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What to do for one day in Munich

Make time for a traditional beer during your one day in Munich
Make time for a traditional beer during your one day in Munich

Short on time or just passing through? Take a look at our guide to one day in Munich and make the most of your time in Bavaria’s capital. Really, Munich deserves more than just one day to do it justice but sometimes that’s all we have so I’ve put together a list of the top sights and attractions. If you have the time stay another day or two instead.

What do you think of when I mention Bavaria? Without a doubt, it’s beer festivals and fairytale castles that spring to mind for me. Certainly, you can find those things here but Munich has a lot more to offer than that. Undoubtedly, if you spend only one day in Munich you’ll have hard choices to make. Firstly, stay within the city itself to wander the old town for charming olde worlde architecture and atmosphere. Then raise a glass of beer in one of the famous beer halls or visit in October to experience the famous Oktoberfest. Munich is a city of contrasts so take a look at our list of top things to do and see what appeals to you.

One day in Munich: A list of things to do

Explore the Old Town (Aldstad)

Start your one day in Munich in the heart of the city with a visit to Marienplatz in the Old Town
Start your one day in Munich in the heart of the city with a visit to Marienplatz in the Old Town

Start your one day in Munich in the heart of the Old Town in Marienplatz. Here, you can gather information and maps at the tourist centre. Take time to view the outside of the New Town Hall. Built in a Gothic style, it’s an impressive addition to the city although it’s not as old as it looks. Visit at 11 am, 12 pm or 5 pm in the summer to hear the famous clock chime. Without doubt, it’s a tourist attraction in its own right with dancing figures and a golden bird to finish with a flourish.

You can also see the old Town Hall on the other side of the square. In the centre of Marienplatz, you can also see a column with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary at the top. Marienplatz is a great place for people watching so grab a coffee or a beer and watch the hustle and bustle.

Climb the Cathedral Tower

Climb the cathedral tower during your one day in munich
Climb the cathedral tower during your one day in Munich

While you’re in Marienplatz take a short walk and visit the cathedral, known locally as the Frauenkirche or church of our lady. In fact, the cathedral actually has two towers which makes it quite distinctive and very striking. You can only climb the south tower though. If you make the climb you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views across Munich. There’s an elevator part of the way but you still need to walk up quite a few steps.

Even if you don’t feel fit enough to tackle all those steps, make sure you take a look inside as the cathedral has some equally impressive features to see. Firstly, marvel at the imposing stained glass window and then look for the bronze reliefs of Mother Teresa and the Pope. Also, make sure you look out for the Devil’s footprint at the entrance. Surprisingly, you can see a black footprint-like mark as you enter the cathedral. To explain, local legend says that the devil stood there and mocked the cathedral as it was being built. In truth, there are lots of different versions of the story. Find some locals and ask them all about it.

Have fun in Munich

Visit a Beer Hall

Munich is synonymous with beer and you’ll certainly have heard of its famous beer festival, Oktoberfest. You don’t have to visit in October though to sample the delights of German beer. You’ll find traditional beer halls open in Munich all year round. Many, if not all, brew their own beer so you have a great excuse to visit a few and see if you can tell the difference.

You don't have to visit during Oktoberfest to enjoy a beer in Munich
You don’t have to visit during Oktoberfest to enjoy a beer in Munich

Relax in an English Garden

This sprawling park area is a great place to chill and relax in the summer. Take a stroll through the park or spread out on the grass for a picnic. Despite its name, English Garden is quintessentially Munich and has some international elements too. Visit the Chinese tower, view a waterfall or visit a beer garden. If the sun’s out you can even try some nude sunbathing. You’ll be in good company as many locals and tourists flock to this green oasis for an all-over tan when the weather permits.

Shop at the Farmer’s Market

Do you like to try local food and delicacies when you visit a new city? If so, you’re in for a treat as Munich’s farmer’s market runs every day. I think that’s great. So often, I see a town or city has a farmer’s market and then find it’s not open on the day I’m there. Even if you’ve only got one day in Munich you won’t miss out.

Munich Farmer's Market
Munich Farmer’s Market

You can browse the 150 stalls for everything edible, fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, bakery items. Of course, you’ll find the famous pretzels here too. In addition, you’ll find an abundance of flowers and plants on offer. Visit early and you might rub shoulders with some of Munich’s top chefs as they stock up for the day.

Visit the Munich Residence

Even if you only have one day in Munich you need to find time to visit the largest city palace in Germany. It’s close to Marienplatz so easy to add to your day’s itinerary. A visit to the residence includes access to the museum, the treasury, the theatre and the Royal Apartments.

Wander through exquisitely decorated rooms at the Residence Museum where you can see how this amazing building evolved over the years of re-decoration and embellishment. Get a glimpse into the private life of royalty in the Royal apartments and see the vast collection of jewellery, trinkets and treasures on a visit to the treasury.

Enjoy the elaborate gardens at the Munich Residence
Enjoy the elaborate gardens at the Munich Residence

The complex also contains the Cuvilliés Theatre and you can view the stunning interior during your visit to the residence. Lastly, make time to visit the courtyards and elaborate gardens.

Watch Surfers take on the Eisbach Wave

Where else can you see people surfing in the middle of the city centre? Take a walk to the Eisbach canal in Munich and you’ll find surfers of all ages testing themselves against the Eisbach Wave. Munich might be a long way from the sea but it’s not short on surfing fun. I was surprised at how fierce the waves can be here. Give surfing a go yourself or join the crowds and watch the experts instead.

Watch surfers in the middle of the city
Watch surfers in the middle of the city

Learn the History of National Socialism

If you’re interested in 20th-century history, and in the events leading up to the Second World War, in particular, you’ll find much to fascinate you in Munich. National Socialism, the movement that put Hitler into power in Nazi Germany, originated in this part of the country.

Visit the National Socialism Documentation Centre to learn more about the movement and understand the ideology behind it. It is a dark and difficult part of Germany’s history but at the Documentation Centre, they believe that education is the key to understanding and prevention.

Take in an Art Gallery

If you love art, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Munich. Start at the Lenbachhaus. It is situated at the former home of the artist Franz von Lenbach and is famous for its collection of works of arts by the artists known as the ‘Blue Riders’.

Alte Pinakothek offers a vast collection of international art. If you manage to see them all, you’ll see around 700 paintings from the 14th to 17th centuries. You’ll find works by many of the world’s greatest artists here, Rubens, da Vinci, Rembrandt for example.

For art from the 18th century to the present day visit the New Pinakothek. Part of the same museum group, the Pinakothek der Moderne specialises in modern art. As you can see, there’s plenty to keep any art lover happy in Munich.

If more ancient sculptures and artwork are your areas of interest then head over to the Glyptothek. It’s actually Munich’s oldest public museum and is housed in an impressive building which is worth viewing in its own right.

Do you have more than one day in Munich?

If you have an extra day, or two, then why not try one of these day trips from Munich. It’s an amazing area and you’ll find something to delight everyone.

Day trips from Munich

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Add one or more days in Munich to your Balkans Road Trip. Check out what else you can do in the Balkans by clicking on the links below.