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Local Tours & Activities in Munich

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Things to Do in Munich, the Capital of Bavaria


Ali Jennings
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Germany , Munich
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Dec 8, 2019

While Berlin gets the vast majority of Germany’s visitors and is considered to be the cultural heart of the country, there is one city that is definitely the capital of beer – the Bavarian capital of Munich. Famous for the iconic Oktoberfest, beer might be the thing that attracts most people here, but Munich actually has lots more to warrant a trip here. It is a fabulous mix of the old and the new, has tons of cool museums and attractions to visit, has some of the country’s best cuisine, plus there are lots of places where you can take day excursions really easily. Of course, if you are thinking about heading off on holiday to Munich, you will want to know exactly how you can fill your time while you are in the city, so here is the ultimate guide to things to do in Munich.

 

Sightseeing Things to Do in Munich

 

Marienplatz

Located in the heart of the old town, Marienplatz has been the center of Munich's life since the 12th century and is often the first place that travelers head to when they arrive in the city. It was initially built to house medieval markets, tournaments and celebrations, so you can imagine how many people filled the square during these centuries. Times have not changed very much and you will still find Marienplatz filled with people at any given time, making it a wonderful place for people-watching. However, the square is also one of the most beautiful parts of Munich, so there is also much to see here. 

Things to do in Munich - Marienplatz

One of the main highlights of Marienplatz is the Neues Rathaus – the New Town Hall. This impressive building has an incredibly ornate facade, covered in hundreds of turrets, statues, and arches. The town hall’s tower incorporates the city’s famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a clock that delivers a spectacular show every day. At 11 am and 12 pm every day, the glockenspiel will chime and then 32 life-sized figures emerge and re-enact various Bavarian events. Despite looking like it was built in Medieval times, the New Town Hall was actually constructed in the late 19th to early 20th century in the Flanders Gothic style. Nevertheless, it is an absolutely breathtaking building to see.

On the east side of Marienplatz is the Altes Rathaus, the Old Town Hall. Prior to the New Town Hall being constructed, the Old Town Hall housed the municipal government from the 14th century. Unfortunately, the original Old Town Hall was completely destroyed during World War II, but has been rebuilt according to the original plans and is now the home of the Toy Museum, which is well worth popping in while you are in Marienplatz. 

Things to do in Munich - Mariensaule

In the center of Marienplatz, you will see the Mariensaule, the St. Mary Column. Erected to celebrate the end of the Swedish occupation in the 17th century, the column features a golden statue of the Virgin Mary on top. Around the pedestal you will find four figures which represent the adversities Munich has overcome: war is symbolized by the lion, pestilence the cockroach, heresy the serpent, and famine the dragon.

 

Munich Residenz

Once a modest 14th-century castle, the Residenz has been extended and transformed over the years and is now one of the most splendid things to do in Munich. The Residenz spent many years as a royal home and was the largest city palace in Germany, but now it is open to the public. Nowadays, the Munich Residenz houses an impressive museum with all kinds of exhibits on display within the stunningly beautiful interiors. You should definitely check out the Hall of Antiquities, dating from the 16th century, and the 18th century Ancestral Gallery. Also worth a look are a treasury, which houses the jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty, and the Bavarian coin collection.

Things to do in Munich - Residenz

After you have looked around the inside of the Residenz, you can take a stroll around the wonderful gardens.

 

Odeonsplatz

After Marienplatz, Odeonsplatz is the favorite square of most travelers to Munich due to a large amount of stunning historical buildings found here. One side of the square serves as the entrance to the Munich Residenz, then on the other side, you have Theatiner Church, a magnificent example of 17th Baroque architecture. You also have the regal lions that flank the steps of the Feldherrnhalle – the Field Marshall’s Hall – and there are various attractive streets that run off the square, such as Ludwigstrasse, Briennerstrasse, and Leopoldstrasse.

Things to do in Munich - Odeonsplatz

Odeonsplatz is known for being a popular venue for parades and events; even the annual parade to Oktoberfest follows along this route.

 

Frauenkirche

Instantly recognizable by its two onion domes, Frauenkirche is both an interesting part of the Munich skyline and one of the most wonderful things to do in Munich, even though it can be easily said that there are many prettier churches in the city. The thing which makes Frauenkirche one of the best to visit is its scale; standing at 109 meters high, the towers are the highest point in the city, and any new buildings are not allowed to exceed their height. Its interior is much more subtle than other churches in Munich, but there are certainly some intriguing points of interest that make the trip worthwhile. Here you can see the tomb of the 14th century Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV, and there is also a mysterious shoe-shaped impression at the entrance.

