Top Things to do in Munich (Besides Oktoberfest)

Top 15 Things to do in Munich

When our staff started to create this list, we intended it to be a ranked list from 1 to 15. About 10 minutes in, we quickly realized that we were not going to agree on a ranked list because all of these attractions are outstanding options.

While our Munich program is only in place during Oktoberfest, we have taken time to explore all pockets of the city over the years.

Without further ado, here are Bucket List Events top 15 things to do in Munich besides Oktoberfest.

Top 15 Things to do in Munich

Olympiapark

As a company whose foundation is rooted in the Summer Olympics, naturally this would be on our list. There is a lot of history in these stadiums and surrounding area, both good and bad, from the Summer of 1972. For Americans, these were the games of swimmer Mark Spitz and runners Dave Wottle, Frank Shorter and Steve Prefontaine. But no performance will top the unfortunate memory of the Black September massacre.

While many old international Olympic sites have been left to ruins, the Munich grounds are a popular destination complete with skating rinks, mini golf courses, tennis courts and, of course, the nearly 60,000-seat Olympic Stadium. Some major events have taken place at the stadium during Oktoberfest, including the Rolling Stones (Set List HERE) and a Rugby tournament. It was also the home to FC Bayern Munich until 2005.

Olympiapark is situated on the northwest side of the city and is accessible via public transportation. There is so much open space that it’s easy to forget you are in a large city. There are all types of ways you can take to view the grounds, including a train or climbing around the roof of the Olympic Stadium (strapped in of course). We recommend climbing to the top of the Olympic Tower to take in the amazing views of Munich, including an observation deck with great panoramic views. You can even grab a dinner at the restaurant on top. 

For those who want to pay homage to the athletes and coaches who died in the Black September massacre, you can find the site and memorial not far from the stadiums in the former Olympic Village. 

 

 

 

Eisbachwelle

When you arrive to Munich’s Josef Strauss Airport, it’s not uncommon to see a handful of surfboards at baggage claim. This sight most certainly doesn’t make sense at first, but once you witness the Eisbachwelle first hand, you will understand why surfers migrate to Munich seeking waves.

Located on the edge of the English Gardens, the Eisbachwelle has been a hit since the 1970s when the site was discovered by accident. Here, the surfers at the Eisbachwelle are credited with inventing the concept of river surfing which has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.

Today, the location is the world’s largest urban surfing location and hosted the European River Surfing championship in 2012. As you can see in our photo, there is no offseason for this cold water activity. Special surf boards are required to participate, and since there is no paddling involved, the surfers literally jump right in. Some of surfing’s biggest names are known to stop by from time to time.

Make sure to stop by the “Ice Stream” when in Munich. You might not see anything else like it.

Top Things to do in Munich
Top Things to do in Munich

Augustiner-Keller

Munich has several well known breweries and biergardens, but most do not reside in the center of the city. The Augustiner- Keller (German for cellar) is located within walking distance of the Oktoberfest grounds, therefore very close to the hotels used in our program.

First things first: Augustiner serves up an outstanding beer, arguably the best in the city. That should be enough for most travelers, but the ambiance and unique composition of the grounds is also worth a trip. You can enjoy your stein in the large beerhall with live music, the 5,000 capacity beer garden under beautiful chestnut trees, or the incredible underground “keller” complete with red brick vaulted-ceilings. The beer you will consume are served directly from wooden barrels, which makes for an authentic décor throughout the brewery. Be sure to stop by and see why the Augustiner-keller has been a Munich staple since 1812.

Marienplatz

If you did an image search for “Munich,” odds are the Marienplatz or one of its featured buildings will dominate the results. Designated as the heart of Munich since it was founded in 1158, this city square has remained a jewel of community and Bavarian tradition.

The Marienplatz Square is always busling with musicians, pop up stands, bakeries, street performers, protestors – a little bit of everything – all in the shadows of the beautiful Neues Rathaus. Just off the main square is the Frauenkirche, known for it’s two dome-topped towers that was build in the late 1400s. We recommend climbing the stairs to the top to get a great view of the area, an activity that can also be done at the nearby St. Peter’s Church.

Some of the city’s best shopping can be accomplished in the surrounding streets, including plenty of higher quality lederhosen for those looking to invest. During Christmastime, the Marienplatz becomes an international attraction as one of the premier German Christkindlmarkts.

We feel that we should mention the daily glockenspiel shows at the Neues Rathaus, which is impressive to some and underwhelming to others.

Top Things to do in Munich
Top Things to do in Munich

Schloss Nymphenburg

This magnificent summer home of the royal Wittelsbach family dominates over 450 acres of pristine landscaping and incredible architecture. The original construction began in 1664 and received routine expansion through the years, amounting to one of the widest residences in the world, even longer than Versailles.

 

There are many experiences you can have on-site, from a stroll through King Ludwig I’s “Gallery of Beauties,” (a portrait gallery of 36 beautiful women of the day), to the Marstallmuseum (Museum of Royal Carriages), to a hike through the many trails that weave through the forest. In Nymphenburg Park, you can encounter all types of wildlife. You can also take a gondola ride through the picturesque middle channel.Block off a morning or afternoon to enjoy this docile and peaceful city escape.

Allianz Arena

To say that Munich is a soccer crazy community would be a grand understatement. The city boasts two professional teams, TSV 1860 Munich and FC Bayern Munich, with both calling the incredible Allianz Arena their home. Initially built for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the arena already has hosted some incredible moments in the recent soccer history.

