Munich is the stunning capital of Bavaria located on the slopes of the Alps and the shores of the Izar River. For many, the city and the best things to do Munich epitomize everything we love about the country.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, Munich things to do include museums, culture, food, beer, scenery and it’s a place that loves to party! Especially during its favorite time of the year: Oktoberfest.
On a sunny day or a balmy evening, you’ll find people sitting outside with a beer, a glass of wine, enjoying live music and life in general.
From its churches to world-class museums, what Munich is known for are the richest cultural and gastronomic offerings in southern Germany. That Munich was the birthplace of the Nazi movement is a difficult truth those living here continue to grapple with.
- Munich Things to Do
- What is Munich Known For?
- Munich Churches
- Where to Stay in Munich
Munich Things to Do
This is Munich’s heart with a distinctive Bavarian air and after spending some time here you’ll understand why. Marienplatz is the main square in Munich as it was in 1158 when the town was established. Back then, however, its spectator events included jousting and executions.
Today, the Alstadt (Old Square) is filled with mimes, street performers and musicians. Food stalls and restaurants sell bratwursts and beer. The platz is always filled with a magical vibe and very happy Germans.
This world-famous clock sits in Marienplatz in the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall). It deserves its own special mention because people patiently wait to hear its 43 melodious bells and see its 32 life-sized revolving figurines appear every day since 1907.
The figurine show depicts the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V along with knights on horseback. The traditional performance lasts between 12 and 15 minutes depending on the tune.
The former royal palace of Bavaria and the seat of government and residence of Bavarian dukes, electors and kings, the Residenz is the largest palace in Germany. It has seven courts and a massive Residence complex divided into three large sections: Royal Chambers, overlooking Max-Joseph-Platz, an Old Residence, and the Banqueting Hall Wing.
The Residence’s magnificent Hall of Antiquities was completed in 1571 and is now part of an amazing museum. The Old residence is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and a testimony to the expanding power of Bavaria.
Today, the Residence is home to numerous monuments and museums, including the Residenz Museum, The Treasury, Church of All Saints and The Cuvillies Theatre. The palace’s surroundings and its wonderful yards including the magnificent Court Garden, its many fountains, lakes, and parks are well-worth visiting.
This is the largest city park in Germany and one of the most beautiful. A popular Munich attraction, it includes the Bavarian National Museum and the Bavarian Archaeological Collection with its many prehistoric artifacts.
The park’s architectural splendor with its Monopteros, Chinese Tower and Japanese Teahouse blend harmoniously with the natural environment. Among its more unusual features, the Eisbach is a small, man-made river where two standing waves sport river surfers year-round.
Cuvillies Theater is a stunning example of Rococo-style architecture. Built in 1755, this Munich gem possesses a rare elegance ideal for opera performances. Mozart’s Idonomeo premiered here in 1781 and is still performed at the Cuvillies along with other Baroque operas.
The interior of the theater is lavishly decorated in red and gold. The towering four floors with 14 loges each, curve gracefully in a horseshoe pattern. A special lodge for royalty was moved to a safe place during World War II and reconstructed in 1958.
The National Theatre and the Bavarian State Opera
Widely known as one of the world’s leading opera houses and home to the Bavarian State Opera, this may be the best of the best things to do Munich.
The National Theater was built in the neoclassical style in 1818. Although destroyed during World War I, the building was rebuilt and reopened in 1963. Outside is a grand staircase with Corinthian-style columns and gables resembling a Greek temple with pictures of Apollo and the muses. The main gable features a stained-glass representation of Pegasus.
“Tristan and Isolde,” “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg,” and “Reinhold” are performed here, and the Theater hosts the Munich Opera Festival every summer.
This 99-acre zoological garden was recently named the fourth best zoo in Europe. Founded in 1911, Hellabrunn was the world’s first zoo to group animals geographically.
Today more than 19,000 animals and over 750 species live largely in open habitats providing a faithful replica of the wild. The Elephant House, the Polarium and the Monkey House are especially popular. Today the zoo is noted for its focus on conservation and captive breeding programs for rare species. It is one of the very few zoos that allows visitors to bring dogs.
A huge white-gray Baroque palazzo with yellow ornaments and red-tile roofs, Nymphenburg Palace was the first residence of Bavaria’s Wittelsbach rulers in the 17th century. With its immense size and adjoining park, Nymphenburg is considered one of the premier royal palaces of Europe rivaling even Paris’ famous Versailles.
Palace and grounds include the Central Pavilion, a 1674 Italian villa-style palace housing a richly decorated and stylishly appointed Stone Hall with private rooms, a chapel with beautifully painted ceilings and a hunting lodge known for its famous Hall of Mirrors.
This 19th-century monumental bronze sand-cast statue portrays the female personification of the Bavarian homeland and reflects its strength and glory.
