Munich Travel Guide – Top 10 Vacation Highlights

Munich offers amazing value, incredible sights, sounds, and flavors as well as one of the best reputations for nightlife in all of Europe. Casual with tendencies towards pleasure seeking and relaxation, and simultaneously rich with history and filled with stories, the city of Munich has plenty to absorb, while offering respite from the frenzied atmosphere of Europe's more tourist-heavy destinations.
Munich Travel Guide
Table of Contents

The former home of Bavarian rulers, Residenz Munchen features an excellent art collection and a variety of architectural styles combined to create one of the finest palace museums in history. The outstanding collection comprises fine art and objects collected over centuries, which includes paintings, porcelain, sculpture, chandeliers, silver objects and rare furniture.

For centuries, the Schloss Nymphenburg served as the former summer residence for Bavarian rulers and is today the home of the current Duke of Bavaria. The Baroque palace features original Baroque ceilings with frescoes as well as the amazing Galleries of Beauties that portrays over 30 beautiful women of Munich.

Nestled in the Bavarian hills is the stunning Schloss Neuschwanstein which offers the closest thing you will come to a real-life fairy tale castle. Inside, the castle is the epitome of royal German opulence and luxury. Go hiking on the trails surrounding the castle for some great views and amazing photo opportunities.

Marienplatz is the most famous square in Munich that draws thousands of visitors each day to see the New Town Hall dating back to 1874. The city hall was built in the Gothic Revival style and features on its façade statues of former Bavarian rulers. The highly ornate building also hosts the Glockenspiel, a thrice-daily performance that re-enacts Munich’s history.

Germany’s Romantic Road offers the most spectacular views of the Bavarian landscape, including magnificent castles. A former trade route of the Middle Ages, Romantic Road winds through a picturesque countryside with charming villages and walled towns. Visitors can feast their eyes on fairytale castles, Gothic cathedrals, and German Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval architecture.

Inspired by the Palace of Versailles, Schloss Linderhof offers a private atmosphere with only 4 rooms that actually served a purpose. Visitor can marvel at the Ambassador’s Staircase, the Hall of Mirrors and the Sun Décor. Also worth a peek are the Linderhof palace gardens, regarded as some of the most beautiful in the world.

Munich is an exciting and engaging tourist destination that offers a wide range of interesting attractions, sights and monuments. Make sure you’ve got plenty of time on your hands for this German city is not just a weekend destination. Munich makes for a great city-break holiday which can easily be extended to a week if you visit the surrounding regions.

1. Schloss Neuschwanstein

Perched above one of the prettiest gorges in the world is Schloss Neuschwanstein, everyone’s fantasy dream castle. Neuschwanstein is the image you’ve seen everywhere that made you want to begin planning your trip to Germany.

Nestled among the Bavarian Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle is the most famous of Germany’s castles. But unlike other German castles, Schloss Neuschwanstein is neither old, nor was it built for defense. The fairy tale castle was built with the assistance of a stage designer for pure pleasure, as a fantastic summer retreat. The castle’s foundation stone was laid in 1869.

You will be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen the Schloss Neuschwanstein before. You have. It’s the castle from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, only that it’s real. Neuschwanstein Castle was built under the orders of King Ludwig II, whose aim was to replicate medieval architecture, in particular the Romanesque, as well as pay homage to Wagner’s operas.

Ludwig II admired Richard Wagner and therefore had Neuschwanstein Castle built as homage to the German composer. In fact, Neuschwanstein Castle derives its name from the castle in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin. Ludwig II never enjoyed his dream castle as he drowned in a nearby lake before it was completed.

One of Europe’s most popular destinations, Schloss Neuschwanstein is situated in the German State of Bavaria, close to Germany’s border with Austria, about 73 miles southwest of Munich.

Although the castle was designed with a medieval look, its refinements were quite modern including the automatic flush toilets, running water and hot air that were all part of the royal residence. The castle kitchen has been preserved in its entirety.

Visitors can only visit the castle’s lavish interiors as part of a guided tour. This mandatory tour of the castle takes a little over 30 minutes, including the 165 stairs to climb and 181 to descend. There is a café inside the castle and tours for the disabled in walkers and wheelchairs are held every Wednesday.

Photographers can get some good pictures of the waterfall and castle from Marienbruecke Bridge. Between the castle and bridge is a nice view of the spectacular Hohenschwangau castle, which is also worth a visit. Visitors can also check out the building site near Pollat Gorge which is possibly one of the most beautiful in the world.

