Known globally as the heart of Bavaria and the host of Oktoberfest, Munich is one of the most intriguing places to visit in all of Germany. With steins of beer, fresh pretzels, and a lot of folklore and history, Munich is a city that draws millions of travelers from all over world each year. While Oktoberfest is the city’s main claim to fame, it also is home to some of Germany’s most famous foods and one of Europe’s best soccer teams.
This post is going to take a look at everything you need to know to travel to Munich, including the best things to do while you’re there, so that you can plan the best trip possible. If you are heading to Munich for Oktoberfest, this post will help you to plan the logistics for your trip. For more information specifically on the festival, be sure to read my post about Oktoberfest.
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Is Munich Worth Visiting?
I have traveled pretty extensively through Germany, and the country has generally left me underwhelmed. Travelers often adore Germany, but I have often felt its cities to be a bit drab. I speak fluent German, so my subpar experiences have not been a product of a language barrier.
I think that most of Germany’s major cities have fallen a bit short of my expectations. If you’ve read my Berlin travel guide, you know I really enjoyed that city. If you’ve read my Cologne travel guide, you know that I enjoyed Cologne but it doesn’t rank among my favorite cities at all.
Munich is the exception, in my opinion.
There is just something magical about Bavaria, and Munich is the capital of Bavaria. This city is filled with culture and charm, and frankly is what most travelers expect the rest of Germany to look and feel like. From tall steins of beer to sausage galore, Munich is my favorite city in all of Germany. If you were to ask me “is Munich worth visiting?” I would not hesitate to tell you that it is. In fact, it is probably the best city to visit in Germany. I even ranked it as the best city to visit in Germany in this blog post.
The 10 Best Things to Do in Munich
1. Spend an Evening in the Marienplatz
The Marienplatz is Munich’s main square, and it has been for over 850 years. This is where many locals go to hang out, whether that means sitting and talking at the Fish Fountain or heading into a local restaurant or beer hall. Munich is especially known for being the main hub of vibrant Bavarian culture, and the Marienplatz is at the center of it all. Hanging out in the Marienplatz tops our list of the best things to do in Munich simply because it is the best launching point for everything else in the city!
2. Visit the Pinakotheken Museums
The Pinakotheken comprise a series of art museums throughout Munich. There is the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, the Pinakotheke Der Moderne, and more. These each translate to old, new, and modern, and the names are tied to the period of art that is found within each museum’s walls. The Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest art galleries in the entire world, and it is the one that I recommend visiting the most. While not everyone is an art fan, I think that visiting at least the Alte Pinakothek is a must-do, and that is why these museums cracked my list of the best things to do in Munich.
- DID YOU KNOW? - You can visit the Alte Pinakothek for just €7, or you can buy a combination ticket to visit four of the five museums for just €12!
3. Tour the Munich Residenz
The Munich Residenz was the royal palace of the city from the 1500s through the early 1900s, and it is one of the most elegant sites in all of Munich. The building has been of the utmost importance throughout Bavarian history, and its grandeur can still be observed today. Nowadays, the Munich Residenz can be toured, and visitors can see many of the rooms set up as they would have been hundreds of years ago. This palace has a very similar feel to Versailles in Paris, and adoring its ornate interior is one of the best things to do in Munich, in my opinion. Entrance to the Munich Residenz currently costs €9, and you can get a combined ticket that also grant access to the treasury for €14.
4. Wander through the Deutches Museum
The Deutches Museum is the world’s largest museum of science and technology. With over 28,000 exhibited objects from 50 different fields of science and technology, the Deutches Museum welcomes over one and a half million visitors per year. If you have to choose just one museum to visit while in Munich, I recommend you pick this one. There is simply so much to see and do, and while it might not be the most Bavarian museum in the city, it is definitely the most remarkable.
5. Admire the Asam Church
The Asam Church is an extremely ornate Baroque church that has one of the most beautiful interiors in all of Munich. This church was built in the early 1700s by two brothers with the last name Asam, and they used it as their private chapel. Nowadays, the Asam Church is considered a must-see location in Munich, and I think there is no better way to visit it than by attending mass.
6. Check out the Bavarian National Museum
The Bavarian National Museum is one of the largest and most important museums in all of Germany. This museum is split into two main sections: art history and folklore. As Bavarian culture is very unique to the rest of Germany, this museum plays an important role in preserving it and teaching about it. The museum also demonstrates that Bavarian culture is not just a thing of the past, and many exhibits link Bavarian history and culture to modern Bavaria. Entrance costs €7 and is worth every cent.
7. Visit the BMW Museum
BMW is one of the most recognized car manufacturers in the world, and it is headquartered right in Munich. People in every corner of the world know BMW, and there is a BMW museum in Munich dedicated to its history and brand. The museum isn’t the best museum in Munich in terms of exhibits, but if you are into German cars, it is a pretty cool one to check out. The complex is absolutely stunning from the outside, and entrance costs just €10.
8. Grab a Beer at the Hofbräuhaus
Personally, I think one of the best things to do in Munich is to simply enjoy the social aspects of Bavarian culture. Grabbing a stein of local beer is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Munich, and it is a fantastic way to meet new people. While you will never have a tough time finding a beer hall, I recommend checking out the Hofbräuhaus specifically. This place is an iconic 3-story beer hall that has been around for centuries, and it was frequented by the likes of Wolfgang Mozart. It is easily the best place to grab a beer in Munich.
