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BlogDestinationsThe Go Ahead Travel Guide to Munich
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The Go Ahead Travel Guide to Munich

Aug 18, 2020 by Cayleigh Heitsmith

Like everything we do here at Go Ahead Tours, this destination guide was handcrafted for you by our global team! Read on to get our staffers’ insider tips from their travels.

Munich is the well-known capital of Bavaria, Germany’s largest state, and widely recognized as one city all beer-lovers should visit. Read our Munich, Germany travel guide to discover the top things to eat, beers you need to try, most authentic souvenirs to buy, and the best things to do in Munich, Germany.

MUNICH TRAVEL TIPS

Currency: Euro

Languages: German. You’ll find that the majority of Germans speak English in Munich. Just make sure to ask them if they’re comfortable speaking to you in their second language.

Best way to get around: By foot or u-bahn. U-bahn translates to underground train, and is what most Americans know as a subway.

Phrase to know: “Ein bier bitte” means “one beer please.” Most locals can agree that if you only have time to learn a single phrase in German, it should be this one! Want to learn more? Keep reading our Munich, Germany travel guide for a few more phrases that will come in handy when you travel to Munich.

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WHEN TO GO TO MUNICH

The city of Munich has so much to offer travelers year-round. Whether you’re seeking out a famous festival, marketplace, or just want to stroll around this architecturally pleasing city, we’ve laid out some of the annual highlights you won’t want to miss.

  • Summer or fall. “The top times to visit Munich are either in the summer, to stroll around the city and sip a beer outside in beautiful weather, or in the fall, where you’ll see the leaves starting to change, especially in the city’s main parks,” said staffer Cayleigh, who’s visited the city in both seasons.
  • April to October for Auer Dult. This is a traditional marketplace and folk festival that takes place three times a year between April and October. Vendors sell their wares at what is considered to be the largest crockery market in Europe. Also a fan of folk music? Then, this is definitely the event for you.
  • September for Oktoberfest. Beer lovers unite! Despite its name, this famous festival occurs in the middle of September. Oktoberfest houses about 98,000 visitors spread across 14 halls, all with a few main goals in mind: to enjoy drinking the specially brewed Oktoberfest beer, eat traditional German food, and listen to lively brass band music.
  • October for Long Night of the Museums. Long Night of the Museums is a tradition in multiple German cities, including the capital of Berlin. This unique event allows visitors access to both large and small museums across the city until 2 a.m. the next morning. Tours, concerts, special installations, and theater performances are only a few of the enticing events that happen at this exciting and educational annual event. If you’re a frequent museum-goer, this event is not to be missed.
  • December for the Marienplatz Christmas Market. Marienplatz, one of the most famous squares and one of the top sights in Munich, is transformed into a cheerful Christmas market before the holiday. Hundreds of stalls line the square to sell souvenirs, handmade goods, clothing, and traditional food. A towering Christmas tree positioned right in front of the Rathaus, or Town Hall building, lights up Marienplatz. If you’re lucky, you’ll be shopping while listening to carolers sing traditional Christmas songs from the Rathaus balcony.

Check out our top-rated tour of Munich

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WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO MUNICH

No matter when you visit the city, one of our tips for Munich is to pack layers so you know you’ll be comfortable throughout the day. The summer is typically beautiful and sunny, but it’s smart to be prepared for a possible shower. In the winter, come prepared with a warm jacket, hat, and gloves so you can explore the Christmas markets all day long without being cold.

  • Raincoat and umbrella. Always pack a raincoat and umbrella to have with you on tour. You never know when you’ll need them.

  • Comfortable walking shoes for cobblestone streets. Munich, and other German cities, are filled with cobblestone streets that lend themselves to the authentic European feel. You’ll want to make sure you wear very comfortable shoes or sneakers for your time in Munich—because why deal with sore feet when you could be oo-ing and awe-ing at the top Munich tourist attractions.

  • German phrasebook. Most Germans to speak English very well, but locals truly appreciate when Americans makes an effort to speak in their native language. Try learning a few German phrases before packing your bags. Two that we know will come in handy?

    Wo ist die toilette? (Whoa - es - d - toilet-a)
    Where is the toilet?