From Neuschwanstein Castle, visitors can enjoy great views of alpine lakes, the Alpsee in particular. There are plenty of hiking trails around the Alpsee, with one circling the lake which is protected as a nature reserve. You can also combine your visit to the castle with a scenic drive along Germany’s Romantic Road, of which Neuschwanstein Castle is the highlight.

2. Schloss Nymphenburg

Built as a summer residence for one of the electors of Bavaria, Schloss Nymphenburg is a delicious treat for tourists who enjoy taking a peek at the opulent lifestyles of the aristocracy. Situated just west of Munich, Schloss Nymphenburg was commissioned in 1664.

The central section of the palace was built to resemble an Italian villa. However, the original state of the palace was not maintained for long as subsequent rulers changed or added to the building. In 1700, pavilions and galleries were added to extend the sides of the palace. Soon after, stables were added to the south and an orangery to its north.

More additions continued throughout the eighteenth century, with the palace façade being extended to an impressive width of 600m. A circle of ornate Baroque mansions called the Schlossrondell were later erected. The Steinerner Saal, a Grand Hall, was also added with its ornate Rococo elements. Splendid frescoes were added to the ceiling, along with the magnificent Amalienburg.

A small pleasure palace and hunting lodge, the Amalienburg was completed in 1739 and conceived as a small yet independent palace complex. One of the most exquisite creations in the European Rococo style, the Amalienburg features rooms, an exterior and ground plan of rare beauty.

Visitors to Schloss Nymphenburg can still view rooms decorated in the original Baroque style, as well as those done in neo-Classical and Rococo styles. The palace stable houses the Marstallmuseum, a wonderful museum of ancient carriages and sleighs, many of which were involved in historic events like coronations. The palace is also home to the fine Nymphenburg porcelain collection.

Schloss Nymphenburg is set inside a large park that is laid out nicely. Originally a small Italianesque garden, the palace garden was redesigned and expanded during the 17th century as a formal French garden by one of the designers involved with the gardens at the Palace of Versailles.

During the second half of the 18th century, the garden was transformed into a landscape garden, while retaining its original axis which was centered on a long canal. At the end of this 900-meter long canal is a cascade adorned with 4 large sculptures. At the palace’s other end is another 2km canal serving as a grand entranceway into the palace.

3. The Romantic Road

Starting at Wurzburg and ending at Fussen, 82 miles southwest of Munich, the Romantic Road is Germany’s most popular scenic drive. The Romantic Road is a drive through Bavaria which leads from the Franconia wine country into the foothills of the German Alps.

Follow the Romantic Road and your heart to find unspoiled nature, picturesque towns with towers, city walls, medieval castles, hidden monasteries and half-timbered houses. The 261 mile long scenic route will make the journey your reward. A major trading route during the Middle Ages, Germany’s Romantic Road is today alive with an abundance of old world charm.

Visitors can dine at romantic courtyard restaurants, take a stroll through lush parks, view historical castles, and explore old town centers that haven’t lost their original splendor. And you can do all this while driving along beautiful vineyards, rolling hills and clear waters until you reach the majestic Bavarian Alps.

The destination of your trip will be Schloss Neuschwanstein, a romantic fairytale castle that’s nestled among the Bavarian mountains. The castle encompasses the very notion of Romanticism.

Other highlights of the Romantic Road include Wurzburg, which is situated in the heart of the Franken wine region and is famous for its splendid wines, gourmet restaurants, beautiful vineyards and colorful wine festivals. Residence Palace is the architectural gem of Wurzburg.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the best preserved medieval German town, with its picture-perfect fortified city center. Walk to the top of the medieval wall encircling the old city center, or go atop the historical Town Hall from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the region.

Dinkelsbuhl is an old town that boasts sixteen fortified towers, a number of authentic city gates and an original ring wall. Go on a nighttime tour through this historical town guided by the night watchman who patrols the illuminated city center by night.

Augsburg is one of the oldest cities in Germany, at which visitors can encounter the legacy of the Romans, as well as wealthy traders of the Middle Ages. The 2,000-year old past of Ausburg comes to life inside the historical city center with its Baroque town houses, traditional restaurants and splendid boulevard.

Pfaffenwinkel is a part of Bavaria that is famous for its pristine landscapes and churches. A must see is the Wieskirche pilgrimage church, a Rococo masterpiece in Steingaden.