Things to do in Munich - Frauenkirche

Legend has it that the impression is that of the Devil, who had attempted to make a deal with the builder of the church to not incorporate windows into the church. However, the builder tricked the devil by positioning the church’s columns so the windows were not visible from the spot where the Devil stood. When he realized he had been outwitted by the builder, he stomped his feet, leaving the impression behind.

 

BMW Museum and BMW Welt

Sightseeing in Munich does not just have to be about history and architecture – at least not in the traditional sense. The famous car manufacturer BMW was founded in the city just over a century ago and has had a huge impact on Munich’s economy. In the 1970s, the BMW Museum was opened and was an incredibly popular attraction from the beginning. From 2004 to 2008, the museum was closed for renovation to coincide with the new BMW Welt which was also being constructed nearby. Nowadays, both venues attract hordes of visitors every year and they should definitely be two of your things to do in Munich,

Things to do in Munich - BMW Museum

The BMW Museum – whose building is often referred to as the ‘salad bowl’ – has lots of vehicles on show in its airy showrooms which take you through the technological development of the manufacturer, including vintage cars, motorbikes, aircraft, and offbeat concept vehicles from recent years; there is even a vintage BMW which belonged to Elvis Presley on display here. After learning about the company’s past, you can then move over to BMW Welt to get up-to-date with the present. Here you can enter the flashy showroom for free to see what models are available on the market now, and you can even book a test drive here. If your bank balance will not stretch to purchasing one of the cars on show, you can instead visit the shop to have a look at the souvenirs and accessories.

 

Outdoors Things to Do in Munich

 

English Garden

As the city’s most famous park, the English Garden – or Englischer Garten as it is said in German – is one of the most popular things to do in Munich. There are so many things to do here that you will not know where to start. Here you can run, cycle, and paddle boat, and then when you are tired out from all the exertion, you can then relax and recharge in one of the beer gardens and restaurants here. You can also visit the Japanese Teahouse, the Chinese Tower, and the Greek Temple.

Things to do in Munich - English Garden

However, what the English Garden is really famous for is nude sunbathing. Germans are well-known for their relaxed attitude with regards to nudity, so if you want to join in, there is no need to feel self-conscious; people of all ages join in. Just remember to be respectful and do not take pictures while you are in this part of the park; while photography is not forbidden, just think about how you would feel if someone started snapping away at your naked form.

 

River Surfing

This is definitely one of the things to do in Munich that you would not expect to be on the list, but the city is the birthplace of the unusual sport of river surfing, making it a cool thing to do while you are in town. Along the edge of the English Garden is the Eisbach Canal where you can see many surfers suiting up and taking to the water on their surfboards. The best thing about the sport is that you do not need to wait for a specific season; people river surf all year round, even during the cold winters.

 

West Park

Often overlooked in favor of the English Garden, West Park is also one of the best things to do in Munich. Just a ten-minute U-Bahn trip from Marienplatz, there is plenty here to keep you occupied. There are many trails for walkers, cyclists, joggers, and skaters, and sled riders even make use of the slopes during winter. If you are a model boat enthusiast, you will see lots of people sailing theirs across the Mollsee, an artificial lake. Other attractions include a rose garden with around 500 species of the flower, the first Chinese garden in Europe, a Japanese garden from Munich’s twin city of Sapporo, and two pavilions, one Nepalese and another Thai. You can also enjoy the barbecue area, two beer gardens, and there is even an outdoor cinema in summer.

 

Olympiapark

Built for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, Olympiapark still attracts many visitors throughout the year. At the time of construction, the park was an architectural marvel and its futuristic venues are still amazing to look at. While a lot of the facilities are open to the public and it is possible to go ice skating, zip-lining, and skiing as well as do a wide variety of water sports here, one activity which is definitely worth your time is to take one of the guided tours, especially the Architec-Tour where you can learn about the amazing construction of the Olympic buildings. Of course, Olympiapark was also the location of the devastating event which took place during the 1972 Olympic Games – the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes – and you can still visit Building 31 where the team stayed during their visit to the Games.

