Best things to do in Munich
Find out more about those top places in Munich
Despite the resurgence of Berlin since Germany’s reunification in 1991, Munich remains Germany’s economic powerhouse. Home to big name brands, including BMW and Siemens, it is no surprise that Munich is also one of Germany’s wealthiest cities with a wide array of glittering boutiques and high-end restaurants. Despite its upscale character, Munich knows how to let its hair down. The city is famed for its annual Oktoberfest, the world’s premier festival of all things beer related, and is known for embracing Bavaria’s quirky traditions, lederhosen and all. Beyond this, Munich has a host of world-class attractions that are the envy of many European capital cities. Many of the city’s most impressive sites date from the seven hundred year rule of the House of Wittelsbach, whose dominance only ended in 1918.
Some 5 kilometers north of the Altstadt lies Schloss Nymphenburg – the most grandiose palace built by the lavish Wittelsbach royal family. Initially constructed as a summer home for Adelaide of Savoy, the palace was extended throughout the 17th century until it became Bavaria’s most stately residence. Today, the palace is open to the public with guided tours providing you with plenty of interesting information on the Kingdom of Bavaria’s one time ruling family.
For a city renowned for high-octane motorcars, Munich also has its fair share of idyllic green spaces. None are more evocative than the Englischer Garten, where you can explore historic follies, tranquil lakes and lively beer gardens.
In the heart of the historic Altstadt is the vast Residenz, which was once home to generations of Bavarian royals. While no royals have lived in the palace since 1918, the building has been perfectly maintained with original fittings throughout and a dazzling array of historic artifacts. Make sure to pay a visit to the grandiose Antiquarium, a mammoth banqueting hall, and the rococo Reiche Zimmer.
A must-see attraction for petrol-heads, BMW World showcases the car manufacturer’s interesting history alongside its plans for future innovation. You will get the chance to hop on one of the world’s most expensive motorbikes, get in the driver’s seat of a racing car and design your own mock vehicle in workshops. Guided tours are also available for those who want to learn more.
No visit to Munich would be complete without a stroll around the picture-perfect Marienplatz. Dominated by the imposing Mariensäule, which was erected in 1638 to commemorate victory over Sweden in the Thirty Years War, the square is the city’s living room and is perfect for people watching, soaking up traditional Bavarian culture and marveling at the awe-inspiring architecture.
The area occupied by the surprisingly compact Olympic village has a storied history, including the world’s first zeppelin flight in 1909 and the traumatic events of the 1972 Olympics where Israeli athletes were taken hostage as the world watched on. To learn about this and more guided tours of the Olympiapark are available.
Perching atop the foothills of the Alps south of Munich, Schloss Neuschwanstein is Germany’s most iconic attraction. Built by King Ludwig II, who was inspired by the folkloric operas of his close friend Wagner, Neuschwanstein appears to be torn straight from the pages of a fairy tale – indeed, the castle even provided the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. In short, no visit to Bavaria would be complete without a tour of this spectacular palace.
Lying in Munich’s northern suburbs is one of Germany’s most haunting locations – Dachau. Established in 1933, the concentration camp was the Nazi’s first and was initially used for political prisoners before becoming part of Hitler’s twisted ‘final solution’. Today, the camp is a memorial to the tens of thousands who were murdered there with guided tours available to inform you of further horrors of the Nazi regime.