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Munich: Top 10 Attractions Tips & Tricks

Deciding on what to see and do – and what must wait for another visit – consumes the thoughts of any prospective visitor. To help you make up your mind and save time whenever possible, here’s what you must know before heading to the Top 10 Attractions in Munich, in order of popularity.

#1 Marienplatz & Rathaus

The symbol of Munich, you couldn’t miss it even if you tried. It’s located right in the city center, with super easy access by all S-Bahn lines and U3/U6 and aptly named Marienplatz.

The square is surrounded by restaurants and shops and on one of its sides, the unmistakable Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) with its famous Glokenspiel. Every day, at 11am and midday (also 5pm from March to October), you will see lots of people standing on the square and looking up. They are watching the dancing figurines recounting events from the history of Munich. It lasts about 15 minutes.

A great way to watch is from Café Glockenspiel, on the top of a building opposite the Rathaus. If you are lucky to get a table (reservation highly recommended) facing Marienplatz, you are in for a show. It is open the entire day, so you could try for any of the Glockenspiel times. 

#2 Breweries, Beer Gardens & Halls

You cannot leave Munich without trying one of the beer gardens or halls. Usually food is very good and affordable, so make it a visit during lunch or dinnertime.

There are many many biergarten all over Munich. Keeping to central locations, Viktualienmarkt and the Chinese Tower (on the grounds of Englischer Garten) turn into beer gardens in the warm months.

Only six breweries are allowed to produce the beers sold in Oktoberfest, following ages old recipes and processes. Most of them have their own beer halls, so you can enjoy them year-round.

  • Höfbrauhaus ― my favorite beer and beer hall ♥ ― a stone’s throw from Marienplatz, open everyday from 9am to midnight;
  • Löwenbräukeller: their restaurant is currently closed for renovations (soon to be finalized) but the beer garden (warm weather months) is open every day 9:30am-11pm;
  • Augustiner-Keller: easily accessible on foot from Hauptbahnhof, it features a beer garden (open 11:30am-midnight), restaurant (10am-1am), terrace (10am-midnight) and cellar (4pm-1am);
  • Paulaner Bräuhaus: open everyday from 11am;
  • Der Pschorr: super central, on Viktualienmarkt, the house of Hacker-Pschorr beer, featuring a restaurant and terrace garden (open 10am-midnight, except Dec 24 and 31 with reduced hours and Dec 25 closed);
  • Spaten an der Oper: not a beer hall per se, but more a restaurant that serves their own beer, located opposite the Municipal Opera. It’s divided into a more traditional ground floor (open 09:30am-00:30am) and a more elegant upper floor (open 11:30am-1am).

#3 Nymphenburg Palace & Gardens

Schloss Nymphenburg is the former summer residence of the Wittelsbach rulers of Bavaria. A visit to the interior of the palace won’t take too long, there are 21 rooms but the Great Hall is definitely the most impressive. Walking through the gardens (free of charge) is a must and you should wear comfortable shoes, it’s huge and can easily take your entire day if you want to explore its entirety.

Take note:

  • You can purchase tickets to the Palace only, or a “combination ticket Nymphenburg“, which includes access to the Park Palaces (Amalienburg, Badenburg, Pagodenburg, Magdalenenklause), Museum in the former Royal Stables & Museum of Nymphenburg Porcelain.
  • Tickets must be bought at the cash desk. If you have a Bavaria 14-days or annual ticket, these sites are included.
  • Opening times: daily 9am-6pm (Apr to Oct 15) and 10am-4pm (Oct 16 to Mar).
  • Closed Jan 1, Shrove Tuesday and Dec 24, 25 and 31.
  • Children under 18 are admitted free of charge.

#4 Munich Residence Complex

The Residenz was the main palace of the Bavarian rulers from 1508 to 1918. Although largely damaged during World War II, it has been gradually restored. Nowadays, together with the Treasury and Cuvilliés Theater, this is one of the largest museum complexes in Bavaria.

The Schatzkammer (Treasury) displays works of art accummulated by the Bavarian rulers through the centuries. Among many treasures, a highlight is the oldest surviving crown of England, recorded in a list of jewels drawn up in 1399.

The Cuvilliés-Theater is an impressive auditorium built in 1751-1755 exclusively for the members of the Court, as a new opera house. Also largely destroyed during the war, it has been restored and surviving pieces reassembled.

Take note:

  • You can purchase tickets to each site individually, a Residence + Treasury combination or a combination of the three.
  • Tickets must be bought at the cash desk. If you have a Bavaria 14-days or annual ticket, these sites are included.
  • Opening times for Residence Museum + Treasury: daily 9am-6pm (Mar 24 to Oct 21) and 10am-5pm (Oct 22 to Mar 23).
  • Opening times for Cuvilliés Theatre: variable throughout the year, check here.
  • Closed Jan 1, Shrove Tuesday and Dec 24, 25 and 31.
  • Children under 18 are admitted free of charge.

#5 Englischer Garten

The Englischer Garten, so named due to its informal landscape, popular in England in the 18th century, is one of the largest urban public parks in the world.

Some of its main sights are the Monopteros, Chinese Tower (pictured above), Japanese Teahouse, Schönfeldwiese (section where nude sunbathing is allowed) and the surfers riding an artificial wave.

