One Spectacular Day In Munich? This Is How You Should Spend It

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Having a one-day trip in Munich is like stepping into a living tapestry of history, culture, and modernity. From the echoing chimes of Marienplatz to the lush tranquility of the English Garden, Munich invites you to experience a day brimming with discovery.

Munich, or München to the locals, boasts an enviable blend of architectural marvels, grandiose public spaces, and hidden gems waiting to tell their stories.

Munich in one dayPin

Join me as I navigate this Bavarian capital, sharing insights gleaned from its cobblestone streets and the chatter of beer gardens. I’ll break down the must-sees and dive into the vibrant heart of this city, all with an eye on the clock because, in just one day, every moment is precious.

Our itinerary starts at the heart of the city’s past and present and weaves through once-royal residences, verdant parks, and showcases of innovation. Munich, a city that honors its rich history while boldly striding into the future, extends an invitation to curious souls.

So, let’s walk through a day in Munich, making the most of every step and savoring every sip.

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A Brief History Of Munich

Munich, the capital city of Bavaria in Germany, has a rich and diverse history that dates back to its foundation in the 12th century. The city’s name, “München,” is derived from the Old High German term ‘Munichen,’ meaning ‘by the monks,’ indicating its early monastic roots.

It was in 1158 that Duke Henry the Lion, of the House of Wittelsbach, established Munich by building a bridge over the River Isar to facilitate the lucrative salt trade. This strategic move led to the development of a market settlement, which later received a city charter and fortress in 1175.

Over the centuries, Munich flourished and became a center of the arts, politics, and science, influenced by numerous events like the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. It was also during this period that its renowned Hofbräuhaus was established, which has since become synonymous with Munich’s celebrated beer culture.

MunichPin
Munich

The 19th century brought a significant cultural revival under King Ludwig I, who was a great patron of the arts and transformed Munich into the “Athens on the Isar” with its neoclassical architecture. Munich further played a pivotal role in German history, particularly during the 20th century; it was here that the ill-fated Beer Hall Putsch took place in 1923, setting the stage for the rise of Nazi ideology.

Post-World War II, the city was extensively rebuilt, having suffered considerable damage during the conflict. Munich rose once again, preserving its historical heritage while evolving into a vibrant, modern city known for its Oktoberfest, world-class museums, and universities, preserving its status as a city of both historical significance and contemporary innovation.

Don’t miss our guide to Oktoberfest here.

What To See In Munich In One Day

The amazing Town Hall in Marienplatz MunichPin
The amazing Town Hall in Marienplatz

A day in Munich is never going to be enough, but you can get a great introduction. Simply follow this one day Munich itinerary stop-by-stop and you’ll see the best of what Munich offers tourists.

This day is designed to be completed on foot and by public transport.

Stop 1: Marienplatz and the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus)

Marienplatz MunichPin
Marienplatz, Munich

Start your Munich adventure in the historic heart of the city, Marienplatz. It’s the perfect place to begin this big day in Munich. This bustling square frames the stunning New Town Hall, an exemplar of Gothic Revival architecture.

The building’s facade is integral to the Glockenspiel, an elaborate clock that stages a reenactment of two stories from Munich’s history every day at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and additionally at 5 p.m. in the summer months.

The performance is a dance of life-sized figures, pulling you into a whimsical historical narrative. You’ll feel the heartbeat of this metropolis here, in the square where citizens have gathered for centuries.

The vibe, the energy, it’s all awesome.

Stop 2: St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)

St. Peter's Church (Peterskirche)Pin
St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)

The next stop is St. Peter’s Church just a moment’s wander from the New Town Hall’s storybook spectacle. This church lays claim to being the oldest in Munich, and a climb up its 299 steps takes you up to the city’s highest accessible vantage point.

Inside St. Peter's Church (Peterskirche) MunichPin
Inside St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)

Upon reaching the top, you’re greeted with an expansive vista over Munich, intertwining ancient landmarks with contemporary edifices, against the breathtaking backdrop of the Bavarian Alps.

Make sure you go inside the church too. It’s beautiful.

Stop 3: Residenzmuseum (Munich Residence)

Residenzmuseum (Munich Residence)Pin
Residenzmuseum

A stroll from St. Peter’s Church, the majestic Munich Residence unfolds its historical tapestry. Formerly home to Bavarian dukes, electors, and kings, the palace now publicly displays its legacy through ornate rooms adorned with artifacts from the Renaissance to the Neo-classicism period.

Venture through the opulent Antiquarium, the oldest room in the complex, and imagine the grandeur of past court life as you traverse the palace’s 130 stately rooms and picturesque courtyards.

It’s an amazing place.

