The city of Munich, also known as the largest city in southern Germany and the capital of the state/region of Bavaria, is known for its many attractions and the multitude of festivals it offers, including the annual beer festival – the Oktoberfest (which festivals identical to, and inspired by, are celebrated at the same time in other countries around the world). Along with the joy, the many colors and the lively atmosphere offered by the festival, there are many different attractions and activities in Munich, and the tourism in it is not based solely on drinking (good) beer. The city has a beautiful historic center, well-kept parks and gardens, excellent restaurants, offering local cuisine and many points of interest, which tell the story of the city, as well as the story of Germany as a whole.
A visit to Munich, whether as part of a short weekend or as part of a longer vacation, guarantees you a different perspective on German culture. While wandering through it you will meet smiling and kind locals, who will be happy to share information with you and direct you to interesting museums, the visit of which is a must. It is very easy to get around in Munich, being a very prominent tourist city, and you can very easily find its various sites as well as the attractions that are on its territory. Since there is quite a lot to do and see in Munich, it is highly recommended to plan your visit carefully, if only to enjoy the more worthwhile sites and also include a stop at pleasant places, which add a lot to the vacation itself.
The English Garden and the Chinese Tower in Munich
Munich is indeed a very modern city, which is evident in its daily conduct and also in the lifestyle of all those who live there. At the same time, this is a city with a very rich history, one that is reflected in its many buildings: magnificent cathedrals, large squares, beautiful gardens and much more, all of which you can find in this special city, a city that is highly recommended not to be missed.
Marienplatz – this square, which is also considered the most famous in Munich, is in the heart of the old city and the right place to start the tours and wanderings around the city. At a short walking distance from the square there are a variety of attractions and points of interest that are recommended to stop at when visiting Munich, and this is also the reason why you can see crowds of people in the square itself. The history of the square begins already in the 12th century, when it was built by order of the Duke of Bavaria. It was used as a home for markets during the Middle Ages, for various celebrations and even for tournaments and competitions. Over the years, various monuments have been erected in the square, such as the Mariensaule monument, which was built in 1638 to mark the end of the Swedish invasion in the 30 Years War. The changes in the city were also reflected in the square itself. It remained as a market until 1807 and during the Munich Olympics in 1972, the square became a square intended exclusively for pedestrians. Today, the square is a meeting point and a place for various activities, both for the locals, who live in the city, and for the tourists who come to it and to the city itself throughout the year.
The English Garden – it is located inside Munich, the bustling city, and is one of the largest urban parks in Europe, and even larger than Central Park in New York. It covers a huge area, all the way from the city center to its northeastern borders. The park got its name in light of its style, identical to the style of parks in Britain and abroad, which was typical of the 18th and 19th centuries. You can walk through the forested paths of the garden, sail the lake in a rowboat, see beautiful architectural buildings up close and enjoy a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere at many points in it. For those who want to sunbathe, and also have the courage to do so naked, you should go to the Schonfeldwiese square, where visitors to the place tan naked (which is very common in Germany, and has been since the 60s). The Chinese tower – Chinesischer is another beautiful element in the garden, worth stopping by and it was built in the 18th century. Further to the east in the English garden you can also find a traditional Japanese teahouse, which brings to the fore the east and its characteristic culture. Those who wanted to enjoy a relaxed water sport, sailing on the Kleinhesseloher See lake is the right way to do it. The visit to the garden can be done throughout the year, it is open every day and the entrance to it is free, free of charge. You can reach it by subway, bus or tram.
Nymphenburg Palace – every year hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to this magnificent palace and it is not without reason that it is considered one of the most prominent attractions of Munich. Nymphenburg Palace is one of the largest palaces in Europe and illustrates, in all its glory, German history, and especially the history of Bavaria. The palace was used, immediately after its construction in 1664, as the summer residence of Wittelsbach. The magnificent and impressive design of the palace reflects the source of its inspiration – Prince Ferdinand Maria’s love letter to Henriette Adelaide, after the birth of the heir to the throne (for whom they waited a long time) Maximilian Emmanuel II. The Italian architect Agostino Barelli is responsible for the original design of the palace, when over time the palace expanded and new pavilions and various elements were added. That beloved son, Maximilian, was later responsible for many of the changes made in the palace and so were other people. In 1972, the palace was first opened to the general public, who could finally see that wealth up close. And since then, this tradition continues to this day and even now the tourists can enter it, walk around its rooms and be impressed by everything it offers: beautiful designs in the baroque style, designs in the rococo style and also in a spectacular neoclassical style.
