After returning home from every trip, I always realize there are things I would have done differently. In retrospect, during our last trip to Europe, I would have spent more than half a day in Munich, Germany. (Seriously, what was I thinking?!)
During our two week road trip across Central Europe, we spent one full day and one night in Munich, the tourist capital of Germany. But really, after stopping to visit some new friends who live there, we only spent half a day in Munich actually sightseeing.
First, let me briefly introduce our new friends, Andy and Franzi. The live in Munich and are the parents of a friend of ours who now lives in the states and runs a German restaurant. Meeting them was probably the highlight of our day in Munich. When we first arrived in the Bavarian city we stopped to visit them, even though we had never met them before. They warmly welcomed us into their home, bought fresh pretzels from the bakery and offered us the first of many beers we would have in Europe. As you can see in the picture below, our daughter loved the pretzels!
It was neat to see how people live in Germany and what a home in Munich is like compared to a home in the United States. Most importantly, we made some new friends. Now, we don’t just consider Andy and Franzi the parents of our friend, we consider them personal friends of ours. Their home was lovely, and their backyard, garden and patio were beautiful! We learned about Bavarian traditions and they showed us the traditional Bavarian clothes, lederhosen and a dirndl. These beautiful, unique outfits are often worn to festivals and special events. After trying them on we later purchased our own lederhosen and dirndl that will always remind us of our trip.
Sightseeing in Munich
After saying our goodbyes, we headed to our hotel to check in and drop off our luggage. Then we were on our way to explore and grab some lunch.
Sofitel Munich Bayerpost Hotel was located directly next to the main train station, which was an ideal place to start our half a day in Munich sightseeing tour.
What we saw in Half a Day in Munich
Heading out from our hotel it was about a 15 minute walk to Marienplatz, but the walk is nice.
Karlplatz Shopping District
Along the way, we walked through a bustling pedestrian commercial district between Karlsplatz and Marienplatz. Kids ran through a splash fountain and locals and tourists alike gathered and enjoyed an afternoon coffee or meal. There are a lot of little shops and restaurants in this zone, so it’s a great place to people watch, window shop or enjoy a quick lunch.
St Michael’s Cathedral
We then stepped in to see St. Michael’s Cathedral, which was much more impressive on the inside than on the out. It’s free to enter, a quick stop, and an absolutely beautiful church.
This is Munich’s main square. The new town hall dominates the square and is quite a remarkable piece of architecture. At the center of the town hall is the famous clock tower, or Glockenspiel, which comes to life at 11, noon and 5 pm each day. Of all of the animated clock towers we’ve viewed, this is my favorite. The life size characters spin and dance for several minutes as crowds by the hundreds gather to watch. To get a great view of the famous square you can climb the clock tower, or climb the 299 steps to reach the observation tower of St Peter’s Church across from the new town hall.
St. Peter’s Church
We did visit and tour St. Peter’s Church, but we didn’t get to climb the tower. At this stage in parenthood, our daughter is too young to climb herself without taking a full day to get up the stairs. Our child carrier backpack is too large to fit through narrow passageways that often require you to squeeze past other people going the opposite way on the same staircase. So we skipped the climb and will have to do it next time. But if you plan to climb the tower, there is a small fee to do so, but I’ve heard the views are spectacular.
Even if you don’t want to climb the tower, the church is still worth visiting, as it is the oldest parish church in Munich and is absolutely lovely!
Directly next to St. Peter’s Church and just around the corner from Marienplatz is the Viktualienmarkt. This is a large outdoor food market with a ton of different vendors offering everything from gourmet meals to pretzels and sausages. I’ve said before that visiting local markets is one of my favorite things to do in a new place, and this particular market lived up to the hype. It is a great place to grab an inexpensive and authentic German lunch (or a pretzel bigger than your head). Plus, we loved the energy and atmosphere of the Viktualienmarkt.
Tip for those visiting the Viktualienmarkt: not all of the vendors accept credit cards, so make sure you have some euros on you just in case, or ask if they accept credit cards before you order. Ninety percent of people in Germany speak wonderful English, so you can get by without knowing German. However, my husband has been learning German for awhile, and we always recommend learning a few key words or phrases in a country’s native language before a trip.
What I wish we could have seen if we had more than half a day in Munich:
Munich is the tourism capital of Germany. There is so much to do there that we could have spent an entire week or more. I guess this gives us an excuse to go back. But if you have a bit more time in Munich than we did, here are a few things I wish we would have been able to see and experience.
This is comparable to New York City’s Central Park and is home to one of the most famous beer gardens in Germany. This urban park would particularly be a good place to visit with kids as there is plenty of room for them to run around and play. We fully intended on visiting the English Garden, but it slipped our minds when we were there. This would be a great place to either picnic or grab dinner in a family-friendly beer garden.
The palace is a huge complex that could take a day to explore. The wonderful Royal Gardens at the palace would be another great place to visit with kids. An audio tour of the palace walks you through the history of Bavarian rulers and the palace itself, while the gardens give kids an opportunity to burn some energy and run around.
If you like history and want to know more about Bavarian rulers of old, the Munich Residenz would be the place to visit. It is the former royal palace of Bavarian monarchs.
As you can probably tell, I love pretty churches. Asam Church is probably one of Munich’s most ornate churches. It’s small, so a visit to the church wouldn’t take much time and is only a short walk from the Marienplatz. You could definitely fit this into your itinerary for half day in Munich.
This is actually located just outside of Munich but would be worth a visit. The abbey runs a brewery, which is an unusual concept in America. But in Germany it isn’t uncommon for monks to brew beer. From what I’m told the beer is really good too. How cool would it be to drink beer brewed by monks?