Stop 4: English Garden (Englischer Garten)

Munich's Englischer GartenPin
Munich’s Englischer Garten

With your spirit still touched by royalty, a leisurely walk north brings you to the English Garden. It’s Europe’s largest city park, where manicured lawns, rustling leaves, and meandering streams offer a refreshing respite.

The park’s Eisbach wave is a favorite spectacle, where surfers showcase their agility against the constant rush of water—a unique urban surfing spot that’s worth a look.

Stop 5: BMW Museum and BMW Welt (Optional)

BMW Welt Pin
BMW Welt

This stop is optional depending on how long you have spent so far as you definitely should leave enough time to get to the next stop, Nymphenburg Palace.

If time allows though, continue your journey of discovery with a visit to the BMW Museum and BMW Welt. This can be reached on the U-Bahn from Odeonsplatz near the English Garden, leading to a contrasting experience of Munich’s cutting-edge automotive innovation and industry.

As temples of modern design and technology, both the museum and the “World” celebrate the history and future of BMW with interactive exhibitions and sleek displays of classic and contemporary models. There are also the latest BMW models on display including new releases and concept cars. It’s a must for car lovers.

There’s also a shop if you’re looking for BMW merchandise.

Stop 6: Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace MunichPin
Nymphenburg Palace

Following your foray into Munich’s industry, loop back into the historical narrative at Nymphenburg Palace.

Catch the 180 bus close to BMW Welt towards the palace, where the essence of Baroque artistry and Rococo embellishments are captured in every ornate detail.

Stroll through rooms where nobles once convened, and wander the same gardens that royalty once admired. The palace served as the summer residence for Bavarian rulers and now is a mirror reflecting their affluent and cultivated existence.

It’s gorgeous.

Stop 7: Hofbräuhaus München

Hofbräuhaus MunichPin
Hofbräuhaus

To bring an extraordinary day to a close, make your way from Nymphenburg Palace to a place where Bavarian culture is not just observed but experienced. Board an S-Bahn to transport you back to the center, disembark and let your feet find their way to the world-renowned Hofbräuhaus München.

Since 1589, this beer hall has been a vessel of conviviality and cheer. Revel in the robust flavors of traditional Bavarian cuisine, participate in the camaraderie of communal tables, and raise a glass to the day’s journey—a fitting tribute to Munich’s spirit.

Between the music, the beer and the food, you’ll love everything Munich.

Have an extra day in Munich? Consider a day trip to Augsburg. Read about what to do for your day trip here.

How To Get To Munich

Munich Station (Hauptbahnhof)Pin
Munich Station

Taking a journey to Munich, the vibrant capital of Bavaria, is a seamless adventure from anywhere within Germany. Munich is exceedingly accessible.

Flying is a time-saving choice if you’re coming from further away. Munich Airport, Franz Josef Strauss, is well-connected to airports within Germany and the rest of the world. A swift S-Bahn train ride or a short taxi journey will deliver you from the airport into the heart of Munich.

By train, you’ll find that Deutsche Bahn (DB) connects you to Munich with comfort and efficiency. Sit back and revel in the picturesque German countryside as you speed towards the city at the heart of the action. Regular Intercity-Express (ICE) trains glide you from major German cities to Munich’s Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, which is a central hub with connections to local transport.

Click here to check out Deutsche Bahn schedules and prices.

If you opt for the road, the Autobahn network offers a swift and direct route to Munich. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your pace. Driving also means you can witness the transition of landscapes, from the rolling hills of the countryside to the urban elegance of Munich.

Click here to check out car hire options and prices.

Lastly, for a more economical option, consider the long-distance buses. Companies like FlixBus link numerous German cities with Munich. As you watch the scenes change outside your window, you’ll find comfort in the knowledge that Munich’s welcoming spirit is just a bus ride away.

Final Words

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Munich

As the sun dips below the Munich skyline, your single-day journey through this captivating city comes to a close. The whirlwind tour has allowed you to touch upon the rich historical tapestry, savor the local flavors, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture that is uniquely Munich’s.

If you have longer, consider taking a day trip to Salzburg! More information here.

Find more guides to Southern Germany here. Find our one week itinerary for Bavaria here and our list of best places to visit in Bavaria here. Don’t miss our guide to Oktoberfest here or nearby Augsburg here.

Sharon Gourlay in the Rhina Valley

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon first fell in love with Germany back in 2000 on her first visit. She loves the long history, the picturesque Old Towns, the castles, the food, everything really! Since then, she has visited many times and loves writing about Germany here so you can enjoy it too. In fact, Sharon loves German culture so much that she sent her kids to a German primary school in Australia. She especially loves Berlin and towns with charming Old Towns like Celle and Quedlinburg. Sharon also has a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and understands the nitty gritty of travel planning. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to Germany whether it's your first or tenth time!

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