The New Town Hall – Munich has quite a few special architectural buildings, which take a very important part of its history. Such is exactly the new town hall, a magnificent neo-Gothic building, located in the northern part of Marian Square. The building was built between 1867 and 1874, when the rapid growth of the city necessitated its expansion between 1899 and 1903. The new city hall, with its hundreds of rooms, is the seat of the mayor’s office, the city council and the headquarters of the city administration and is almost 100 meters long. It is decorated with neo-Gothic style elements and includes a balcony at the top of the tower, overlooking the square. Figures, representing stories from the history of Munich, dance in place every day at 11:00 am, 12:00 noon and 5:00 pm and are, without a doubt, one of the favorite attractions of the visitors of the place. The same balcony, at the top of the town hall tower, serves as a perfect place to view the city’s scenery, from a height of 85 meters. You can see the rooftops of Munich, and those with good eyesight will be able to see even hints of the distant Alps when the sky is clear of clouds. For those who are hungry – in the basement of the building there is a good restaurant – Ratskeller, which offers traditional Bavarian dishes. The restaurant has been active since 1867 and is a tourist attraction in itself.
The Olympic Village (Olympiapark) – The Olympic Village in Munich was established in honor of the Olympics that took place in the summer of 1972. The park continues to operate to this day, and hosts various cultural events, social events of all kinds and more. The park is divided into four areas: the Olympic area, which includes the Olympic sports facilities and the famous stadium, the Olympic village, where the athletes live (2 villages, actually), a large shopping center and another fourth area, where the Olympic lake and the Olympic mountain. Here is also the place to mention the Israeli affinity to the Olympic village in Munich, an affinity that is etched in the memory of many. On September 5, 1972, the 12th day of the Olympics, a terrible massacre took place in the park, where the Israeli delegation was staying. Members of the “Black September” organization took over the building and murdered 11 athletes, coaches and judges members of the delegation. In memory of those murdered, a monument was placed in the park, in which their names and the name of a German policeman, who was also murdered in the same incident, are listed. In 2017, on the 45th anniversary of that terrible massacre, an official memorial site was inaugurated in the park, which also includes a reconstruction of those dramatic moments as well as a description of the life story of the athletes and the German policeman, the victims of the massacre.
Asam Church (Asam Church) – in the heart of Munich’s shopping area, a magnificent church is hidden, known as one of the most beautiful and impressive buildings in the city. The Assam Church was built between 1733 and 1746 by two brothers, who saw it as a promise of their salvation. The brothers, one a sculptor and the other a painter, used their skills to cover the chapel of the church with magnificent paintings and sculptures, which gave it an unusual appearance and attracted crowds. The hidden windows in the church illuminate it with beautiful natural light and emphasize its various elements. This church was severely damaged by the bombings of the war in 1944, and today you can see several parts that were restored in the 1980s and are a perfect replica of those parts that were damaged in the bombing. The church is open to visitors and entry is free of charge.
There are over 80 museums in Munich, which offer their visitors an unusual experience and an overview of a very wide range of fields: modern and ancient art, technology, cars and even – potatoes! The museums in the city are open throughout the week, except for Mondays, when the most successful day to visit them is Sunday, when entering them costs only 1 euro. Of course, it should be taken into account that on this day they may be busy and crowded with many visitors, but all this is definitely worthwhile and worth the arrival.
Glyptothek – This impressive museum, located inside a building designed in a neoclassical style, is, as many claim, the only museum in the world dedicated entirely to ancient sculptures. Instead of a question, those presented in it will be hidden behind glass, they are right in front of the stage and when wandering through the museum, you can get close to them and see them without any separation between the person watching and the sculpture, which is presented in front of him. Unlike other museums, it does not feel like another stifling traditional museum when visiting it, and the feeling in it is that of a self-respecting art gallery. While wandering around the museum you can see innovative replicas of statues, carved from wood, when those who come to the museum, will also be able to enter, and with the same entrance ticket, to the display of antiquities in the building, opposite the museum.
Brandhorst Museum (Museum Brandhorst) – The Brandhorst Museum was opened to the public in 2009 and is one of the most prominent and respected in the list of successful museums in Munich. The museum presents on its walls, as part of a permanent exhibition, the works of famous artists, who have become icons known all over the world, including Andre Warhol, with his well-known portrait “Marilyn”.
The German Museum (Deutsches Museum) – This is the most famous museum in Munich and also one of the most impressive. It was awarded the title of the largest science and technology museum in the world and every year over a million visitors come to it. The museum displays about 28,000 different items belonging to the world of technology and is suitable for all ages. In most of the exhibitions there are powerful visual elements and a series of interactive presentations, which teach quite a bit about the field of science.
Museum of the Five Continents (Museum Funt Kontinent) – this is one of the most interesting museums in the city, and for good reason. It has a collection of over 200,000 different items, displayed in a huge area. There is no doubt that this is a huge museum, which is highly recommended to include a stop when visiting Munich. You can see the oldest kayak in the world and also a magnificent collection of Buddhist sculptures. Due to its size and to make it easier to navigate, the museum is divided by geographical areas, with each area having different background music. The most popular and favorite area for visitors to the museum is the area dedicated entirely to the continent of Asia. The visit is suitable for all ages, with children under 15 entering for free.
