10 Top Things to Do in Munich, Germany for Ancestry-Inspired Travelers

On a visit to Munich, you will experience Germany as you thought it would be: After all, the federal state of Bavaria and its capital Munich are known for oversized portions of beer, the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein nearby and of course the world-famous original Oktoberfest! But there is so much more to do in Germany’s third largest city. Here are the top ten things to do and see in Munich, Germany in 2024.

Disclosure: This blog post includes affiliate links to GetYourGuide.com. If you click on any of these links and make a booking through this link, I will receive a small affiliate fee.

1. Watch the “Glockenspiel” on Marienplatz and join a guided tour

Start your Bavarian sightseeing adventure on Munich’s main square – the Marienplatz. Here, you will find the impressive New City Hall (“Neues Rathaus” in German) and a golden statue of the Virgin Mary (German: “Mariensäule”) in front of it.

While here, don’t miss one of Munich’s top tourist attractions: the enchanting Glockenspiel. This 15-minute musical clock performance captivates visitors daily at 11 am and 12 pm (with an additional show at 5 pm from March to October).

The New City Hall with the towers of the “Frauenkirche” church to the left and the “Mariensäule” in the front

Witness a shorter version at 9 pm, reenacting the bedtime routine of the “Münchner Kindl” (the child of Munich).

For a great overview of all the sightseeing highlights in Munich’s inner city area, join one of the guided Munich walking tours that start here. 

Book your guided walking tour in Munich now

The “Glockenspiel” (musical clock performance) on Marienplatz

Just a few steps from the New City Hall, you will find the “Viktualienmarkt”.

Munich’s best-known food market offers fresh produce and local delicacies, as well as a typical Munich “Biergarten” (beer garden).

Fresh produce at the Viktualienmarkt

2. Get a birds-eye perspective of Munich

Just a few footsteps away from Marienplatz, you will find Munich’s oldest church: Saint Peter (sometimes nicknamed “Alter Peter”, which means “Old Pete” in German).

Climbing its 300 steps to the top is quite a workout, but the reward is spectacular: on a clear, sunny day, you’ll gaze upon breathtaking views extending all the way to the Alps!

Munich from above (view from St. Peter Church) with the Alps in the back

If you prefer a more comfortable way to see fantastic views of Munich, head back to the New City Hall. Here, an elevator swiftly transports you 85 meters to the top of the building.

View from the tower of St. Peter church with the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady) on the left
and the New City Hall on the right.

3. Visit a world-class art museum

Among the best museums in Munich are the Alte Pinakothek (Old Pinakothek) for medieval and Renaissance masters (Rembrandt, da Vinci and co.) and the Neue Pinakothek (New Pinakothek) with works by van Gogh, Klimt and co.

The New Pinakothek is currently closed for renovation until 2025, but you can see a small exhibition of works from the New Pinakothek on the ground floor of the Old Pinakothek. On Sundays, the entrance is just 1 Euro!

Other fabulous Munich museums include the “Kunsthalle” and the Bavarian National Museum (“Bayerisches Nationalmuseum”). This art and culture museum showcases the largest collection of nativity scenes in the world that span from the 1700s to the mid-19th century.

Touching the nose of the lions bronze statues in front of the “Residenz” is said to give you good luck.

More Munich sightseeing for car enthusiasts and technology fans:

If you have some car enthusiasts in your travel group, add the BMW museum and BMW World to your list for top things to do in Munich. These places showcase the engineering marvels of the famous German car brand “BMW”.

The so-called “Deutsches Museum” (German Museum) is another museum worthwhile checking out. The Verkehrszentrum (Transportation Center) branch showcases all kinds of different (historical) vehicles, including old trains, trams, and even unicycles.

4. Travel back in time with a TIMERIDE experience

At the interactive museum “TIMERIDE”, you can travel back in time an astonishing 7,000 years! They offer a Bavaria tour” and a “Munich tour” inside the museum, as well as a virtual reality experience walking tour with VR glasses on walking tours in the city. The Munich tour also includes a beer tasting (or non-alcoholic alternative) at the end.

As an actual time travel machine has not been invented yet, this is the closest thing you can do to travel back in time. In my opinion, one of the most fun activities in Munich!

Book your TIMERIDE Munich experience now

The St. Peter church with sightseeing tower

5. Explore Munich’s city castles

Munich’s former royal palace, the Residenz, is located in the heart of the city, so it’s easy to get to. But with around 150 rooms, including one room made entirely of seashells, you should take at least a few hours to discover this magnificent palace.

