Munich, the capital of Bavaria and third largest city in Germany has so much to explore by foot. Walking through the center of the historic district will give you a glimpse into Munich’s nearly 1000 years of history. It might be most famous for Oktoberfest, but do not miss out on its beautiful architecture and traditional bavarian culture.
The interesting thing about Munich is that most of the city was destroyed during WWII. Therefore pretty much all Munich’s main attractions were rebuilt to their former glory. This means there are some ironic aspects to the age of buildings within the city. For example, the Old City Hall is actually newer than the Old City Hall!
Once you are done exploring the historic center of Munich, there is always so much more to explore in the rest of Munich.
Walking Map to Historic Munich
Munich Travel Video
Top Attractions in the Historic Center of Munich
- New Town Hall: In the tower of the New Town Hall do not miss the glockenspiel chimes and that reenacts stories of Bavaria from the 16th century.
- Old Town Hall: Inside of the old town hall is now a toy museum. Interestingly, the old town hall was destroyed in WWII and later rebuilt. This means the Old Town Hall is actually a newer building than the Old Town Hall!
- Mary Column:
The Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, just a few blocks from Mary Square. This 16th century church was built in just 20 years, a relatively short time for its size. This is due to its simple interior and cheap local red brick material. Inside the church is a marker that is meant to be the Devil’s Footprint, which makes for an interesting photo.
The two onion topped towers of the church remain as an iconic symbol of Munich. The towers are the only part of the church that survived WWII due to its strategic height for orientation. There is also no other structure in the old city can legally be taller than this tower!
Michael Jackson Memorial
One of the more interesting spots to visit is the small Michael Jackson Memorial. This small memorial sprung up on an existing statue after his death, in front of the hotel Jackson would stay when visiting Munich. After a short time, it was recognized as an official memorial by the city!
When visiting Viscardigasse, or Dodger’s Alley, it is easy to miss its importance without some historical context. On the street is a small path of golden bricks used to mark the path that dissidents took during the Nazi rule to avoid a nearby Nazi memorial to the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Taking this alleyway demanded risk, as the Nazis would watch to see who was not supporting their cause.
Odeon Square remains a significant point within the city of Munich. It remains a highlight of protest and parades to this day. In the middle of the square is two polls with the images of a monk and a lion, the two symbols of Munich.
Theatiner Church was originally built in the late 1600s. Its now yellow Baroque facade has become a symbol of the city.
On one end of the square is Feldherrn Hall, a monument to the Bavarian army. It is also the site of Hitler’s failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.
Next to Odeon Square is the Munich Residence. This royal complex served as the seat of the Bavarian government and as the home of the regions dukes or kings. Following a nearly complete restoration after WWII the palace is now a large Residence Museum and Treasury.
Walk through the grounds for a glimpse into the life and history of the Bavarian monarchy. There is nearly an endless supply of rooms to explore, so plan enough time to see it all.
Entrance tickets to the Residence or Treasury cost €7 each, with a combined ticket available for €11/person. There is a free audio guide available to make sure you get the most of your visit.
In front of the Residence are four lion statues. Local legend states that rubbing the nose of the lion on the shield will provide you with good luck, so make sure to rub all four!
Right behind the Residence is Hofgarten, a beautiful public garden. During the spring the whole park is full of a rainbow of flowers. Get your camera ready as this small park has so many photo opportunities including a pavilion for the goddess Diana.
Opera Square/ Max Joseph Square
Walking through the Residence leads you directly to Max Joseph Square, named after King Maximilian Joseph. It is also known as Opera Square as one end is the National Theatre Munich, home of the Bavarian State Opera, Bavarian State Orchestra and the Bavarian State Ballet.
No visit to Germany is complete without a visit to one of its many biergartens. The most famous of them all is Hofbrauhaus. Originally built in 1589, it is still owned by the Bavarian state government. Hofbrauhaus has become world famous due to its prominence in Oktoberfest.
While there are better, cheaper and more local biergartens, it is still worth the visit.
Right behind the Old Town Hall is a statue of Juliet. Yes, the one from Romeo and Juliet. The bronze statue was a gift from the city of Verona to Munich in 1974. If you are looking for love, just place some flowers in the statues hand.
St. Peter’s Church
To end off our time in downtown Munich, we made it nearly full circle to St. Peter’s Church. It is technically the oldest church in town, although it has been rebuilt and restored many times, most recently after its near total destruction in WWII.
What you must not miss is Alter Peter, its 91 meter tall clock tower. The odd thing is, each side of the tower has two clocks on it! You can climb 306 steep steps to the top of the tower for the most amazing panoramic views of the city. If it is a clear day, like when we visited, you can even see the Alps looming in the distance.
Entrance to the tower is only €3/person with the following hours:
- Monday to Friday: 9 AM to 6:30 PM.
- Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 10 AM to 6:30 PM.
- Monday to Friday: 9 AM to 5:30 PM.
- Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 10 AM to 5:30 PM.
Munich Accommodation Recommendations
Euro Youth Hotel
The Euro Youth Hotel is a comfortable hostel located only a block from the Munich central train station and a 15 minute walk to Marienplatz, the exact center of the historic city. The hostel provides the comforts of a hotel at hostel prices, there is really no better way to rest and relax at the end of a day of touring the city.