What do you think of when you think of Munich? Beer and sausages? Oktoberfest? Women in dirndls and men in lederhosen? Yeah…me too! But there is so much more to Munich than just Oktoberfest. It’s a city which was heavily bombed during World War 2, but still has a lovely old town centre, beautiful palaces on the doorstep and a rich cultural history.
We visited Munich in October (so the beer halls were a must of course!), and the weather was rainy and grey. We got a train from the airport to Munich Hauptbahnhof and were staying close enough that we could walk to our hotel from there.
I was expecting beer, beer and more beer. It did have that, but it also had baroque palaces, royal residences, Nazi history and the Olympics. It was exciting to explore all of these in our weekend days there. My highlights from the weekend were:
1. Nymphenburg Palace
This baroque palace is one of the biggest royal residences in Europe. It was the summer residence of the former Bavarian rulers. I really loved the gardens, and the inside is just stunning. Definitely worth the short tram ride out of the centre to visit.
This has been the central square in Munich since 1158 and is home to the very impressive Town Hall (Rathaus), Frauenkirche, and Mary’s Column. Mary’s Column was built to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation during the 30 year’s war. This area is also really nice to walk around and explore; there’s good shopping, food and plenty of beer all around.
3. The Olympic Park
Munich hosted the Olympics in 1972 and the stadium and park are still actively used today, which is great to see. You can walk around the stadium and there are a few boards to read telling the story of the Olympics. The swimming pool where Mark Spitz won his 7 gold medals is still also in use.
You’re also able to walk up the Olympic tower which has great views out across Munich. It’s also worth visiting the memorial to the victims of the Munich massacre. During the Olympics, 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed by Black September, a Palestinian militant organisation.
At the Olympic Park
4. Third Reich Tour and Documentation Centre
Munich is known as the ‘capital of the Nazi movement’. You can learn all about it on a Third Reich tour, including the Hofbrauhaus where the Nazi Party was formed, the beer halls where the brown shirts would meet, the buildings from which Hitler delivered his speeches and the memorials to the opposers of the regime. Munich is also the site of the failed Munich Putsch, where Hitler first tried to gain control over the Weimar government. There is also a documentation centre which focuses on Munich’s role in the Third Reich, tells the story of the rise and fall of National Socialism, and honours its victims.
5. Munich Residenz
This is the former residence of the Bavarian dukes and kings, and seat of the government. It houses the royal collections and is amazing to walk around. There’s even a full theatre inside.
Inside the Residenz
6. The Beer halls
So much fun. Just sit at a table, order some beers and some sausage or strudel if you’re hungry, and pass a few hours in the great environment these communal areas create. The most famous beer house is Hofbrauhaus, which dates back to the 1500s!!! It also services delicious traditional German food and there are even oompah bands!
I also love Weisses Brauhaus, which specialises in wheat beer. And if you’re feeling adventurous you can sample some of it’s traditional Munich delicacies, ranging from veal lung to pork kidneys.
Full itinerary (for those interested)
- Day 1 – Marienplatz, The Residenz, English Garden, beer halls
- Day 2 – Nymphenberg Palace (AM), Olympic Stadium (PM)
- Day 3 – Third Reich Tour, Documentation centre, beer halls
Thanks for reading! Has this post inspired you to visit Munich? Have you already been and seen things I haven’t? Let me know in the comments below!