Created between 1844 and 1850, Bavaria was the technological masterpiece of its day due to its impressive size. The 61-foot statue cast entirely of bronze stands atop a 28-foot stone pedestal and weighs nearly 90 tons. The 126-step staircase leads up to the head of the statue where openings in the helmet offer a magnificent view of the city.
What is Munich Known For?
One of Munich’s most famous squares, Königsplatz (King’s Square), built in the Neoclassical style in 1862, houses many of the city’s attractions, including three well-known art galleries: Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek, and Pinakothek der Moderne. The square is framed by the massive Propyläen Gate, the Glyptothek archeological museum and the Staatliche Antikensammlungen art museum.
Königplatz was used infamously during the Third Reich as a square for the Nazi Party’s mass rallies and temple site memorializing early Nazi martyrs. It was also the scene of the 1933 Nazi book burnings.
Olympic Area and Olympic Tower
This historic area was developed for Munich’s 1972 Summer Olympics. The area encompasses the Olympic Park with sports facilities such as the Olympic Stadium, Hall, the 955-foot-tall Tower, an Aquatic Center and Event Hall. Its Olympic Village comprising two athlete villages, Olympia Shopping Center, nearby Olympic Hill and Olympic Lake are all part of this area.
Tragically, the Munich Olympics are best remembered for the terrorist attack by Palestinian militants which left two members of the Israeli Olympic team and nine other hostages dead following an attempted rescue by West German police.
Today, the site is a venue for many concerts and events and family fun activities.
If you are a car buff and a fan of BMW – Bavarian Motor Works – you’ll love visiting the BMW Museum. Located next to the offices of corporation headquarters, the museum was opened in 1972.
Its mission is to represent the development of the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG throughout history. Classic BMW automobiles spanning 100 years of the company’s amazing existence showcases its reputation for excellence.
The Hofbräuhaus beer hall is Munich’s largest tourist attraction after Oktoberfest. Originally built in 1589 to serve as an extension of the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus München brewery; it has been rebuilt several times since.
Today the Hofbräuhaus is a favorite for both tourists and locals, many who keep their personal beer steins on the premises. Beer has made this venue famous despite its role as the rallying place for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during the formative years of the Nazi Party.
To answer your question “what is Munich known for,” topping the list is Oktoberfest! Beer drinkers from all walks of life come here mid-to-late September for a 16 to 17-day Oktoberfest as if they were on a pilgrimage. As the largest folk festival in the world, Munich’s Oktoberfest is enjoyed by over six million people annually where revelers celebrate beer, sausages, pretzels and more beer in large tents full of boisterous fun.
Entry is free, but the food and beer are not. Typically, up to 7.7 million liters of beer are consumed during the festivities. The atmosphere is truly unique with the melodious sounds of oom-pah-pah Bavarian bands, traditional performances of Lederhosen and dirndl-clad dancers and the lively roar of the Oktoberfest crowd.
Bayern Munich FC
Perhaps the only thing Germans are more passionate about than beer and cars is football! Bayern Munich FC is the country’s most popular and successful clubs, one of the most prominent in Europe.
Munich’s magnificent Frauenkirche serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Completed in 1488, this massive church is considered an iconic symbol of the Bavarian capital city. Gothic in design, its impressive size and two 100-meter-high Renaissance towers dominate the city skyline.
One of the most famous relics in this church is an unusual footprint found on the floor thought to have been left by the Devil himself when he rode in on the wind to view the church’s construction. Losing his temper, he stomped his foot inside the foyer leaving his footprint. He then stormed away forgetting the wind which continues to swirl around the cathedral to this very day.
This beautiful Baroque church dedicated to St. Johann of Nepomuk was completed by the Asam brothers in 1736 to serve as their private chapel. The two brothers, a painter, and a sculptor, richly decorated the church with plaster figures, murals and oil paintings.
As impressive as the exterior is, the church interior surpasses it. The brothers harmoniously integrated architecture, painting and sculpture to glorify God. On the large vault below the ceiling is a fascinating fresco representing the life of St. Johann. Perhaps the most beautiful part of the church is the high altar with a wax figure of St. Johann framed by four spiral columns that reference the four Bernini columns over the grave of St. Peter in Rome.
St. Peter’s Church
Dating back to 1386, St. Peter’s is the oldest Munich house of worship. Constructed in Gothic style, its towers were replaced in 1636 with a classical bell tower. The Church is most notable for its Hans Krampper-made baptistry, red marble monuments, and 15th and 18th century altars.
Impressive paintings by Jan Polack grace the interior walls. The famous 91-meter bell tower with 299 stairs, eight clocks and eight bells provides distant views of the Alps.
Where to Stay in Munich
Old world charm meets contemporary convenience across Munich’s numerous hotels. Use the map below to search by cost and location.
Munich is a wonderful European destination; if you haven’t experienced this Bavarian delight, it’s high time you did.destinationhistoricMunichmuseum