4. Schloss Linderhof

One of the most artistic and stylistically complex ensembles of the 19th century, Schloss Linderhof is the only palace commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, which was completed. Dubbed the “royal villa”, Schloss Linderhof was originally a hunting lodge and was finished in 1878.

Linderhof and its surrounding park is a showcase of abundant and rich ornamentation, with its numerous sculptural elements. The palace features French architectural influences and is modeled on the small summer palaces typically set in parkland, which were built in France during the 18th century, and which were also often found in Germany inside the parks of bigger palaces.

Behind its Baroque façade, Linderhof features a Rococo world with motifs dating from the time of Louis XV of France. Linderhof with its neo-Rococo or Second Rococo style however displays a strong South German influence. The rooms of Linderhof showcase such sumptuousness that they surpass everything that inspired them by far, as well as displaying a workmanship of incomparable artistic quality.

Ludwig II was a reclusive king who preferred to be left alone, so much so that he had an entire palace complex designed around the concept of minimizing contact with other people. One of Bavaria’s most beautiful attractions, Schloss Linderhof and its lovely grounds were thus isolated among quiet valleys and hills.

Linderhof comprises a sprawling complex of open fields and forest, set on rolling hillsides. Scattered around it are several small landmarks, with the small Linderhof palace positioned at the center and a big fountain and special gardens on all sides.

You can visit the interior of the palace only on a guided tour. The palace contains only 10 rooms, 4 of which were waiting rooms for royal servants. The predominant theme of the Linderhof chambers was royal French, with most of the furnishings and décor in this style.

In keeping with the reclusiveness of the Ludwig, most of the Linderhof amenities were designed for the enjoyment of the King alone. For instance, the dining table was only built to seat one person as the King rarely entertained. The table was mounted on a platform that lowered into the kitchen, which meant that no servants had to go into the dining room.

Among the most outstanding of its era, the Linderhof garden combines elements of French Baroque garden and English landscape garden.

Baroque motifs include terraces on the horizontal and central axes, with geometric flower beds and water basins; the long cascade with 2 focal points and elaborate fountains, the Venus Temple and pavilion. English influences include the natural, irregular design of the surrounding park with its exotic buildings.

The Moorish Kiosk and Moroccan House are examples of the oriental trend cultivated at the time. The 3 stage sets in the park include the Venus Grotto, Hunding’s Hut and the Hermitage of Gurnemanz, all of which stem from Ludwig’s enthusiasm for Wagner’s operas.

Incorporated into this brilliant synthesis of the arts is the mountain backdrop. This is achieved by means of visual axes, along with kilometers of paths leading far up into the mountain forest.

5. Schloss Herrenchiemsee

Schloss Herrenchiemsee is a neo-Baroque palace built on an island in the middle of Chiemsee, the largest lake in Bavaria. The largest palace commissioned by King Ludwig II, Schloss Herrenchiemsee was modeled after the Palace at Versailles, and designed to pay homage to King Louis XIV of France.

Built between 1863 and 1886, construction of Schloss Herrenchiemsee was halted following the death of Ludwig II. Today, the palace remains unfinished with more than 50 rooms left incomplete.

Inside the palace is the Ludwig II Museum. Here you will find representations of the royal residence of the palaces of Linderhof, Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee. Visitors can also learn about the other building projects commissioned by Ludwig II.

A short distance from the palace is Monastery Herrenchiemsee, a former Augustinian monastery that was built during the 17th century and which today serves as a museum.

The island on which the palace rests is itself a popular spot for swimmers and walkers. Visitors can admire the waterworks and gardens during their visit. Around the garden is a 7km long walking path.

Getting to the palace will involve taking the special Chiemsee train, which is the last steam-train still running in the world. Plan your visit in July to attend the International Herrenchiemsee Classical Music Festival.

6. Residenz Munchen

At the edge of the Old Town in Munich lies the Residenz, the former seat of government and the official home of the monarchs of Bavaria from 1385 to 1918. With a history as complex as its architecture, the Residenz makes for a must-see during your tour of Munich.

The sprawling residence comprises 10 courtyards and historical gardens, and houses several museums including the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche, the Cuvillies-Theater and the Residenz Museum itself, which is one of Europe’s best interior décor museums.

