While it is true that Berlin – the capital city of Germany – is often considered as the most favorable destination for young travellers to visit in Germany, and is hyped all around the globe as a party town, the hipster hotspot and the place to be right now, Munich is no less a secret haven for backpackers and young travellers alike.
I found Munich a more original destination, needless to say, a place that is more than the typical German clichés. So if you’re going to be spending some time in Germany, Munich is a must-see and a fantastically convenient hub from which to easily explore different attractions and sights in the greater Bavaria region and even the neighbouring Austria.
And to tell you honestly, you need a week or more to really see Munich, but I understand it’s not possible for everyone. So if you’re short with time, this guide will give you enough ideas to whet your appetite and leave Munich with many unforgettable memories. This is not just any other Munich City guide but an actual layout based on my personal experiences in the city. I tried a lot of other things beyond what’s mentioned (and of course in a completely different order) but out of all of them, if you cover the experiences and places mentioned below and in an exact order mentioned, I promise, you will make the most of your wee-trip to Munich.
A 3-Day Travel Itinerary For Munich And Around
Day 1 In Munich
Take The Morning Guided Bike Tour
During my four-day stay in Munich, I tried a guided bike tour (with MikeBike Tours) and a Vespa tour (with MunichByVespa) and found both of them an ideal way to cover all major highlights in the town on a fast-track. Though public transportation is also very effective in Munich, these two options were quicker, convenient and much hassle-free for the first time travellers.
There are a few bike tour operators in Munich but I suggest you go for the Superior Bike Tour with MikeBikeTours at 9:30 in the morning which costs €39 for adults and covers most of the architectural highlights of central Munich. In just about 5 hours, you visit the impressive Königsplatz, the nearby site of the NSDAP Headquarters (Führerbau) where the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938, Max Joseph-Platz where you can find glimpses of Munich residence and national theatre, Ludwig Maximillians University, the heart of Munich and the central square of Marienplatz, and of course, Munich’s most popular beer garden (the English Garden) for lunch and a mug of beer.
There are over 15 stops during the tour with guided commentary and in just 5 hours, you get to learn a great deal about the history of the city, a bit about the Nazi Occupation and some pretty great stories about the people that lived in and built up Munich. I’ve personally learned that a guided tour on the first day itself is the single best way to acquaint yourself with a new city and when it comes to a town like Munich, where there’s so much to see and do, a guided tour becomes even crucial.
A guided walking tour also serves the same purpose (as a bike tour does) and covers pretty much the same highlights but when you’re bounded with time, a bit of speed may be the alibi you need.
Drink Your Second Beer At Viktualienmarkt
Your bike tour should end back at Marienplatz just in time to grab a bite and a mug of beer (again!) and there can’t be a better place than Viktualienmarkt now that you’re already there.
Located in Marienplatz, Viktualienmarkt is a daily food market and an ideal stop to try some typical delicacies from Bavaria, but also international products from all over the world.
Climb The St. Peter’s Church
Once ready with a happy stomach, head to the St Peter’s Church in Marienplatz to climb its tower (of about 300 steps) and catch the panoramic view of Munich’s old town centre. If lucky, you can also catch the glimpses of the alps in the distance (I, unfortunately, wasn’t!).
Tip: If you’re not very hungry after the bike tour, you can also do the St Peter’s Church before heading to Virtua, as both the places are right next to each other are already in Marienplatz. This will save you some walking.
Eat At A Kebab Takeaway
It is well noticing and appreciating the fact that Munich, or Germany at large, has a big Turkish community living there with a strong influence of Turkish cuisine. At every 200m, you will see a Turkish food joint selling Doner Kebabs or something equally amazing.
So while you’re in Munich, don’t miss a chance to eat a real Turkish Doner Kebab, or even better, a Doner box!
Day 2 In Munich
Rent a Vespa And Look All Trendy & Stylish
Stylish, practical, innovative, classic… descriptions of the Vespa, the iconic Italian scooter, are endless. These vehicles aren’t just nice to look at, they’re also a very unique way to explore many towns in Europe, and Munich just happens to be one of them. During my travels in Munich, I rented a Vespa for a couple of days and explored the town in a beguiling fashion.
Though it’s fairly easy to explore Munich in public transport (as I said before) or by renting out a car, a Vespa is just as quick and much handy, as you can park your Vespa on any pedestrian path, just like a bike, without worrying about getting a ticket or every buying a parking ticket at all.
Start Your Day With Some Sausages & Potato Salad
So start your Vespa and head to a Bavarians love sausages and their staple breakfast is Weisswurst. So eat a Weisswurst if you can handle something heavy if not, any sausage and a bit of potato salad can let you kickstart your day like a real Bavarian.
And if it’s not too early for you, a beer to settle it all down. There are going to be several street cafes to grab a quick sausage and potato salad, but if you still get a hard time finding one, I can recommend Königlicher Hirschgarten located somewhere in between your way from Vespa Munich to Nymphenburg Palace. They offer simple regional food & a wide range of beer.
Once done, head to the most visited place in Munich and an important place in the history of Bavaria: the Nymphenburg summer palace.
Visiting The Nymphenburg Summer Palace
The home to the former Royal family of Bavaria, the Nymphenburg Summer Palace is a must-see in Munich. And since it’s one of the frequented places in town, you would want to arrive at the palace right when it opens to have the place almost to yourself having beaten the tour buses.
