When most people travel to Germany, they usually head to Berlin or Hamburg, but more people should try Munich as it's a great place to visit, with lots of different food to try, interesting things to see, and parks to relax or go for a walk.
In this guide, we've compiled a list of the best things to do in Munich based on our many trips there.
1. The Residenz
The Residenz in Munich is one of the most impressive buildings in Munich and is home to the Bavarian royal family, the Wittelsbachs. This should be at the top of your list of things to see in Munich.
While parts have been restored after the war, much remains original and elaborately decorated. Visitors can choose different routes through the palace, depending on how much they want to explore, and we recommend taking the time to see the entire palace.
Unlike the castles in the Bavarian Alps, accessing the Residenz is easy and doesn’t require advance ticket purchases. It's conveniently located in the City Center, making it easy to get to.
2. The English Garden
This is a fantastic place to explore, and we would put it at the top of your list of things to do with families in Munich.
The English Garden is arguably one of the best attractions in Munich. It's pretty special to have such a large park – nearly 900 acres – in the center of a big city. The park features water bodies, green lawns, forest areas, and restaurants.
There are two random things in this park that we guarantee you won’t find in any other parks in the world. First is the fact there's a place you can surf, but we will discuss more about this later in our list! Secondly, there are beer halls in the park. If you are here with the family, maybe the men could be dropped off here while the rest of the family enjoys the park. Of course, we are joking, but it's an excellent idea.
Marienplatz is somewhere you will come across during your visit to Munich. It's one of the city's most central areas, where many tourists will meet, and it has a lot of attractions nearby and it’s also one of the free things to do in Munich as you can just wander around here.
If you're visiting during the holidays, you're in for a treat with the Christmas markets, which somehow feel better than in many countries. They have your usual stalls selling grilled meats, sweets, and warm drinks like glühwein or egg punch – perfect for the chilly outdoor weather. You'll also find unique handmade items for your Christmas tree or home decorations.
Make sure to time your visit to catch the mechanical Glockenspiel show on the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) tower. This fascinating performance happens daily at 11 am and 12 pm and is a real highlight.
4. Nymphenburg Palace
Nymphenburg Palace should be on your list of things to see in Munich, as it has beautiful gardens and an impressive interior.
The park is free to enter, and tickets for touring the palace are available online and on-site. Still, for the full experience, an audio guide is available for an additional fee.
While the palace is more appealing on a sunny day, it's still worth visiting even when the weather isn’t as good.
The museum is known for its collection of fantastic royal carriages, offering a unique experience to see them up close.
The palace is easily accessible by tram, making it convenient for visitors.
5. BMW Museum
When you think of German cars, BMW is probably the first choice that pops into your head, and it's a great choice of things to do with kids in Munich.
Here, you will find various vehicles, from vintage cars to the latest models, and even if you don’t like cars, we still think you will have a great day out here.
Highlights include the kinetic sculpture, the Place of Remembrance memorial, and the BMW sustainable exhibition.
While there's no audio guide, the BMW Museum app serves as a personal guide through the museum, but guided tours require a phone call or email, as there's no online tool for checking availability.
Conveniently, there's easy parking available, a sensible cafe, and BMW Welt is just a few steps away, showcasing current models.
It's a great way to spend half a day, especially on a rainy day, offering educational and entertaining experiences for the whole family.
Asamkirche is a church that was initially a private chapel built to impress and is now open to the public except during services.
When you step inside, you’ll find decorative spaces, intricate designs, a faux dome that appears real, and marble columns that aren't made of marble. There are also three-dimensional sculptures that are, in fact, paintings.
Asamkirche seamlessly blends in with its surroundings, making it easy to walk by without noticing. But it's hard not to be in awe of its design and history once you see it. The church is free to visit, and spending time here is well worth it for anyone interested in architecture, art, or history.
See if you can time your visit when the organist plays, and the experience becomes even more magical. Put this on your list of must see things in Munich.
Every European city has a central market area, and Viktualienmarkt is the one they have in Munich.
It can be found near Marienplatz, which we mentioned above, and this market offers a mix of stalls selling local produce, handicrafts, and a variety of food. It's an excellent place for lunch, with plenty of options and a great atmosphere.
If you visit around Christmas, the market still has a festive air, with many stalls selling Christmas ornaments and holiday-themed items.
The market is ideal for a quick, delicious meal like a warm soup with bread, perfect for the chilly Munich weather. This is one of the best places to eat in Munich.
8. New Town Hall (Neus Rathaus)
The New Town Hall is a beautiful building to admire from the outside, especially from Marienplatz and the inner courtyard. Inside, the hallways are full of fascinating stained glass pieces showcasing various significant locations across Germany.
For a small fee of 6€, you can book a 15-minute visit to the tower's observation deck. It's a worthwhile experience, offering the best view of Munich, but book this in advance as it can sell out quickly, but its
The main highlight of the New Town Hall is the Glockenspiel, which we already mentioned earlier. The performance, lasting about 13 minutes, is truly a spectacle. It features figures, including a Bavarian knight in blue and white who jousts and wins against a French opponent, representing a historical event from the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V in 1568.
