16 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Munich
Munich, Germany's beautiful, creative capital, is home to the world's top museums, a plethora of celebrated sites and spectacular structures, an impressive choice of beer halls, and enough spectacular architecture to fill any traveler's heart with joy.
Here are a few of the best things to do and see in Munich.
Get a taste of local history at the world-famous Residenz, a palace residence for nearly 600 years. Stroll along the river's promenade with its magnificent view, stroll along the picturesque Landshuterstrasse, or stroll past its statues and fountains.
Marvel at the nearly 700 years of history at the city's main museums, such as the Natural History Museum, the New Residenz, the National Museum, and the city's largest concert hall, the Olympiahalle.
Get off the beaten track at Germany's largest open-air art museum, the Albertina, or step back in time at Munich's Jewish Museum, a vast monument to the rich Jewish culture of this city.
Munich is a place where history mixes with the present, making for a rich heritage that travelers can discover on their own or as part of a group tour.
Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Munich.
Housed in a perfectly-preserved medieval building in a former monastery in central Munich, the Museum Brandhorst is an encyclopedic museum with a wide variety of exhibits, including medieval and Renaissance art, ceramics, weapons, fashion, and technology, as well as Italian Renaissance furnishings and antique carriages. The museum's extensive library is open to the public. If you are visiting Munich during Christmas or Easter, tickets for some special exhibitions, such as a Franz Hellensenschwingertale (painting by Hans Holbein the Younger), or the Dommuseum (Dommuseum, an extensive exhibit on old cars, bicycles, and airplanes), are available.
With the best-preserved medieval city center in Germany, Munich is packed with distinctive and ancient places to visit. Known for its craftsmanship, architecture and design, it is also home to a number of historic museums and architectural sights, including the German Castles, Nymphenburg Palace, the English Garden, the München Tourismus Münchner Freiheit Haus, The Church of Our Lady and the wonderful Hofbräuhaus brewery. Awarded the title of the capital of European tourism by the U.S. Department of State, Munich is also home to a lively concert and opera scene, great shopping opportunities, lovely parks and beautiful lakes.
Bayerischer Hof (Bavarian Court) is the spectacular hotel designed for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and set in gardens which are one of the loveliest parts of the entire city. The double-storey foyer, each of the 64 rooms and the restaurant are entirely and magnificently fitted out in black-white chessboard marble and the hotel itself consists of 44 rooms, each exquisitely decorated and individually designed, with a total of more than 100 original elements. Each room is different, but some of the most famous features include a Jean Nouvel modular armchair and original metal letters by Barbara Kasten. The hotel has hosted many famous guests over the years, including Amelia Earhart, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Richard Wagner and Leonard Bernstein. Nowadays, the Bayerischer Hof is a world-famous hotel, especially for its Grand Dame and fresh White Bordeaux days, high-level parties with celebrity guests and small-world politics.
Home to the royal family of Bavaria for almost 400 years, the Residenz was originally the main royal residence for Munich, and later served as a residence for Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, Ludwig I, and Ludwig II. It now belongs to the Bavarian state and is a museum open for visitors, hosting temporary exhibits. The building, restored in the 18th century, provides a remarkable insight into the architectural tastes of the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of the highlights of the Residenz are the Ludwig der Zweite Altar, the gold processional throne decorated with gilt emblems, and the Residenzmuseum, with its collection of art and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Pinakothek, or Museum of Painting, is housed in the neoclassical headquarters of the National Gallery, established in 1786 to keep Munich's art collection under one roof. It's the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of classical art, and the result of an ambitious and sustained effort by a group of German and French collectors to bequeath a number of masterpieces from the collection of Emperor Ludwig I of Bavaria to the city of Munich. As there are well over a thousand pieces on display at any given time, and the collections expand annually by several pieces, it's best to get a small guidebook (available at the entry) and save some time by being selective.
Haus der Kunst
Haus der Kunst, literally, "House of Art," opened to the public in 1998 in a converted 1970s convent in Munich. The exhibitions change four times a year and are arranged in groups by theme: from pictures to travel, from fashion to poetry. Works are shown in a variety of media, including video, sculpture, painting, installation, and architecture. Other facilities include a bookstore, a design and graphics shop, a photography shop, and cafeterias.
The idea of constructing a fairy tale castle in Germany was already ambitious when architect Ludwig II began work on Neuschwanstein. It wasn't completed until 1889, and, although he tried to realize many of his designs in his castle at Cistercianer abbey in St. Pölten, Austria, it was the work of his youngest son, King Ludwig III, that won him international recognition as a visionary architect. The main attraction at Neuschwanstein is the castle itself, which is surrounded by a lovely garden with the surrounding park and many more buildings. Neuschwanstein contains some of Ludwig's most extraordinary art works and most elaborate designs, including a cathedral, a theater, a summer palace, and the famous Sleeping Beauty's Palace.
