As a classic tourist destination in Germany with so much to offer, travelers get a lot out of a trip to Munich. Despite its smaller size, Munich rivals Berlin for the country’s most popular destination. Yes, Munich is home to Oktoberfest but there’s much more to Munich than the one festival, which is why it’s remained an essential stop when visiting Germany.
Even with such a well-known destination, it always helps to have a clear idea of what you want to do on a visit. Which is what this Munich itinerary is for. You’ll learn about all the best places to visit in Munich to ensure you don’t miss out on any great attractions. So, let’s dive right in so you can begin planning your 3 days in Munich.
Best Time to Visit Munich
To really enjoy your time in Munich, it’s crucial that you fully appreciate what the city is like at different times of the year. Not only does Munich experience four distinct seasons, but it also has a jam-packed tourist calendar thanks to local festivals. Choosing the right time to visit is really going to depend on what you hope to get out of your trip.
If all you want to do is see and experience the city without too much hassle, the best time to visit Munich is in the spring months of March to May. This is because the weather is quite pleasant this time of year and there are fewer tourists around. The weather can also be quite nice during summer and autumn, but both seasons fall under Munich’s high season. So if you’re looking for fewer crowds and better rates on hotel rooms, spring is the time to go.
While summer is busy because of the usual summer surge in Europe, autumn is busy because of the Oktoberfest which runs from September through to early October, making it the busiest and most expensive time to visit. Even coming for the Christmas markets in December is quiet comparatively.
How to Get Around Munich
While visiting Munich you’re going to be exploring all around the city, which means it’s important to understand the best ways to get around. While you’re in the city’s Old Town you shouldn’t have much trouble getting around on foot. However, to really get the most out of your visit and see places that are beyond walking distance, you need to know the public transport options available to you.
Being a major German city, Munich enjoys a comprehensive public transport network, made up of an underground metro (U-Bahn), suburban trains (S-Bahn), trams, and buses. Trams and the U-Bahn should get you most places you need to go. All networks use the same tickets, which can be bought from blue vending machines at metro stations and some bus and tram stops. The basic type of ticket is the €2.30 single-trip ticket, but there are various other types of tickets available.
If you’re flying into Munich International Airport the best way to get into the city center is by train or bus. Trains run from the airport to the city center every 10 minutes and take around 35 minutes. Alternatively, hop aboard the Lufthansa Express Bus, which takes 45 minutes and runs every 15 minutes. The bus can be used by all travelers, not just Lufthansa passengers.
Where to Stay in Munich
Figuring out where to stay is often the most stressful step of planning a trip, especially when you’re going to be somewhere for several nights. Thankfully, because Munich is such a well-known tourist destination, you’ll have plenty of places to choose from. Leave it too late though and you might miss out on the best places to stay in Munich.
Besides picking a hotel or hostel, a major part of deciding where to stay in Munich is understanding the layout of the city. You naturally want to be close to the city’s sights, restaurants, and beer gardens, but that often comes at a price. Ideally, you want somewhere in the city’s Old Town, but the nearby neighborhood of Ludwigsvorstadt is another common choice for more reasonably priced accommodation.
To treat yourself during your stay in Munich, choose the incredible Bayerischer Hof as your base. This superb five-star hotel is situated inside a historic building, while still providing guests every modern convenience, including 5 restaurants, 6 bars, and a rooftop pool and spa.
For a comfortable stay that’s still reasonably priced, look no further than the Mercure München City Center. Ideally located between the city center and the main train station, the rooms in this four-star hotel have a modern design with Bavarian influences.
You can also look at Airbnb for affordable accommodation in Munich. Just make sure to use our link to get up to $55 off your next Airbnb booking.
Munich isn’t a city that’s known for being budget-friendly, but a great cheap option in town is the Euro Youth Hostel Munich. This hostel has clean and spacious dorms and private rooms and is located in a convenient, yet quiet part of the city. For other hostel recommendations, take a look at our guide to the best hostels in Munich.
The Perfect 3-Day Munich Itinerary
With 72 hours in Munich, you have the opportunity to visit this wonderful city as either a special long weekend getaway or as a stop on a greater trip through Western Europe. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll want a Munich itinerary to show you around. The guide should not only take you to the city’s most obvious attractions, but it should also take you to different parts of the city and expose you to the many different sides of Munich.
And that’s exactly what this Munich travel itinerary does. It not only showcases the major attractions that lie in the heart of the city, it also takes you across the Isar River and to outer neighborhoods. That way you get a comprehensive idea of what Munich is all about.
However, before we get to our Munich itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
Day 1 in Munich
Start your visit to Munich with the many sights found within the inner city. Many of these places are the most popular attractions in Munich and are not to be missed.
There’s no sense starting anywhere but the main square of the city, which in Munich is Marienplatz. This square has always been the very epicenter of life in Munich which is why you’ll find many of the city’s historical landmarks close by.
Marienplatz earns its name from the 11-meter-tall Marien column that takes pride of place in the square. Topped with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, the column dates back to 1638 and celebrates the Swedish forces leaving Munich during the 30 Years’ War. With four little cherub warriors on each corner, a lot of work clearly went into its design.
New Town Hall
While there are many interesting buildings that line Marienplatz, one that’s hard to miss is the New Town Hall of Munich. Thanks to its Gothic Revival architecture, this glamorous building has become one of the city’s most famous landmarks, despite only being built in 1874.
Beyond its extravagant design, there are two elements of the New Town Hall that will interest tourists. One is the Town Hall’s Glockenspiel which features a little mechanical performance of dancers and jousting knights at 11 A.M. and 12 P.M., reenacting stories from the 16th century. The other is the New Town Hall’s tower, which visitors can ascend to enjoy the fantastic city views it provides.
St. Peter’s Church
Just a block to the south of Marienplatz you’ll find St. Peter’s Church, the oldest church in Munich. Although severely damaged in WWII, it was faithfully restored later on and still features the mish-mash of architectural styles applied to it over the centuries. So detailed was the reconstruction that they even repositioned the cannonball that had been previously lodged in its brickwork from before the war.
It’s also possible to head up the church tower for some superb city views. However, unlike the Town Hall and its elevator, here you have to take the stairs, all 299 of them.
For a time, the main food market in Munich was at Marienplatz. That is until it grew so large that they had to relocate it to the next square over, which is where you now find the Viktualienmarkt. It’s easy to understand why when you see how large the market is today, with 140 stalls selling all manner of produce. Everything from meat, vegetables, flowers, spices, cheese, and juice can be found for sale in the Viktualienmarkt. There’s even a Biergarten in the middle of the market, not to mention food stalls where you can pick up local snacks like wurst and schnitzel.
Walking through the city center you’ll soon arrive at your next step, the Munich Residenz. This was once the royal residence of the royal Wittelsbach family of Bavaria and had been in use since the 14th century. From the outside of the building you might be wondering what the big deal is, but just wait until you get a look inside.
The most famous room in this extensive palace complex is the Antiquarium within the Residenz Museum. Exquisitely decorated with frescoes and statues, this enchanting hall is worth a visit all on its own. But wait, there’s more. You’ll also want to see the Ancestral Gallery with its golden Baroque design as well as the spectacular ambience of the Cuvilliés Theatre. Finally, there’s the Treasury, where the crown jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty and other expensive treasures are on display.
The Three Pinakotheke
Munich is no stranger to fine art, which is why the city has three world-class art galleries to show it off. Known as the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek and the Pinakothek der Moderne, these art galleries each showcase incredible works of art from different eras. Each can easily keep you occupied for half a day or more, so it’s best to start with the one that most interests you.
The Alte Pinakothek is where you’ll find works by Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer among others, between the years 1200 to 1800 and is actually one of the oldest art galleries in the world. Then there’s the Neue Pinakothek which features art from the 19th century, including pieces by Degas, Cézanne, and Monet. The Pinakothek der Moderne features creations from the last 100 years and boasts works by Picasso, Kandinsky, and Andy Warhol.
If there’s one attraction that nearly all visitors to Munich are going to see, it’s the Hofbräuhaus. This traditional Bavarian beer hall is famously tied to the city’s love of beer, as well as some darker chapters of its history. The hall dates back to the 16th century and was once part of the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus brewery. It is also the place where Hitler gave his first political speech.
If you want to order a drink, you’ll first need to find a seat, which can be tough on the weekend and during high season. It may be quite touristy these days, but it’s still a nice way to get a relatively traditional beer-drinking experience in Munich if you can’t make it to Oktoberfest.
Day 2 in Munich
Today, you get the chance to explore beyond the inner city of Munich and really see just how much Munich has going on.
First, head out of the city center and make your way to the Nymphenburg Palace in the western districts of Munich. This summer residence was built in the 17th century and expanded to its current splendor in the 18th century.
With a colossal 200 hectare estate around it, you could spend a solid chunk of your day simply wandering the palace grounds if you wanted to. Doing so would help you see not only the palace’s pools, fountains, and gardens, but also the many ornate garden pavilions hidden among them. Of course, you can also take a tour inside the main palace building to see its halls and royal artifacts.
Back towards the city center you’ll find the Lenbachaus, another Munich art museum full of contemporary art. Here you’ll see works by Expressionist masters like Kandinsky, but also quite a few pieces by local Munich artists. The building that the art museum is housed in is also quite interesting, as part dates from the 1880s, while a striking modern wing was added in 2013.
Next up is an exhibit on the role Munich played in the rise of the Nazi party and the events that led to World War II and the Holocaust. Known in German as the NS-Dokumentationszentrum, this square white building off Königsplatz is the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. The exhibits go beyond artifacts from that time and instead focus on the antisemitism and racism that helped feed the rise of the Nazis. That the museum was built on top of the site of the former Nazi Party headquarters speaks volume about how the government wishes to address this particular piece of history.
