Munich is the capital of Bavaria and home to about 1.5 million people. It’s Germany’s third largest city. The city has many nicknames, from “Little Paris” to “the German Silicon Valley.” It is a very liveable city, with a prosperous economy, vibrant art scene, numerous museums, beautiful architecture, wonderful shopping, thriving nightlife, and amazing outdoor recreation nearby. Although seven million people descend upon Bavaria for Oktoberfest, its most popular event, there is much more to see and do here.
Here are some attractions in Munich if you want to see the city as well as drink the beer:
Olympic Stadium and Olympic Park
Munich Olympic Stadium is a 80,000 seat stadium with partial roof made of acrylic glass that was built for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Its use of canopies of glass held by steel cables was considered revolutionary at the time. You can get a great view of the city from the Olympic tower. Honor the Israeli atheletes who were killed in the terrorist attack and failed rescue known as the Munich Massacre. Or enjoy some of the attractions in the area like the Walk of Stars, Sea Life Munchen or ROck Museum.
BMW World & BMW Headquarters
The BMW Museum offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of BMW and see 125 of BMW’s cars, motorcycles and engines. The BMW Tower and bowl were designed by Viennese architect Karl Schwanzer and opened in 1973.
The Isar River originates in the Alps, runs through Munich, and flows into the Danube River. The highlight of enjoying the Isar has to be watching world class surfing on a man made tributary known as the Eisbach that flows through English Gardens. Only one person can surf at a time but where else are you going to see river surfing in the middle of a city? In the summer, you’ll also find fishing, cycling, nude sunbathing and picnicking along the river.
At the Deutsches Museum, you will find the first automobile, diesel engine, and the bench where the first atom was split. With attractions like those, its no wonder it is also called the German Museum of Masterpieces of Technology and Science. Opened in 1925, it is located on an island in the Isar River. It is the largest museum of technology in the world and well worth seeing.
The Nymphenburg Palace (Schloss Nymphenburg in German)
It was built in 1664 as Elector Ferdinand’s summer residence. It is now the largest Baroque palace in Germany and has extensive palace gardens. Sadly, most of the furniture has been removed. The sleigh and coach museum, as well as the Gallery of Beauties, come highly recommended. The manufacturing of porcelain has taken place in a building there since 1761. Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg calls it “the last place where all products are made entirely by hand.”
English Garden (Englischer Garten)
English Garden, created by Sir Benjamin Thompson in 1789, is one of the largest city parks in Europe. You’ll find it larger than Central Park in New York City but smaller than Richmond Park in London. It was named for the style of landscape gardening which was popular in the United Kingdom at the time. Enjoy watching the Munich river surfing, have a drink at the beer gardens, tea served at the Japanese Teahouse, view the Chinese Tower built in 1789 or take a paddle boat on the Kleinhesseloher See. There’s also a great view of the Munich skyline from Monopteros.
Residenz and Hofgarten
The Residenz is the largest city palace in Germany and its garden. It is the former royal palace of Bavarian monarchs. The first castle was erected here in 1385. The garden was built in the early 17th Century.
The historic artists quarter offers shops, theaters, and nightlife to both locals and tourists. Swing by after your stop to the English Garden and Residenz.
A popular food market that was created when King Maximilian I moved the city’s farmers’ market there. It is only a few blocks from Marienplatz.
A main square in Munich since 1158. The Mariensaule (Mary’s Column) was erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of the Thirty Years’ War. The world famous Glockenspiel clock is located in front of the Rathaus (town hall) here. It renacts two 16th Century stories with 32 life-sized figures and 43 bells three times a day.
The Frauenkirche was completed in 1488 and rebuilt after World War II. Inside the church, you will find the footprint of the devil. The twin towers of the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady) have been a landmark of Munich since 1525. The stairs of the south tour are open to visitors to climb and enjoy the view.
St. Peter’s Church (Alter Peter)
Munich’s oldest Parish church. It was almost completely destroyed during World War II and subsequently rebuilt. The tower provides a panoramic view of the Alps during good weather.
A 66,000 seat football (that’s soccer to us Americans) stadium that hosts FC Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munchen. It is the third largest stadium in Germany and held the opening game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Alter Südfriedhof (Cemetery)
This cemetary was established for plague victims in 1563. At one time, it was the only cemetary for Munich and many prominent Munich individuals are buried there.
Visit Munich’s mini Hollywood. The Bavaria Film Studios offers children the opportunity to ride the dragon from the Neverending Story and see the submarine from one of the best German films ever, Das Boot. There’s also a tour of soap opera sets and a stunt show.
The Munich Zoo is a zoological garden opened in 1911. It is one of the most diverse zoos in Europe and visited by over 1.5 million people a year. It is also technologically advanced as it converts animal waste into electricity to help power the zoo.
A city square developed in the 19th Century that is near the Kunstareal museum quarter. The Propylaen (an archway), the Glyptothek, with its Greek and Roman sculptures, and the Antiquities Museum known for its Greek vases surround Konigsplatz. Hitler’s Munich headquarters and the site of the signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain are located here as well.
The Pinatotheken galleries
Located in Kunstareal, the museum quarter in Munich, you’ll find these three galleries: Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek, and the Pinakothek der Moderne. You’ll find important works of art from the European masters of the 14th Century to artists from the modern era in these three museums. If you are a fan of impressionism or modern art, you’ll be at home here.
Bier & Oktoberfest Museum (website)
You may also consider these sidetrips to places close to Munich:
Herrsching am Ammersee
Tegernsee and Bad Tölz
Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Kreuzeck Mountain
Deutsches Museum Flugwerft in Schleissheim
Starnberg and Starnberger See
KZ Dachau Memorial Site