Bavaria State Museum
Among the finest museums of its type in the world, the Bavaria State Museum in Munich is the result of 70 years of research into the formation and development of the German nation. The museum was established in 1848 as the largest museum in the country and is home to a vast collection of material culture. Its displays are displayed chronologically, by region and then by subject and reflect on the creation of the German state.
The BMW Museum
The BMW Museum in Munich displays vehicles from BMW's pre-war history as well as a collection of historic vehicles that once belonged to Hitler. Among the vehicles on display are the first racing car and an M1 in which legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna died in. The most famous of BMW's automobiles is the 2002tii Turbo, a small, two-seat, high-performance sports car.
Schloss Nymphenburg was built in the 18th century as a summer residence for the kings of Bavaria. Today, it's one of the most beautifully preserved palaces in Europe and is famous for its English Baroque gardens. The palace is set in a park dotted with lakes and cascades, which are worth visiting for the flowers, but many visitors just come for the gardens. The formal gardens are especially noteworthy, as are the Italian Pavilion and its magnificent views. Nymphenburg is only about 4 miles from the center of Munich, with bus and taxi service into the city or to the airport. Alternatively, Munich city train and bus services can be used, taking 15 minutes to reach Nymphenburg from the city.
One of the world's best stadiums, the Olympiastadion was designed by famous architect Ernst Sagebiel for the Munich Olympics of 1972. The Olympiastadion is no mere sports arena, however, but a behemoth of modernism. The lower deck is closed to the public, but is home to a school for young sportsmen and women, while the upper deck has been transformed into an open-air concert hall that holds 60,000 people. The stadium is also used for soccer matches, as well as for a variety of concerts and other events. To access the upper level, visit the team shops, see the Olympic Museum, watch a soccer match, or visit the underground passages, which once led to a rock quarry.
Oktoberfest, Munich is a world-famous beer festival held in late September and early October. Popularly known as the "Oktoberfest," the largest beer festival in the world attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year to its large beer gardens located on a hill. The four-day celebration includes rowdy games, costumed parades, and a great variety of German food and traditional music. Munich is well known for its traditional German cuisine, including bratwurst and pretzels.
Munich's 1588 City Hall is the tallest in the country and was inspired by a residence in Padua, Italy. Inside is a modern museum and contains a copy of the Greek Library of Alexandria. Other parts of the building are home to art galleries and Munich's city archives. The building is a symbol of the German psyche and is the nerve center for the Bavarian state's administration. The palaces on the Barerberg hill are well worth a visit, as is the Rathaus market square on the Neumarkt.
The Rathausplatz is one of the main squares in Munich. Its classic neo-Renaissance pavilions are scattered around a large open space. The Königsplatz (Kings' Square) is part of the historic old town of Munich and a gathering point for people from the capital and surrounding area. At night, the area is lively, with several bars and restaurants. In summer, there are regular free events in the square. It is one of the popular places for weddings, for example in the Rathaus Stadthaus (the local city hall). It is also the home of the famous Staatsoper and is a popular site for concerts.
Built in 1742-43, this opulent church is Germany's only Gothic Baroque church. It's modeled after the parish church of the Carmelite order in Toledo, Spain. Originally the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel, it's been the main church of the Universitat Church of Regensburg for 300 years and is considered the most beautiful Protestant church in Munich. The striking features of this richly decorated building include a vaulted ceiling with painted allegories, its airy Baroque interior, the elaborate gilded Baroque altars, the stunning altar painting by Franz Xaver Müller, and the apse whose facade is made up of oval windows, built in 1743 to resemble the Round Church of St. Nicholas at Constantinople. Since 1743 the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel has been dedicated to the saints, especially Mary. The baroque image of Mary of Good Counsel hanging on the altar was a gift from the Duke of Bavaria.
Pinakothek der Moderne
This superb museum in the Schwabing section of Munich features around 6,000 artworks by famous 20th-century artists, from Van Gogh to Dalí. Opened in 1912, it was one of the first museums to focus on modern art, and much of its collection came from Germany's poorest city, Munich. Items on display change regularly, but the museum has some really good installations, as well as a permanent display of Kandinsky's colorful paintings. For an extra fee, you can ride on the museum's elevator up to the top of the building, which contains a bookstore, cafe, and a rotating exhibition on contemporary art.