Top 10 Things to do in Munich

By Andressa Hoese; local wanderer and market-lover

Edited by Holly Jenson

Sitting in the heart of Bavaria, Germany, Munich is a traditional yet modern city with so much to see. Jam-packed with history and culture, it can be difficult to work out where to go while you’re here. Luckily, I have lived in this historic city for 3 years and have toured all the sights; here are the very top things to do in Munich, Germany that you mustn’t miss.

Lenbachhaus

The Lenbachhaus is one of the most famous museums in the city and would definitely be in my top 3 things to do in Munich. First established in 1929, the building was originally home to Franz von Lenbach; the famous German painter. Today the museum is Munich’s largest collection of art, housed in a beautifully designed building with picturesque gardens. I personally believe it is best to visit here on the weekend as there are always different exhibitions running which showcase lots of well-known artists. This is a great place to experience Munich’s rich culture and the gardens provide a relaxing stroll away from the busyness of the city centre.

English Garden Park

A walk around the English Garden Park is definitely one of the best things to do in Munich in summer. The park stretches all the way from the city centre to the north-eastern city limits; it’s one of the largest urban public parks in the world! It’s no wonder that this place is one of the top attractions in Munich. For an unforgettable view of these wide open plains against the historic monuments of Munich, head to the Chinese Tower in the centre of the park. Climbing to the top of this unique building will give you breathtaking views across the city; it’s a great place to clear your head. On warmer days I like to bring my lunch here and sit by the Tsar River, sometimes even dipping my legs in its cold, refreshing water. The English Garden Park is a peaceful experience and one of the best free things to do in Munich.

Munich Old Town

One of the unmissable places to visit in Munich in 1 day is our beautiful old town. With original Bavarian architecture, this is the perfect place to soak up the city’s rich history. Start at Marienplatz and marvel at the historic buildings which line the square. You can see the Fish Fountain and the famous Rauthaus-Glockenspiel from here (more about this later!) After exploring the main square, head south-east to Viktualienmarket (farmers’ market). With rows and rows of stalls selling fresh and hand-made local produce, this is the perfect place to try some of the must-eats in Munich. This is where we locals buy all of the ingredients to cook our meals; you are really seeing the real Munich here! You could easily spend half a day touring the old town, there is so much to see that it is not surprising that it’s always one of the top things to do in Munich.

Alter Peter Church

Another one of the top 10 attractions in Munich is Alt Peter Church. Known affectionately by locals as ‘Old Peter’, this majestic building has been standing since the 11th century and draws thousands of visitors each year. Climb the 299 steps to the top for a panoramic view of the entire city; it is well worth the effort! While you gaze at the view it is worth using your loose change to use one of the telescopes dotted all around the observatory. With one of these, you can see all of the most famous buildings in detail and even the Alps when the weather is good! Soaking up this unbeatable view is by far one of the best things to do in Munich.

Rathaus Glockenspiel

Another one of the top attractions in Munich is the famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel. Make sure you’re in Marienplatz at 11 or 12 O’clock to catch the display as it comes to life! Built into the front of the gothic town hall, the daily performance shows traditional Bavarian barrel makers and figures jousting in a 15 minute sequence. The show pays true homage to Munich’s rich history and celebrates the small trades which made the city what it is today. Grab a pretzel or a beer from one of the surrounding cafes and watch this spectacle. The Rathaus-Glockenspiel is a real experience and another great free thing to do in Munich.

Wisen (Oktoberfest)

Oktoberfest Munich is the number one place to try beer in the city. Locally known as Weisn; this huge event is held during the last 2 weeks of September and attracts over 6 million celebrators per year. What may surprise you is that this is a family friendly celebration where people of all ages can enjoy themselves. One of the best things to do in Munich during Oktoberfest is to enjoy the amusement park rides and beer gardens where families can toast together. If you are one of the rarer types who doesn’t like beer there is also plenty of wine available at many of the stalls. While you’re here, be sure to have enough cash with you as cards are not accepted by vendors. The local experience of Oktoberfest Munich is enjoying a traditional beer and celebrating with your favourite people.

Explore Our Historic Streets

Strolling through our arty neighbourhoods is another great free thing to do in Munich. I have a lot of fun wandering down the streets of Schwabing; an avant-garde quarter where many poets, painters, and writers lived in the 19th century. Along Hohenzollernstrasse there are many concept stores, boutiques and cafes where you can easily spend an afternoon exploring. There are so many interesting and independent shops in the city just waiting to be discovered! My favourite streets to window-shop are near Gartnerplatz (Reichenbachstrasse, for example) or around Ludwig University (Amalienstrasse and Schellingstrasse). For those interested in seeing Art Nouveau architecture and buildings from the early 19th century, you can explore neighbourhoods such as Neuhausen or Bogenhausen (Ismaningerstrasse, for example).

Hofbräuhaus

There is a reason why everyone recommends the Hofbräuhaus beer hall. The oldest beer hall in Munich, this place oozes history and always features crowds of people enjoying themselves. Constructed almost 500 years ago, the building has some amazing architecture. As you take a seat, gaze up at the ornate ceilings for a real taste of Munich’s culture. There are many rows of benches where you can enjoy a beer with friends; it is always upbeat in here. There is even a band on the first floor that plays traditional folk music to transport you to old Bavaria. Hofbräuhaus beer is true to Bavarian tradition and something you must-try while in the city. You should probably skip the food here; there are plenty of other places in the city to sample our Bavarian delicacies. Just have a beer and a pretzel as you soak up this historic venue, the best beer hall in Munich.

Tollwood Festival

The Tollwood Festival is rarely discovered by visitors but is definitely one of the top attractions in Munich for locals. This event takes place every year during July and December and celebrates all things culture. There is a huge international multicultural market which showcases art, music, dancing, and clothing from all over the world.  There is always a music festival with a lot of alternative acts; the light shows make it feel like one giant party! If you want to escape from the crowds, the nearby Olympic Tower offers a panoramic view of Munich and surrounding areas, including the Alps. The Tollwood Festival is a great way to celebrate with the locals and experience all of the cultures we are lucky to have on our doorstep.

Lichtspiele Movie Theatre

If you are ever in Munich on a Friday or Saturday night I highly recommend you to go to the Lichtspiele Movie Theatre to watch the original version of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”. An alternative to our city’s usual nightlife, Lichtspiele is one of the one of the oldest theatres in the city and provides a unique cinematic experience. The cinema still has an old-style screen and is lined with ornate statues and lamps; it’s as though you have walked into a different time period. They have been showing this iconic cult film non-stop for almost 40 years and sitting down to watch it is one of the most local experiences you can have in the city. This is also one of the best things to do in Munich on a rainy day when a night on the town isn’t so appealing.

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