Stepping back into the Old Town for a moment, take a look at the Asam Church of Munich. The church earns its name from the brothers Asam, who together designed the church in the 18th century. Take one look inside the church and you’ll see why they were granted that high honor.
As the church was originally meant as a private chapel, the brothers had artistic freedom and the results speak for themselves. With lavish stucco-work, beautiful frescoes, and touches like twisted columns, the Asam Church is a visual overload in all the right ways.
Although the name of the Deutsches Museum might have you thinking it’s a museum on all things Germany, this is actually Munich’s fantastic museum of science and technology. Adults and kids who are scientifically or technically minded will find plenty here to entertain them, as exhibits cover a huge range of subjects, including nanotechnology and astronomy. Best of all, exhibits are designed to be interactive, ensuring kids won’t soon lose interest.
Bavarian National Museum
One last museum. The Bavarian National Museum is one of Munich’s most important as it handles art and artifacts that are tied to the history and folklore of the region. That means that inside this gargantuan museum you’ll find everything from weapons and suits of armor to musical instruments and tableware. The building is quite grand all on its own and was actually purpose-built for the museum when it opened in 1855. No matter your interests, you’re bound to find something here.
Having spent so much of the day indoors, the best way to finish is with a walk through the city’s beloved English Garden. Covering 370 hectares within the city limits, it is one of the largest urban public parks in the world. Besides ample green space to walk and unwind, there are a number of spots worth visiting. For starters there’s the man-made Eisbach River, where local surfers go to ride the static wave. Elsewhere, there’s a Japanese teahouse, and the Chinese Tower around where you’ll find a nice big beer garden.
Day 3 in Munich
Having seen the best of Munich it’s time now to turn your attention to all the great destinations that surround the city. There are all sorts of great day trips possible from Munich, but to make planning easier here are three of the best.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
Germany is home to countless enchanting castles, but its most famous is Neuschwanstein Castle. This, after all, was the inspiration for the Cinderella Castle in Disneyworld. You can comfortably visit Neuschwanstein Castle as a day trip from Munich, with plenty of time to bask in its beauty and learn the local lore.
Completed in 1886, the fairytale castle was built by King Ludwig II, who died before getting the chance to live there. It wasn’t long after his passing that the Romanesque Revival palace was opened to the public, eventually becoming one of Europe’s most popular tourist attractions.
Visitors are surely going to want to get a good view of the castle, with the Marienbrücke one of many great viewpoints for that. But it’s also possible to take a tour of the castle, with 35-minute guided tours the only way to see the inside. On the tour you have the chance to admire the third and fourth floors of the castle, where you’ll see the Throne Hall, the Salon, and the Singers’ Hall.
2. Linderhof Palace
Neuschwanstein Castle wasn’t the only residence built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The Linderhof Palace is another you can visit from Munich. Also known as the “Royal Villa”, construction of the palace finished in 1878 and Ludwig II was able to live there before he died. With its small palace and extensive royal gardens, the design of the Linderhof Palace takes inspiration from Versailles and other French summer palaces.
The centerpiece is the palace itself, with its elegant Baroque exterior and extravagant interior. Make sure to head inside to see the Neo-Rococo interiors of rooms like the Dining Room, Hall of Mirrors, and Tapestry Chambers.
The palace actually replaced an old royal hunting cottage and it’s easy to understand why Ludwig II like this spot, with moody forest and mountains all around. You’ll have plenty of time to appreciate the surroundings as you stroll by the the large reflecting pool and out into the parkland that makes up the palace grounds.
3. Dachau Memorial
Although nowhere near as enjoyable as the above two options, the Dachau Memorial is nevertheless well worth the day trip. This former concentration camp was actually the first created by the Nazis in 1933 and was the setting for many horrific acts perpetrated by them. Today, Dachau is a memorial to all those who were held prisoner and murdered there.
Visiting the Dachau Memorial you’ll be presented with the camp’s history in great detail. You’ll learn how the camp was originally set up to hold political prisoners and how quickly murders began. All told, over 40,000 people were murdered in the concentration camp and more than 200,000 people imprisoned. The camp was finally liberated by American soldiers on April 29, 1945.
You’ll see many notorious places on a visit to the site, starting with the “Arbeit Macht Frei” message on the front gate. As you go, you’ll pass by the barracks where prisoners lived, and over to the gas chambers and crematoriums where prisoners were killed.
Recommendation: To really understand the history behind the Dachau Memorial site it’s best you visit on a guided tour. On a tour you’ll see the former gas chambers, barracks and cells and learn more about the history of the Holocaust in Germany from your guide. You can book a guided tour from Munich here.
It’s clearly a lot, but you now have everything you need for a fun time exploring Munich in 3 days. With our Munich itinerary to help you, planning your trip should be a piece of cake.