Take note:

  • Free admission.
  • If you stumble upon nude people, don’t stare 🙂

#6 Churches

The Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady) and its two green domes are easily recognizable in the landscape of the city and one of its landmarks. It is Munich’s cathedral and seat of its Archbishop, with regular masses. For that reason, it is sometimes refered to as Münchner Dom, although locals won’t. Take note:

  • Open everyday from 7:30am to 8:30pm.
  • Visits during services are not allowed.
  • From May to October, every Thursday and Saturday, there’s a guided tour, with access to the Sanctuary. Check the specific times here, it’s shown as Die Frauenkirche.
  • Another tour, the Dom Exklusiv takes place every first Friday of the month at 7pm.

The oldest church in the inner district, however, is St. Peterskirche (St. Peter’s Church), known by the locals as Alter Peter (Old Peter). It has been rebuilt and expanded over time but a church exists on this spot since before 1058, probably being the point from where the city started. Take note:

  • You can climb the 299 steps to the tower for one of the best views of Munich for only 3€.
  • Open 9am to 6:30pm (Mon-Fri) and 10am to 6:30pm (Sat, Sun and holidays) during summer. It closes one hour earlier in winter.

#7 Museums

The Deutsches Museum is the largest museum of science and technology in the world and the largest in Munich. It’s located in a small island in the Isar river and you can reach it by foot, just 1km away from Marienplatz. Take note:

  • Open daily, from 9am to 4pm.
  • Closed Jan 1, Shrove Tuesday, Mar 30, May 1, Nov 1 and Dec 24, 25 and 31.
  • Further closures can be verified here.

Another highlight is the Kunstareal, a museum quarter, located on Königsplatz and reachable with U-Bahn station of same name, where you can find:

  • Alte Pinakothek: one of the oldest galleries in the world, featuring a collection of Old Master paintings, covering the period from 14th to 18th centuries. Open daily (except Monday) from 10am to 6pm and Tuesday to 8pm.
  • Neue Pinakothek: focused on European Art of the 18th and 19th centuries. Open daily (except Tuesday) from 10am to 6pm and Wednesday to 8pm.
  • Pinakothek der Moderne: featuring modern and contemporary art. Open daily (except Monday) from 10am to 6pm and Thursday to 8pm.
  • Glyptothek: houses Greek and Roman sculptures from c. 650 BC to c. 550 AD. Open daily (except Monday) from 10am to 5pm and Thursday to 8pm.
  • Staatliche Antikensammlungen (State Collection of Antiquities): complements the Glyptothek, featuring terracotta and bronze collections from Greece, Etruria and Rome. Open daily (except Monday) from 10am to 5pm and Wednesday to 8pm.
  • Lenbachhaus: art gallery containing a variety of works by Munich painters and contemporary artists. Open daily (except Monday) from 10am to 6pm and Tuesday to 8pm.
  • Brandhorst Museum: private collection of modern art donated to the state of Bavaria. Open daily (except Monday) from 10am to 6pm and Thursday to 8pm.
  • Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (State Museum of Egyptian Art): dedicated to the periods of the early, middle and late kingdoms, but also to the Hellenistic, Roman and Coptic era of Egypt. Open daily (except Monday) from 10am to 6pm and Tuesday to 8pm.

#8 Viktualienmarkt

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Today a popular market for gourmets, Viktualienmarkt features more than 140 stalls selling flowers, exotic fruit, spices, cheese, fish, game, poultry and so on. It has developed as the successor to the farmer’s market in close-by Marienplaz after it became too small, on orders of King Maximilian I in 1807.

Its signature colorful maypole displays the local trades and crafts and in the ages of general illiteracy, represented the village or borough to travelling salesmen and craftsmen.

Take note:

  • Official opening times: Monday to Saturday 8am to 8pm. However,
  • Biergarten opens at 9am;
  • Many stalls close at 6pm.
  • Special hours for flower shops, bakeries and restaurants.

Home to one of the 6 traditional breweries halls, Der Pschorr (open 10am-midnight, except Dec 24 and 31 with reduced hours and Dec 25 closed).

#9 Olympiapark

Built for the 1972 Summer Olympics, this complex includes the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Hall and Olympic Tower, as well as an extensive park that offers varied activities like concerts, festivals and sports events throughout the year. Take the U3 from Marienplatz to Olympiazentrum.

Take note:

  • Go up the Olympic Tower (overall height of 291m), with an observation platform at 190m, giving you great views of the park and skyline of the city.
  • You can climb up the roof of the Olympic Station, with optional ziplining or abseiling down. See all official tour options here.
  • You can sledge down Olympiaberg in the winter. Just be careful and pay attention to the signs as some slopes end on a road or the lake!

#10 Allianz Arena

Home to FC Bayern Munich, it is known for its “inflated” shape and color-changing exterior. Hop on the U6 from Marienplatz until Fröttmaning.

Take note:

  • Open daily from 10am to 6pm, except on match and events days; in July and most of August, it opens at 9am.
  • Guided tours take place daily, except on Dec 25, 31 and Jan 1. You can book online here.
  • A special Matchday Tour is available when FC Bayern Munich plays, as long as you have tickets for the match. Details here.
  • Another specially designed tour for visitors requiring barrier-free access. Details here.
  • VIP Tours are only available in German.
  • Lots of walking (both within the stadium and from the subway station) so wear comfortable shoes.

Here’s to hoping you make the best use of these tips on your (next) visit to Munich!

See also:

Munich 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Munich: New Transport Tariff System (2020)

Bavaria 14-Day Ticket: Is it worth it?

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