I recommend buying the ticket that gives you access to everything on offer, however, if your budget is tight or you are short on time, I recommend you still not to miss the main museum exhibition and the stable. No matter which ticket you buy, head straight into the main museum to get a good head start on the crowds. The gardens can be visited without a ticket and are worth a stroll.
It is quite likely that you will end up spending a good share of your day at Nymphenburg Palace. Though an ideal visit can take an entire day, for those for whom the idea is to thoroughly absorb the place, since we are short in time we will not spend more than half a day there and head to our next highlight, which is…
Lunch At Hofbräuhaus
I suggest heading to the Hofbräuhaus for late-afternoon munchies, that is one of the oldest beer gardens in the world. Serving typical litre-beer steins of their own brew, Hofbräuhaus is all about the atmosphere as lederhosen-clad staff sling beer steins across tables, spotting sweet smiling ladies carry around baskets of freshly baked pretzels and joining a few dozen guests busy with a mug of beer.
I loved the ambience in Hofbräuhaus than in any other beer garden in Munich.
Pick A Tour And Explore The Streets On Your Vespa
Unlike the many big cities around the world, Munich, despite being a bustling city has some sort of charm in driving around its streets. Perhaps that’s why it has some of the most beautiful and expensive cars than anywhere else in Europe – call it the another Dubai. And one of the things I loved the most (more than exploring the tourist highlights) is riding the Vespa around the city.
Just pick one of the many routes in the GPS provided with your Vespa or simply choose the streets that catch your fancy. I particularly loved the area around Olympiapark and Luitpoldpark for their comparatively broader and less crowded streets.
Day 3 Escaping Munich
One of the best things about Munich is that it is strategic placement in South Germany, that leaves yours with many options for a day trip. The only downside is that you can’t combine them all in one day.
During my recent trip to Munich and Bavaria region, I explored a few towns around Munich that were all ideal for day trips. Other than the towns, I also tried skydiving for a day which can also be an ideal day-trip for adventure buffs. So on day three, here are a couple of suggestions:
For Adventure Buffs: Skydiving In Günzburg
Located in Günzburg, in the Swabia region of Bavaria (about 2 hours train ride from Munich, towards Stuttgart) is the airfield for adventure sports like adrenaline aircraft ride and skydiving. And if you’re into adventure sports, a day trip to try tandem skydiving can just be the most memorable thing to do during your Germany Holiday.
I skydived with a company called Fallschirmsport Airtime that, for a price of EUR 200, gives you a 60 sec of adrenaline rush (or a 60 sec of free fall). To get there, you can take a train from Munich to Günzburg (which takes 1.5 hours and about 20 EUR for a single journey). A 20 minutes walk to the airfield and you’re ready to try one of the most extreme adventure sports in the world. The entire skydiving experience (from training to jump and getting your skydive certificate) can take 4-5 hours. With 4 hours of travel from Munich, it makes it for an entire day-trip.
Here, for further reading about my first Skydiving Experience.
For History/Nature Lovers: Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein Castle, And The Alps
Just 1.5 hours from Munich you can find yourself at the foothills of the Alps, wandering the tiny Bavarian village of Füssen with a pretzel in hand. Where the town itself is a highlight and worth exploring, the main draw to this area are the castles of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, related to King Ludwig II.
Both the castle is quite a spectacular to explore. Set in a mountain setting, it’s hard to visit them without conjuring up thoughts of fairy tales and royal musings.
There are two ways to get there. One, you take the bus from Munich (or a train to Füssen followed by a bus to Hohenschwangau) on your own and it drops you in Hohenschwangau, from where you can get your tickets to the castles and then walk up the hill. The convenient way, however, is booking a guided day-tour that includes a ticket to visit the castles and your transportation from Munich.
The Budget To Do It All
Though it’s true that Munich can be a little brutal on your pocket for it is one of the most expensive cities in Germany, you need not to turn your money wallets inside out to have a good time. Moreover, Munich is one of those rare towns in the world, that, may just be a little pricey, but offer everything of top-class: from your hotel room to the subway everything in Munich is going to be neat and clean.
Here’s a rough money classification:
Day1: €39 for the bike tour + €10 for a beer and light snacks in English Garden during the bike tour + €15 for lunch and beer in Viktualienmarkt + €3 to climb St. Peter’s tower + €10 for dinner in a Kebab shop [Roughly €67 plus accommodation + breakfast]
Day2: €59 for renting the Vespa + €7 for the traditional sausage breakfast + €9 for a full tour at Nymphenburg Summer Palace + €15 for the lunch and beet at Hofbräuhaus [Roughly €90 plus accommodation + dinner]
Day3: €209 for skydiving + €40 for the transportation to Günzburg [Roughly €249 plus accommodation + all meals] OR for a guided tour to the castles of Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein from Munich, roughly €60 plus accommodation + all meals.
Where To Stay In Munich
Munich is one of the central and most visited destinations in Germany. Having said that, there’s no dearth of places to sleep in the city. From budget backpackers to luxury seven stars, Munich has something for everyone. However, I can recommend ‘Bold Hotels’ where I ended up staying throughout my stay in Munich and loved them for every detail. For a price of EUR 70 I got my own room, a balcony a small kitchen and a bathroom (with underfloor heating) with every detail matching the Germany standards.
Their buffet breakfast was moreover a daily treat!
Further reading, for those who have more time in Munich and want to cover a few more highlights: Top Tourist Attractions In Munich