Best Things To Do in Munich
Although Oktoberfest and biergartens are a big part of Munich life, they aren't the only things going for this cosmopolitan city. You'll also find several interesting museums, the Residenz Royal Palace, the Bavarian State Opera and even BMW World among its varied attractions. And nightlife — plus the sleek stores to dress you for the partying — should not be missed.
Updated October 3, 2017
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This large public park, which reaches from the city center to the northeastern city limits, is one of Munich's must-dos. Named for the informal English style of rolling hills and open landscaping, the Englischer Garten contains several popular biergartens, a handful of eclectic monuments and a boating lake, among lots of jogging and biking paths.
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The gothic-period Frauenkirche, or Church of our Lady, is a unique part of the Munich skyline with its two dome-topped towers, which residents say resembles a pair of beer steins bubbling over. The main part of the church was finished in the late 1400s, but Allied bombing during World War II necessitated restoration in the mid-1900s. Today, you can tour the church for free and recent travelers say the small fee to reach the observation platform at the top is definitely worth it. Find it off the Marienplatz U-bahn or S-bahn stop.
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Open daily, Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) is Munich's oldest and smallest place of worship. Jump off the U-bahn or S-bahn at Marienplatz to tour for free, but expect to pay a small fee to climb its tower for a sweeping view of Bavaria. Recent travelers were impressed by the church's glittering altar, not to mention the gold, jewel-bedecked skeleton of St. Munditia, a revered Christian martyr. They also say the view at the top is a must-see.
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A science and technology museum like no other (according to travelers), the Deutsches Museum brims with exhibits on everything from transportation to mining, bridge building and musical instruments. But across the six floors and almost 12 miles of halls, you'll also find an Internet cafe, an expansive planetarium and the Kinderreich, a section geared toward children that teaches them about science and technology through interactive exhibits. You'll also find the Center for Transportation, the Verkehrszentrum, which for an additional admission fee you can view an array of transportation-related exhibits.
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The Marienplatz square, accessible by a U-bahn station of the same name, is Munich's heart just as it used to be back in 1158 when it was established. Back then, it hosted spectator events, such as jousts and executions (yikes!). Today this Alstadt (Old Town) square is alive with street performers, from mimes to musicians, and restaurants, selling bratwursts and beer, plus lots of surrounding shops. At Christmastime, Marienplatz fills with vendors selling holiday gifts at the popular Christkindlmarkt.
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The Viktualienmarkt, located in Alstadt off the Marienplatz U-bahn and S-bahn stops, is the city's oldest farmer's market (dating back to 1807). Open six days a week, it contains around 140 booths with merchants selling everything from fresh baked bread to sausages and honey to fresh flowers. You can also enjoy a beer under chestnut shade trees at the Viktualienmarkt biergarten.
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The Alte Pinakothek — translated as the Old Picture Gallery — is regarded by experts as one of the great galleries of the world. With walls lined by works from Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens, the art museum impresses travelers, too. Visitors appreciated the Rubens collection (one of the world's largest) and the fairly inexpensive admission price. The art gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. Admission is €4, with discounts available for children and students. You can find the museum off the Königsplatz U-bahn stop.
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Located in the English Garden near the Chinesischen Turm (Chinese Tower), this biergarten is one of Munich's most famous. The sylvan park provides a fantastic backdrop to the lively chatting of biergarten patrons and the jolly notes of oompah musicians. Recent visitors enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere and the chance to people-watch. Jump off Tram 19 at the Tivolistraße stop to join in on the fun.
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BMW Welt (BMW World) is a space dedicated to one of Germany's most famous exports. Many travelers said it was worth visiting — if not for the cars then for the building's contemporary architecture. You can view the company's latest concept cars, motorcycles and more here. The main attraction is a large vending machine that new owners can use to pick out their cars. After you've decided on a new set of wheels, head over to the nearby BMW Museum to learn a bit more. Both sites are located on the east side of the Olympiapark and are accessible by U-bahn at the Olympiazentrum stop.
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Augustiner-Keller, one of few remaining traditional beer gardens left in the city center, serves big glasses of refreshing beer. Although you can cut down on costs by bringing a picnic of your own food, you can also order your traditional German fare here. Visitors recommend staking your claim to a shaded seat outside, as the indoor beer hall is nothing to write home about.
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In the late 1300s, when the royal Wittelsbach family decided their palace was too small, they commissioned the building of the Residenz Royal Palace. Inside, you'll find the Crown Jewels, the State Collection of Egyptian Art, the Residenz/Cuvilles Theatre and the Herkulessaal concert hall. Outside are courtyards, fountains, grottoes, a medicine room, a chapel and more.
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The Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) enjoys recognition worldwide, and many experts and travelers alike endorse splurging for tickets. Recent travelers strongly recommend booking your opera tickets months in advance; they also say not to be dissuaded from attending by the (sometimes) high ticket prices as the experience is worth the money.
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The summer home of the royal Wittelsbach family, the Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace) sprawls to the west of the city — its grounds covering nearly 500 acres. The palace isn't as elaborate as some, but it does boast some interesting aspects, like King Ludwig I's "Gallery of Beauties," a portrait gallery of 36 beautiful women of the day. Travelers suggest visiting the Marstallmuseum (Museum of Royal Carriages), the Amalienburg hunting lodge and the Pagodenburg (for royal tea parties).
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Usually Renaissance churches have towers, but you won't find one at Michaelskirche (St. Michael's Church). During its construction, the tower fell. Patron Duke Wilhelm V took it as an act of God that the church was too small, and so he ordered the church be made bigger — and with barrel vaulting that today rivals St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The church is free to tour, but you'll have to pay a small fee to view the crypt (where the patron duke, King Ludwig II and others from the royal family are buried). The church is open daily (except during services), and you can access it from the Karlsplatz U-bahn and S-bahn stations.
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With the old comes the new, and so Munich added the Pinakothek der Moderne (Modern Picture Gallery) to the older museums centered in the Museum district. The sleek glass and concrete museum, finished in 2002, holds a number of exhibits related to modern art, architecture and design, including the Bavarian State collection of graphic art and the Technical University's architectural museum. Most travelers said they appreciated the wide variety of modern art, though some commented the entry fee was a little steep.
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