9. The Alte Pinakothek
The Alte Pinakothek in Munich is the leading art gallery in Munich and houses an impressive collection of famous international artworks from the 14th to the 18th centuries. This well-stocked gallery is home to pieces by celebrated artists such as Manet, Monet, and Van Gogh.
If you plan to see it all, set aside a couple of hours or more, as there are around 700 paintings to admire. However, we like its late closing time of 8:30 pm. This allows visitors to enjoy the artwork during less busy hours without the hassle of crowds.
When visiting, remember that all bags must be stored in lockers. This includes purses that are larger than 30 x 30 cm. It's advisable to keep essential items like passports in your pockets for safety.
Olympiapark is famous for hosting the 1972 Olympics, and it's good to see that it's still used today, as most Olympic parks that cost millions to build usually get abandoned.
We recommend an Olympic-size swimming pool, which remains a popular attraction, especially for those who appreciate its historical significance and only costs €4, which we think is a decent price. Visiting here is one of the more unique things to do in Munich.
However, the pool can get a bit busy, so make sure you're okay with sharing lanes.
11. Allianz Arena
This should be near the top of your list of things to do in Munich, particularly if you are into football, as it's one of the world's most well-known stadiums. Even people who don’t like football are often blown away when they get inside the stadium.
They hold tours here every day, and the highlights include sitting in the dugout, visiting the changing room, and exploring the stands and press room.
There is also a museum worth checking out, as Bayern Munich has won a lot over the years, so there is plenty to see.
Booking in advance is recommended as spots fill up quickly, and visitors should allocate at least 2 to 3 hours to fully enjoy the tour and museum.
12. St. Peter's Church
St. Peter's Church, often called “Old Peter,” is a remarkable parish church built in 1180 and rebuilt extensively after a city fire in 1327.
It underwent further reconstruction after WWII, featuring Baroque ceilings and neo-Gothic columns.
The biggest attraction is the tower, which has eight clocks at the top. To get there, you need to climb 300 steps up a narrow passageway with wooden stairs. You will be rewarded with panoramic views of Munich and even the distant Alps.
It can get crowded around the time of the Glockenspiel performance at Marienplatz.
13. The Deutsches Museum
The Deutsches Museum is a massive museum covering science and technology topics, making it a fantastic destination if you are looking for things to do with kids in Munich.
The museum features all different collections, including fantastic historic aircraft like V1 and V2 bombs and new displays covering areas such as music, health, electronics, robots, and math.
While some sections like mining, shipping, navigation, chemistry, and energy have been removed, possibly due to ongoing renovations, the museum still offers overwhelming content. From space exploration to musical instruments and optics, the museum's wide variety ensures something for everyone's interest.
The museum is particularly popular on weekends and can get busy, especially with children, as it offers numerous interactive activities, so we recommend that you book ahead.
We recommend checking the map and deciding which sections to visit beforehand, as seeing everything in one go is nearly impossible.
Each exhibit is thoughtfully presented with descriptions in both German and English.
14. Eisbach Wave
Earlier on, we talked about surfing in the middle of the city, and the Eisbach Wave is where you can do this, and its one of the cool things to do in Munich. Located at the top of the English Garden, this river wave offers free entertainment. It showcases the impressive skills of surfers who try the man-made river in any weather, even in sub-zero temperatures.
Surfers, clad in wetsuits, line up to take turns conquering the wave, often performing trick moves that captivate the audience. It's fascinating to see a community with its distinct culture brought together by their love for surfing in such an unusual setting.
The place buzzes with activity on a hot summer day, attracting many surfers and spectators. It's easy to find a good viewing spot next to the water, making it an ideal location for a short visit or an extended stay.
Oktoberfest is celebrated worldwide, with towns and cities hosting their version. However, there is only one authentic Oktoberfest, the one in Munich's heart that started in 1810.
Around 6 million people arrive in Munich to join the 16-day party, and it’s an experience you can only appreciate if you are there. It's fun to see people carrying big 1-litre beer mugs, eating local snacks like sausages and pretzels, and enjoying rides. It's not just about the beer – it's also a folk festival.
You'll see many people dressed in traditional clothes like lederhosen and dirndl dresses, singing old Bavarian songs in big tents and beer gardens.
The best part is that everyone fits in, no matter what you wear. You can link arms with strangers and sing along. It's all about having a good time and enjoying the lively atmosphere.
Oktoberfest is something special and something everyone should experience at least once. If you are after things to do in October in Munich, then Oktoberfest it is!
16. Munchener Tierpark Hellabrunn
Munchener Tierpark Hellabrunn is a fantastic zoo, just a short ride on the U Bahn (U3) from Munich's city center. It's easy to find, just a 3–4-minute walk from the station.
While four hours is enough to see the whole place, if you have kids or want a more relaxed pace, you could easily make a full day of it as it's one of the better things to do with families in Munich.
There are signs in English and German, so it's easy to find your way around, and they'll even give you an English map at the entrance if needed.
One of the highlights is the polar bear exhibit, as you don’t get these at every zoo!
The zoo is also pretty big, and the animals have spacious areas to live in, which is excellent, and you can tell the animals are well taken care of.
Whether you came for the culture, the food, or the green spaces, we hope our guide has helped you learn more about this city. If you've visited any of the spots we recommend, we'd love to hear about your experiences.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.