Munich: capital of Bavaria and internationally renowned beer center. A trip to Germany isn’t complete without a stop at this city in the German Alps. If you don’t have a week or even a few days to explore Munich, here is a quick guide to what to do in a couple of days, or 48 hours.
Visitors to the rest of Europe, or even northern Germany, will appreciate the difference in southern Germany. Much more laid-back than the north, southern Germans seem to find many reasons to celebrate, making Munich one of Europe’s most fun cities to visit. To maximize your experience, interact with the warm, friendly locals as much as possible.
A note about time of year: Munich is a fabulous destination for any time of year, but feel particularly lucky if you are visiting Munich in late September, early October, or December. September and October are when Munich’s infamous Oktoberfest takes place, and the beautiful Christkindlmarkt is held in December. The climate is generally mild, but winters can be quite chilly (bring a coat!).
Day 1: City Squares: Marienplatz, Frauenkirche, Karlsplatz, Odeonsplatz, and Englischer Garten
What better way to begin a tour of a city than to start in the center? Marienplatz (literally: St. Mary’s Square) is named for the column of St. Mary at its center. Take some time to enjoy and photograph the exquisite town hall (Neues Rathaus); check out the “Fischbrunnen,” or Fish Fountain; and admire the old glockenspiel that “performs” at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 5 p.m. each day. Marienplatz is a convenient place to meet up with other groups or individuals, because it is easily reached by all S-Bahn trains, as well as the U3 or U6.
Near Marienplatz is the beautiful Frauenkirche, or the Church of our Lady. It’s nearly impossible to miss this beautiful church because of its Gothic structure and two towers. The church has undergone lots of restoration, with the most recent being finished in 1994.
A quick walk away is Karlsplatz, which is easily recognized by its castle-like entrance, which is really an old city gate. A beautiful fountain is nearby, as are plenty of shops.
Another short walk away from both Marienplatz and Karlsplatz is Odeonsplatz, which sits near some upper-end shopping and is the gateway to the English Garden (Englischer Garten).
Spend the evening hours taking a stroll through the huge Englischer Garten. As Europe’s largest city park, it is truly easy to get lost in this massive expanse of trees, lakes, and even a Chinese pagoda. An excellent place to have a meal, the Englischer Garten is home to several beer gardens, which are a wonderful place to people-watch and enjoy some traditional Bavarian cuisine.
Day 2: Peterskirche, Koenigsplatz, Olympiapark, Hofgarten, Hofbrauhaus
Begin day two with a stunning view of the city of Munich via Peterskirche, affectionately known to the locals as “Alte Peter” or Old Peter. Built in 1180, the church was built on the same site where eighth-century monks built a monastery but was destroyed by a fire nearly 150 years after it was built. One of the largest, though possibly most grotesque, items on display is the gilded skeleton of St. Mundita. Be sure to walk to the viewing platform to photograph Munich from above.
A ways away from the center of town and the Marienplatz area is another famous square, Koenigsplatz. “The King’s Square” is easily recognized by its non-German architecture and was originally commissioned by Ludwig I. It was used by Hitler in 1933-35 as a Nazi marching ground.
Take the U-Bahn away from the center of the city to Munich’s famous Olympic grounds, called Olympiapark. Here, you will find the massive stadium complex as well as the Olympiaturm, or Olympic Tower. The platform at the top of the tower is 192 meters high and affords an excellent view of the Olympic facilities, as well as the city itself. The revolving restaurant is a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner.
Head back toward the city center to enjoy the serene Hofgarten and Residenz Palace. The Palace takes a few hours to explore and does have an admission fee, but the garden around it is free and always immaculate. Sometimes, musicians can be found playing in the garden, especially in the Temple of Diana.
Conclude your visit to Munich with dinner at the infamous Hofbrauhaus. The most famous beer hall in the world, Hofbrauhaus was established in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V. For a truly Bavarian experience, try to sit on the ground floor (with about 1,000 of your closest friends), and you’ll be sure to hear a few German drinking songs, as well as a live band. The upper floor is also an option but usually serves lighter fare. The Festival Hall seats about 900 and also offers a stage for dancing or music. In the summer months, you can sit outside and enjoy your mass (liter of beer) while people-watching.
Day 3 and Beyond:
In or near Munich:
Munich Opera House
Away from Munich:
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