Munich is famous for its beer, Octoberfest and really a good soccer team, but the city offers so much more and is one of my favorite places to visit. I have been to Munich many times and still feel that there is so much more to see. I use Munich as a base for exploring Bavaria by train which you can read here but the city of Munich is a great city to spend time in and is a place that feels like home.
Munich is one of the easiest towns to get around in and is a friendly and comfortable place to stay in. So relaxing that when I backpacked around Europe for three months, I went back to Munich after staying there for a week for another week to relax, kind of a vacation within my vacation. Munich has something for everyone.
When planning your trip to Munich, I recommend that the weather be the biggest factor in your trip. Most things in Munich can be done in rainy weather so take advantage of nice days. If the weather is clear and you plan on taking day trips from Munich, make sure that you do it on the clear days. It is more important to get out of town on the clear days, then to spend it in Munich. Umbrellas are useful in Munich and you can do almost everything except for the English Garden, and Dacha on a rainy day.
Munich has wonderful public transportation, the underground which is faster and a little easier to get around in, the S bahn which is a commuter train and trams. The taxis are also reasonable just as long as you are not going for long distances. So I recommend taking the S Bahn and the underground when possible, but for closer distances take a cab. Late at night take a cab as well.
If you like traditional German food, Munich is for you. In fact, when you think of German food it really is food from Bavaria. I have a couple of recommendations. For good schnitzel, I like the Augustiner am Platzl. It is across the street from the Hofbrauhaus and the Hard Rock cafe. The food is better than the other big Munich Breweries, especially Hofbrauhaus and has a mellow atmosphere. I really like the schnitzel there. I have tried schnitzel in most of the beer halls, and it is my favorite.
Biergardten and viktualienmarkt is another favorite place. It is a market that sells different types of food and groceries as well as handcrafts. Even if you are not going there for a meal, it is worth a walk around. The food is good German street food, there is a lot of variety, but I like to get a sausage and some potato salad there. The different breweries trade days so depending on what day you are there, you get to try some really good beers.
Another favorite place is the English Garden. There is a huge beer garden by the Chinesischer Turm. Like the market, different breweries trade off days, you can also either have a picnic or buy food there. I had country potatoes which had a Bavarian sour cream on it. It was different than any sour cream I have ever had, and really good. The English Garden is also a great place to walk around in. There is a hidden gem of a beer garden in is as well, my German isn’t the best, but it seemed to me to have been a dog park/beer garden.
Lastly my favorite place and one of the best meals I had in Munch is at Paulaner Brauhaus. While this is owned by the well known Paulaner, it is completely different. It is basically a microbrewery with an amazing restaurant. They brew their own beers there that you can’t get anywhere else. I had the most amazing Hefeweizen and I would describe the food as gourmet traditional German. It is a little off the center of town, so you get more of a local crowd. If you had one place to go, this would be it.
There are seven big breweries in Munich and each one of them deserve a visit. While the Hofbräuhaus is a must just for the experience, lets be honest, I can get each one of those beers at my local liquor store so I recommend drinking beers that you have never heard of. Munich and the surrounding area has hundreds of micro breweries or regional breweries. While I am not one to seek them out The European Beer Guide Website has a good list as well as Rate Beer website. So in Munich, try a beer you have never heard of.
If you have read any of my other posts on other cities, you find that I am not the biggest museum fan. While I love to learn, walking through a museum with there is scenery or a city to walk through is not my favorite. However, if the rain is coming down, it is a great time to visit a museum. There are over 80 museums in Munich, but the can’t miss museum is the Deutsches Museum. The Deutsches Museum is the largerst technical and scientific museum in the world, and let me tell you, it is large. It is a great place to take kids and your science/technology geek as well as the general tourist. I went there as an eight year old and remember it being a highlight of Munich, but be aware that it can be over whelming and if you are like me and your husband is an engineer, it can get boring. Much of it is in German so I ended up separating from my husband and meeting him at the cafe several hours later. I had a good two hours there, but after that, it was a bit much. But if you go to one museum in Munich, this is it. I recommend reading all about in guide books and on their website before going. I even printed out some information, which made the confusing lay out and the overwhelming size a little more manageable.
