Top Munich's landmarks
You could spend weeks exploring the different landmarks and attractions in Munich; however, there are a few can't miss locations for your to-do list. Whether you are interested in the history of the city or want a snapshot of what royalty lives like, there is something for you. Plan your day around these seven Munich attractions to get a feel for this quaint Bavarian city.
Marienplatz is often the first place people visit when they arrive in Munich. This is the main square (platz translates to space or square) in the heart of the old town. If you are picking up any tours during your time in Munich or need to get your bearings before heading to another part of town, you will likely meet or start with Marienplatz.
Immediately upon entering Marienplatz, you will take in the Neues Rathaus (or the new town hall), which houses the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a famous clock in the area. You can also turn on to the main shopping area (Kaufingerstrasse) or visit the Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) which sets up here in December with vendors, food, treats, concerts and other activities.
Marienplatz is a key meeting point because the Munich old town has maintained so much of its history. Most visitors will actually stay just outside the old town and walk into it each day. Hotels like the Holiday Inn Munich - City Centre allow guests to stay in comfortable lodging that is still close to the historic sites.
Marienplatz 8, 80331 Munchen, Germany
The Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) is almost impossible to miss in Marienplatz. This neo-Gothic building was completed in 1874 with intricate details that run along the 328-foot main facade.
The Neues Rathaus houses the mayor and the city council, but it also has exciting things for tourists to see. Visitors can see Munich's history represented in the Glockenspiel, which has shows at 11 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. in the warmer months. You can also take an elevator to the observation deck tower that sits 255 feet above the city to take in the views and even see the Alps on a clear day.
You will likely enter Munich through one of the historic city gates found around town. These gates marked the entrances built along ancient city walls constructed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The goal of building a walled city was to protect residents from intruders, especially at night. Trade flourished when the gates came down during the day, but then closed up as the sun went down.
There are four city gates to explore around Munich. Each has its own architectural history and intrigue. The closest one to see is likely Isartor, located just west of Marienplatz, but you are likely to find the others throughout your explorations.
One of the most recognizable Munich landmarks is Frauenkirche, which translates to the Church of Our Lady. The pillars of this church are immediately recognizable and the cathedral itself stands above the surrounding buildings. The city of Munich has specifically issued building height limits to keep the church visible.
This church was heavily damaged during WWII but was rebuilt and continues to be restored. Within this church, you can also see the grave of Holy Roman Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian (1282 - 1347).
Another must see church in Munich is Peterskirche, which translates to the Church of St. Peter. You can also climb the observation deck of this church (no fewer than 299 steps) to see the city and the surrounding Alps. This is an incredibly old church, having been built in the 11th century (opening in 1294) with several upgrades and remodels incorporated over time. This means as you walk through Peterskirche, you can see an altar from the 18th century, along with architecture from centuries before.
The hours of Peterskirche change between summer and winter, so make sure you check their opening and closing times before you visit.
Nymphenburg Palace is located outside of the Munich Old Town but is still a popular landmark for many visitors. Visitors can take the S-Bahn just 30-minutes from Marienplatz to this baroque palace and enjoy the art and architecture of the era. In German, Nymphenburg Palace reads as Schloss Nymphenburg, which translates to Castle of the Nymphs. It was built in the late 17th century (with several add-ons since) and was used as a summer house for Bavarian royalty.
The interior and exterior of Nymphenburg Palace are worth the visit. Along with sprawling rooms and highly detailed halls, visitors can walk around the palace grounds and explore Nymphenburg Park. If you're lucky, you might see an owl or some deer creeping through the woods.
If you want to spend a lot of time at Nymphenburg Palace, consider staying nearby. The Holiday Inn Express Munich City West is located just 12 minutes away, equidistant to the Munich city center.
You don't have to leave the city center to see palace grounds, and the Munich Residenz is one of the top recommended spots from locals. This city palace used to house the royal family from 1508 to 1918 but is now open to visitors. It has 10 courtyards and displays 130 rooms, many of which are filled with Renaissance art befitting the area. The vast majority of the Munich Residenz was destroyed during WWII; however, it was rebuilt over the years and is now restored to its former glory.
Be sure to visit the treasury when you see this palace, with its stunning collection of jewels, goldwork, crystal objects and other items that will leave you dazzled.
The historic neighborhoods of Munich are walkable and easy to navigate. After you explore these key landmarks, spend some time wandering through the city and feel like you stepped back in time. There's much more to see and do during your time here.