Come and discover Germany's second most visited city, after Berlin! Although Munich is known for its Biergarten (beer gardens) and its famous Oktoberfest (beer festival), the city has so much more to offer. A rich heritage, cultural dynamism, modern architecture... and these are just a few of the surprises Munich has in store.
Fascinating History, Artistic and Architectural Treasures
There's only one place to start your visit: in the Old Town (Altstadt). Here, you will find almost all the symbols of Munich, including the Frauenkirche, with its red brick towers, which contains the tomb of Emperor Louis IV (known as the Bavarian). Also famous is the Michaelskirche: the first Renaissance church built north of the Alps. Enjoy a lively atmosphere on Marienplatz, where the New City Hall chimes can be heard, and check out the weapons and trophies at the Museum of Hunting and Fishing. Finish off with a drink at the Hofbräuhaus, the oldest and most famous beer hall in the city.
The birthplace of the Blaue Reiter (a group of artists key to expressionism ), the Bavarian capital has a highly animated cultural life. A multitude of theatres, operas and cinemas offer a sparkling cultural programme. Above all though, tourists are drawn to Munich for its high concentration of museums, especially in the Kunstareal (the art district). The Alte Pinakothek, which boasts one of the largest collections of classical paintings in the world, is a match for the Louvre in Paris and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. The Neue Pinakothek offers a panorama of 19th-century European painting, whilst the Pinakothek der Moderne takes a multidisciplinary view of modern art.
Munich itself is an open-air architecture museum. With Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, its historical buildings, churches and museums display a range of architecture from over the centuries.
After soaking up some culture in the museums, you'll be ready for some fresh air in Munich's parks. The Englischer Garten (English Garden), the green lungs of the city, is one of the largest urban parks in Europe. It owes its name to its fluid lines and picturesque views. But there are many other green spaces bringing some nature into the heart of Munich: the Alter Botanischer Garten (old botanical garden), the Hofgarten (French-style gardens), and of course the Finanzgarten.
Top 10 Must-Sees
The NeuesRathaus (New City Hall): this imposing neo-Gothic building reflects early 20th-century bourgeois pride. The bell, located in the oriel of the tower, is world-famous: its enamelled copper figures perform their dance three times a day. Climb to the top of the tower for wonderful views.
The Rezidenz: from 1623, the Residence, which dates back to 1385, was home to the court of Maximilian I. Now open to visitors, it exhibits the splendours of the era of the old Bavarian kings. Visit the King's Apartments and the Wittelsbach Ancestral Gallery, the Court Chapel, the Silver Rooms, the Imperial Room and the Chamber of Relics.
The Hofbräuhaus: founded in 1859, the Hofbräuhaus is one of the oldest beer halls in the city. It has painted, vaulted ceilings, cavernous rooms filled with solid wood benches, and waitresses wearing dirndls who carry countless maß (one litre glasses) filled with beer for thirsty tourists. Stop for a drink at the Hofbräuhaus for an authentic Bavarian cultural experience!
Saint Peter's Church: built on the exact site where the city was founded 13 centuries ago, this church, also known as "Alter Peter", is one of the symbols of Munich. Marvel at the frescoes on its ceiling, its Gothic paintings, and its Baroque lights, and climb to the top of its 91m-high tower, where you will be rewarded with a magnificent view of Munich's green copper and terracotta roofs!
The Englischer Garten: this garden is to Munich what Central Park is to New York. This bucolic setting was designed in the 18th century, following the main principles of English landscape gardener Capability Brown : vast expanses of grass, copses, slopes, footpaths, a lake, and winding streams allow the garden to blend into the landscape.
The Schwabing bohemian district: as Munich's main Bohemian quarter, Schwabing is spilling over with unusual boutiques, bars and cafés. Its many Art Nouveau buildings are frequented by intellectuals, artists and writers.
The Brandhorst Museum: this museum houses one of the largest collections of modern Art in Germany, left to the state by passionate art entrepreneurs Udo Fritz-Hermann and Anette Brandhorst. The collection boasts over 700 works of art, including 100 by Andy Warhol and 60 by Cy Twombly.
The Viktualienmarkt: this food market near to Marienplatz is open every day of the week. You will find over 140 stalls and shops offering a wide range of delicacies for all tastes: sausages, pork loin with potatoes, soups, ravioli...
The Olympiapark: built for the 1972 Olympic Games, this massive Olympic stadium will take your breath away. Its futuristic design and its 190 m-high Olympic tower, offering a magnificent panorama of the city and the Alps, make it an unmissable attraction.
Nymphenburg Palace: built at the end of the 17th century to serve as a summer residence for the Kings of Bavaria, the palace was situated in the heart of the Bavarian countryside, but was then absorbed as the city of Munich spread. A lush oasis in the heart of the city, the palace is easily accessible by taking the S-Bahn, U-Bahn or tram.
More than Just Sausages!
Of course, Bavarian cuisine is not just about the sausages, but they are nevertheless the great star of the region. Eaten with a pretzel, sweet mustard and a local draught beer, Weißwurst (white sausage) is a real delight!One of the flagship dishes in Bavarian cuisine is roasted ham hock (Schweinshaxe). The tender meat is a delicious contrast to the layer of crispy rind. If you've got a sweet tooth, Kaiserschmarren, a kind of thick pancake, dusted with icing sugar and served with apple purée, is without contest the preferred desert of locals. You should also leave room to try the cheesecake-like Käsekuchen and the famous Apfelstrudel.
January-February: Munich Carnival (Fasching). Munich's carnival season begins the day after Epiphany, and continues until Mardi Gras. With popular jubilation and crazy masked balls, the city is buzzing with life for several weeks.
April-May; July-August, October: Auer Dult. An old Munich tradition going back to the Middle Ages. Three times a year, for nine days, Mariahilfplatz hosts a fair, flea market and various stands.
June: Anniversary of the City of Munich. Stands, music and meals in the Old Town. There are festivities and shows in the street, between Marienplatz, Rindermarket and Odeonsplatz.
July: Opernfestspiele (Opera Festival). Since 1875, Munich Opera Festival has offered a highly diverse programme, with a wealth of shows and new productions. 50 opera and ballet performances, concerts and recitals in the space of a month.
September-October: Oktoberfest. Munich is undoubtedly best known worldwide for its beer festival. Over three weeks, six million people come to Theresienwiese and drink seven million litres of beer. To really get into the spirit of it, wear Tracht: traditional Bavarian dress!
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