Not many people think about Munich as a destination outside of Oktoberfest. Outside of October, everyone tends to head to Berlin and skip Munich altogether. But Munich, and especially the whole region of Bavaria is a city definitely worth visiting, regardless of the time of the year.
I had an amazing three days in Munich drinking beer in the beer houses, eating my body weight in pork knuckle and soaking up some of Germany’s best Christmas markets.
On my fourth day I headed to nearby Fussen as a day trip in order to visit the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired the Disney castle and a must see for any trip to Germany.
Hence four days in Munich is perfect as it gives you three days to experience the city and a fourth day for a day trip somewhere in Bavaria.
Day One: Exploring the Old Town of Munich
The centre of Munich is home to some amazing historical sights and one of the best ways to see them is a walking tour.
Walking tours are one of my favourite ways to explore a city. They help me get orientated and you get an awesome overview of a city which helps you decide what you might want to explore further.
Moreover the guides usually have a wealth of knowledge and can give you great tips about where to eat and where else you might go visit in the city.
There are an abundance of walking tours in Munich some of which go for 2 hours, others 2.5 hours and some even for 3-3.5 hours! All of them leave from Marienplatz and most of them start at 10.45am or close to that time.
‘In Munich’ tours are meant to be one of the best (and the longest) but I couldn’t find them when I got to Marienplatz, so ended up going with another company that was endorsed by the city tourism office and cost 10 euros.
The reason most of the tours start at 10.45am is that at 11am everyday, something magical happens in the Marienplatz. The Glockenspiel on the Rathaus (town hall) is made up of little figures and at 11am they sing and dance. They tell the story of the marriage of Bavarian royals. It’s an awesome show and something that is definitely worth experiencing.
On the walking tour we visited some of the nicest sights in Munich. Some of my favourites spots were the Viktualienmarkt- a food market that has been running for more than 200 years, Hofbraus – the most famous of the beer houses in Munich and the Englisch Garden- a beautiful public park where you’ll find people surfing the strong current in one part of the river.
My first day in Munich was also the day after my travel night from hell, when I was stuck in Salzburg train station from 2am to 5.30am.
Hence by the end of the walking tour I was super exhausted and headed back to my friend’s place for an afternoon nap. But if you arrive on a little bit more sleep than I do then you’ll definitely have time to explore more of the city after the tour.
I’d recommend heading to one of the beer houses which other than beer also serve a really affordable lunch. Pork roast, pork knuckle, currywurst, bratwurst and pretzels are some of the traditional Bavarian foods you’ll find there!
If you are visiting in the warmer months then visiting more of the amazing gardens and parks in the Englisch garden, perhaps with a picnic, would be a great way to pass the afternoon.
Day Two: Nymphenburg Palace and Dachau Concentration Camp
Whilst it was a little bit of a rush to fit both of these things into the same day, it is totally doable. You could definitely shift one to the third day if you felt you needed it/wanted to take it more slowly.
Nymphenburg Palace is a located a tad bit outside of the old town of Munich, you’ll need to hop on a tram that takes about 15 minutes from the Hauptbahnhof.
I arrived at 10.30am which gave me plenty of time to take pretty pictures of the outside of the palace, explore the beautiful rooms inside the palace and the gardens surrounding it.
But the highlight of probably my whole time in Munich was the Marstallmuseum located on the grounds of the palace.
The Marstallmuseum is a museum full of old carriages, saddles, bridles and everything horse related. It’s located in the old stables of the palace and is a truly unique experience.
I especially loved the old coronation carriages and the saddles. I loved how different this was to any other old museum or sight I had been to. It is definitely worth adding this to your ticket when visiting Nymphenburg.
Dauchau Concentration Camp
After the brightness of Nymphenburg I hopped on a train to the much darker and sombre sight of Dachau Concentration Camp.
Dachau was not an extermination camp like Auschwitz, but a work camp where even Germany prisoners and dissenters were. But it is still a place where countless people were murdered, tortured and lived in conditions far from humane.
To be honest I didn’t take too many photos here because it didn’t feel appropriate. Outside of the memorial sights and a couple of information slides in the museum, I was very careful about what I was photographing.
I can’t say the same for other people that felt it was appropriate to take a selfie in front of the crematorium and prison buildings like they were in front of the Eiffel Tower. If you get to Dachau please show it the respect it deserves.
While visiting the concentration camp can be a grim and sobering experience, it’s a stark reminder of the dark side of European history.
