Attractions in Munich

  • Munich is known for its beer halls and beer gardens, so perhaps this is where we should start. The legendary Hofbräuhaus was originally built in 1589, but all of the rooms except the historic beer hall were destroyed in WWII and rebuilt in 1958. The beer hall is beautiful, as is its Wirtsgarten (courtyard), and during regular hours you will always find traditional Bavarian music being played. The beer itself became famous around Europe soon after its creation and, in fact, King Gustavius from Sweden accepted not to invade Munich during the Thirty Years War in exchange for 600,000 barrels of its Hofbräu beer!
  • Marienplatz was established in 1158 and is still considered today the heart of Munich. It was named after the Marian column erected in its center in 1638 to celebrate the end of the Swedish occupation. It was the first column of this type built north of the Alps and it inspired many other Marian columns like it to be built across Europe. The square also marks the end of the pedestrian zone, which starts at Karlsplatz, and is surrounded by the beautiful Town Hall and many restaurants, bars and shops.
  • Peterskirche is the oldest recorded church in Munich and the originating point for the city. It was also one of the first buildings to receive Münchners’ concerned attention after the War. It was severely damaged and preparations were made to demolish the ruin, however, public opinion intervened and redirected this decision. A newly formed ‘citizens’ group’ raised enough money to reconstruct it using a creative form of historic preservation. Today you can again climb to the top of its 91-meter spire and get a breathtaking view of the city and Bavarian alps.
  • The Frauenkirche in Munich is a famous city landmark. Finished in 1525, it was heavily damaged in bombing raids during the late stages of WWII. Major restoration efforts began after the war and were completed in 1994. The original design of the church called for pointed spires at the top of the towers but they were never built because of lack of money. Instead, the two round domes were constructed during the Renaissance period and do not match the gothic architectural style of the building but, nevertheless, Münchners love their Frauenkirche! You will also notice a black mark at the entrance of the church and this is known as the Devil’s footprint, which is at the heart of many Munich legends.
  • The Asamkirche is one of Munich’s sacred destinations. It was built between 1733 and 1746 by two brothers, a sculptor and a painter, to be used as their private church. They originally bought four buildings, but tore the two middle ones down in order to build the church. On the left side of the chapel, a corridor connects the church to the house of the sculptor, E.Q. Asam. The painter, Cosmas Damian Asam, painted the ceiling fresco and it is considered a masterpiece. The church was built in baroque and Rococo style, but show some peculiarities that deviate from normal baroque architecture in that the church altar is situated in the west, not the east as usual and the crucifix is hung much lower than was considered fashionable at that time. The best part is that apart from the choir that was damaged in a bomb attack in WWII, the church exists in its original form.
  • The Alte Pinakothek is one of Munich’s fifty two art museums and it houses one of the world’s most famous collections of old master paintings. What I find equally fascinating is the building itself. During World War II a bomb was dropped directly it the center of the building and it sat for seven years in disrepair. When the architect Hans Döllgast began reconstructing it, he left its history visible by filling in the gaps left by bombs with simple bricks and preserving the many bullet holes, artillery scars, and sheared-off ornamental details on the museum’s façade, thus creating an image of the wartime destruction fixed in time.
  • The Brandhorst Museum is housed in a colorful art building in the middle of Munich’s Kunstareal (art/museum district). It houses more than 700 works by contemporary artists such as Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso. It is a brilliant exhibition and well worth an afternoon visit.
  • Königsplatz is also located in Munich’s Kunstareal and it is truly a monumental place. It is home to the Corinithian State Museum of Classical Art, the Propyläen, the Glyptothek, and was the national headquarters of the Nazi Party in Germany during WWII. Many of the Nazi Party’s mass rallies and book burnings happened here and two honor temples were erected on the east side of the plaza to enshrine the remains of sixteen Nazis killed in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, which happened at the Feldherrnhalle. The men were worshipped as martyrs by the Nazis and today, you can still see one of the original platforms where their remains were beatified. If you are so inclined, you can also visit Hitler’s office while visiting Königsplatz, which today is used as a classroom in the school of music and theater.
  • Surrounded by the Theatiner Church, the Residence and Feldherrnhalle, Odeonsplatz is one of Munich’s most beautiful and central squares. It was planned in 1790 to make the beginning of the route from the Residence Royal Palace to Nymphenburg Palace more impressive. Today it is an important site for parades, public events and summer festivals.
  • Nymphenburg Palace was the summer home of the royal Wittelsbach family. You can take tours or walk around its 500 acres. The palace’s grounds are most beautiful in spring and summer when everything is in full bloom and the protective winter statue covers are removed.
  • Munich’s Residence palace served as the seat of government and residence of the Bavarian dukes and kings from 1508 to 1918. It was almost completely destroyed in WWII but was built back to its original grandeur and here you’ll find the crown jewels, the state collection of Egyptian art, the Cuvilles Theatre and the Herkulessaal concert hall. In the front of the Residence you will also find four 400-year-old lion statues holding an escutcheon. You shouldn’t pass them without rubbing their noses. Bavarian superstition says it will bring you good luck!
  • From Odeonsplatz, you can easily walk down Maximilianstraße, which is one of the city’s four royal avenues. It is known today for its galleries, designer shops, jewelry stores and boutiques.