After all, the Residenz is Germany’s largest inner-city castle!

Me in front of the “Residenz” Palace in Munich, Germany

If you have more time for places to visit close to the city center of Munich, head to Nymphenburg Palace. This Baroque masterpiece is surrounded by lush gardens and tranquil lakes.

Since Nymphenburg Palace is located outside the city center of Munich, you can either get there with public transport or on a fun Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour. In my opinion, a great way to get an overview of the city and pass by all sightseeing highlights of Munich, especially if you have limited time.

Book your Hop-On Hop-Off bus ticket tour in Munich now

A sneak peak inside the “seashell room” at the Residenz

6. Relax in the “English Garden”

If after so much Munich sightseeing, you need a bit of a break, head to Munich’s largest park: the so-called “Englischer Garten” (English Garden).

Here, you can relax in the sun (if there is any on the day you visit), rent a paddle boat, or climb up the hill of the “Monopteros” temple for a great view of the city.

A lake with swans and paddle boats in the English Garden

Even though the next ocean is far away in Bavaria, eager surfers found a way to surf here all-year-round. Head over to the so-called “Eisbach wave” and watch the surfers riding the wave(s).

In the summer, people also swim and literally let themselves “drift away” in the refreshing “Eisbach” stream. Here, you even have a dedicated “FFK” section, which means that nudism is allowed in a certain area. So don’t be alarmed if you occasionally ran into naked people!

Surfers at the “Eisbach wave” in the English Garden

7. Celebrate “German style” at the original Oktoberfest

Among the most fun things to do in Munich is spending your time at the original Oktoberfest! Nowadays celebrated as a “typical German festival” all over the world, it is in fact a Bavarian celebration. The first Oktoberfest was held in Munich in 1810 as part of the wedding festivities for Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (1786-1868) and his bride, Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1792-1854).

Today, the event still takes place at the Theresienwiese (or simply “Wiesn” in the local dialect), named after the royal bride. Despite its name, Oktoberfest primarily occurs in September. This year’s feast is on from September 21st to October 6th, 2024.

This is also THE PLACE where Bavarians (not Germans!) like to dress up in their traditional Bavarian / south German / Austrian dresses: The leather pants (“Lederhosen”) for the men and the female dress with the extra cleavage, the “Dirndl”, for the ladies. If you’re interested, Munich offers numerous places to purchase these iconic garments. 

For an enjoyable experience, book accommodations and tickets well in advance, as Munich tends to be pricier during this time. Nowadays, there are even all-inclusive entry packages for Oktoberfest, which include meals, drinks and a reserved table. So you have to worry less about the organization and can concentrate more on the drinking part. 😉

Book your all-inclusive tickets for Oktoberfest now

Oktoberfest grounds at the Theresienwiese

8. Marvel at “Bavaria’s Statue of Liberty”

Just opposite the Oktoberfest grounds, you will find the “Bavaria” statue. I my opinion, this statue is one of the top things to see in Munich. Yet, it is quite an underrated Munich tourist attraction, as not many travel guides mention the beautiful bronze statue that stands 18 meters tall.

And did you know that, from March to October, you can even go inside the statue and enjoy the view of the Theresienwiese from within her head?

Behind the Bavaria, you will also find the so-called “Ruhmeshalle” – a Bavarian “hall of fame” with busts of famous and important Bavarians.

The Bavaria statue and hall of honor in the back

9. Go on a guided day trip from Munich:

1. Day Trip from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle

Among the best places to visit near Munich is one of Germany’s best-known landmarks! To get from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle, you can take a 1,5-hour train ride, drive there yourself or join a guided tour.

Go on an organized day tour with a guide so you can sit back and relax and make the most of your day! There are both guided train and bus day trips available from Munich.

For more info, check out my blog post:
“Neuschwanstein Castle in a Day: How to Make the Most of visiting Germany’s Fairy Tale Castle”

Book your day tour from Munich to Neuschwanstein Castle now

Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Germany

2. Day Trip from Munich to Salzburg, Austria

If you want to tick off another European country on your ancestry-inspired trip to Germany, head to Salzburg, Austria, which is just about 1,5 – 2 hours away. Again, the easiest way for how to get from Munich to Salzburg is to book a guided tour. Choose between a guided tour from Munich to Salzburg by bus or a guided tour from Munich to Salzburg by train.

Before you visit the UNESCO World Heritage city of Salzburg (by the way the birthplace of the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), you will pass through the picturesque landscape that was used as a backdrop for the musical movie “The Sound of Music”. There is also a special “The Sound of Music film location tour” from Munich.