Began in 1385, Residenz Munchen was first known as Neuveste. The palace was expanded during the first half of the 16th century. Part of this expansion included the construction of a magnificent Renaissance hall known as the Antiquarium, which features dozens of 16th and 17th century frescoes.

Each subsequent monarch who moved into the Residenz added another room or two to the palace, in the form of chapels, galleries, apartments, ballrooms, fountain courts and gardens.

Because these additions were made over centuries past, they greatly vary in style. It is said that if you approach the Residenz from one side, you may think it is Palladian. But come in from a different direction and you will think its architectural style resembles German or Italian Renaissance.

The Residenz was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, although many of the masterpieces it housed were moved to safety before the palace was bombed. Restoration began in 1945. A concert hall eventually replaced the Throne Room and the Residenz was in 1958 reopened as a museum. Reconstruction went on and as every section was completed, a new one was added.

The Residenz Museum today occupies the palace’s southwestern section and comprises approximately one hundred and twenty rooms filled with art, furnishings and a host of other treasures.

The Museum showcases chapels, apartments and ceremonial rooms of the Wittelsbach dynasty, and is chock full of art, porcelain, tapestries and antique furniture that spans the Rococo, Baroque, Renaissance and neo-Classical periods.

The Ancestral Gallery houses portraits of the royal Wittelsbach family, which are set into carved, gilded paneling. Oriental rugs and Far Eastern porcelain can be found inside the Porcelain Gallery. Cuvillies Theater features a magnificent Rococo-style with original 18th century interiors. The Schatzkammer or Treasury features statues fashioned from precious metals and gems.

The palace also has a beautiful court chapel that dates from 1603. One of its courtyards has a colorful grotto decorated in seashells and crystals. Allow yourself a couple of hours to fully explore the Residenz.

7. Theatinerkirche

Construction of the church and monastery for the Italian Order of the Theatines of Munich began in 1663 and continued until 1690. Designed by Italian architects, Theatinerkirche brought a taste of Italy to Munich. Everything about the Theatinerkirche church and monastery speaks of Italian splendor. The church was designed in the high-Baroque style and modeled after the Sant’ Andrea della Valle in Rome.

The church’s yellow color adds to its very Mediterranean feel, while its general design is said to have heavily influenced the South German Baroque architectural style. The church boasts a magnificent 71m-high dome and two 70m-high towers that were not part of the original plans.

More ornamentation was added to the church in 1738, when its façade was finished in the ornate Rococo style by the father and son team of Francois de Cuvillies. The Cuvillies were largely responsible for bringing the Rococo style to Germany, and the Theatinerkirche is a great example of the work. The Cuvillies also worked on the Residenz Palace and the Schloss Nymphenburg.

Statues and stucco decorate the church interiors, while numerous paintings can be found around its great black altar. The church interior is finished almost entirely in white stucco, giving it a very bright appearance that sets it apart from most of the other churches of Munich. Several members of the Wittelsbach family are buried inside the Theatinerkirche, within a small chapel and crypt.

8. Asamkirche

Asamkirche is a tiny church that’s one of the most unusual and ornate in Munich. There’s a house beside the Asamkirche that’s almost equally grand.

Built between the years 1733 and 1746, Asamkirche’s real name is Church of St. Johann Nepomuk. Asamkirche was designed by the two Asam brothers, architects who wanted the building to serve as their own private church. However, the hierarchy of the church demanded that it be open to the general public. The brothers resided in Asamhaus, a home adjacent to this extravagant house for worship.

With just twelve rows of pews, the Asamkirche is one of the smallest churches of Munich, albeit one of the most opulent. On the outside of the church you will find a good example of the Late German Baroque architecture. While inside, its walls have been covered in frescoes, with the rest of the wall space taking on a rich reddish color.

Above this door is a marvelous statue of Saint Nepomuk, the 14th century bohemian monk that drowned in the River Danube. Nepomuk is depicted as being led into heaven by god’s angels, and appears once more in a different lavish ceiling fresco.

The church’s high altar has been enclosed in 4 twisted columns, while a glass shrine encases a wax figure of Nepomuk. There’s a cornice above which depicts god bending over a crucified Jesus. Flanking the gallery altar are 2 angels that were added at a later date.

Most of the interior of the church, including its stucco ornamentation and figures, its gilding, frescoes and oil paintings were restored carefully during the 20th century.

