Munich is one of Germany’s most popular tourism cities, just behind the capital of Berlin.
Of course, many people are drawn to the city’s famed Oktoberfest beer festival. But as the capital of Bavaria and Germany’s third-largest city, Munich has a lot more to offer. It has a history stretching back hundreds of years, adequate green space for outdoor enthusiasts, and it’s a day trip away from notable attractions.
Here are nine compelling reasons why visiting Munich should be on your travel to-do list.
If you visit the Marienplatz—Munich’s central square—just before 11 AM or noon (or 5 PM during the summer months) don’t miss the chiming of the Rathaus-Glockenspiel. It’s been delighting audiences for over a century.
This giant clock puts on quite a show as it re-enacts two stories of Bavarian history that date back to the 1500s. The Glockenspiel features 32 life-sized figures of people and horses and 43 bells. After its display, visit a few of the many shops, restaurants, and bars that surround the square.
2. Surfers on the Eisbach
Munich is perhaps the only city in the world where you can surf (or watch surfers) on a man-made river that produces a serious wave. The Eisbach (meaning “ice river”) has attracted daredevil surfers for years, but began legally allowing them to test their luck on the feisty waters in 2010.
Shallow, cold, and fast, the Eisbach is suitable only for experienced surfers but spectators can enjoy the show from the overhead bridge. Located in the Englischer Garten (English Garden) park, the river often welcomes a long line of wave riders hoping to test their luck.
3. Deutsches Museum
Science and technology nerds will be in their element at the Deutsches Museum. It’s the world’s largest museum paying homage to scientific and technical knowledge. Over 65,000 square feet of space contains exhibits from the worlds of natural science, energy, communication, transportation, and more.
The museum features a replica of Spain’s Altamira cave with its Stone Age paintings, a planetarium, and glass blowing demonstrations. Some portions of the museum such as the aviation area are temporarily closed for renovations. Check with the website before you visit to make sure the exhibits you wish to see are open.
4. Neuschwanstein Castle
Technically, this famous fairy tale-like fortress is located outside of Munich but it’s not to be missed. Located about 60 miles away in Hohenschwangau, the inspiration for Disneyland’s castle was home to King Ludwig II and opened to the public after his death in 1886.
Up to 6,000 tourists visit Neuschwanstein daily during the summer months, so reservations are highly recommended.
5. The Autobahn
Have a need for speed? The Autobahn is still one of the world’s fastest highways, but it does come with some rules.
If you’re traveling near Munich or other major cities, speed limits do apply. Most city zones allow vehicles to travel between 50 and 80 mph.
Once you get further away from congested areas, the speed limits loosen up. There are many rules about driving on the Autobahn such as the fact that passing is allowed only on the left. You should learn how to drive internationally before pressing your pedal on Germany’s most famous roadway.
6. The Hofbrauhaus Munchen
At the most famous beer hall in the world, every day feels like Oktoberfest. The Hofbrauhaus has been serving up the city’s best brews since the 1500s. Lively entertainment and traditional German food are always on the menu at the 1,300 seat tavern.
Mozart was a regular when he lived around the corner, and credits visits to the Hofbrauhaus with giving him the energy to compose one of his operas. Order a glass of radler, which is a combination of beer and lemonade, along with the Munich veal sausages. It’s one of the best beer and food pairings you need to try.
The beer hall opens at 9 AM daily for those that like to start their fun early.
7. BMW Museum
Love vintage beemers and motorcycles as well as concept cars by your favorite German automobile brand? Then the exhibits at the car company’s headquarters will delight.
Two separate sections in the ultra-modern building highlight BMW’s history and what the future holds for the automaker. Book a premium tour, which gives you access to the BMW Plant, where you can see the cars in various stages of assembly.
You’re bound to find plenty of gifts to bring back home with you at Christkindlmarkt, Munich’s renowned Christmas market. Running from the end of November right through Christmas Eve (for those procrastinators) Christkindlmarkt offers plenty of handmade goods, meandering Santas, and glühwein (German spiced wine.)
A giant Christmas tree illuminated by 2,500 candles will surely keep a case of the humbugs away.
We can’t end a list of reasons to visit Munich without mentioning the most obvious one: Oktoberfest. This huge revelry party started as an excuse to celebrate a royal wedding back in the 1700s. We like the way the Germans think.
Oktoberfest officially runs from September 21 to October 6 this year. You’ll get to see the official tapping of the festival’s beer barrel by Munich’s mayor at noon on opening day. A traditional costume parade commences the following morning.
Then it’s nonstop beer, food, and music that will leave you uber-satisfied. Don’t forget to sample the most popular German dishes during Oktoberfest.
It’s best to plan your trip early for this one, and get a jump on shopping for traditional Bavarian clothing to bring.
Is Visiting Munich in Your Travel Plans?
Visiting Munich is something that everyone should do at least once during their lifetime. The city has something for everyone, whether you’re into fascinating history, breathtaking scenery, or delicious food and beer!
Here at Beekman Beer Garden, we love traveling the world in search of great beer. We also enjoy bringing you travel and food tips. If you’ve got the travel bug and would like to learn about more great places to visit, check out our world travel posts.