The huge metropolis that it is, Munich is beautiful and fun to visit year-round, but it can be quite crowded, especially during October when the famed Oktoberfest beer festival is held. ‘To each their own’, as they say, but I personally love the Bavarian capital in the winter, when the cheerful chime of festivities attracts the entire city to the snow-covered Marienplatz to admire the magnificent Christmas lights and enjoy fresh pastries and aromatic mulled wine. But the fun you can have doesn’t end at the Christmas market, as there’s a multitude of other activities and beautiful historic places you can explore year-round. Here are 10 of our personal favorite tourist attractions to see and experience in Munich.
Marienplatz is the place to start with, no matter what time of the year. This square is the heart of the city, with its origins dating back to the distant 1158, at the same time as the first mentions of Munich the city. In the distant past, the square was used as a marketplace and a place to conduct tournaments. Today, it’s surrounded by historical buildings, with the most prominent architectural piece being the magnificent New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) built in the elaborate Neo-Gothic style.
The New Town Hall features an 85 meter (280 ft) tall tower open for visitors. You can admire the entire city and even notice the Alps in the distance on a clear day from the clock tower.
Three weeks before Christmas, Marienplatz hosts the largest annual Christmas market in Munich called Christkindlmarkt, held in the city center since 1310, or even earlier. There are usually around 140 market stands here, which means a really wide selection of Christmas ornaments, beautiful crafts, delicious local food and mulled wine, the Christmas market specialty.
2. Nymphenburg Palace
The Nymphenburg Palace, also known as the Castle of the Nymphs is Munich’s crown jewel. The castle was finished in the 17th century to serve as the summer residence of the Bavarian royal family. Today, the palace and the surrounding parks are among the top tourist destinations in Germany throughout the year.
In fact, the Nymphenburg Palace is the second most visited destination in Bavaria, and its architectural splendor, as well as an abundance of priceless art, magnificent parks and gardens surrounding the castle explain why that is the case. The palace also houses 5 museums, so it’s the place to be for those who want to be immersed in fine art and history for hours on end.
3. The Olympic Park
When you think you had enough sightseeing and you’ve already seen a few museums in the city, you can unwind and just have fun at Olympic Park. This park was created on the territory of a former military base to host the 1972 Summer Olympics, but since then, it has been transformed into a major entertainment center.
For one, it is the home for many festivities held in the city, such as the Oktoberfest, but there are also many other activities you can enjoy here irrespective of the season: sports, a Sea Life center, regular concerts, museums, just to name a few. Finally, the park also has a 291 meter (955 ft) tall communications tower that serves as another excellent viewpoint.
4. The Christmas Tram
Another very authentic seasonal attraction is the famous Christmas tram that will take you sightseeing through the key tourist destinations in downtown Munich without you having to face the winter cold. Even when it’s freezing outside, you’ll be able to order a hot beverage or snack and enjoy the city landscape with joyful festive music playing in the background, genius, if you ask me!
Bavaria’s pride and joy is, you guessed it, good beer! And there’s no place more authentic to try local beer than the oldest beer hall in Munich, the historic Hofbräuhaus that dates back to 1589.
Surely, the beer here is more expensive than in one of the many other pubs and bars, but one thing is clear, beer tasting doesn’t get any more authentic than this.