Things to do in Munich - Olympiapark

As well as the sports venues, Sea Life Centre Munich is also located within Olympiapark. Home to more than 4,000 animals from the different waters around the world, including seahorses, sharks, turtles, octopuses, and rays. In addition to seeing these wonderful creatures, you also have the chance to observe them at feeding time and hold crabs, anemones, and starfish in the touching pool.

 

Culinary Things to Do in Munich

 

Hofbrauhaus am Platzl

As was mentioned previously, beer is a huge part of cultural life in Munich so a visit to one of the many beer halls has to be high on your list of things to do in Munich. Historically a royal brewery of the Kingdom of Bavaria and one of the oldest beer halls in the city, Hofbrauhaus am Platzl has had many famous faces walk through its doors; the classical composer Mozart used to live just around the corner and frequented the beer hall on a regular basis, as did the Russian terrorist Vladimir Lenin when he lived in Munich prior to World War I. Other famous visitors who have been to Hofbrauhaus am Platzl include US Presidents JFK and George W. H. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Louis Armstrong.

Things to do in Munich - Hofbrauhaus

As well as plenty of types of beer to try, Hofbrauhaus am Platzl has an extensive menu featuring all the traditional Bavarian favorites such as roasted ham hock and sausages like bratwurst and weisswurst. Like with many traditional German beer halls, you can expect lively music from a live oompah band and, if you are traveling to Munich when the weather is nice, there is a beer garden to enjoy too.

 

Viktualienmarkt

If you get a little bit tired of spending a lot of your time in beer halls, head over to Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s food market. Originally the market made its home in Marienplatz but eventually grew too big for the main square to accommodate so it was moved to its current location in the early 19th century. It is a great place to go and see locals buying all their groceries for the week; here you can find around 140 indoor and outdoor stalls selling all kinds of fresh produce, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, and even specialty goods. You can easily buy yourself a decent lunch here, picking your favorite items from various different stalls.

Things to do in Munich - Viktualienmarkt

However, if you prefer, you can check out the market’s extremely popular beer garden which has its own self-service restaurant.

 

Festivals in Munich

 

Oktoberfest

Festivals are a major part of the fabric of Munich and the one which everyone has heard of is Oktoberfest. Taking place for 16 to 18 days from mid- to late September, the festival is the largest Volksfest – a German beer festival combined with a traveling funfair – in the world and attracts approximately six million people every year. During the festival, you will see lots of people dressed up in traditional Bavarian costumes – dirndl for women, lederhosen for men. If you can do this, it really does add to the enjoyment of Oktoberfest. You can also expect lots of delicious Bavarian food, dancing on the tables, energetic live music from both traditional brass bands, and, of course, lots and lots of beer. 

Things to do in Munich - Okroberfest

Through TripsPoint.com, it is possible to book two Oktoberfest tours depending on your preferences. The Oktoberfest Camp & Party Tour gives you three days and two nights’ accommodation at the tour operator’s exclusive campsite where the party never ends: your package will include camping accommodation, breakfast, and dinner, guides who will direct you to the Oktoberfest beer halls, and non-stop celebrations on your campsite, including DJs, live bands, and live radio shows, plus an unlimited bar of beer and sangria is available for just €10 a day. If you need a little bit more comfort, you could opt for the Oktoberfest Glamping package. You get the parties which are included in the Camp & Tour package, but your accommodation will be located in the private Festival Glamping Garden Area with beautiful and cozy tents with double beds, fitted sheets, and hot water bottles, the perfect place to relax after a day’s drinking at Oktoberfest.

 

Fruhlingsfest

Translating to Springfest in English, Fruhlingsfest may not get the same attention as Oktoberfest, but if you make your way to Munich during April and May, you may find that you love this festival even more.

Things to do in Munich - Fruhlingsfest

The concept is very much the same: the emphasis is on the beer tents and gardens as well as the thrilling funfair rides, delicious food, and live music, but there are a few cool extras which you will not find at Oktoberfest, such as the huge flea market and evening fireworks displays. So if you fancy being that little bit different, book the Munich Springfest Package through TripsPoint.com.

 

With So Many Things to Do in Munich, You Will Have the Time of Your Life

Things to do in Munich

Although it is often overlooked in favor of other German cities such as Berlin and Cologne, there are so many things to do in Munich that you really should add it to your travel bucket list – and not just for Oktoberfest. While the beer is definitely something which should form a big part of your Munich trip, you will also discover much, much more here.

 

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