    Die rechnung, bitte! (D - ruk-nun - bit-a)
    Check, please!

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THINGS TO SEE IN MUNICH

It’s difficult for our travel experts to narrow down the impressive Munich attractions, as this city is full of history, architectural masterpieces, and natural beauty. Here’s our list of the best thing to do in Munich!

  • Walk through Marienplatz. This central city square is world-famous and home to the New Town Hall, a building known for its ornate architecture. There is always something going on in Marienplatz, no matter what time of year you visit. This square is the ideal starting point for your Munich sightseeing.
  • Enter Frauenkirche, or Cathedral of Our Lady. When you think of the Munich skyline, you think of this unmistakable city symbol. This brick building is 500 years old, and is where Emperors and Kings were laid to rest. One of our tips for Munich travelers is to climb one of the two 100-meter-high towers for breathtaking views of the city.
  • Climb to the top of Alter Peter, or St. Peter’s Church. Just steps away from Marienplatz is the oldest parish church in the city and one of the top places to visit in Munich. This church stands on Petersbergl Hill and visitors can climb to the top of the tower. The 299-step climb is not for the faint of heart! If the weather is good, you may even be able to spot the Alps from the top.
  • Step inside Nymphenburg Palace. This is one of the Munich attractions that brings you back in time to the Bavarian monarchy. After exploring the grounds around the palace, which include a park, canals, and gardens, be sure to also check out the museums inside the palace itself: Museum of Man and Nature and the Museum of Nymphenburg Porcelain.
  • Stroll through the Englischer Garten. This sprawling park in Munich’s city center is a perfect place to get a break from the busy streets. The artificially made Eisbach River flows through the park, which makes for a very relaxing scene. Make sure to stop by the Restaurant and Beer Garden at the Chinese Tower to enjoy a sausage and beer during your visit.
  • Pretend to be a royal at the Residenz. This former royal palace served as the seat of government and home to Bavarian dukes, electors, and kings from the Wittelsbach dynasty from 1508–1918. Travelers touring the Residenz will discover its many apartments, ballrooms, and chapels, all featuring different styles ranging from Baroque and Rococo to neoclassical. This palace-turned-museum is a well-known institution for those interested in art, architecture, and history.

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TOP THINGS TO DO IN MUNICH DURING YOUR FREE TIME

No matter where you go in the city, there is always something beautiful to be discovered around each corner. Our Munich travel guide will come in handy when you first arrive and you’re asking yourself what to do in Munich. And once you read it, we promise you will never run out of things to do in Munich during your free time.

  • Check out the city squares. Munich has six main squares. Although most travelers immediately recognize Marienplatz as the most popular, the others are just as worthy for a visit. Check out Viktualienmarkt if you’re hungry. You’ll get a feel for a typical German market, where you can purchase fresh veggies, fruit, cheese, handmade goods, and other specialties from the region.
  • Drink a refreshing beer at the many breweries throughout the city. If you’re asking yourself what to do in Munich, you can’t go wrong with relaxing under an umbrella and people watching while sipping a traditional Bavarian beer at a brewery. This is a very German thing to do throughout the afternoon and into the evening, so don’t be surprised if the waiter thinks you, too, are a local.
  • Visit Olympiapark. The Olympic Park in Munich was built for the 1972 Olympic games. The size of the park is enormous and is now the site for many festivals, events, and concerts throughout the year. You may even stumble upon an open-air movie beside the Olympic Park lake.
  • Watch the Eisbach River surfers. This is an event that many tourists happen to pass by during their stroll through the English Garden. Two rivers intersect to form a standing wave that surfers ride for fun. It’s truly a sight to see in the middle of the city, and one of the best things to do in Munich.
  • See the Glockenspiel show in the Neues Rathaus. This clock show takes place three times a day in the New Town Hall at Marienplatz. Figurines representing parts of Munich’s history dance around on two levels of the building for visitors to enjoy. This show isn’t available during the winter months, so be sure to check it out if you’re on a spring, summer, or fall tour of Munich.

