Munich is the capital of the German state of Bavaria. While it’s the third largest city in Germany, Munich is often called the “village of a million people” thanks to its pedestrian-friendly streets and small-town feel. The historic city center is well preserved and enjoyable to explore by foot.
Devastating bombs destroyed much of Munich during World War II. Bombings damaged roughly 90% of the old city center and 50% of the entire city. Allied bombers targeted Munich because of the city’s industrial importance and because the city was home to the Nazi Party headquarters.
As with all German cities, post-War Munich had to decide whether to rebuild historically or build a new modern city. Unlike Frankfurt and Berlin, Munich replicated the old city center as much as possible. Munich also made the city center more pedestrian and bike friendly during reconstruction by building a subway and limiting car traffic. Because of rebuilding historically, Munich offers visitors a rich mix of history and Bavarian culture.
We especially love Munich as a place to start or end a Europe trip. The city boasts a large airport. Plus, the city center is easily accessible to explore while overcoming jet-lag. In addition to Munich’s year-round draw, visitors flock to the city for seasonal events, such as Oktoberfest, and Christmas Markets. Munich is also a great place to begin a European roadtrip. Easy places to connect to from Munich include Speyer or Berlin in Germany, or Ehrwald in Austria.
Where to Stay in Munich: Hotel Torbräu
The Hotel Torbräu offers an unbeatable location and nice four-star amenities. It is located next to the Isartor (one of Munich’s three remaining city gates). Plus, the hotel is only 0.3 miles from the Marienplatz (Munich’s main square). We especially love the brightly lit breakfast room, which overlooks the Isartor.
Rooms are clean and modern. Plus, the staff is welcoming. The Hotel Torbräu is one of the hotels we have returned to time after time over the past 15 years, thanks to its great location and friendly environment.
Where to Eat in Munich, Germany:
Breakfast at the Hotel Torbräu
We recommend booking a room package that includes breakfast. The hotel offers a fantastic buffet breakfast, with a mix of eggs, fresh meats and cheeses, pastries, fruit, and cereals. By booking a package with breakfast, you often save money, and make your mornings easier.
Throughout German-speaking countries, a Ratskeller is a bar or restaurant in the cellar of the Rathaus (City Hall). In Munich, the Ratskeller is a classic Bavarian restaurant. It offers a German menu with items such as Wiener Schnitzel, pretzels, and sausages. The Ratskeller is definitely a can’t-miss place while you are in Munich. (This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. We suggest making a reservation if you plan to visit for dinner.)
The other classic restaurant in Munich’s Old Town is the Hofbrauhaus. This traditional beer hall is one of Munich’s oldest, opened in the late 1500’s. While touristy, it’s a must-see restaurant. The lively main hall is always busy, and you can expect big beers (one size fits all: 1 liter), cheap food, and fun German music (check their website for music hours).
This is an great restaurant for traditional fondue. Located near the Marienplatz, the Gärtnerplatz Alm offers both meat fondue and cheese fondue (with a variety of specialty spices and sides to jazz up your cheese fondue). This little restaurant is cozy and very festive!
Things to Do While Visiting Munich, Germany:
Munich is a beautiful city with a rich history. While visiting, make sure to walk through the Old Town. Visit the Marienplatz, Munich’s main square and the home of the Rathaus (City Hall). Also stop by the Englischer Garten, Munich’s massive park. Here, you can enjoy a beer garden, walking paths, and (be warned) nude sunbathing in the summer. In the summer, we enjoy renting bikes to explore the garden. (We rented bikes that we found in the park, which could be rented and unlocked by a phone app.)
To better understand Munich’s history and the importance of different landmarks, we suggest finding a walking tour. You can ask your hotel for tour guide suggestions. Another option is to download the Rick Steves Audio Europe phone app for a free audio tour.
Shopping in Downtown
To maintain a historic city center, Munich banned malls to encourage stores to open around the Marienplatz. You can find everything from large clothing stores such as H&M to smaller shops selling souvenirs and small gifts. We especially love Munich’s shopping area due to its central location along lively pedestrian-only boulevards.
Day trips from Munich:
Munich is a great jumping off point for day trips. One fun day trip option is to take a non-stop train to a Bavarian town. Regensburg is one great option for this type of day trip. The ski town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen near Austria is also a fun place to visit.
To better understand Munich’s history, consider visiting Dachau. It is only 20 minutes from central Munich by train. The Nazi Party built Dachau as the first concentration camp, and today it is a museum. For detailed transit and tour details, ask your hotel for recommendations.