Munich may be famous for Oktoberfest, but this beer-obsessed city has plenty of activities to keep you occupied year-round.
There are people wearing Dirndls and Lederhosen that will serve you a stein of beer and a pretzel in a massive beer hall at any time of the year. The traditions of southern Germany are prevalent all throughout the city, so any visitor who arrives outside of the Oktoberfest season is sure to be satisfied by its Bavarian charm.
I’ve now visited Munich twice, and each time I found new reasons to love it. It’s the kind of place where you don’t feel the need to be constantly sightseeing – just being in the city is enough to feel as though you’re getting a taste of the Bavarian atmosphere. Here are my suggestions for a few must-do activities in Munich!
Where we stayed:
Our stay in Munich was based at Citadines Arnulfpark. The hotel location wasn’t inside of the old town, but it was easy to hop on a tram and ride there in about 10 minutes. Our superior room was spacious and had both a sitting area and kitchenette (though for some reason we didn’t have any bowls, and the hotel couldn’t find any to give us!). Still, it was a comfortable place to stay in Munich.
We spent some of our time in Munich working remotely as digital nomads, so it was important for us to have a comfortable room with a desk, sitting area, and kitchenette. If you’re in the same boat and are planning on staying in Munich for a while, you can check out Munich rentals on HousingAnywhere.
Explore the old town
Munich’s Altstadt (Old Town) is packed with grand historic buildings. Start your tour of the city centre in Marienplatz and have a look at the impressive neo-gothic style Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall). If you’re visiting during December, you’ll also stumble upon Munich’s Christmas market which fills the square and side streets around this spot.
The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is also worth seeking out as it has more of a medieval vibe than its newer counterpart. At the base you’ll find a city gate that dates all that way back to the 12th century! To learn more about the historic centre of Munich, I’d suggest taking a Munich old town walking tour.
Go up the tower of St Peter’s Church
If you’re a sucker for a good view (like I am), then you’ll love this activity! Right next to Marienplatz is Peterskirche (St Peter’s Church), which has a tower that offers an amazing panoramic vista of the city.
There are around 300 steps to climb before reaching the top, but your efforts will be rewarded with views over the rooftops of Munich’s old town. You’ll get a neat perspective of the Neues Rathaus and the towers of the nearby Frauenkirche, which makes for some great photo ops… take a wide-angle lens for your camera if you have one!
Drink in a beer hall
Have you really been to Munich if you didn’t drink beer from an enormous stein in a beer hall? The answer is no, you have not. This is an essential activity for every visitor to Munich, where the variety of beer halls are known for their 1-litre servings of easy-drinking beers.
Rob and I have been to three beer halls in Munich: Hofbräuhaus, Augustiner, and Löwenbräu. Hofbräuhaus in the old town is probably the most popular. The atmosphere inside is cheery as they often have a small band playing traditional Bavarian tunes. If it’s a nice day, then Löwenbräukeller has an awesome beer garden with lawn games available, of if you’re interested in grabbing a meal then Augustinerkeller has some fabulous food options on the menu.
If you prefer to see the beer halls with a group and guide, I’d suggesting booking a Munich beer tour which will take you to some of the most popular spots for some beer tasting.
Wander through Victuals Market
The Viktualienmarkt (Victuals Market) is one of Munich’s oldest food markets. Traditionally selling produce, the market now has stalls selling everything from flowers to fish. It also has giant maypole with figures that were used to represent the range of crafts or trades that could be found at the market back in the days when literacy was rare.
The market has a large beer garden within, so if you’re up for a stein in the sunshine, you can get one here! And if you’re interested in tasting some Bavarian cuisine while you’re perusing the markets, it might be worth joining a Victuals Market food tour to sample a range of local foods from savoury sausages to decadent cakes.
Check out the English Garden
Munich’s Englischer Garten (English Garden) is huuuge – it’s actually slightly bigger than Central Park in NYC! You can try exploring the entire park by foot, but you will almost definitely get exhausted. Instead, I’d suggest renting bikes or taking a Munich classic bike tour which includes the garden and lunch at the Chinese Tower.
Some popular attractions inside the garden are the Japanese teahouse, the tiny waterfalls in the Schwabinger Bach and Eisbach rivers, the Chinese Tower with its outdoor beer garden, the Monopteros greek temple replica, and the amazing canal surfers the ride the waves at Eisbachwelle.
Eat Bavarian food
Some the food that is most associated with Bavaria (such as wurst sausages) are unfortunately not so vegetarian-friendly, but there are meat-free versions of these local specialties – we managed to find some casual vegan currywurst at the Gaststätte Bergwolf diner.
Obviously, the trusty Pretzel is a must while in Munich – it’s worth getting one of these bready treats to have along with a beer. We grabbed a pretzel at Hofbräuhaus, and it was honestly one of the best I’ve ever had! If you’re interested in learning how to make one yourself, you can even do a Pretzel cooking class with a local while in Munich.
I also tried some Knödel (German dumplings) in a creamy mushroom sauce at the Augustinerkeller beer hall (the beer halls are actually great places to grab a Bavarian meal). German dumplings are nothing like the Asian ones – they are huge, made mostly from bread or potato, and are served swimming in a gravy-like sauce. It was as delicious as it was decadent!
Visit a royal palace
Schloss Nymphenburg, a 17th century palace that was built as a summer residence for the heir to the throne, is a place where you can peek into the glam life of a royal. Tickets are sold for entrance to the palace only, or to enter the palace plus a few other other buildings that are scattered throughout the grounds. The audio tour takes you through rooms within the main building, some of which hold furniture items that are worth tens of millions of dollars!
The palace has a huge garden that is free to walk around. If you’re keen for a coffee or bite to eat, the Schlosscafé im Palmenhaus is a good option. In the winter it had an outdoor stall selling mulled wine, so of course we stopped for a cup! Next door is the Botanical Garden, which has a gorgeous conservatory of plants from different climates (and also had a temporary tropical butterfly house when we visited).
There’s also Munich Residenz in the old town, which was once a royal palace and the seat of governance for the ultra-important dukes, electors, and kings of Bavaria. The elaborate Italian-influenced design will have you believing that you’re actually in the Vatican! Entrance tickets to Nymphenburg Palace, Munich Residenz, and the Botanic Garden are all included on the Munich City Pass.