The stadium holds 75,000 spectators and is considered among the best in the world, sitting on a short list with the likes of FC Barcelona‘s Camp Nou and the timeless Wembley Stadium in London. On game nights, the outside of the stadium illuminates the beautiful red aura shown in the picture to the right. Tickets are certainly difficult to come by, but there are guided tours of the stadium that takes you to some of the most unique sections of the stadium. This includes the FC Bayern Munich museum, which is a compendium of artifacts including the 2020 Champions League trophy.

Top Things to do in Munich
Munich English Gardens

The English Gardens

We recently wrote an entire blog post about the English Gardens, but will give you some of the highlights here as well. 

Located about a mile North of the Marienplatz, the English Gardens are Munich’sversion of New York’s Central Park. Plush with green pastures as far as you can see, the gardens are also home to Munich’s famous river surfers. There are nearly 40 miles worth of paths and walkways throughout the park, and four major beer gardens in the park, including the famous Chinese Tower beer garden.

You can spend an entire day among the 920 acres and still not see everything you want. Read more about the English Gardens HERE.

Hofbräuhaus

The Hofbräuhaus is hands down the most famous beer hall in a city commonly referred to as “the beer drinking capital of the world.” Not much more needs to be said, but we’ll brag about it a little anyway.

Throughout the globe, this destination is the standard for beer hall experiences. The complex has been at the present location just off the Marienplatz in one shape or another since 1605. The current building was constructed in 1897 and has three floors, complete with a large outdoor beer garden.

One of the main pillars of the Hofbrau history is the communal seating throughout the main hall. You grab seats where you can, often sharing the table with folks from all corners of the globe. While there could be language barriers between the humans, the beer and music will be a common ground. With over 500 performances each year, guests can expect to have live music grace your visit, mostly traditional oom-pah bands.  

The main beer hall is going to be a loud and boisterous environment with an aggressive seating arrangement, so if you are seeking more of a quiet dining experience, check to see if there is room in the restaurant upstairs (stairs located just to the left of the main entrance). 

HERE is what you need to know about reservations

 

Top Things to do in Munich
Top Things to do in Munich

Dachau

While technically outside of the Munich city limits, Dachau is a short train ride from the Hauptbahnhof

For those seeking the unique history of the area, a trip to Dachau will likely make almost any suggestion list. It’s an emotional and sobering venture, but the organization of the site and story telling provided to visitors is unforgettable. 

The grounds are wide open, so you are able to roam freely at your own pace throughout the Nazi concentration camp. It’s an environment that is quiet, and inviting to those looking to take in the experience on their own.

Biergarten am Chinesischen Turm

One of the more distinct landmarks in the city, the Chinesischen Turm (Chinese Tower) looks over one of the world’s largest  biergartens. 

Located in the English Garden, there are few experiences that scream “I’m in Munich” than sitting at the iconic green tables, sipping on a huge stein of Hofbrau beer and consuming a meal from the Ochsenbraterei. Just how good are those two items? They have been allowed to host an entire tent at Oktoberfest each Fall.

On a clear day, you could spend hours here taking in the scenery, drinking fresh beer, and nibbling on some of the most famous dishes in Munich. 

 

Top Things to do in Munich

BMW Welt

BMW Welt, which translates to “BMW World,” is exactly what it sounds like.

Long known as one of Germany most famous exports, BMW has a campus in North Munich that tugs at the heart strings of car lovers from all over the world. Just like their vehicles, the BMW Welt is an engineering masterpiece in terms of building architecture.

While incredible difficult to book during Oktoberfest, there are tours of the BMW plant where you can see the company’s latest models and concept cars. Separate tours are available in German and English, but we advise you to book whatever you can.

BMW Welt is perhaps best known for the BMW Museum and the massive vending machine where people come from all over the world to choose their vehicle. We cannot confirm if they accept credit cards.

Odeonsplatz

There is a lot of history in this small area, from its obvious Italian influence to its infamous association with Adolf Hitler. Munich has candidly been referred to as “Italy’s most northerly city,” and King Ludwig deserves credit for that title. The Odeonsplatz was one of his projects, and the Roman-inspired neoclassical buildings that line the street confirm that notion.


The square’s most famous attraction is the Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshalls’ Hall), built in the 1840s, is an homage to the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. There is also the Theatinerkirche (Theatine Church), built in the late 1600s for the Roman order. Make sure to step inside to see the incredible white aura the church radiates.

This is also the location of where the Beer Hall Putsch took place, which ended with Adolf Hitler being arrested after a failed coup in 1923.

Deutsches Museum

German has an international reputation as the premier engineering country in the world, and the Deutsches Museum captures all of the incredibly history that the Germans have produced in science and technology. Located along the Isar River, the museum boats twelve miles of hallways over six floors. 

You will find all types of exhibits on everything from transportation to mining, bridge building and musical instruments. There are also sections geared towards children, so this is a great place to bring the kids.

No matter when you are in Munich, you can expect the Deutsches Museum to have a top of the line featured attraction.

 

 

Viktualienmarkt

The Marienplatz once hosted a popular farmers market that outgrew its space, so at the behest of the King, it was continued in a larger space down the street. Over the years, the market has evolved from just a farmers’ market to a popular market for fresh food and delicacies. It offers rare and exotic ingredients that are not available anywhere else in the area, and is renowned for its diversity and size. 

Don’t miss this – it’s still one of the premier spots to pick up some of the meats and cheeses that Germany is known for. There is even a beer garden that offers a great place to observe this 200 year old tradition.

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Due to the cancellation of the 2020 Oktoberfest, our 2021 program is filling up faster than usual. Please note that some 2021 dates may already be sold out.