Book your day tour from Munich to Salzburg now

Panoramic view of Salzburg in Austria. Photo: Envato Elements

10. Try a typical Bavarian culinary experience

1. Have a Biergarten (beer garden) lunch

If there is one thing that Munich and Bavaria are world-famous for, it is of course the Bavarian beer! Contrary to other parts in Germany, the beer in Bavaria only comes in big sizes. Half a liter (0.5) is the minimum, but many Bavarians have a 1 liter glass (a so-called “Maß”) with their meal.

And where better to sip your Bavarian beer than in an old-fashioned “Biergarten”?

My “Brotzeit” lunch in the English Garden

When I was there in October once, I headed to the “Seehaus” beer garden at Kleinhesseloher See in the English Garden (see activity number 7). I paired by beer with a traditional Bavarian “Brotzeit” (bread with cheese or cold meat), which is perfect for lunch.

So if the weather is nice, sit outside in a typical Bavarian beer garden, get your beer and Brotzeit and say “Prost” to your German heritage!

A North German tourist has arrived in Bavaria! 😉

2. Join a Bavarian food and drink tour

This guided food tour is a fun activity for the evening. The tour includes several beer tasters, pretzels, a full meal at the end and lots of entertaining (beer) facts from your tour guide!

I took this tour twice on my Munich visits in 2017 and 2023. On the tour that I took on my visit in December 2023, we also visited the small, but interesting “Oktoberfest Museum” hidden inside a centuries-old tavern.

Book your Bavarian food and drink tour in Munich now

Beer and prezels on the Bavarian food and drink tour

3. Eat and drink at the original Hofbräuhaus

Adress: Platzl 9

Branches of Munich’s most famous beerhouse can now be found all over the world. But the original is here. Popular with tourists from all over the world, there is usually a band that is playing Bavarian (again, not German!) live music.

As a North German, this was not really my “cup of tea”. So after going in there briefly to take my photos and videos for my “research”, I was out as fast as I could… But it’s among the most fun things to do in Munich for sure! Even more so, if you are into Bavarian “oompah music”!

On this guided walking tour, you can also combine sightseeing in the city with a sit-down lunch stop at the Hofbräuhaus afterwards.

Book your walking tour including lunch at the Hofbräuhaus now

A band playing inside the “Hofbräuhaus” in Munich.
The sign says “being thirsty is worse than being homesick”. 🙂

4. Have a proper Bavarian meal in the restaurant “Zum Augustiner”

Adress: Neuhauser Straße 27

A restaurant with hearty, Bavarian food. They also serve their own beer called “Augustiner”.

I had “Knödel” (round dumplings made out of breadcrumbs) together with assorted mushrooms in a creamy sauce here. The typical Bavarian dish “Rahmschwammerl” is a great option for vegetarians like me!

A vegetarian, Bavarian meal: Rahmschwammerl, potato salad, Prezels (Brezel) and… a beer of course! 😉

5. Try a vegan Weißwurst at Herrschaftszeiten

Adress: Tal 12

This restaurant is just a few footsteps away from the Marienplatz and nowadays serves vegan “Weißwurst” (Bavarian white sausage)! This way, even vegans and vegetarians (like me) can try this typical Bavarian breakfast item.

Vegan “Weißwurst” breakfast in Munich

6. Grab a “Brezn” at Brezelina

Adresss: located in several underground stations, such as “Marienplatz U-Bahn Station”

If you want to grab a quick snack, get a delicious Pretzel (“Brezel” in German or “Brezn” in Bavaria), for example with “Obazda” (Bavarian beer cheese). So yummy!

Enjoying my prezel from “Brezelina” on the Marienplatz square

That wraps up the top 10 things to do and see in Munich in 2024. As you have seen, there is something for every taste and interest. So, the only question that remains now: Which Munich attractions will you check out on your ancestry-inspired trip to Germany?

#OnlyInBavaria will you see a guy in “Lederhosen” (leather pants) just walking down the street… 😉

Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | MyAncestorsJourney.com

Tour guide Sonja Irani in front of the Roland statue in Bremen, northern Germany

This blog post was written by: Sonja

Hallo! My name is Sonja. I am a tour guide for ancestry-inspired tours based in Bremen, northern Germany and the founder of the tour operator business "My Ancestor's Journey". In addition, I help American ancestral travelers to plan their dream trip to Germany in my upcoming online course called “Germany Trip Planning Masterclass”.

Leave a Comment

WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner