Known for its world-class museums, exquisite royal palaces and vibrant neighborhoods, Munich is a city that offers something for everyone. But it also has a quirky flair that’s hard to ignore.
For a taste of Bavarian history, head to Nymphenburg Palace. Designed for the House of Wittelsbach, this vast, opulent royal complex is one of the most stunning sights in Munich.
1. Englischer Garten
The Englisher Garten is Munich’s biggest park and one of the world’s largest inner-city parks. Founded in 1789, it’s been landscaped in the English style, and is still a popular spot for locals to unwind.
A stroll through the park can be a relaxing experience, with miles of pathways for people to walk or bike on. If you’re more active, there are also many waterways that you can swim in and a popular surfer’s beach.
For those looking for something a little different, there’s the Japanese teahouse, which opened in 1972. In the southern part of the garden, there’s also a nudist area called Schonfeldwiese.
A visit to Munich is not complete without a stroll through Marienplatz. It’s surrounded by historic buildings and is the starting point for many walking tours.
As its name suggests, it’s a center of life, and it plays host to several events throughout the year. In the month of Advent, the city hosts a large Christmas Market on the square.
The New Town Hall dominates the square, and it is home to the Glockenspiel. This tower bell tower has 32 life-sized figures reenacting historical Bavarian events, such as war, pestilence, hunger and heresy. The shows are held daily at 11 a.m. and noon.
3. Alte Pinakothek
The Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery) is one of Munich’s major art museums. It houses a significant collection of Old Master paintings.
The museum was designed by Leo von Klenze and commissioned by King Ludwig I of Bavaria. It was built in neo-renaissance style in 1826-1836.
Its collections of works from 14th to 18th centuries are heavy on German masters, but it also includes some Italian and Flemish pieces. The collection is one of the world’s best.
4. National Theater
The National Theater is a beautiful building with a classical facade. It was designed by Karl von Fischer and inspired by the Odeon theatre in Paris.
It was first built in 1818 and opened with a performance of Die Weihe by Ferdinand Franzl. However, it was destroyed by fire in 1823.
Eventually, the theatre was rebuilt and re-opened in 1825. This time it incorporated Neo-Grec features like the portico and triangular pediment.
Sadly, it was again completely destroyed in 1943 by an air raid. But Gerhard Moritz Graubner, based on the original plans by Karl von Fischer, reconstructed it.
5. Old Peter’s Church
Affectionately referred to as “Alter Peter” by locals, the Old Peter’s Church is one of Munich’s most popular landmarks. It’s located right next to Marienplatz and is easily accessible from the city center.
There are many art treasures to be found inside the church including the baroque high altar that was created in 1734 by Nikolaus Stuber and Egid Quirin Asam. In the center is a golden figure of Saint Peter surrounded by four relics.
The church also has a small tower that can be climbed for great views of the city. The climb is a little taxing (over 300 steps) but is well worth it to get those views.
6. Glockenspiel in Marienplatz
Marienplatz is Munich’s central square and home to the New Town Hall (Neue Rathaus). This neogothic tower is a top tourist attraction and is also home to one of the city’s most fascinating attractions, the Glockenspiel.
The clock is a massive 260 feet high and consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures that come to life every day reenacting two stories from the 16th century. The upper section tells the story of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine in 1568.
The bottom section reenacts a dance called Schafflertanz, or coopers’ dance, which was performed in Munich in 1517 as a way to lure citizens back out on the streets after a plague had killed most of them. The dance is still performed on Marienplatz every 7 years.
The vast Theresienwiese, or Tracy Lawn, lies southwest of Munich’s Old Town and is the venue for Oktoberfest (mid-September through early October). But even if it were empty most of the time, it would still be worth a visit.
The centerpiece of the Theresienwiese is the Bavaria Statue, an 18-meter-tall Amazon whose cunning design makes her seem solid yet you can climb up to her head for an incredible view of the festival grounds.
Theresienwiese is also home to several festivals, including the Fruhlingsfest in spring and the Tollwood winter festival in December. Its central location makes it a great base to explore the rest of Munich.