This square has been the heart of the city since 1158 when it was used for markets and even tournaments. Today, it’s best known for the Christmas markets, which start three weeks before Christmas. Marienplatz is dominated by the Neues Rathaus, which covers 9,159 m² (3.5 sq mi) and has over 400 rooms. It was designed by Georg Hauberrisser, who won a competition to design the city’s new town hall. One of its most famous features is the elaborate Glockenspiel cuckoo clock with a carousel of figures dancing at 11am, noon, and 5pm.
Neues Rathaus, Marienplatz 8, Munich, Germany, +49 89 23300
Next to the Feldherrnhalle are the distinctive towers of the yellow Theatinerkirche (Theatine Church) standing at 66 metres (216.5 feet) tall. This 17th-century Catholic church was built by a Bavarian nobleman to give thanks for the birth of a long-awaited heir to the throne. Its Italian architect, Agostino Barelli, brought a touch of the Mediterranean to Munich with its High Baroque style. Step past the yellow Rococo exterior into its incredibly beautiful, ornate interior, stare up at the dome 71 metres (233 feet) above, and admire the stucco and sculptures.
Theatinerkirche, Salvatorplatz 2A, Munich, Germany, +49 89 2106960
The edge of the Englischer Garten opposite Bruderstrasse is home to one of Munich’s favourite and most unlikely pastimes – surfing. As water thunders out from beneath a small bridge, surfers line both sides of the bank waiting patiently for their turn. Surfers need to jump off the bank and onto their board as well as make sharp turns to avoid the river walls – that’s why Munich surf shops sell small boards with kevlar-protected edges. People tackle the waves year round, even during Munich’s bitter winters, and Eisbachwelle is strangely mesmerising.
You know beer’s important to a city when there’s a state-run beer hall! The famous Hofbräuhaus dates back to the 16th century and offers the quintessential German beer hall experience complete with live brass band. Oktoberfest rules apply: no service without a seat, so expect to charm your way onto the end of a table and share space. If possible, avoid Friday and Saturday nights; as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Munich, it can take over 45 minutes to find a table and get a beer. For speedier service and a less stressful experience, go on a Sunday evening instead.
Hofbräuhaus, Platzl 9, Munich, Germany, +49 89 290136100
One of the most impressive Neoclassical buildings of Königsplatz is the Glyptothek. This beautiful building claims to be the only museum in the world dedicated solely to ancient sculpture. Visitors are free to wander the exhibits and get up close with the art, which is openly laid out rather than hidden away behind glass. Far from a stuffy traditional museum, it feels like an art gallery and prides itself on interesting, modern twists – they currently have modern replicas of famous statues carved from wood with a chainsaw. An entry ticket will also grant access into the State Collection of Antiques in the opposite building, and it’s just €1 on Sundays.
Glyptothek, Königsplatz 3, Munich, Germany, +49 89 286100
This park in the southwest of the city, about 10 minutes on the U-Bahn from Marienplatz, is often overlooked by tourists, yet it has so much to offer. As well as a BBQ area by the lake, it has a Japanese garden, a Thai temple and even an outdoor cinema in summer. Many families and friends bring picnics or have a BBQ, but there’s also a beer garden and a tiny wooden hut selling spit-roasted fish (steckerlfisch) for those who don’t fancy cleaning the BBQ!
Right at the exit of Odeonsplatz U-Bahn station is the prestigious Residenz. Though it started as a modest castle in 1385, subsequent rulers renovated and expanded it, eventually turning it into a grand palace and gardens. Today, it’s a vast complex of museum and exhibitions about Bavaria’s history and also plays host to classical concerts and music competitions. Except for a handful of public holidays, it’s open daily until 5pm or 6pm, depending on the season. Make sure to leave luggage at home or the hotel – there are strict rules about bringing large bags into the Residenz.
Residenz, Residenzstrasse 1, Munich, Germany, +49 89 290671