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Top 10 Things to do in Munich

This festival famous city is also steeped in tradition and as the capital of the region, it also has a collection of cultural and historical monuments. For a taste of traditional and modern Bavarian culture, here are our suggestions of top 10 things to do while in Munich. We hope you enjoy the best of the city! 

1. Marienplatz: The Central Square

Together with Karlsplatz, Marientplatz forms the central pedestrian area in the old town. This area was historically where markets and tournaments took place and is now an areas with shops, restaurants and historic monuments, drawing many visitors as the hub of the city. The square is named after the church of St Mary that it hosts and has been the centre of the city since 1158. The square has several monuments within it including the Marian Column and the Neues Rathaus - the New City Hall and the Altes Rathaus - Old City Hall which are on two sides. As the city’s historic centre plenty of events take place here, including the famous Christkindlmarkt - the traditional Christmas Market which takes place here every December. 

2. Karls Gate (Karlstor)

This gate is iconic in Munich as the medieval entry point through the city walls, with the white stone facade featuring in many tourist postcards. The gate was still the main entrance in the fortified walls until the 18th century and dates back to the 13th century and was previously known as the Neuhauser Tor. The old narrow passage has been expanded now but still houses the two towers on the side and the bridging archway – a symbol of Munich.

This palace was built by Agostina Barelli in 1664 as a summer residence to honour the birth of Max Emanuel. The building was expanded in the 1700s and now is a large palace with surrounding landscaped gardens including ornamental and fountains and a lake. There is a network of canals and in summer you can take a gondola ride along the central canal through the Baroque styled gardens. The palace can be easily reached by train from central Munich. Tickets are from 5 euros with combination tickets for the museum also available.

These museums are a trinity of three separate museums; the old, new and modern, that form the combined Pinakothek Museums. Each of the museums is world class and hold prominent artist exhibitions as well as hosting some of the best modern art in Europe. The Alte Pinakothek has old European Masters including Titian, Rembrandt and Rubens. The Neue Pinakothek has late 18th century to early 29th century European art, including Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and Klimt. The Pinakothek der Moderne has mainly 21st century art and design, including installation and graphic work. Look out for their exhibitions, some require tickets in advance. All have reduced prices on admission on Sundays and a joint ticket for all three as well as the Museum Brandhorst.

FC Bayern Munich, one of the top teams in the Bundesliga, claims the Allianz Arena Stadium as its home ground - and is a sports mecca to any football fans. The stadium has over 3,000 cushions of air that are lit up to create the familiar futuristic landmark on the skyline and the building has become iconic in Munich. Watching a football match here is a ‘must do’ for any football fans as the stadium is famous for its great atmosphere – and Bayern often wins!

6. Enjoy Munich’s Beer Festivals

Throughout the year Munich throws several Beer Festivals - not just the famous Oktoberfest! This is a reason to visit Munich in itself. Munich holds the Strong Beer Festival, the Starkbierzeit in March/ April every year during lent, introduced by the Paulaner monks in the 1600s. This festival is around half the size of the Oktoberfest, however contains all the fun of the beer is much stronger!

The Munich Spring Festival, known locally as Kleine Schwester des Oktoberfestes - or Oktoberfest’s Little Sister is a two-week celebration with entertainment and attractions similar to the traditional Oktoberfest, including a fairground and of course, beer. The celebration begins with a parade and you can raise a glass to the beginning of Spring.

The Englisher Garten, the now famous ‘English Garden’ park in central Munich, was created in 1789 by Sir Benjamin Thompson. The term refers to the style of English informal landscape from the mid 18th and early 19th century associated with Capability Brown. The breathing lungs of Munich, this popular park has plenty of open spaces that the locals enjoy and monuments dotted around its grounds. The park boasts over 100 bridges, 8.75 km of streams, 75 kms of pathways and is one of Europe’s largest parks.

There are numerous buildings and monuments within the park’s setting with probably the best known being the lake house at Kleinhesseloher, the Eisbachwelle surf point and the beer garden by the Chinese Tower. With over 7,000 seats here this is a lively spot on a sunny day with live music often playing, but you can also find a peaceful spot in this scenic area to enjoy traditional food and Bavarian beer. The Chinese Tower itself, a pagoda that was first constructed in 1789, stands at over 25 m high. Another well known building within the park is the Japanese Tea House on a small island south of the Englisher Garten. It was gifted by Mitsuo Nomura and Soshitsu Sen, and regular tea ceremonies are held here.

In the open green spaces of the garden, with grasses and plenty of trees, there is plenty of space for enjoying the outdoors, with all kinds of activities taking place from Thai Chi to athletics. One attraction for sun lovers is the nudist sunbathing area set up in the 1960s on the Schoenfeldwiese (meadow). This is quite a common practice in Germany! 

8. Watch the surfers on the Eisbach River

One surprising and unique activity you can see in the garden is surfing on the Eisbach River. There is a wave on one of the streams that comes from the river which is artificially created by a mechanical pump and it has become popular with the local surfers with them lining the banks all year round waiting for a turn on the crest of the wave. This can be watched from the bridge, but don’t be tempted to try it if you’re a beginner!

9. Munich’s Beer gardens - or biergartens

As one of Munich’s most famous exports, Bavarian beer, or bier, must be experienced on a trip to Munich, and where better than a traditional beer garden? Biergartens are very popular with the locals in Munich, officially opening during Lent, with over 200 in the city; including one of the largest in the English Garden. This means you have plenty of choice of where to go when you’re in this beer loving city, from the most famous such as Hofbräuhaus and Augustiner Keller to the largest at Koniglicher Hirschgarten. Find out about the traditional strong Bavarian beers and enjoy some of beer snacks too, such as pork sausages!

Build for the 1972 Olympic Games, this former airfield was revamped into a stadium that forms an iconic piece of modern architecture. The surroundings have been transformed into event space and grounds including a lake and landscaped gardens. 

If you’ve got more time in Munich then there’s much more to see. For car enthusiasts try the BMW Car factory tour, or the more somber memorial at Dachau at the site of the former concentration camp, or for a day trip visit the nearby Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein, a vision of the ‘Mad King’ Ludwig II. Find out more about what you can see and do around Munich at the 4You Hostel and Hotel reception.