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WHAT (& WHERE) TO EAT IN MUNICH

German food is known for being rich and filling, and Munich’s traditional food definitely does not disappoint. We’ve come up with a list of foods for this Munich travel guide that are not to be missed while you’re staying in this Bavarian city.

  • Weisswurst. This boiled sausage is made from veal and pork and is traditionally served in the morning with a sweet mustard, pretzel, and a light beer. It may sound strange to eat sausage and drink beer for breakfast, but we recommend giving it a try while in Munich.
  • Brezel. This is the German word for pretzel. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, try the Munich version of a traditional pretzel, called the schnittlauchbrezel, which translates to chive pretzel. It’s prepared with a butter or cream cheese filling and sprinkled with fresh chives. Of all the places to eat in Munich, the brezel just tastes better when enjoyed alongside other revelers at Oktoberfest.
  • Käsespätzle. Are you a fan of cheesy, baked homemade noodles? Yeah, we are, too! If you’re looking for the best German comfort food, look no further! This dish is often a side accompanied by a sausage or another type of meat, but can also be the main event.
  • Knödel. This is a German-style dumpling that’s a typical food you’ll find in Bavaria. It’s typically made from either day-old bread or from potato combined with milk, onion, parsley, and nutmeg.
  • Apfelstrudel. This apple strudel is not only traditional in Bavaria, but also in Austria and Northern Italy. The pastry is filled with apples, sugar, cinnamon, and breadcrumbs. If you happen to catch this dessert fresh out of the oven, lucky you! We guarantee it will melt in your mouth.
  • Döner. This heavenly sandwich can be found all around Germany and is not to be missed. The sandwich originally comes from Turkish immigrants, and is made on a freshly baked pita-style bread with shaved veal, chicken, or beef cooked all day on a spit. Be sure to drizzle either spicy tomato sauce, garlic sauce, or yogurt sauce on your sandwich. Add vegetable and herb toppings for the final touch, and enjoy your sandwich with a traditional Turkish yogurt drink called Ayran.

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WHAT BEERS TO DRINK IN MUNICH

You guessed it! The most traditional (and arguably best) thing to drink in Munich is beer. No Munich travel guide is complete without a list of which beers to try, so here’s a sneak peek at our favs!

  • Dunkel. This beer, meaning dark in German, is typically recognized by its smooth and malty flavor. Munich malts give the Dunkel beer its rich, dark color.
  • Helles. Hell translates to bright, light, or pale in German. This beer is a traditional German lager and has a much lighter taste than the Dunkel. This beer is truly as traditional as you can get in Munich. The famous Hofbräuhaus in the city center serves a fantastic glass (or boot!) of this style of beer.
  • Märzen. Märzen means March, because this style of beer was traditionally brewed in the spring. This is often the type of lager served at Oktoberfest.
  • Radler. This is the perfect drink for a warm summer’s day in Munich since it’s half lemonade, half beer. One of our tips for Munich is to enjoy this refreshing drink as you walk around the city.

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SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN MUNICH

German souvenirs are some of the most recognized in the world. We’ve come up with a few traditional options that you won’t want to leave the city without.

  • Leiderhosen or dirndl. Leiderhosen, meaning leather trousers, are historically worn by working class Bavarian men. A dirndl is the female version of the traditional Bavarian outfit, which is a ruffled short sleeve dress. Today, locals wear these outfits for celebration. You will find that many tourists wear these outfits for fun at Oktoberfest.
  • Bavarian cuckoo clock. Many souvenir shops in Munich display these beautiful, wooden hand-carved cuckoo clocks in their windows. These ornate clocks, which date back to the 1700s, make for a unique piece you can display in your home.
  • Das boot. You might have seen beer served in a large liter-size boot at Oktoberfest celebrations (or in the movies). These multi-size beer boots are a fun and useful souvenir to bring home from Munich.

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About the author | Cayleigh Heitsmith
Cayleigh knew she was hooked on travel after studying abroad in France during college. She went on to graduate and move to southern France (and afterward, Berlin, Germany) for the following three years. When she’s not traveling or working as a Travel Support Specialist for Go Ahead, she enjoys road biking, discovering new restaurants and cuisines, and spending time with her family in Vermont.

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