The second museum that you should not miss is the Pinakothek Art Museums. The Pinakothek art museum is actually three museums. The old Pinakothek which is art from the 14-18th century, the New Pinakothek which is not that new and has art from the 18th and 19th century and the Pinakothek of Modern Art which has as the name suggest, modern art. They are all good, so choose an era and go for it. My favorite is the New Pinakothek, but that is just my taste of liking that era of art.
The central area of Munich is the old city that some point in time was surrounded by a wall. Now there is a ring road with four gates. Munich was bombed pretty badly during World War Two so most of it has been rebuilt. I recommend staying somewhere within the ring. This gets you close to the train station for day trips, most of the sights, shops and beer halls. It also is the center of public transportation so you can get to where ever you want to go.
The center of Munich has some great places to see, the most famous sights of Munich are all within walking distance. A good place to start is the Marienplatz. This is where the famous Neues Rathaus or New Town Hall is that is know for its glockenspiel is and is a Munich must. It plays at 11:00 and 12:00 every day. You can pay to ride to the top, but I don’t think it is worth it. While the New Town hall survived the WW2 bombings, the Old Town Hall did not and has been rebuilt, not much to see there, but is to the right of the Neues Rathaus.
The Frauenkirche or the Munich Cathedral another not miss sight. You can’t miss it as it is the church with the two towers, it was mostly destroyed besides the towers in WW2, but it has been restored and is worth a look inside. Check before on their website about opening times and if the towers are open as they are currently closed due to construction.
After I see a couple of sights, I like to take breaks and there are two great things to do on a break. First the Hofbrauhaus is in this area as well as Viktualienmarkt. There is also great shopping around here. The typical chain stuff as well as Munich souvenirs.
The Residenz which was the Bavarian’s kings palace was also heavily damage during World War Two, but they had the foresight to get the good things out of it before it was destroyed. So I would say that outside of the building is a bit of a disappointment because it is clear it is a rebuild, the stuff inside it is pretty amazing. There is quite a bit to see here so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time in it, if it is something you are interested in. They offer audio tours of the building, but that causes the tours to last a lot longer so if you are a little strapped for time but want to see everything, do your research before hand and skip the audio part of the tour. You might get a strange look from docents by skipping this, but shaves a lot of time off. I read the history of the building before going to it and printed the information about each room including the maps off of the internet before I went. This made it a lot easier to go through, still get all of the history and get out of there a lot faster than the tour. Some guide books have good walking tours as well in them so I usually either tear out the pages or make copies of the pages and bring them along as well.
Behind the Residenz is a Court Garden which you can walk through and behind that is the large English Gardens with beer garden that I mentioned above.
OUTSIDE OF THE CENTRAL AREA
It is one of my dreams to go to Munich and buy a BMW at the factory, but lets be honest, if I keep traveling as much as I want to, this will never happen. However, you can visit BMW Welt and if it is something that you are interested in, I recommend it. It is not as good as the Autostadt, VW’s headquarters in Wolfsberg, but it is worth a visit. BMW Welt is basically a giant showroom that has BMWs and Mini Coopers (yes the Mini UK’s iconic car is owned and built by the Germans.) If a tour of the plant is what you want, you need to get reservations very early and you have to email or call. I emailed over two months in advance and it was filled up the week I was going to be there. The museum is also very neat and very well laid out, but be aware that it is closed on Monday. It is at the Olympic Park and is very easy to get to. Directions can be found on their webpage.
The Nymphenburg palace is also in the area, but I will be honest and tell you to skip it. There are better palaces to see within a quick train ride of Munich and I would do that instead of going to Nymphenburg. For seeing a beautiful garden, there are better places to go and for a Bavarian Palace, there are a lot more palaces to see, so if you are a limited time kind of person, spend the time somewhere else.
Especially with the recent rise in antisemitism, I think a visit to Dachau Concentration Camp is a must. The city of Dachau is a nice suburb of Munich that you can take about a 20-25 minute S-bahn train ride to. At the Dachau the train station, you exit and find a bus out to the concentration camp. Exact directions and bus and s-bahn information as well as opening times are on their website. Remember that they are closed on Monday. I would print info off of their website or tear out pages from the guide book that has a history of the place if you do not want to take a guided tour. Be aware that there are a lot of school groups there, I was there when buses full of Catholic school kids were there. It is not a plesant experience to say the least, but it is a very important experience, and something that cannot be missed.
While I hate ending on a downer like this. Munich is a great place to stay and explore the surrounding area. Check out my day trips from Munich as well.