Any information you may have heard about Munich is most likely related to Oktoberfest, an international festival where people dress in lederhosen and sip beer. All year round, though, Munich is a stunning city to visit. See our list of the best things to do, see, eat, and drink in Munich, Germany, before planning your next vacation there.
Top 5 Munich Activities: Attractions & Sites
1. Visit Hofbrauhaus and have a beer
When visiting Munich, make sure to visit the Hofbrauhaus, arguably the most well-known beer hall on earth. Originally brewing beer for the royal family, this beer hall was established in 1589. There is some grim history associated with the Hofbrauhaus; in 1920, Hitler and the Nazi party met in one of the upstairs rooms. The top-floor room known as the Festival Room is where Hitler delivered his famous speech condemning Jews.
The Hofbrauhaus is now the most popular tourist destination in Munich, where people come to enjoy a classic Bavarian Biergarten experience. Upon entering from the street, you will pass through the first service area, which features amazing painted ceilings and endless rows of wooden tables and benches. This place is frequently crowded, so strangers sit together to strike up a discussion over a mug.
The Biergarten is outside on the ground floor. The terrace seating on the second story is also accessible from the outside. Seating on floors two and three is similar, with rows upon rows of benches and tables designed to be served family- or stranger-style.
There are waiters here who serve at tables but don’t anticipate quick service. Anything other than beer takes a while to arrive at this enormous beer hall. I suggest stopping here for just a beer, then heading to another nearby beer hall for a hearty German meal.
Seek out a server wearing a traditional dirndl outfit and bearing a basket of pretzels if you’re feeling peckish or need something to eat with your enormous pint of beer. A drink should cost roughly $5, and a pretzel should cost about $2.
2. Visit Downtown Munich to See the Glockenspiel
Don’t pass on this one! The Rathaus-Glockelspiel is situated on Marienplatz, Munich’s central plaza. When the New Town Hall was rebuilt in 1908, this mechanical clock was a component of it. Daily performances are put on by jousters (puppets) and dancers who reside in the glockenspiel. These performances are available at 11 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m.; however, wintertime does not offer any nighttime events.
If you want to be in the crowd, arrive at Marienplatz a few minutes early. Everyone will be looking on, so it’s impossible to miss! Stay tuned for the surprising actions by the figurines towards the finish of the 5–10 minute show.
When you sign up for one of Sandeman’s New Europe’s free walking excursions in Munich, you’ll meet your guide at the Marienplatz square at 10:45 a.m., catch the glockenspiel show at 11, and then start exploring the city. Recall that gratuities are the basis for all free walking tours in Europe, so consider giving your guide $5–$20 for their time showing you the sights.
3. Visit the outdoor Viktualienmarkt market and have a pretzel
Are you hungry after your complimentary walking tour of Munich? A few blocks south of Marienplatz is Viktualienmarkt. Fresh fruits and vegetables, wine and beer, sausages, pretzels, and other Bavarian treats are all available at the Viktualienmarkt, an outdoor market. The pretzels taste amazing and are huge! Viktualienmarkt grounds also include the renowned Maypole. Take a break from wandering and enjoy the Bavarian atmosphere outside where there is biergarten-style seating with rows of benches and tables.
4. Check Out the English Gardens Surfers
Not included in many tours or guidebooks, the English Gardens are a must-see in Munich. It’s a 15–20 minute walk, but well worth it, to get to these lovely city gardens from Munich’s Marienplatz. The gardens are rather big; a stroll around them would take more than an hour. Fortunately, the end nearest to the city has the best sights to see.
Take your time exploring the lovely grounds, but don’t miss the opportunity to witness this amazing show. This man-made surfing wave in the English Gardens is a landmark, known in German as Eisbachwelle. Surfers will wait in a queue on each side of the river to have a turn riding the wave. After a minute of showing off their skills, each surfer will get on, make room for the next surfer, and then fall into the wave—either on purpose or accidentally.
Around the riverbanks, both residents and tourists congregate in large groups to watch as each surfer takes turns riding the wave. We sat and watched locals surf in the middle of the park for probably more than an hour. It was a highlight and something I wasn’t expecting to see in the center of the city!
5. Spend a Day at the Castle Neuschwanstein
While this must-see sight isn’t located in Munich itself, it’s the ideal place to start your journey to this enchanted location!
Fans of Disney and film: Is this castle familiar to you? Many people know and acknowledge the Neuschwanstein Castle as the source of inspiration for the Disney Castle and the Sleeping Beauty Castle. This location was also used to film the beloved film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Where Is the Castle Neuschwanstein?
Take a day excursion to the Neuschwanstein Castle if you have a spare day. A trip to the “Sleeping Beauty” castle is a great midday activity, taking around two hours each way from Munich. Numerous tour operators, such as GetYourGuide and Viator, allow you to schedule a day trip from Munich.
When taking a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle, bring a meal. You’ll get approximately an hour to eat before going up to the castle if your tour follows a schedule similar to ours. At the foot of the attraction are a few eateries, although they can get very busy and have exorbitant costs for visitors.
The Neuschwanstein Castle Entry Procedure
When we went, the day excursion tour cost $67 per person and included both transportation to and from the castle as well as an external tour guide. It costs an additional $16 to enter the castle tour when you arrive. The tour lasts just 30 minutes because the monarch only completed one-third of the castle, but the interior is well worth seeing.
There are three ways to go up to the castle: by horse and buggy, on the tram, or by foot. The tram journey up to the top cost about $2. We took approximately 45 minutes to complete the walk, which is a fairly steady rise the entire way up but has good paved roads. Watch out for carriages approaching from behind as this is also the route used by horse-drawn carriages!