Asamhaus is a house situated to the church’s left side that was built during the 16th century. The home’s exterior is sculpted in lavish stucco ornamentation as was typical with Luftlmalerei, the South German Rococo technique.

The exterior walls are graced by 2 themes: the upper section is an interpretation of heaven, and the bottom section is a representation of the sensuous world and mankind’s artistic activity. It’s said that the home’s bay window was specifically constructed such that the Asam brothers could always see their church.

9. Hofbrauhaus

Every week, Hofbrauhaus, Germany’s most famous brewery, opens its doors to the public to share some of the secrets of their world-famous brew. Hofbrauhaus has affiliates across the globe and one of the most boisterous tents during Oktoberfest. But what exactly sets this particular establishment apart from Bavaria’s many other beer halls? Some say it’s the beer and its illustrious and at times notorious history.

Hofbrauhaus traces its roots to the Royal Brewery of the Bavarian Kingdom that was established in 1589. This makes it one of Munich’s oldest beer halls, still operating in almost the same location as when it served the Bavarian kings. Eventually the hallowed grounds were opened to the public and Hofbrauhaus and its brews found their place in history.

The most famous beer hall in Europe, Hofbrauhaus is situated in the heart of Munich, within the city’s Old Town, a few steps from Marienplatz. A national treasure, Hofbrauhaus is today owned by the Bavarian state government. Many locals treasure this Bavarian institution, which comprises an essential part of the history and culture of Bavaria.

Along with its atmosphere, people come to drink great German beer. The recipes of Hofbrau have been handed down for generations and follow the strict Reinheitsgebot, which is the Bavarian Beer Purity Law of 1516.

If you’re interested in the brewing of beer, and not just drinking it, then a brewery tour of the Hofbrauhaus will provide you with a unique behind-the-scenes look. In the duration of sixty to ninety minutes you will learn all the steps of the brewing processes from the sticky smell of hops to fermenting conditioning and tasting.

Complete your education by sampling some freshly tapped unfiltered beer with Bavarian snacks. If tasting is not enough for you, there’s a pub at the end of the tour at which you can continue with your sampling. For something a little more permanent than a headache to remember your visit by, head over to the souvenir shop that’s chock full of beer paraphernalia.

Hofbrauhaus is today an essential element of the history and cuisine of Munich; and alcohol, red meat and smoking are all hallmarks of the Hofbrauhaus and it’s over the top persona.

Visitors can enjoy a fun, bustling, traditional beer hall atmosphere as they sample home-brewed beers from the Hofbrauhaus brewery. The in-house butchery also offers traditional German delicacies while Bavarian bands play here every day.

The Hofbrauhaus menu is famous for its hearty dishes. Meat lovers can get their money’s worth here with all the sausages homemade and available in a sumptuous variety of specialties such as crackling pork roast, fresh veal sausage with sweet mustard or veal cutlet pounded thin and coated in golden bread crumbs.

Vegetarians can also find good options here such as the cheese spatzle, which comprises egg noodles and local cheese topped by roasted onions.

Hofbrauhaus’ history goes back over 4 centuries. It was originally established by Bavarian royalty who were unhappy with the brews the city of Munich produced and therefore decided to build and established their own private brewery.

At first, the brewery only brewed brown ale. Later on, wheat beer was added and soon became the brewery’s focus. The successful sales of wheat beer made it necessary for the Hofbrauhaus to expand and move in 1607. The brewery began serving the general public in 1610.

In 1896, the old brewery was torn down and a new one built in its place. The new building opened in 1897 featured a traditional Bavarian style that served as a modern restaurant facility.

Much of Hofbrauhaus was destroyed during a 1944 bomb strike and by the end of the Second World War, only a small part of the restaurant remained operational. Despite the bombing, several hundred beer steins were amazingly rescued unscathed from the Hofbrauhaus basement. The hall was rebuilt to its original style and reopened in 1958 to honor Munich’s 800th birthday.

There are several options when it comes to enjoying your beer inside the immense Hofbrauhaus hall. For a true Munich experience, join about a thousand other drinkers at the Schwemme.

Schwemme is the historic beer hall that is the heart of Hofbrauhaus. Visitors can sit down at long, wooden tables, some of which have been here for over 100 years, as the engraved dates, initials and comments testify. Schwemme is a great spot to get a true taste of Munich. Sit back and enjoy your beer in a large one liter jug, as you watch waiters in traditional dress juggle 10 big beers at once.

