People often only visit Munich for Oktoberfest and the German Christmas Markets, but the truth is that Munich is an amazing city that can be enjoyed year round and should definitely be included on any Bavaria roadtrip itinerary! If you have just one day in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, keep reading to find out what to do in 24 hours in Munich (and also what to expect if you are there for Oktoberfest)!
Start off in Marienplatz, the most historic and scenic square of the Old Town. It is almost 900 years old and still serves as Munich’s main square.
The square holds beautiful historic buildings including the Old City Hall and St Peter’s Church, which you can climb up the 299 steps of the tower for €2 to get a lovely panoramic view of Munich.
After this, head back to Marienplatz square for 11am to see the famous Glockenspiel performance on the neo-gothic New Town Hall lasting 12 minutes. Luckily the centre of Munich is relatively compact and easy to explore, so you can walk everywhere!
Just around the corner is the mysterious Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady) – built over 500 years ago and taking just 20 years to complete, something that seemed almost impossible back in those days. Legend has it that the builder asked Satan to help him complete the Cathedral, thus explaining why it was built so fast. In exchange for his help, Satan ordered for it to be built with no windows to keep the Church in darkness, which the builder did. Or so the devil thought.
From the front, because the big pillars blocked a lot of the Church, it seemed as though there were no windows. But when the devil stepped in he saw the huge windows letting in light from the heavens. In a rage the devil stomped his foot on the floor, indenting the concrete with his footprint forever. As the devil stormed out he left behind a constant gust of wind that still swirls around the church to this day. Whether or not you believe it, it’s worth it to see the “Devil’s Footstep” and you can even place your foot on the footprint.
Have lunch in a Bavarian beer house
After all this, I’m sure you’ll be ready for lunch, and you certainly can’t go to Munich without trying the delicious local food! Bavaria has it’s own unique cuisine including wurst (sausage) – weisswurst or bratwurst (served with sauerkraut), pork schnitzel and the famous Brezen (pretzel). Enjoy lunch in one of Munich’s beer houses, and in the summer make sure to enjoy some of this delicious Bavarian food and beer in one of Munich’s many biergartens! The beer house I went to, and I definitely recommend you to visit it for a stein of beer and hearty food is Hofbräuhaus, a short walk from Marienplatz. Built almost 500 years ago, this is THE world’s most famous beer hall – the likes of Louis Armstrong, John F. Kennedy and Mozart have even visited it!
The English Garden
For the afternoon, head to The English Garden. It is one of the biggest parks in the world – it is even bigger than New York’s Central Park! I always love having a park in the middle of a big city where you can escape the hustle and bustle for a while. There are nice cafes, a Japanese tea house, lots of trails to walk on, heck surfers even go here to catch the waves in one part of the river that has a strong current! Of course there are many beer gardens inside the English Garden (we are in Germany after all!), including one that has space for 7,000 people – an amazing atmosphere in the summer!!
And when it gets dark, Munich is also lovely to stroll around as the sights are lit up beautifully.
Oktoberfest is a super-fun festival held in Munich every year. It began over 200 years ago when Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese on October 12, 1810 and the people of Munich were invited to attend the festivities. Over time the festival was brought forward to the end of September so people could still enjoy the warmer weather. So nowadays Oktoberfest actually starts in late September, lasts for just over 2 weeks, and ends on the first Sunday in October. Thousands of people get dressed up in traditional Bavarian outfits and have a great time with their friends drinking beer and singing. How the lederhosen-clad waitresses manage to carry several one-litre beer jugs I’ll never know – those things are so heavy, I had to hold my jug with both hands!
Do you have to book a table?
If you are going to be there at the weekend or in the evening it is advised to book a table at one of the tents so you have a place to sit, as opposed to standing all evening, as it gets especially crowded during this time (table reservations are about €300). But if you are there during the day, especially before lunchtime, it should be okay to find a few free seats.
In the tents the beer is reasonably priced at around €10 a litre and food is around €12, although you can get food at the stalls outside much cheaper. You’ll have to put down a small deposit for the glass aswell, rather like at the Christmas Markets. Each tent has a different theme so choose one that you like! All the tents are free to enter and most of them close at 10.30pm. Except the Käfer tent. This one is open until 1am so of course everyone heads there after the other tents have closed, so make sure to get there before 10:30pm so you have a space, otherwise you won’t even be able to get in. And one thing, just remember to pace yourself. Those litres of beer are strong 🍻🤪.
Accomodation close to the grounds gets very expensive and the majority of rooms sell out months or even a year in advance, so book early! Make sure to buy your lederhosen too as it wouldn’t be as fun to go not dressed up! They start from around €100 in the shops, but I’m sure you could find some online much cheaper.
Dachau Concentration Camp
The Dachau concentration camp can be easily reached as a half day trip from Munich on a 30 minute train ride. It is a sobering and moving experience where you will learn about the Holocaust and the tens of thousands of people held there who were tortured and suffered horrific things. It is not an extermination camp like Auschwitz, but still countless people were murdered there.
Whilst visiting a Concentration Camp is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, including my own, I think it is important we visit places like this to understand what happened and why it happened, and learn about the dark side of Europe’s history. Personally, out of respect I don’t like to take photos at places like this.
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