NS-Dokumentationszentrum – visiting this museum is not easy, especially for Israelis / Jews. This museum is a reminder of a distant past (but not so distant, in historical terms), a past that it seems, at times, that Munich tries to obscure. It displays a rather impressive collection of Nazi documents and focuses on the history of anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice. Its empty white walls and the atmosphere in it, reminiscent of an atmosphere of a library, give it a dramatic and serious look and give emphasis to the exhibitions themselves and allow visitors instead to focus solely on them and their great power.
The Jewish Museum – The special structure of the Jewish Museum is only part of the great interest and curiosity it creates among many tourists, and not just Jews. The Jewish Museum in Munich, which first opened in 2007, provides its visitors with a comprehensive overview of Munich’s Jewish history and is part of a new Jewish center, built in the city itself. The museum is inside a synagogue – the main synagogue Ohel Jacob, which belongs to the Jewish community of Munich and Upper Bavaria and attracts crowds throughout the year. Externally, the structure of the museum and the synagogue does not at all resemble the synagogues we know, as it is very modern and innovative in its design. The entire center also has a public Jewish school, a kindergarten, a community hall, a youth center and even a kosher restaurant.
The National Collection of Egyptian Art (Staatliches Museum A’Gyptischer Kunst) – if ancient Egyptian art interests you, this museum is a place you don’t want to miss. The National Collection of Egyptian Art includes items over 5,000 years old and prides itself on presenting the ancient remains of that period in a very simple and easy to understand manner. The building in which the collection is located is very impressive and in itself justifies a visit as well as the way the museum is designed. Although it is an ancient art, it manages to be very modern as well as interesting and adapt its content perfectly to the audience of visitors. You can order a multimedia guide in the English language and go on a tour around the museum.
The Potato Museum (Kartoffel Museum) – yes, yes, the Potato Museum is also on the list of museums in Munich and is undoubtedly one of the special attractions in the city. The entrance to the museum is free, at no cost, and during the visit you can learn about the potato, about the all-so-loved and well-known carbohydrate, quite a bit. The museum has eight rooms, where strange potato sculptures are displayed, a library of books dealing with potatoes and even a visual tribute by Andre Warhol to this familiar vegetable.
Pinakothek – these are three museums under one name, divided according to the types and times of the works displayed in them. The total length of the largest of them reaches about 127 meters and is also known as the largest gallery in Europe, built in the 19th century. It has works from the 14th century, including the self-portrait of the famous artist – Rembrandt. The second museum in this cluster of three museums presents a collection of 450 works of art from the 19th century, under the slogan “From Goya to Picasso”. The third, the last, is more modern and it includes four collections of art, architecture and design.
Markets not to be missed
The markets of Munich are an attraction in themselves. Some are lively and packed with visitors, and some less so. They are scattered throughout the city and offer, along with local produce, also souvenirs and special items, which are worth bringing as a gift to people you love. Those who devote the time they deserve to the markets in the city will even be able to discover countless hidden treasures.
The Christmas Market at Marienplatz (Munich Christmas Market at Marienplatz) – this list is opened by the well-known Munich Christmas Market, otherwise known as the Great Christmas Market, which is held every year at Marienplatz and attracts crowds, locals and tourists alike. This is a traditional market, which has been operating in the city since the 14th century and is the most authentic of the Christmas markets in the city. In the multitude of stalls where you can find a huge variety of items, products and also wonderful local produce, special toys, home decorations, various local foods and above all – a magical atmosphere.
Kripperlmarkt am Rindermarkt – it is not one of the biggest Christmas markets in Munich, nor is it packed with people, but this is precisely the secret of its charm. This cute little market is in the city center and offers a wonderful festive atmosphere. It is held every year close to the holiday and has a variety of food and drink stalls as well as stalls offering lovely gifts.
Riesen Flohmarkt Theresienwise – This is Munich’s largest flea market, held once a year, as part of the Spring Festival. Over 2,000 traders take part in this huge event and it attracts almost 100,000 visitors each time. Among his stalls you will find clothes, furniture, antiques, gadgets of all kinds and many other surprises.
Flohmarkt Daglfing – this is a flea and antique market, located near the horse racing track, on Rennbahnstrasse. It is open regularly and is the right place to find second hand clothing items, furniture, special and antique collectibles and more. If you’re looking for something a little different to bring home or if you like to travel the world at all kinds of antique and flea markets, don’t miss Flohmarkt Daglfing.
Viktualienmarkt – This is a charming food market, with a history dating back hundreds of years. It is located in the city center and offers a wide variety of wonderful, high quality and fresh produce, such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, spices, wines and much more.
Flohmarkt Olympiapark – this large market, which is open on Friday and Saturday, hosts about 500 different stalls and although it is not the largest flea market in Munich, it is considered one of the best. You can stop by for a visit when you also arrive at the Olympia shopping center, which is located near the market and you should spend some time there to enjoy a pleasant atmosphere and good products.