  • From Odeonsplatz, you can also walk down Ludwigstraße to LMU, one of Munich’s big universities and home to the White Rose Memorial. There was a small resistance group called the White Rose that spoke out against the Nazi regime by handing out leaflets they had printed with information about what the Nazi party was really doing. In 1943 Hans and Sophie Scholl were arrested in the atrium of the main building at LMU as they were dispersing copies of the sixth and last of the leaflets. Four days later they were convicted of treason and executed. Their story can be found in a room dedicated to them in the same atrium.
  • If you are visiting the city during the spring and summer months, I think one of the best ways to discover the city is via a Munich bike tour. There are a myriad to choose from, so your best option is to just google it and see which one fits your interests best. If you don’t want to do a bike tour, but would like to rent bikes, there are also plenty of places to do so such as Mike’s Bikes next to the Hofbräuhaus.
  • Munich’s Isar river is a great spot to go for walks or bike rides and it also presents a great atmosphere for picnicking along its shoreline. From May 1st to mid-September, you can also drift down it on traditional wooden river rafts whilst enjoying music, Bavarian delicacies and fresh beer.
  • Built in 1901, the Müller’sches Volksbad was the largest and most expensive swimming pool in the world. Its architecture, both inside and out, is art nouveau and was designed by Carl Hocheder. It is still used today and has its original Roman-Irish steam baths. It is an amazing experience to go there and sit in the steam baths but don’t be alarmed by the very liberal German outlook on nudity.
  • Munich’s cool ‘kids’ meet up at Gärtnerplatz in the Glockenbachviertel and catch a few rays on its circular stretch of grass. If you are interested in meeting up with the local scene, grab a beer and head over to people watch and see what all the fuss is about. It is a fun time.
  • The Jewish Center in Munich gives a thorough overview of Munich’s Jewish history and is home to a building complex, which includes a museum, a synagogue, a community center, a kosher restaurant, and a school. The architecture is magnificent and was designed by Wandel Hoefer Lorch. It is located on St.-Jakobs-Platz, which is adjacent to Marienplatz and Viktualienmarkt in the city center.
  • One of the other unique happenings in Munich is urban surfing. Guys and gals gear up in wetsuits and surf ‘The Wave’ on the Eisbach, which is a frigid stream running down from the Alps into Europe’s largest urban park, called the English Garden. It’s a total sight to be seen and the spot attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors every year.
  • Munich’s green lung is called the English Garden and it is over 900 acres of lush greenery. Parts of it are manicured and parts of it are left to its own natural devices. It is used all year round by joggers and bikers, though it is most beautiful in the summer. The shores of the Eisbach become Munich’s beach in summertime and there you will find Münchners basking in the hot summer sun and swimming in its brisk waters.
  • In the English Garden is where you will also find Munich’s famous beer garden, the Chinese Tower. It was first constructed in 1789 but burned down in 1944 after heavy bombing. In 1952 a new tower was rebuilt, copied accurately from the original using photographs and old drawings. A Bavarian band plays in it during the spring and summer months while Münchners enjoy its 7,000 seat beer garden. For a list of other amazing Munich beer gardens, see the list on my Munich home page.
  • Olympia Park was constructed for the 1972 summer Olympics and is comprised of a series of hills built from the ruins of the city in the Second World War. Today it serves as a venue for cultural and social events, not to mention it’s a great place to walk. It has an amazing aquatic center and hosts really cool events in the summer such as an open air theater and Tollwood, which is a month long arts and music festival which is a forum for ecology and environmental awareness.
  • Bavarians love their cars and you can find a tribute to one of their favorites at BMW Welt, which is located right next to Olympia Park. There are always thrilling exhibitions about the past, present and future of the brands. Not only is BMW cutting edge, but so too is the architecture of BMW Welt. It was designed by Vienna – based architects COOP HIMMELB(L)AU with an 800 Kw solar plant on its roof and an immensely creative design.
  • You can take many day hikes from Munich but my favorite one is a10 km hike from lake Schliersee to lake Tegernsee. The views are incredible! You can travel by train from Munich Hauptbahnhof (central train station) to Schliersee and follow the signs for Prinzenweg. This is the trail that will take you to Tegernsee. At the top of the hike you will come to Gindelalm, which is a picturesque alpine hut where you can stop and have lunch. From there you hike through a beautiful forest and down to Tegernsee, where you can have a well-deserved beer at the famous Tegernsee Bräustüberl. The Tegernsee train station is about a 5 minute walk from here and from there you can easily catch a train back to Munich.
  • If you are visiting Munich during the summer months and need a reprieve from the heat, you can take the train from Munich Hauptbahnhof to any of the crystalline blue lakes Bavaria is also known for. The biggest, and my favorite, is Starnbergersee, which is about 25 kms southwest of Munich. You can tour around the lake on a stand up paddle board or hop on a boat tour that leaves directly from the train station at Starnberg. But if you just want to enjoy the perfect water, you will find many beaches around to throw down a towel and go for a swim.
  • Another great lake in der Nähe (close by) is Chiemsee, though this is a bit further out than Starnbergersee. It is nestled in the Bavarian alps, so it’s the perfect spot to go for a dip after a long hike.
  • If you happen to be visiting Munich between mid-September and the first week of October, you should either bring earplugs and get a hotel with sound proof walls and windows or put on your drinkin’ britches and head over to the Theresienwiese for the world’s biggest party; Oktoberfest. It is here that six million liters of beer are consumed in about 2.5 weeks every year. Oktoberfest is an important Bavarian tradition, having been held since 1810 and it isn’t for the faint of heart. Its an amazing time, so I vote you put on your drinkin’ britches and head on over for the festivities!

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