Things To See In Munich – The 11 Top Sights To See In And Around Munich

Things To See In Munich – The 11 Top Sights To See In And Around Munich

Munich is quite famous for its Oktoberfest, but what else is there to see and do apart from the big party in October?

Well, loads! These are the things to see in Munich – a list put together for you to make sure you get to see the very best of the Oktoberfest capital of Germany.

Of course there’ll be plenty more on offer if you still have time and want to see more. I have included links everywhere throughout this post to make it easy for you to find more information.

Getting around

Getting around Munich is really easy as the public transport is excellent. Even if you stay on the outskirts of Munich to avoid having to drive in the city and finding parking, you can most likely catch a tram or bus to get to the city within a matter of minutes.

If you’re staying in the city you can pretty much walk everywhere. I’ve done it and it’s really safe and lovely to see the city that way. If you get tired of walking, just hop on either a bus or the Strassenbahn (tram) or the U-Bahn (subway) or S-Bahn (light-rail).



1. Oktoberfest

Of course this is what everyone thinks when they hear Munich. The biggest party of the year. Did you know though that it actually starts in September?

Yep, you heard right. Traditionally, the Oktoberfest starts late September and finishes early October. The reason is simple – the weather is beautiful at the end of September and could get much cooler quickly as October moves along.

This year it’s the 186th Oktoberfest (the first one happened in 1810 for the wedding celebrations of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen) and it starts on the 21st of September and ends October 6th at exactly 11.30pm.

If those dates are leaving it a bit too late for you to plan your travel, the next one is on next year from September 19th to October 4th 2020.

Check out the official website for the Oktoberfest with all the dates and details so you can plan your holiday last-minute to go to the Oktoberfest this year or a bit longer term for next year.

Have a look at this Oktoberfest guide here:


2. Bavaria Statue

If you are visiting the Oktoberfest you might as well go and say hello to the Bavaria Statue. It is an 18-meter-high cast bronze statue of a woman with a lion at her feet that basically depicts the Bavarian homeland and shows its strength and glory.

What you don’t see from the outside is the circular staircase inside that leads you up to a kind of viewing platform (inside the head of Bavaria) which gives you four openings to look through and see the Theresienwiese (where the statue is located and also the Oktoberfest) as well as downtown Munich.

I’ve visited the Bavaria Statue and remember it to be a bit tight on the staircase inside, so if you get claustrophobic easily or are not quite as mobile it might not be for you.

Behind the Bavaria Statue is the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame) which shows busts of important Bavarian personalities of past and present.


3. Hofbrauhaus

The Hofbrauhaus is one of the most iconic places to go and visit in Munich and is known all over the world. It has been around for nearly 500 years.

It’s always bustling and at certain times it’ll be hard to find a seat. There’s the famous Hofbrauhaus beer of course and good food and music and entertainment to be had at all times.

View of Hofbrauhaus
When you first lay eyes on the Hofbrauhaus, it doesn’t look like it’s very big, but it is huge on the inside. 

The regulars have their set tables, which means they have their tables reserved at certain times during the week. They can also conveniently store their very own beer mugs at the Hofbrauhaus; they’ll even be locked up so no-one can steal them.

The Hofbrauhaus also has its very own currency, beer tokens which can be used just like real money. It is certainly worth having a look, even if it’s too busy to find a seat.

If you can’t find a seat, don’t worry, there are plenty of other places where you can get beer and food and the same kind of hospitality too. Or simply try again later.

I’ve visited it a few times and it was busy every single time and so we just had a wander around and then moved on the other places, such as the Augustiner am Dom.

Augustiner
Half a liter of beer was our regular drink while in Munich.


4. Marienplatz

The Marienplatz or St Mary’s Square is a central square right in the middle of Munich. It has been the city square since 1158. Back in medieval times, markets and tournaments were held there.

The most dominating building and view in the square is taken up by the New Town Hall on one side and the Old Town Hall on an adjacent side.

Munich New Town Hall
This is the New Town Hall with the Frauenkirche in the background and the beautiful 30m high Christmas tree in front of it.

The Marienplatz is always busy with people and looks most beautiful during winter time when the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) is on with all the different stalls (140 in total) with food and drink and Christmas lights and decorations are up everywhere.