Situated on the first floor of Hofbrauhaus is Braustuberl, a small and quiet spot that’s great for dining. Festival Hall is a historic spot that seats about 900 people and has a stage that hosts Bavarian music, dance and folklore. During warm weather, you can sip your brew at the outdoor beer garden. Grab a pretzel to go with your beer, then sit back and soak in the Munich lifestyle.

10. Marienplatz

The heart of Munich, Marienplatz is the best place to begin your sightseeing tour. Dating from the 12th century, Marienplatz was the home of medieval markets, tournaments and celebrations. Today, the square serves as a popular meeting point for tourists and locals alike.

The first thing you will notice as you come to Marienplatz is its impressive Neues Rathaus, the new town hall. One of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, Neues Rathaus stretches over 300 feet in length and features an elaborately decorated façade with hundreds of arches, turrets and statues that dominate the entire square.

While it appears to date from the Middle Ages, Neues Rathaus was in fact built between 1867 and 1909 in the Flemish Gothic style. The new town hall is today home to the city government, the Munich Tourism Office and a restaurant on the ground floor.

By the mid-19th century, Munich was expanding greatly. Construction of the new town hall started in 1867, with the building’s eastern portion being fashioned from brick. The building was completed in 1874. An extension was added to the building’s rear 15 years later. Finally, the building’s western half in limestone was added featuring the building’s most recognizable part, its tower. Construction was completed in 1909.

Stunning ornate stone ornamentation graces the exterior of the Neues Rathaus. It has wonderful vaulted ceilings, beautiful stained glass windows, intricately carved wood workings and a labyrinth-patterned floor inside the inner courtyard. The result is a grand structure.

Nonetheless, the crowning glory of this new town house is its famous Glockenspiel. The fourth largest in Europe, Munich’s Glockenspiel is a 100-year old carillon housed within the Neues Rathaus’ cathedral-like tower that looms large above Marienplatz.

Each day at 11am, noon and 5pm, hundreds gather at the front of the tower to listen to the Glockenspiel chime and watch 32 life-sized figures reenacting historical events of Bavaria. Be on the lookout for the golden bird that chirps three times, marking the end of every show.

Spectators can watch 2 presentations: a reenactment of the wedding of Duke William V and Renata of Lorraine in 1568, complete with a jousting match, followed by a rendition of a dance known as the Schafferltanz, which was first performed to mark the end of the 1517 plague.

At night, spectators can view a night watchman blowing into his horn and Munich’s guardian angel bestowing blessings on the city.

Close to the Neues Rathaus is a small fountain known as the Fischbrunnen. Designed in 1864, the fountain was destroyed during the Second World War but rebuilt in 1954.

Altes Rathaus is Munich’s old town hall which is situated on the eastern side of Marienplatz. The original city building, Altes Rathaus dates from the 14th century. The municipality of Munich moved into the new town hall on the square’s other side in 1874 when the Altes Rathaus became too small.

The Altes Rathaus was in 1460 completely destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in the Gothic style between 1470 and 1480. The building was once again destroyed during World War II, but rebuilt shortly after following its original 15th century plans in the original neo-Gothic style.

Today, the old town house is home to Munich’s toy museum, which showcases a collection of unique and historic toys from Europe and the United States.

At the center of Marienplatz is the Mariensaule, the column of St. Mary which was erected in 1683. Topped by the golden statue of the Virgin Mary that was sculpted much earlier in 1590, the large column was erected in celebration of the end of the Swedish invasion during the 30 Years’ War.

Each holiday season, Marienplatz hosts Christkindlmarkt, Munich’s famous Christmas market which has been celebrated at this venue since 1642. Christkindlmarkt is a great place to purchase some Bavarian wood carvings, glass crystals and traditional toys. Every day at 5.30pm, visitors can enjoy a free Christmas concert on the balcony of the New Town Hall of Munich.

Marienplatz was during the Middle Ages a market place, as well as the site of festivities and tournaments. In 1807, the market of Marienplatz was moved to the Viktualienmarkt nearby, although the square continued to serve as the focal point of the city. Important public events such as executions and tournaments continued to be held there.

Originally named Schrannen, the square was renamed “Marienplatz” as a way of asking the Virgin Mary to protect the medieval town from a cholera epidemic. At every corner of the pedestal of this column is a statue of putti. The 4 puttis symbolize the city’s overcoming of war, hunger, heresy and pestilence.