Altstadt (Old Town)
No trip to Munich is complete without visiting its Altstadt (Old Town). This historic district lies at Munich’s core, and thus, holds some of the city's most popular and visited sights. Here you can discover fantastic examples of medieval, Renaissance, and baroque buildings, as well as several stunning examples of modern architecture.
Pleasant cafes, beer halls, restaurants and some great shopping all add to the charming atmosphere. Sat at the heart of Munich’s Altstadt is the Marienplatz, which has been the center of Munich since the Middle Ages. There you will find the stunning New Town Hall and its famous Glockenspiel clock tower.
As one of the oldest beer halls in Munich, the Augustiner Keller lives and breathes tradition. As one of the most popular meeting points for locals and tourists alike, this famous beer hall should be on the top of anyone’s beer garden bucket list.
Enjoy a cold Edelstoff beer from your Maßkrug (one-liter glass beer mug) and wolf down a plate stacked high with Bavarian sausage and mashed potato. In cooler weather you can retire to the cavernous beer hall or the more intimate Bierstüberl inside the historic building, or perhaps the Lagerkeller eight meters (26-ft) underground.
The English Garden
The English Garden in Munich is one of Europe's largest parks; in fact it is larger than New York's Central Park. The park is a perfect place to escape the city for a long stroll, where you can enjoy the natural scenery and people watch.
You can even enjoy a refreshing swim in the river Eisbach, which flows through the middle of the park, or rent a paddle boat for a cruise on the lake. When you are ready for some refreshment, you can find several large beer gardens in the park, where you can mix with the locals and enjoy some of Munich's famous brews.
One of Munich’s highlights, the royal Residenz was the seat of government for Bavaria's Dukes and Kings from 1508 to 1918. Originally a medieval castle, it was transformed over the centuries into a beautiful palace.
It is now open to the public and you can explore its magnificent interiors, numerous courtyards, and elegant garden. The former living quarters of the royal family are now a museum which provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Kings and Queens. In the treasury museum you can also see the many precious jewels and great works of art which Bavaria's rulers collected.
The Deutsches Museum
The Deutsches Museum (i.e., the German Museum) is the world's largest museum of science and technology. It is located on a small island in the River Isar, which flows through central Munich. The museum's vast and fascinating collection is spread out among 40 different exhibitions.
You will encounter examples of technology stretching across humanity's long history, from a reproduction of prehistoric cave paintings, to the laboratory where the atom was split. With so much to offer, visiting the Deutsches Museum is a must for any Munich itinerary.
The most famous beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest, is an event not to be missed in Munich. What's Oktoberfest you ask? First, imagine a giant, festively decorated tent filled with 6,000 people. Now imagine those people sitting at long wooden tables, dressed in traditional Bavarian lederhosen and dirndls.
They drink beer out of giant steins and eat wurst and pretzels, while merrily singing along to the polka band on the stage. Now imagine 13 more such tents and fill in the space between the tents with rides, games, and thousands of other visitors. Difficult to imagine? That's why everyone must experience Oktoberfest for themselves! (Late September to early October only. Booking early is highly recommended).
BMW Museum & Olympic Park
If you have a passion for cars and German engineering, then a visit to the ultra-modern BMW Museum is a must for your Munich itinerary! Often described as the shrine to one of Germany’s finest automobiles, Munich’s BMW Museum is home to seven themed “houses” covering a surface area of some 4000 m² (13,000 square feet) and includes more than 120 of the most eye-catching automobiles, motorcycles and engines from nine decades of BMW history.
Adjacent to BMW World are the extensive and beautifully sculpted grounds of 1972's Olympic Park built on top of the mountain of rubble transported there during the post-WWII city clean-up operation. You can see it best from the vantage point of the Olympic Tower. Relive Mark 'The Shark' Spitz's haul of seven gold medals at the swimming hall, walk around inside the Olympic stadium or simply stroll the park grounds for great views of Munich.
Königsplatz & National Socialism
No other place in Munich is so closely linked to the Nazi Movement than Königsplatz. Munich was the city where the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), or Nazi Party first took root. It is the history of the birth of German National Socialism up to its devastating denouement in 1945 that has been so fantastically captured and displayed at the newly opened National Socialist Documentation Center close to the still existing Nazi buildings on Königsplatz. Anyone interested in history or World War 2 should definitely include it in their Munich itinerary.
During the Third Reich, Königsplatz was used as the square for the Nazi Party’s mass rallies. It was also where the Nazi Party set about altering Munich’s cityscape. In a makeover designed by favored Nazi architect Paul Ludwig Troost, the former grassy square on Königsplatz surrounded by the antiquities museums was covered with 22,000 concrete paving stones. Troost also built two large identical office buildings at the open eastern end and two Honor Temples in memory to the 16 fallen Nazis killed in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Both temples were demolished by the US-Army and all that is left today are their platforms. Today you can still see the former Führerbau building, where the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938 and the Verwaltungsbau building, an NSDAP administration building; although both now serve for different purposes.
Munich is home to many artistic treasures. At its heart, you’ll find the city’s Museum Quarter, also known as the Kunstareal. Here you’ll find some of Europe’s most important cultural sites, with a unique combination of art, culture, and knowledge emanating from a series of museums and educational institutions sited next to each other.
It would be impossible to see every museum, so our top picks include the Alte Pinakothek, the largest art gallery in the world, the Neue Pinakothek art gallery and the Pinakothek der Moderne, with its host of eclectic collections of classic modern and contemporary art, design, and architecture.