9. Attend an FC Bayern Munich Soccer Match
Europeans absolutely love soccer. It is the most popular sport on the continent! Munich is home to FC Bayern Munich, which has a history of being the best team in Germany and one of the best teams in all of Europe. If you are looking for a cultural event, there are few better things to do in Munich than going to an FC Bayern Munich match. The atmosphere in Allianz Arena is electric, and it is very obvious how much the fans love their club. The season runs from the fall through the spring and takes a break over the summer.
10. Shop at the Viktualienmarkt
The Viktualienmarkt, or Victuals Market, is one of the best local events to check out in Munich. This small outdoor market began as a traditional farmer’s market, and it has blossomed into a gourmet market filled with a lot of really intriguing things to taste. The market is open every weekday except for public holidays from about 7:30am to 6:00pm, and 7:30am to 1:00pm on Saturdays. The vendors have a reputation for being a bit grumpy, but that is part of what gives the place its charm!
How to Get to Munich
As one of the most-visited cities in Germany, Munich is very easy to get to. Munich International Airport (MUC) is one of the two busiest airports in Germany, and if you’ve read my post on finding cheap airfare, you know what that means! Larger airports often offer more direct routes and cheaper airfare, and this is perfectly true with Munich International Airport. Munich International Airport is also one of the two main hubs of Germany’s top airline, Lufthansa, which I think is one of the best airlines in the world. As with any city that has a hub airport, Munich is a great city to book an extended layover. If you’re curious what that means or how to do it, be sure to read my post on extended layovers.
You can get from Munich International Airport to the heart of Munich by car in 25 minutes, by train in about 40 minutes using either the S1 or the S8, or by bus in about 30 minutes using the Lufthansa Express Bus. The bus departs every 20 minutes, and the trains depart every 10 minutes.
If you ask me, though, the best way to get from the Munich airport to your hotel is by booking a private transfer with our partners at Welcome Pickups.
Welcome Pickups offers personalized, private, comfortable rides from the airport into the city for about the same price as a standard taxi. They monitor your flight status while you are in the air, and a driver will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name on it as soon as you arrive.
How to Get Around Munich
U-BAHN | S-BAHN | TRAMS | BUSES | TAXIS | UBER
Like many other places in Germany, Munich has a very robust network of public transportation options. Germany is known worldwide for its punctual and accessible public transportation, and Munich is no exception. Munich is served by a subway (U-Bahn), a regional rail (S-Bahn), trams, buses, taxis, and more. There is also Uber in Munich, which I always prefer over taxis. If you are hesitant about using Uber while in Germany, make sure you read my post on using Uber abroad.
The main drawback of Munich’s public transportation is that it is expensive. A one-way fare within the city on the U-Bahn costs over €3, which is quite steep by German standards. You can mitigate this cost by buying a daily pass or a book of several tickets at once.
If you buy a ticket from one of the ticket machines in the subway station, make sure that you validate it before boarding a train. Unvalidated tickets are not recognized by the police, and you will likely face a steep fine for traveling on the U-Bahn without a validated ticket. Trust me – this has happened to me, and it is not worth the risk. I was stopped by plain clothes police officers on an U-Bahn train in Berlin, and I had to cough up €40.
Should You Go to Munich for Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is one of the most popular cultural celebrations in the world. Its global popularity is on a very similar level to Mexico’s Day of the Dead. If you like beer, German food, and Bavarian culture, Oktoberfest is a can’t-miss event. From traditional attire to mouthwatering cuisine and brews, celebrating Oktoberfest is one of the coolest experiences that any traveler can have in Europe.
If you are thinking about Oktoberfest, you are probably wondering where the best place to celebrate it is. Should you go to Munich for Oktoberfest? Should you go somewhere else in Bavaria?
This is largely up to the individual, but the main Oktoberfest celebrations take place in Munich. Unless you have specific regional knowledge, your best bet is to celebrate Oktoberfest in Munich itself. While you could travel to other major German cities, this would be a bit pointless, as Oktoberfest is a Munich tradition. If you’re wondering if Oktoberfest is worth visiting, just ask the 6 million people who fly to Munich each year to celebrate it!
Is Munich The Best City To Visit In Germany?
When I wrote my blog post on the best cities to visit in Germany, I had a hard time picking a city to put at number one. While Munich ultimately did earn that spot on the list, Berlin gave it a real run for its money. Both are incredible cities, and both offer entirely unique experiences from one another. Berlin is in northeastern Germany, and Munich is the most southern city in the country. Naturally, being in such a large country, these two cities are entirely different.
The reason that I ultimately ranked Munich at the top of the list was because of its Bavarian culture. While all German culture is interesting, I think Bavarian culture is just so unique and inviting. This is what really makes Munich extra special, and this is what makes Munich the best city to visit in Germany, in my opinion. So if you are asking yourself “is Munich the best place to visit in Germany?” I would say that it is, so long as you find Bavarian culture and folklore to be interesting. If you are more interested in the white-collar industry and modern history aspects of Germany, head to Berlin.
That’s all we have for you about Munich! Hopefully this post is helpful as you start planning your journey to my favorite city in Germany. If you visit, I think you’ll agree; Munich is fantastic!
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If you’re planning a trip to Munich, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have.