At the Christmas Market there is a 30-meter-high Christmas tree which stands in front of the New Town Hall and is decorated with around 2,500 lights. The Christkindlmarkt starts about 3 weeks before Christmas, usually from the Friday before the first Advent Sunday.

Also, make sure to be there when the Glockenspiel (chiming bells) starts,
which is on every day at 11am and noon, as it is a sight to be seen:


5. Bavaria Filmstadt – Bavaria Film Studios

The Bavaria Filmstadt is home to the studios that made movies such as ‘Das Boot’ as well as ‘The Neverending Story’ and many more.

You can walk on the sets and take photos and the guided tour will give you a lot of information on how movies are made and you even get to try and film your own little movie sequence (and are able to purchase it later on).

One of the main things that people still come to the studios for is of course the chance to sit on Falkor (Fuchur in German) and fly through the skies. You can also visit other characters from the movie and take photos everywhere.

Das Boot lets you walk through the original submarine set that was used to film the movie and gives you a good impression on how cramped life on a submarine would be.

If you want to get a bit of an overlook of the film studios, have a look at the link provided (Sorry I couldn’t find a good video to add here).

Bavaria Film Studios


6. Frauenkirche

Very close to the Marienplatz you’ll find the 15th century Frauenkirche – full name: “Dom zu unserer Lieben Frau” or “Cathedral of Our Dear Lady”, which is one of the most iconic views in and the symbol of Munich with its two towers which measure nearly 100m each.

The sometimes called ‘Munich Cathedral’ is seat of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

You will get an awesome view of Munich if you climb up the south tower of the cathedral. Actually you’ll only have to climb a few narrow steps and then conveniently step into an elevator which will get you right to the top of the nearly 100m tall tower.

There are some other quite interesting things about the cathedral though that not everyone knows about.

I bet you didn’t know that there is a footprint in the church that is said to be from the devil?

Yep, legend has it that the architect was trying to get money to build the cathedral and ended up making a deal with the devil. He’d get the money but it would be a place of darkness without any windows to let in the light.

When the cathedral was completed, the devil came to inspect the work and first it seemed that there were indeed no windows. This is where the story is divided sometimes. The first version goes like this:

Some say that the devil stamped his foot in delight to see that there were indeed no windows. But when he then saw the windows behind the columns his rage made him turn into wind to try to destroy the building.

Apparently he still tries to destroy it as anyone who comes within the vicinity of the cathedral or steps into it feels a slight breeze.

Have a look at this video of the Frauenkirche, you can even hear the wind that’s blowing around outside the church. 

The second version goes like this: After seeing the windows hidden behind the columns, the devil stamped his foot in anger at not being able to enter the consecrated church and left a black footprint where he stood.

I’m sure there are more versions of the story around as it is common with legends like that.


7. Viktualienmarkt

The Viktualienmarkt originated from a farmers market and eventually grew into a market known for its fresh food and delicatessen.

The original farmers market was located at the central square known as Marienplatz. It had to be moved to a square close-by, in fact just a few meters away, in 1807, when it had grown too large to be accommodated at its original space.

Zum alten Rathaus
This is the Restaurant Zum Alten Markt (at the old market) located at the Viktualienmarkt. 

Some buildings had to be demolished to make room for the market square which now boasts 140 stalls on 22,000 square meters offering everything from flowers, fruits and vegetables to meat, spices and eggs, as well as wine and tea amongst many other things.

If you get hungry from wandering around the stalls at the market and want to enjoy a very good meal at a charming 400-year old restaurant check out the Restaurant Zum Alten Markt.

Dessert

We absolutely loved our meals there! (that was one of the desserts)


8. Deutsches Museum

The Deutsche Museum or German Museum is located at the museum island, which is a small island in the middle of the river Isar, the river that flows through Munich. The island was originally called the Kohleninsel (coal island).

Note that the Deutsches Museum has two other locations, one in Munich, another near Munich, as well as another branch in Bonn (this used to be the capital of Germany).

There are just so many things to see and do in the Deutsches Museum that you can easily spend a full day there.

deutsches museum

This is one of the many installations at the Deutsches Museum. If I remember correctly it depicts molecules of something or other.

There are all the exhibits you can just look at in your own time at your own pace or you could join a guided tour and of course you have to see some of the demonstrations, such as the lightning show.

