The best things to do in Munich

The capital of Bavaria and Germany’s third-largest city, Munich is ripe for those hoping to immerse themselves in its history, culture and modern-day marvels.

The city regularly ranks in the top five of the annual Mercer Quality of Living Survey and, for visitors, promises centuries of history, stunning architecture – from the twin domes of the Frauenkirche to the more contemporary Allianz Arena and BMW Welt – and a bubbling food and drink scene.

If you’re planning a trip with a hire car in Munich, there’s so much more to do.

Magnificent museums

BMW Welt

Bavaria has been a home of innovation for centuries, and one of its most famous exports is BMW – Bayerische Motoren Werke, or Bavarian Motor Works.

The car manufacturer’s headquarters – in the 101-metre tall BMW Tower – are in the city’s north. Over the road is BMW Welt, which is free to enter.

The unique, twisted, cone-shaped building boasts a huge showroom dedicated to BMW cars from past and present, including spectacular vehicles from the Rolls-Royce and MINI brands. You can experience a BMW for yourself by browsing Hertz’s all-German Kollektion 7 range.


Art lovers should head to Glyptothek – a neoclassical building in the Old Town that claims to be the world’s only museum dedicated purely to ancient sculpture. A ticket includes entry to the State Collection of Antiques opposite, too.

National Socialism Museum

Munich played an important part in Germany’s years between the two world wars, and NS-Dokumentationszentrum (or the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism) details the rise and fall of the Nazis, within both Bavaria and the wider country. It’s built on the site of the former Nazi Party headquarters (the Brown House), and its exhibition makes for a sobering visit.

Picturesque parks

The English Garden

The EnglischerGarten – or English Garden – in middle of the city is one of the world’s largest urban parks, with nearly 50 miles of pathways.

Head up the slight hill to the Monopteros for panoramic views over the landscape of the garden and the city.

The jewel in the garden’s crown is the tall Chinese Tower pagoda, marking the entrance to the large beer garden – a great spot to soak up the atmosphere and indulge in local delicacies, such as pork knuckle and pretzels. 

Olympic Park

Munich’s Olympic Park covers a large, green recreation area. Explore for free, admiring landmarks such as the Olympic Tower and the large lake. For a few euros, you can enter the stadium and walk around its edge. Daredevils can even arrange to abseil from the top on to the pitch, for an extra cost.

The stadium was built for the 1972 Olympic Games, which were overshadowed by the murder of 11 Israelis athletes – known as the Munich massacre. You can find the memorial panel in the former Olympic Village.


Over in Luitpoldpark, you can enjoy some of the best views of Munich’s skyline, stretching to the Alps on a clear summer’s day, while being a prime sledging spot in winter. Get lost in the hedge maze, avoid getting soaked by the Pumuckl fountain, or stop for some fajitas at the Mexican cantina at the park’s heart – offering a change from the traditional beer hall.

The park’s 37-metre-high hill, Luitpoldhügel, is made from World War II rubble.

Castles, palaces and squares

Nymphenburg Palace

Once upon a time, throughout the summers of the 18th and 19th centuries, the former rulers of Bavaria used to head to Nymphenburg Palace, a large baroque masterpiece surrounded by a 490-acre park.

Today you can visit much of the palace’s interior, including Queen Caroline’s bedroom and the three-story Stone Hall, which was used for lavish occasions.

Explore the gardens and grounds for free. A canal runs right the way down in front of the palace and, in the summer, you can take a gondola ride.


Marienplatz is Munich’s most famous square, found in the centre of the old town. The New Town Hall – and the hundreds of statues on its 300-feet-long façade – dominates the square, with the reconstructed Old Town Hall on the eastern side. Pick up a bratwurst in the nearby Viktualienmarket or sit down for a full plate of schnitzel, sauerkraut and dumplings in one of the square’s restaurants. 

Neuschwanstein Castle

Straight out of a fairy tale, Neuschwanstein Castle is the inspiration for the castles at Disneyland. The two-hour drive from Munich is well worth it, as it sits atop a hill surrounded by majestic scenery across the Alps and down into the Hohenschwangau valley. Step inside and you’ll be just as impressed, especially with the two-story throne room and its 13-foot-tall chandelier.

Arrange car hire in Munich to make the most of this city and Bavaria.