The capital city of Bavaria, and unofficial capital of Southern Germany, Munich is an odd mix of Bavarian charm and big-city flair. From beer and bratwurst to folklore and castles, this city has something for everyone!
For a taste of what the city has to offer, here are my top 5 things to do in Munich!
1. For a bit of the city: Marienplatz
One of the busiest spots in the city, Marienplatz is a square in Munich’s city centre. It’s full of restaurants and cafés, as well as shops, and is a lovely spot to sit and watch city life roll by.
The North side is also home to the New City Hall, and it’s famous Glockenspiel! At 11.00am, 12.00pm (and 5.00pm in the summer months), the 32 mechanical characters of the Glockenspiel play out scenes from Munich’s history. The show lasts for almost 12 minutes, and is quite charming! If you want to see it, I’d advise getting to the square early, as it can get very busy.
2. For a bit of a view: St. Peter’s Church
Just off of Marienplatz, you can find the oldest church in Munich. Known by the locals as Alter Peter (Old Peter), St. Peter’s Church is well worth a visit! It sits on a hill called Petersbergl, which has been home to a church in some form since the 11th century. The current building was constructed in the 14th century, with a decorative steeple top added during the 17th century.
As such, the decor and works of art contained within the church are an amalgamation of various styles collected over the years! From the grand gothic altar, to the baroque ceiling fresco, St. Peter’s is full of beautiful things to see.
The real delight of St. Peter’s though, lies in the view from the top of the church tower. 92km and 306 steps up, a viewing platform offers 360° views of the city centre, including Marienplatz and that famous clock tower!
There is a small charge of around €2.00 to climb the tower, and it’s one hell of a climb! But the views from the top are well worth it. Just make sure you’re prepared to feel like an arthritic sloth once you’ve finished. Unless you are an arthritic sloth. In which case, I don’t recommend it.
3. For a bit of nature: The English Garden
If you’ve had enough of the city, and are looking for a temporary getaway, Munich’s Englischer Garten is the place to go! Set on the edge of the Isar River, the English Garden is one of the largest city parks in Europe. It’s named after an informal style of landscaping that was popular in Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries, and is certainly more park-of-the-people than decorative garden. It’s very pretty, and the perfect place for a picnic!
If you don’t fancy a picnic though, you can always visit one of the park’s beer gardens! The largest of these sits beside the park’s Chinese Tower. Here you can buy anything from small snacks to hearty meals and, of course, beer!
The park is home to a myriad of other sites, including a Japanese Teahouse, Kleinhesseloher Lake, an artificial stream that makes waves good enough to surf (the locals do!), a spot for nude sunbathing (again, the locals do!!) … It’s just enormous, and a wonderful way to spend some time in the city, out of the city.
4. For a bit of folklore: The Church of Our Lady
The cathedral church of the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Frauenkirche is one of the most famous sites in Munich. Originally built during the 15th century, the church was reconstructed following damage from airstrikes during World War II. These reconstructions retained the late gothic design, and the church remains one of the most striking sights in the city.
Unfortunately, one of the church’s towers was under construction when I visited, so my photos of its exterior really don’t do it justice!
For me though, the real appeal of Frauenkirche lies in the myth surrounding its construction. Legend has it that the Devil made a deal with the builder: he would pay for the church, so long as the builder did not include any windows. The building was to be a place of darkness. When the Devil came to check on the progress of the building, he could see no windows from where he stood in the entrance hall, and left pleased.
When the church was complete, he came back… And as soon as he moved past the entrance hall, he saw a large window that had been hidden by the huge altar. He was so angry that he stamped his foot down on the floor, leaving behind a footprint that can still be seen in the floor tiles of the entrance hall today.
5. For a bit of nightlife: A Beer Garden!
A visit to Munich wouldn’t be complete without a trip to one of its many biergartens! An important part of the culinary and cultural history of Bavaria, beer in Munich is huge. Literally. It’s served by the litre!
I chose to visit Augustiner-Keller. This site has a traditional indoor beer hall, as well as the second largest beer garden in Munich… It seats up to 7000 people! I visited during the summer, and the garden was full of people drinking and socialising well into the night. If you have the chance to visit one of these traditional biergartens, I’d highly recommend it! It’s a bit of a change from the hostel bars and city clubs you usually find on backpacker trails, and really is a must-do whilst in Munich!
Plus… For a bit of magic: Neuschwanstein Castle
If you have time for a day trip out of Munich, Neuschwanstein castle has to be top of the list! Famous for inspiring Walt Disney’s design for the Magical Kingdom, Neuschwanstein is truly magical. I didn’t think I could it justice here, so it will get a blog post all to itself shortly… But for now, I think this picture makes my point pretty well!
Is there anything you think is a must-see in Munich? Share your top 5 things to do in and around Munich with me in the comments section!