The following video is a short snippet of the high-voltage show, it might be a bit noisy:

You can download a free app for your free guide through the museum, this guide is available in German and English. Please note that guided tours in languages other than German have to be booked well in advance, at least 6 weeks prior.

Some of the shows will still be of interest and won’t need much translation, such as the glassblowing demonstration, the high-voltage show (where you will be shown what lightning can do), how to make paper by hand, the planetarium, the observatory as well as liquid-nitrogen experiments and how to make mini-bricks.

Deutsches Museum
View from the Deutsches Museum

The Museum is opened most days of the year with the exception of some public holidays. For more information, visit their website.


9. Toy Museum

At the Marienplatz you’ll find the Spielzeugmuseum – the Toy Museum. It’s located in the tower of the old town hall and has lots of stairs to climb but also a small elevator.

The rooms are also quite small which gives you the feeling of being inside a doll house yourself. The museum allows you to get a look into long forgotten times and an idea of what it was like to be a kid back then.

Toy Museum Munich

There are old toys from all over Europe as well as America, dating back to the year 1800. You will find wooden toys and plush toys, lots of teddy bears, toy soldiers, as well as model trains and comic figures.


What Else Is There To Do In Munich?

If you want to know what else there is to do, which is lots and way too much to be featured here, have a look at Munich’s official website. There’s sure to be something for everyone.

You can spend as little as one day up to a week in Munich and still have lots more to see and do. I would recommend spending at least a few days in Munich before moving on to other highlights around the area.


10. Neuschwanstein Castle

Not quite in Munich, Neuschwanstein Castle is less than 2 hours by car from Munich. You can also choose public transport or book a day tour to see Neuschwanstein as well as Hohenschwangau Castle which is located in the same town.

Hohenschwangau

This is the view from Neuschwanstein onto the town of Hohenschwangau with Castle Hohenschwangau in the center. 

If you want to go for a visit you can either book your ticket online or get it at the ticket center in town but NOT up at the castle. Tours can get quite busy so be sure to give yourself enough time to get your tickets, alternatively, you can reserve them in advance.

Neuschwanstein

The first impression of Neuschwanstein Castle up on the mountain in the fog. 

From Hohenschwangau town (this is where the castles are located) you can walk up to the castles or take a shuttle bus which will drop you off at Marienbruecke above the castle (it’s a great photo opportunity) and from there it is only a short walk down to the castle or you can get a horse drawn carriage.

The castle can only be visited with a guided tour. These tours are available in English and German, other languages are available with an audio guide. Please note that it can be a bit draughty if you go there in wintertime, so be sure to where a warm coat and hat.

Castle

Getting closer to the castle

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the food up at the castle. There are a few nice cafes and restaurants in town (Hohenschwangau) where you can get some really good local cuisine.

Where to stay when visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle? We stayed at a small town called Hopfen am See, which is about 20 minutes drive to Hohenschwangau.

We had an amazing view of the lake (See) with the mountains behind it.


11. Zugspitze

The Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain peak at 2962m, is not even 2 hours by car from Munich or less than an hour from Neuschwanstein Castle.

wetterstation zugspitze
The weather station at the Zugspitze tells you the temperature on the mountain (-12 degrees Celsius which is 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit), the wind speeds and how far into the distance you can see (110 km). 

A new record-breaking cable car has been installed and opened late December 2017, carrying 120 passengers while offering views as far as Munich on a clear day, thanks to the heated floor-to-ceiling windows.

On top of the mountain you get spectacular 360 degree views, you can enjoy a Jagertee (this is hot drink consisting of spiced black tea with a shot of rum, sure to warm you up on a cold winter’s day) or a cool beer in one of the 3 restaurants, depending on the season and what your heart desires.

Zugspitze
This is the view from one side of the mountain, on the top left you can see the summit cross.

There’s also a photo-stop on the mountain, right in front of the summit cross. It has an auto-release shutter, which will let you get into pose before pressing the button to get your perfect memory.

You can collect the photo in the ShopAlpin as a postcard (for a fee) or get it online and send it for free.

Apart from skiing, you can also go sledding down the mountain (which btw is very affordable), or you can visit the Igloo village (in winter). The Zugspitze is a favourite location in summer as in winter and all year around, as there is always something to see and do.

For all the other events check their website.

Where to stay when visiting the Zugspitze?

We decided to stay at the Abbey Hotel Ludwig der Bayer in Ettal, which is roughly 50 minutes by car.

