Serving as one of the most visited cities in Germany, Munich might be a tad overwhelming to the traveler who has never taken to its busy streets, historic buildings, and rich culture. After my stay, I mustered up a list of the top things to do in Munich before leaving the city. Though it would be much more enjoyable to spread everything out over a few days (especially if you enjoy a few too many beers at the biergarten..), if you’re only in Munich for 24 hours or less and you’re committed to seeing as much as humanly possible within that time frame, then the 11 sights below are doable so long as you hustle!
1. Grab a pint at Hofbrauhaus (or any Biergarten/Beer Hall)
Looking for a place to go where it’s socially acceptable (and, in fact, encouraged) to start your day off with a 1 L pint of beer? Well, you’re in the right place – drinking a beer first thing in the morning at a beer hall/garden in Munich is akin to drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning at a cafe in basically any other part of the world. If you’re not able to head to Hofbrauhaus (a historic beer hall dating back to the 16th century), then you’re certain to stumble upon many beer gardens in Munich – just pick one, order a beer, sit down at a table with a bunch of locals and tourists alike, and enjoy yourself!
2. Visit Marienplatz and the New Town Hall (Neus Rathaus)
Marienplatz is a central (and famous) square in Munich that dates back to 1158. The square’s center focus is the impressive architecture of the New Town Hall. People flock to this square at all hours of the day to snap photos, however, the more dedicated tourists plan their visit to coincide with the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a (rather unimpressive) tourist attraction that re-enacts two stories from the 16th century with these doll-looking figures.
3. Wander through the Englischer Garten (English Garden)
If you’re visiting Munich during the warmer months, the English Garden is a must. Bring a blanket, drinks, and food, and just spend a few hours surrounded by greenery. The garden is 3.7 km2 so there is plenty of room to wander about and play some sport, hop in a canoe and sail around the lake, take a much needed nap after all of your sightseeing, go surfing in one of the artificial streams, or do whatever else you can think of with that much space!
4. Feel confused at the Chinese Tower (Chinesischer Turm)
The Chinese Tower, first constructed in 1790 before it burned down in 1944 and was later reconstructed in 1952, is located in the English Garden. Though it’s a bit of an eye sore (especially if you’ve traveled throughout South East Asia and have seen a great many temples), it’s one of those weird tourist things that you should see – mainly because it’s so bizarre, but also because it’s a beer garden where you can enjoy a pint of beer and some traditional food. Unfortunately, you can’t actually climb up the temple, as it was deemed unsafe a few years back and is now closed off.
5. Browse through the Victuals Market (Viktualienmarkt)
A stroll through Victuals Market is sure to leave you wanting to eat and buy pretty much everything you see. From fresh fruit and vegetables, to spices and sausages of all sorts, the Victuals Market has just about everything you could want. Albeit relatively pricey, it’s worth the walk around. To find out more, read my full post on the Victuals Market.
6. Shop till you drop on Kaufingerstraße
The most popular street in Munich, and certainly one of the busiest in Germany as a whole, Kaufingerstraße draws tourists and locals alike to its street lined with popular stores to shop at and cafes to eat at. Regardless of if you’re in the mood to shop or not, take a quick stroll down the street, which runs from Marienplatz to Karlsplatz (also known as Stachus), to be a part of the buzzing atmosphere.
7. Wander around the Residence Palace of Munich (Münchner Residenz)
The Residence Palace in Munich is the largest city palace in Germany with its ten courtyards and 130 rooms on display. Clearly, this palace is massive, so if you want to see it properly you’ll need more than a day. However, if you’re crunched on time just head to the three main parts: Königsbau, Alte Residenz, and Festsaalbau.
8. Get in touch with your musical side at the Bavarian State Opera (Bayerische Staatsoper)
The opera company itself has been around since 1653, though the theater didn’t open until 1753. The outside building is impressive to look at, but if you get a chance to see the inside to watch the opera, take advantage – it’s absolutely stunning.
9. Fill your belly with Bavarian Cuisine
Used to a bagel or cereal for breakfast back home? Well, get ready to pack on a few pounds and have your mind blown in Munich with al of the delicious food. A typical Bavarian Weisswurst breakfast includes boiled sausages with mustard, pretzels, and Weissbier (wheat beer) – as seen in the first picture. As for other traditional Bavarian dishes, ordering a platter would be your best bet to try them all. This platter filled with grilled pork knuckles, roasted pork and duck, crispy pig skin, pork sausages, bread dumplings, and bread-speck dumplings was a delicious way to try a bunch of different local cuisine!
10. Admire the Munich Frauenkirche (Church)
This is one of the most popular churches in Munich. Though construction began in 1468, the church wasn’t completely finished until 1525 (to the fashion that it is today). The church is massive both in height and in square footage, making it easily seen throughout the city center given the height restriction on buildings in Munich and can fit an impressive 20,000 people.
11. Explore Schloss Nymphenburg (Palace)
I’m including this Nymphenburg Palace as a +1, since it’s a bit outside of the city center so if you’re tight on time it might not be realistic to go to. However, if you’re in the city for a few days, you should take a quick visit over to this Baroque palace that actually houses the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach during the summer. The palace was completed in 1675 and boasts impressive grounds and rooms to this day that are worth exploring.