Munich combines green spaces, cultural experiences, history and an under-the-radar music scene perfect for exploring in an inspiring, fun-filled 48 hours. Here’s your need-to-know guide.
Munich has a little bit of everything: gorgeous parks, museums with world-renowned collections, historical sites, excellent public transport, restaurants serving up the best in haute cuisine and hearty comfort food, and clubs where DJs spin tracks featuring Germany’s favourite genre, techno. Here, Culture Trip walks you through the ultimate two-day itinerary in the heart of Bavaria.
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Morning – feed your body and challenge your mind
Start your day off in the most Bavarian way possible with white sausage, called weißwurst in German, and light beer to wash it down at Gaststätte Großmarkthalle. You won’t be the only one indulging – this traditional restaurant is close to Munich’s big wholesale market, where restaurateurs, chefs and others purchase daily provisions for their restaurants, cafés and shops. After the day’s shopping is done, many head to Gaststätte Großmarkthalle for a meat- and booze-filled late breakfast.
Walk off the meal with a half-hour stroll to the Deutsches Museum, a 50,000 sq m science and technology museum where you’ll find collections of all sorts of objects: windmills, robots, clocks, musical instruments, ships and more. The museum offers various free tours and demonstrations throughout the day on topics like glass-blowing, electric power, ceramics and astronomy.
Pro tip: The Gaststätte Großmarkthalle opens early at 7am but closes at 4pm on weekdays and 1pm on Saturdays (closed on Sundays) so don’t count on it as a dinner spot.
Afternoon – take a walk through history and enjoy the view from atop a church
Once you’re museum-ed out, explore Munich’s centre. Start at Marienplatz, which has been Munich’s central square since Munich was founded in the mid-12th century, where you’ll see the new town hall, an imposing Gothic building. Nearby is the old town hall, which is nearly half a millennium old. For fantastic 360-degree views of the city, climb the 300 steps to the viewing platform in St Peter’s church. Once you’ve been up and down all those stairs, you’ll have worked up an appetite: head to Viktualienmarkt, where you can buy a selection of cheese, sausage, and bread for an impromptu picnic. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Cafe Frischhut with their freshly made schmalznudeln (lard noodles) – don’t worry, these aren’t strings of pure fat, but delicious doughnut-like treats sprinkled with sugar.
Pro tip: Every day at 11am, at noon year-round, or at 5pm from March to October, people gather around the facade of the new town hall at Marienplatz. Here you can watch the daily clock performance also known as the Glockenspiel, which involves 43 bells and 32 life-size figures.
Evening – go for a swim and a schvitz session
It’s been a long day of walking and exploring, so take some time to relax at Müllersches Volksbad. This beautiful Art Nouveau-style complex on the Isar River features a pool, saunas, a Roman bath, a café and spa services. The complex is open until 11pm and there’s a beer garden right next door if you’re thirsty afterwards. A quick 5-minute walk away is the Wirtshaus in der Au; a traditional Bavarian restaurant known as a tavern – this is the ideal place for an authentic dinner. Menu highlights include roast duck, spicy sausage, or the restaurant’s special version of knödel (local dumplings) made with pretzel pieces, roast pork and Paulaner beer, served with hollandaise sauce and mustard seeds.
Pro tip: At the spa, be prepared for full-frontal. In Germany, people are usually nude inside the saunas – this means no towels – and swimwear is often banned.
Night – get down to the city’s best techno
Techno rules the night in Germany, and one of the best places to listen to it in Munich is Bahnwärter Thiel, a club and event space in an abandoned lot that’s spread across shipping containers and a non-functioning subway car. On weekends local and international DJs spin tracks until morning, and on weekdays you can find performances, flea markets, art exhibitions, dance classes and more. If you’re looking for a calmer vibe, have a drink at Alte Utting around the corner. Owned by the same people, this unusual bar is set inside of a boat that rests on top of a bridge hanging over a road. Across the street from Alte Utting is another popular bar, Zur Gruam, where you’ll find young people spilling out onto the sidewalk on warm nights, beers in hand.
Morning – start the day with a walk through Englischer Garten
The largest park in Munich, the Englischer Garten is a great place to go for a walk, a bicycle ride, a jog or a sunbathing session (in some sections, people go nude). An arm of the Isar called the Eisbach (“ice creek”) runs through the park. You can take a dip in it when the weather is warm, and at the very south end of the Eisbach, you will find wetsuit-clad surfers taking on a patch of rapids in all seasons. Before or after the Englischer Garten, head to Maxvorstadt for breakfast. This chic neighborhood is the favourite hangout area for many local university students and where you can find independent boutiques, small art galleries, and great brunch spots. Gartensalon, a café decorated with lush plants and flowers, serves up anything you could want for a light breakfast from cakes, pastries, freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.
Afternoon – reflect on history
After brunch, head to a museum. The Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism explores the rise of the Nazis in Bavaria; open since 2015, it stands in the same place that once served at the headquarters for the Nazi party. Munich played a central role in Adolf Hitler’s accumulation of power, and the museum explores this process in depth across three chronologically arranged floors. After the museum, grab a kebab sandwich or a halloumi burger at Türkitch. The sandwiches are made with fresh vegetables and herbs, delicious and homemade sauces (and turkey if you opt for meat). Wash it all down with Ayran, a salty Turkish yogurt drink.
Pro tip: Türkitch has three locations around the city, including by the main train station, so you could also try it on another occasion.
Evening – find inspiration
For a very different kind of museum experience, try the Alte Pinakothek, one of the oldest galleries in the world, or the Pinakothek der Moderne, where you’ll find art from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Alte Pinakothek collection includes masterpieces by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Paul Klee, Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci, while the Pinakothek der Moderne showcases works by René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Judith Joy Ross and more. The Pinakothek der Moderne is open until 8pm on Thursdays, and the Alte Pinakothek is open until 8.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For dinner, check out one of Munich’s beer-hall-style restaurants in the city centre, like Paulaner im Tal or Hofbräuhaus. Here, you can sit shoulder to shoulder with regulars who have been meeting at the same table for decades to tuck into massive pretzels and classic dishes such as sausages, pork knuckle, goulash, schnitzel and roast chicken.
Night – explore Munich’s cultural nightlife
A socio-cultural centre, Import Export has been hosting workshops, performances, dance parties and more in the northwest of the city for almost a decade. Check the calendar before heading here: Import Export hosts a wide range of events, and depending on the day, you could find yourself at an open-mic night, at a hip-hop and poetry performance, or a party night when DJs spin anything from electronic to Afro-Cuban to funk. Whatever you end up attending, it’s bound to be a night to remember.
Well that’s a lot to do in a weekend, you’ll need somewhere to stay. Check into one of the best hostels in Munich and get exploring.
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