It offers beautiful views of the mountains, has it’s own restaurant attached to the hotel, has an awesome spa and sauna area and just across the road from it there’s the Ettal Abbey, of course!

Ettal

This is the view we woke up to!

To get there we took the road through the mountains (the Ammergebirge), which leads you a short way through Austria past the Plansee lake. Just gorgeous!


I hope you enjoyed this little guide of my favourite things to do in Munich. It’s always hard to limit it to just so many places, as there is always something else you could also be seeing and doing.

I’m sure I’ll re-visit the top things to do in Munich again and share more about this beautiful city and area in Bavaria, Germany.

Happy and safe travels!

14 Replies to “Things To See In Munich – The 11 Top Sights To See In And Around Munich”

  1. I must confess you made me kept smiling as I was reading through this wonderful post. I don’t know much about lots of countries but from what i have heard about Germany as a country makes me smile a lot. 

    Now focusing attention to Munich alone and seeing there are such beautiful places in there alone is really amazing. 

    My family and I usually go one a a long vacation for Christmas and its seem like Munich is the target place this time. Thanks for the information.

  2. The main in reason I am considering paying a visit to Munich was solely because of the Oktoberfest but now, I must say that u have more than enough reasons to visit the great city. 

    I love varieties of everything you have stated one can explore when one gets there and I will surely do well to explore everything worth exploring in this beautiful city of Munich. Thanks so much for the suggestions.

    1. The Oktoberfest sure is one of the biggest reasons for people to visit Munich, but there’s so much more than that and some of it you already know because of my post. 

      I really love Munich during Christmas time, it’s magical

  3. Wow, I must say that this is a comprehensive post on Munich you have written here. I have read about the city and I must say I was very impressed. 

    When I saw pictures from Munich,  I was going to ask myself if there are just good photographers in Munich or it really is a beautiful place. I hope to visit someday for a long time. I also hear the people in Munich are nice too.

  4. Wow, this place is filled with so much history. A friend of mine told me she went to Munich and she really enjoyed it. 

    It was actually an alternative to going to Paris for a honeymoon and she said it was the best part of her life. I also see that Munich is very big when quite a host of people. 

    One thing I like though is that there are so many museums one can visit as I love learning in places like that about history and myths. Nice informative.

  5. Wow Munich’s Octoberfest looks so cool Petra!

    I’ve heard a lot about it but that video makes me want to make a stop to Germany on my Euro trip next year. 

    The Christmas market looks so lovely I’ll definitely need to stop there wow! 

    But most of all, I’m a sucker for all things medieval and the Neuschwanstein Castle looks very exciting! Do you think there are medieval merchandise shops there where I can get armour or trinkets? 😀

  6. Wow, I literally feel like I took a trip, with your vivid descriptions and fun videos.  I love looking at travel websites because we don’t get to travel much.  

    I have many grandchildren that I help to care for, so we all vacation, but not very far.  

    My extent of Octoberfest will be a local festival up on the mountain.  LOL.  Hey, it’s fun, but it’s not Munich.  Thank you so much for sharing all of this.  Very enjoyable.

  7. I took my wife and 3 young kids to Munich and the castle in Jan 2019. I loved it. It offered so much more than I expected. 

    We had been to Berlin for 6 days prior, and Munich was more what I expected Berlin to be like. Although it was winter, Munich was bustling, although the markets were closed, the ice skating rink was still set up and you could warm up with Mulled wine while watching the ice skating. 

    There are so many beautiful churches in and around Munich. The 2 previous times I had been there was as a kid and in my early 20s. As a 20 something year ld, it was all about Octoberfest….and I remember little more. As a kid, you are often oblivious to what is going on. Now I see it through a new set of eyes and fully recommend a visit. 

    We stayed at Fussen and visited Neuschwanstein Castle from there. Also a great little town and caught the train from there to Munich. The food in Bavaria was great, sometimes there was so much but the Pork Knuckle I recommend and the Goulash was a real hit with my picky daughter.

    1. Yes, Fuessen is a great town too. I fully understand re the Oktoberfest in your 20s lol!

      Oh don’t get me started on the food, the last Europe trip was roughly 5kg extra in weight just because of the food! In Bavaria we basically had half a liter of beer every day or with every meal! Sooo good! We had the pork knuckly too and goulash with potato dumplings. 

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