48 Hours in Munich: The Ultimate Itinerary

Classic Munich view from 'Alter Peter' to 'Marienplatz' and 'Frauenkirche'

GettyImages / Achim Thomae

Located in the southern German state of Bavaria, Munich (or "München") is quintessentially German. After all, this is the land of lederhosen, platters of sausage, serene biergartens, and the biggest beer festival in the world—and it doesn't stop there. Munich is also home to stunning architecture, world-class museums, and easy access to the Alps.

There is much more to do in Munich than can fit into one weekend, but if you've got limited time, buy a transportation ticket, pack your rain gear and sunglasses, and follow this handy itinerary to see all that you can.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Weisswurst at Bavaria

  GettyImages / Westend61

9:00 a.m.: There is no better way to start the day in Munich than with a weißwurstfrühstück (white sausage or weißwurst), a pretzel with senf (mustard) and a Hefeweizen beer to wash it all down. The sausage are often served as a pair, floating lukewarm in a pot. This iconic Bavarian sausage should traditionally be eaten before noon and can be consumed by cutting it lengthwise and peeling it, or simply suck out the delicious innards (called "zuzeln") like a local. You can find this dish on many Bavarian menus, but one of the best is the beer hall Gaststätte Großmarkthalle. If you prefer a sweet start, try Cafe Frischhut's local favorite of a schmalznudeln (lard noodles) which resembles something between a funnel cake and a doughnut.

10:30 a.m.: You will need your strength for a full day of sightseeing, starting with a visit to bustling Viktualienmarkt to stock up on snacks for the day. This market is a must-see for food lovers and a great look at local life for Munich. Though it is a verified tourist attraction these days, Müncheners still stop by for their daily shopping of bread and produce, alongside a beer or coffee.

02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Munich's Marienplatz and Glockenspiel

GettyImages / Sir Francis Canker Photography

 

11:30 a.m.: Now that you're fueled up for the day, it is time to wander over to the center of the city. Start with the Gothic Frauenkirche. Built in the 12th century, it's a Munich landmark and an important part of Bavaria’s Catholic heritage. When entering, step on the "devil’s footstep" and read up on information on the legend.

12: 00 p.m.: Exiting the church you will find yourself in Marienplatz, Munich’s central square. This has been the center of the city since the mid-12th century. It features can't miss sights like the Neues Rathaus, the Altes Rathaus, and St. Peter's Church.

Try to time your visit to be in the square precisely at noon, where you can watch crowds gather in front of Neues Rathaus for the striking of the clock. The Glockenspiel of 43 bells and 32 life-size figures comes to life, mechanically moving to the music. To get the best view of the area, climb the 300 steps of the church to a spectacular viewing platform with views in every direction. This includes views of the not-so-far-off Alps.

03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

Munich Residenz
GettyImages / Michael Bell

4:30 p.m.: After you get your fill of the center, hop on the city's efficient bus transport for a visit to royalty. Munich's Residenz is the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach Monarchs of Bavaria and the largest city palace in Germany. Walk the magnificent grounds, including the stables, then buy a ticket to explore its unbelievable interior, which includes 130 rooms. Among the many sights to see are the Cuvilliés Theatre, Herkulessaal (Hercules Hall) and the Byzantine Court Church of All Saints (Allerheiligen-Hofkirche). Don't miss the The Renaissance Antiquarium, surely one of the most impressive hallways in the world.

6:30 p.m.: After all that walking, it's time to dig into the city's famed Bavarian beer hall culture. People from all around the globe visit the Hofbräuhaus, which prides itself in being the world's most famous beer hall. Established in 1589 as the Royal Brewery
of the Kingdom of Bavaria, this beer hall is an essential part of Munich's history, culture and cuisine, and a popular hang out for tourists and locals alike. You’ll see many reserved tables for regulars, called stammtisch. These special customers get permanent personalized beer steins locked in their own case. Expect oompah bands, waitresses in traditional Dirndls, beer in one-liter steins, and hearty Bavarian food roasted pork knuckle.

You can continue to drink here til things get hazy, or do a sampling of the many other beer halls in Munich's center.

04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Munich's English Garden
GettyImages / Sandra Behne

10:00 a.m.: After yesterday's carb fest, you might want to start the day a bit lighter. Grab just a pretzel from the many vendors, or stop by one of the many cosmopolitan cafés for a traditional German breakfast of a roll, local cheese and meat, plus a variety of jams and spreads.

11:00 a.m.: Make your way to the city's premier city park, the Englischer Garten. The largest park in Munich, the English Garden is the ideal place to go for a walk, a bicycle ride, a jog or sunbath—weather permitting. If the sun is out, be prepared for people to sun every part of themselves. Nude sunbathing is a common part of local culture.

If you prefer to keep your clothes on, you can also cool down on a hot day with a wade through part of the park called the Eisbach (“ice creek”), which runs through the park and leaves small and tidy waves for the city's bohemian surfers to tackle as they patiently wait in line for their turn.

11:30 a.m.: Continue your exploration of the park by finding the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower). An architectural outlier, this beautiful structure is also the site of one of the largest beer gardens in the city. Let the kids play at the playground and enjoy a very agreeable start to the afternoon.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

The Pinakthek der Moderne, Munich, Germany
Dave Morris

12:30 p.m.: For those interested in delving into Germany's darker chapters, Dachau concentration camp is a day trip away. For a 48 hour trip, however, the more time-friendly option is right in the city, at the Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. This extensive museum covers the rise of the Nazis in Bavaria in what was once their headquarters.

If you prefer art over history, Munich's visitors are spoiled for choice. The city has a number of world-class museum offerings, including the Alte Pinakothek, one of the oldest galleries in the world, or the Pinakothek der Moderne, where you’ll find art from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Alte Pinakothek collection includes masterpieces by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Paul Klee, Vincent Van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci, while the Pinakothek der Moderne showcases works by René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Judith Joy Ross and more.

4:00 p.m.: After a visit to the park and museums, this is the perfect opportunity to indulge in the German tradition of kaffee und kuchen, or coffee and cake. Head to Konditorei Kaffee Schneller and order a traditional Bavarian pastry like prinzregententorte, a sponge cake with chocolate buttercream and apricot jam. Pair it with a large milchkaffee (milk coffee) or a cup of herbal tea.

06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

Nymphenburg in Munich

GettyImages / Franz Marc Frei  LOOK-foto

 

5:30 p.m.: If you can pack another early evening visit to a palace, make the trip out to Nymphenburg Palace. Visiting during this time of day will help you bypass the crowds, and you can peacefully walk the grounds to appreciate the beauty of this location as the sun sets. The summer residence of the royals, the grand palace was built in 1675.

7:00 p.m.: It's time for another hearty meal. Borrow from the other major Bavarian city, Nuremberg, for a meal of finger-length sausages. Nuernberger Bratwurst Gloeckl am Dom is a favorite for locals as well as visitors. Here you'll find Munich-brewed beer, and plenty of delectable desserts to choose from.

9:00 p.m.: Finish your trip with a bang (and perhaps a hangover) at one of the city'smodern bars to truly get a feel for the Munich of today. Head to Zephyr Bar for a top shelf gin experience, Trisoux for effortless cool, or Zum Wolf for a classic Bavarian speakeasy. Kick back, enjoy, and make a toast to a great weekend.

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