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As Germany’s 3rd-largest city and the commercial and cultural hub of Bavaria, Munich is big, vibrant, and culturally rich. It’s the home of Germany’s largest Oktoberfest and one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, but it’s also beautiful in the spring and summer, with green spaces and museums aplenty and a famous food and drink scene. Given its location, it’s also a good jumping-off point for explorations of the Bavarian countryside, including some of the world’s most ornate castles. With so much to see and do, consider booking one of the excellent tours that Munich has to offer to help you get the lay of the land or more deeply explore a topic or area of the city that interests you. There are lots of wonderful options available, and below we listed the best of the best.
Best Walking Tour: Munich Old Town Walking
Munich is a fantastic walking city with endless clean, well-maintained sidewalks and lots of pedestrianized squares, not to mention great architecture, window-shopping, and people-watching at every turn. The city center, or old town, was largely damaged during WWII but has been carefully rebuilt and restored with a historical preservation mindset, so there’s lots of history to take in.
This two-hour walking tour takes you from the city’s central square, Marienplatz, through and around the city’s most iconic attractions: the massive rebuilt Frauenkirche, the city’s famous cathedral; St. Peter’s Church, the oldest church in Munich; the Viktualienmarkt, the historic food market, and the Old Town Hall with its massive moving glockenspiel.
It’s a simple, thoughtful tour that’ll really give you a deeper understanding of the history and importance of this beautiful city.
Best Bus Tour: Munich City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Hop-on/hop-off tours are fun, affordable, and easy-to-use, and this one, Munich’s best, is no exception. You simply buy a pass for 24 or 48 hours (the buses run from 9:40 a.m. to 6 p.m., but if you buy a pass at, say, noon, it’s good until noon the following day) and your voucher allows you to board and disembark at a comprehensive network of a dozen different stops around the city, each adjacent to an important landmark or district.
You can choose to board the double-decker bus, get comfy in your seat on the top, and simply watch the city go by as you ride the full loop and listen to recorded commentary, or you can stop at the most appealing sightseeing locations and take your time exploring there. More likely, you’ll want to do a combination of the two, and with a full 24 hours to do so (or 48, if you upgrade), you certainly have time to do so. It’s low-maintenance and largely self-directed, but tremendously convenient, especially for dedicated sightseers.
Best Segway Tour: Munich 2.5 Hour Segway Tour: Historic Center & English Garden
Segways are really convenient, allowing you to move quickly through a city, covering a lot of ground without tiring out. This tour, led by a guide who is an expert in local history, takes you on a narrated zip throughout Munich’s most famous districts and sites, including Old Town, Odeonsplatz, the Victory Gate, and the Peace Angel. It conveniently starts and ends in Munich’s beautiful English Garden, the city’s equivalent to New York’s Central Park. Its quiet, lush paths offer an ideal place to learn to ride the Segway (don’t worry, your guide will give you an in-depth lesson) and a nice place to take a stroll once your informative tour is over.
Best Food Tour: Bavarian Beer and Food Evening Tour in Munich
Beer is more than just a drink in Bavaria — it’s a fundamental cornerstone of the culture. There are particular local traditions not only for brewing, but also for ordering, for sipping, for pairing with food, and more. Enlist the help of a local brewing expert to show you around and teach you the remarkable history of the region’s most famous beverage.
This tour begins with a guided visit to the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum, a small but fascinating place housed in an Old Town building dating to the 1300s. From there, you’ll head to one of the city’s most famous beer halls, the Hofbrauhaus, where you’ll taste local beers and sample the regional foods that go so well with them: pretzels, spaetzle, and wurst galore while chatting with your guide and fellow travelers. It’s a merry sort of evening that’ll leave you rosy-cheeked and full of new information. (And beer.)
Best Private Tour: Private Munich Walking Tour
It’s a bit of a luxury, but a private tour is a really wonderful way to learn about a new place. Your guide can cater your tour to your interests, be they history, art, food, or even more obscure things, and you can move at your own pace, taking your time when something strikes you as interesting and moving more quickly when it doesn’t.
This walking tour begins at your hotel lobby or, if you prefer, in the Marienplatz. Among the attractions on the suggested itinerary: the place where Adolf Hitler attempted (and failed) to overthrow the Bavarian government in 1923 in the Beer Hall Putsch, the Munich State Theater and Opera House, and the Royal Residenz, where the Bavarian Royal Family lived for centuries. Take this tour early in your visit if you can, as your guide will be an invaluable resource for everything from restaurant recommendations to entertainment ideas and great little shops and markets that guidebooks don’t mention.
Best Dachau Tour: Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site Tour
It’s common for those who want to pay their respects at the Dachau Memorial Site stay in Munich, the nearest large city (just an hour by train), and in reverse, for those enjoying a vacation in Munich to take a somber day of remembrance and visit this historic site. This tour makes the latter very easy and is comprehensive enough to work for the former, as well. The five-hour tour, which includes all transportation costs, departs from the Munich Central Train Station (Hauptbanhof) and heads straight to the site of the Dachau Concentration Camp, the first and one of the most brutal of the camps in the Third Reich’s horrific system.
You’ll spend three hours exploring the memorial site, which includes an exhibition center, several surviving buildings, some rebuilt buildings, and a number of different memorials. After you’ve paid your respects and explored the exhibition center, you’ll return directly to Munich by train. Because Dachau does not allow children under 14 at the memorial site, this is not a family tour.
Best Castle Tour: Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Day Tour
Thanks to Germany’s King Ludwig II — “the Mad King” — Bavaria is home to several of the world’s most beautiful and famous castles. This comfy tour takes you on a quick trip to two of the most beautiful: the Rococo Linderhof, with its Moorish Pavilion, and the massive, fairytale-like Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for Disney’s famous castle. Note that the tour does not include entry to either of these castles, but the timing purposefully works out so if you’d like to pay to enter (about 25 Euros total), you’ll have plenty of time to do so. The tour also includes time to explore the charming village of Hohenschwangau, at the foot of Neuschwanstein, where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch and some souvenir shopping.
Best Oktoberfest Tour: Small-Group Munich City and Oktoberfest Tour
Munich’s massive Oktoberfest draws more visitors than any other festival in the city, and if you’ve considered attending but are a bit overwhelmed by the logistics, this small-group tour is perfect for you. Your tour begins with a 90-minute walking tour of Munich, which is at its most jovial and interesting during Oktoberfest. You’ll see all of the major historic buildings and learn about the history of the city and the origins of this massive festival, whose popularity has spread worldwide. From there, it’s on to Theresienwiese, the festival grounds, where you’ll get a quick tour around (and fitted for lederhosen or a dirndl, if you’d like) before heading to your reserved table in one of the festival’s biggest tents.
Included in the price: two liters of beer and a half-chicken. (Could anything be more Bavarian?) You’ll have the evening to explore the festival grounds with your new friends or on your own, with a guaranteed place to sit and eat in between.