back into the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Walk the circumference of the city’s well-preserved walls and pick up a few ornaments at the year round Christmas shops.
Mozart’s birthplace of Salzburg is an easy day trip from Munich. In less than two hours, you’ll be immersed in a different country and a beautiful city. Explore the sights made famous by the Sound of Music, tour Mozart’s home or explore Hohensalzburg Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe.