Top 10 Things to do in Munich Munich Guide

Top 10 Things to do in Munich

The best way to get your bearings in Beer Heaven Munich is to take your fine selves to the city centre square of Marienplatz. This twelfth century bad boy is named after Mary’s column ‐ erected to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation, back in the days when neutrality wasn’t all the rage, and also to honour the Virgin Mary who was charged with guarding Munich against cholera epidemics!

Book your hostel now in Munich

Marienplatz

Today this pleasant city centre meeting point can be reached by a brisk ten minute walk from the Hauptbahnhof train station – and the shopaholics out there will love the retail overloaded approach along Kaufingerstr. The square is also home to the Old and New City Hall, and the Marienplatz U-Bahn, and S-Bahn stations ‐ making it easy to jet off to your next attractive, attraction and a must in our top ten things to do in Munich list.

Food and Photos

A hop, skip and a jump away from the square is a hidden treasure called Café Glockenspiel – on the top floor of number 28, Marienplatz. You need to have a little hunt around for the back street elevator entrance but it’s worth the quest, just for the super tasty treats on the menu and the views of St Peter Church, just over the road from this roof top eatery.

Said church has one of the best viewing platforms in the city and at less than €2 per ascent, it kicks its Eiffel Tower counterpart to the curve in the value for money league. You should however be sure not to rock up in the late afternoon when the despotic cleaners assert their authority and close everything for a prolonged cleansing session.

 

Odeonsplatz

So why has another square made it into the top 10 you ask? Well this one packs one hell of a twentieth century historic punch and you can’t visit Munich without taking the time to take this in.

When Adolf Hitler first tried his Austrian take over this was where the first stand was made and also where he was first defeated. Later when he came to power as German Chancellor this is where he returned to make his mark.

Everyone who passed through Odeonsplatz during Hitler’s reign was forced to do the Nazi salute, which lead many to boycott the square altogether – bypassing it via a nearby alley. Other historical high points in this square include the Kath Pfarramt St Kajetan Theatinerkirche ‐ a huge and massively beautiful church. The interior is particularly breath taking and the automated, traffic light assisted confessional queue is too amusing to pass up.

Hofgarten

Expect everything from Cats to Chaupin and plenty of bench based, sitting space. A free concert, sun shine, fresh air and beer vending bars within walking distance. What more could you ask for?

This garden is a popular hang out for Munich residents and it’s also a regular stomping ground for famed cellist, Barjo Ajkic so if you go down to the park on any sunny day, then you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Ajkic can normally be found belting out the classics and a few more modern numbers – in the stone band stand at the centre of this superbly well manicured shrubbery.

 

Surf’s Up at The English Gardens

No ‐ not more music al fresco but a spot of surfing instead. Munich may well be land locked but this hasn’t stopped the ever ingenious engineers of Germany from playing around with the river to create enough ebb and flow for some serious board action. The Eisbach River can be enjoyed in all its choppy glory in the north east corner of the gardens where the wetsuit clad masses show a blatant disregard for the No Surfing sign! You can easily spend hours here, mesmerised by the huge range of ages and abilities.

When said hypnosis wears off, head further into the park, have a good gander at the Oh So Proud nudists and de-traumatise with a beer, and a giant pretzel in the beer garden. The token deposit scheme to safeguard the glasses is a tad convoluted but the giant beers make it all OK again.

The Pinakothek Museums

At the last check, these museums were cheapest on a Sunday ‐ clocking in at only €1 each as opposed to the €5.50 weekday fee. Scandalous. You’ll find these treasure repositories around Barerstrasse. 

Calling all art lovers. If you appreciate an impressionist or two then you’re going to love what you find in the three Pinakothek Museums. The Pinakothek der Moderne is a particular hit with backpackers and boasts one of the best Dali and Picasso collections in Europe ‐ after Paris and Cardiff that is. Der Moderne is also a pretty awesome architectural site in itself with an eerily memorable dark glass and concrete combo.

Over at the Neue Pinakothek brace yourselves for a permanent collection from the nineteenth century masters and finally in the Alte Pinakothek, expect nothing but the best German art from across the eras.

Monument to the White Rose Movement

In between the cellist in Hofgarten and the surfers diving through the English Summer Gardens you’ll find a very poignant memorial to the students who resisted Nazi rule in Munich, during World War Two.

The black graphite monument pays tribute to the Munich University students and their professor, who successfully ran an anonymous leaflet campaign between 1942 and 1943.

These leaflets supported an active opposition to Hitler’s oppressive regime but after February 1943, the Gestapo infiltrated their operation and everyone involved was beheaded. In support of their bravery, the movement’s final unpublished leaflet was smuggled out of the country to the UK, where it was mass produced, loaded on allied planes and dropped across Germany in July 1943. Today the students and their professor are honoured as some of the greatest heroes in German history, so if you have the chance, swing by the Bavarian State Chancellery and take a minute to pay your respects at this monument.

white rose monument

Deutsches Museum

The research library is also a good fishing ground for meeting potential and intellectual, dates ‐ if you’re so inclined on your travels! At the last check the museum was a worthwhile €8.50 per ticket and you get off the S-Bahn at Isartor station, the U-bahn at Fraunhofer Str, the 131 Bus at Boschbrücke or Tram 17 at Isartor ‐ to get there!

This top cultural repository can be found on an island in the middle of Munich’s river ‐ the Eisbach. This one is worth crossing water for, especially if you’re a fan of science, technology and inventions that are a little out of the ordinary. Don’t be put off by the Babel Fish-esque translations on the website.

This place is in no way as dull as the blurb makes out with descriptions like: “experimental results and mathematical explanations consolidated into the various natural sciences.” Yawn, Linguistic efficiency aside, the giant shiny planes of yesteryear, the mock up film studio and the energy experiments all make for fun, interactive good times guaranteed to satisfy the biggest (grown up) kids in the crowd.

Nymphenburg Palace

This attraction brings in over 300,000 fellow tourers every year, which if you do your sums right, works out at 821.9 visitors a day. If you decide to join the masses you can be assured that the finely manicured grounds and the gold leaf laden interior will not disappoint. Commissioned in 1664 as the playground for the son of electorate couple Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide, the structure was expanded and then expanded some more into a palace that now resembles the grandeur of Versailles. The best bit however is the ceiling frescoes adorning the three storey tall stone hall. Think the Sistine Chapel without the fascist ‘shush’ police and the armies of aimless wanderers.

This awe inspiring palace is a mere fifteen minutes of travel time from Munich city centre and you don’t have to embrace the generic, soulless city sightseeing buses to get there. Instead simply catch an S-Bahn to Laim and then jump on bus 51 to the Schloss Nymphenburg. Better yet grab underground line U1 to Rotkreuzplatz and then tram 12 or 17 to the very same Schloss Nymphenburg stop. 

 

Oktoberfest in Munich

What’s that? You’ve never heard of Oktoberfest? Well make sure you’re sitting comfortably and we shall begin. Oktoberfest (with a K not a C) is a sixteen day beer festival that kicks off every year, in October, in downtown Munich.

To put the scale of it in context, take the population of London, migrate them to an already populated city for about two weeks, give them eight million litres of beer, construct about 108 square acres of beer tents and throw in several thousand classically attired, beer vending, Bavarian ladies.

This is the mother of all beer drinking festivals and it inspires tribute acts around the world ‐ even in places as far flung as California! If this sounds like your cup of beer flavoured tea then make sure you book a bed well in advance because what’s there goes fast and the price of what’s left sky rockets. In the past some very clever backpackers have still managed to attend Oktoberfest when the Eurohotel inn was full, simply by staying at the Yoho in Salzburg and commuting by train. It’s only an hour away! Also just so you know, the best drunken munchie food in town during the festival is Reiberdatschi – potato pancakes. They’re filling and almost healthy.

 

Where to Sleep in Munich

The Euro Youth Hostel in Munich has a near perfect location, 100 metres from the train station in a quiet side street. Just 2 minutes walk away from Karlsplatz, the start of the pedestrian zone. Marienplatz, the Hofbrauhaus, Oktoberfest and the Pinakotheken (art galleries) are also all within a 10 minute walk.

The hostel is housed in an historic building, built in the late 19th century. It was originally one of Munich’s very first luxury hotels (the Astoria). The rooms, like the staff, are clean, bright and good looking (!). All rooms and bathrooms have undergone extensive renovations in the last few years.