After returning to the city from Dachau I headed to the many Christmas markets in Munich that run from late November to Christmas Eve. You’ll find a new market in almost every square of the old town- all you’ll need to do is follow the crowd.
The highlight for me was the unique medieval themed Christmas market where I drank Gluhwein from a goblet while listening to medieval music.
If you aren’t visiting during late November or December, this night is also an opportunity to head to the famous beer houses!
Day Three: Whatever takes your fancy
I always try to have a quieter day every other week and this was my day in Munich. That said, it’s not like I just stayed in and watched Netflix.
My friend and I headed to the local second hand shops to do some browsing and shopping. We also explored the university district which is a cool place to hang out, get coffees and smoothies and grab an often cheap bite to eat. It’s a district I’d recommend exploring just for the really cool vibe.
You might also want to use this day to explore the famous Deutsches Museum which you’ll need at least a day to visit. Or so I’ve been told!
The highlight of my third day was going to eat the best pork knuckle in Munich at Haxenbauer. It’s a good idea to book early here, otherwise you might find yourself waiting in a long line.
You can see the pork knuckles spinning on a rotisserie in the window of this store which is the first indication you are in for a great pork knuckle. I’m told the meat is marinated for 24 hours before being cooked slowly on a spit.
The result is the best pork I’ve ever tasted; juicy meat surrounded by crunchy skin full of flavour.
You won’t want to order anything larger than the ½ pork knuckle. I was struggling just to finish that size- it’s a lot of meat! I had meat sweats for the rest of the day but it was 100% worth it!
Day Four: Day Trip to Neuschwanstein
If you find yourself with an extra day in Munich, it is the perfect opportunity to head down to visit Neuschwanstein
King Ludwig II, the crazy King, built Neuschwanstein. Ludwig was declared unable to rule due to mental incompetence and died in mysterious circumstances only days later.
It’s an amazingly beautiful castle and once I saw photos of it online, I simply had to visit! It seriously looks like it comes from a fairytale, which is understandable considering it inspired Disney’s castle!
It’s pretty easy to get to Neuschwanstein, it’s about a 2-2.5 hour train ride straight from Munich ton Fussen, where you’ll find a bus waiting to shuttle you to Hohenschwangu. The view on the way is also beautiful!
If you leave after 9am you can also save money by purchasing the Bavaria ticket, which is especially cheap (28 euros for two people) when there are multiple people riding on the same ticket. The biggest ticket you can get is for five people.
However what I did completely wrong with my trip to the castle was assuming that I’d be able to easily get tickets for the attraction when I arrived in Hohenschwangu. By the time I arrived at 12pm all the tours were sold out and I missed out on seeing the inside of the castle.
I would highlight recommend booking your tickets in advance online which you need to do at least 48 hours before the day of your visit.
However I could still admire the castle from the outside. The most iconic view of the castle can only be viewed from Marienbrucke (Mary’s Bridge). I was devastated to find out that the bridge was closed for repairs while I was there.
But after following some tourists behind a barrier and breaking at least a few German laws and regulations I found myself on the closed Marienbrucke. The sole workman doing some sanding on the bridge didn’t seem to mind the five of us that were on the bridge snapping photos.
The best part of visiting Marienbrucke illegally was that we didn’t have to wrestle with the hundreds of other tourists that are usually crowding the bridge.
Whilst I was disappointed in not being able to go inside the castle, especially since visiting the castle meant sitting on a train for four hours, I’d recommend this trip but perhaps not in busy periods (like the summer or just before Christmas).
With hoards of people around it starts to feel a lot like Disneyland and doesn’t have that small town charm I found in other places like Regensburg and Bamberg.
Other day trips?
Bamberg or Regensburg are probably just as doable as day trips from Munich and I’d recommend them more. Especially Bamberg which was my favourite place in all of Germany. I’ll be talking about them in posts coming out in the next two weeks!
Have you been to Munich? Are there places you would recommend that aren’t on this list? Comment below!
Where Should I Stay in Munich?
If you are a budget traveller or are just looking to make some friends, I always recommend staying at hostels. As I was staying with friends I haven’t stayed at a hostel I can personally recommend, but I heard great things about Wombats.
AirBnB is also a great option if you are on a budget or looking for a bit of space.
For all of your bookings, whether hostel or hotel I always recommend Booking.com, specifically because most of the time you can make a reservation without a deposit and many bookings are fully cancellable and refundable. I love being able to lock in my accomodation early, but then shift things around if my plans change!