Munich has benefited from its rich history and has many fine buildings and sights that glorify its wealth. Luckily for budget travelers, the Bavarian capital also offers many free things to see and do. Here are the best free Munich attractions and sights, from walking tours to a singing clock to open-air markets.
Sometimes the best things in Munich are free.
Munich's iconic Glockenspiel sits within the Rathaus (city hall). Every day at 11 a.m. and noon (and 17:00 in summer), a crowd gathers in front of the building on Marienplatz to hear the traditional Glockenspiel chime for a 15-minute show.
For over 100 years it has reenacted historical Bavarian events with 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. Look for the golden bird that chirps three times to mark the end of each show.
Insider tip: If you miss the main show times, an angel and a night watchman make an appearance at 21:00.
The magnificent Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is also located on Marienplatz. Its sturdy towers shape Munich's skyline.
Inside, visitors walk around the Teufelstritt "Devil's Footstep," one of the few surviving elements of the pre-WWII cathedral. Legend holds that this black mark in the shape of a footprint is where the devil stood.
Climb the steps of the cathedral’s towers for a breathtaking view of Munich's cityscape and the Bavarian Alps.
The Feldherrenhalle, or Field Marshal’s Hall, was commissioned by King Ludwig to commemorate the Bavarian army. In 1923, the stately hall became infamous when Hitler’s attempted coup to overtake the Bavarian government was defeated in front of the Field Marshal’s Hall. However, it still has issues as a cult site for National Socialist.
The Residence is the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs, and its oldest buildings date back to the 14th century. It is also the largest city palace in Germany.
Today, the Residence houses one of the best European museums of interior decoration. Don't miss the Antiquarium (Hall of Antiquities) from 1568. It is the largest Renaissance hall north of the Alps and beyond beautiful with a ceiling of gold and paintings.
Although the museum itself is not free, you can roam ten impressive courtyards and beautiful historical gardens without paying a cent.
The bustling Viktualienmarkt is Munich’s oldest and best farmers' market, dating back to 1807. Locals, tourists, and even the city’s top chefs come here to fill their baskets and marvel at the traditionally decorated booths. Browsing this outdoor market is a feast for all senses and while any time is a good time to visit, make sure to stop by for a festival. Everything from weighing celebrities to brewers' day to the opening of Spargelzeit is cause for celebration.
If shopping has worn you out, take a break at the Biergarten Viktualienmarkt. Every brewery in Munich presents its beer specialties here with a rotation of about six weeks.
The Catholic Theaterinerkirche, Theatine Church, adds some Mediterranean flavor to Munich. Built in the 17th century by an Italian architect, the inside is made out of white stucco, while the façade is awash in warm yellow colors. The church, one of the finest examples of Italian baroque in Munich, borders the royal Odeon’s Square.
Relax in the English Garden (Englischer Garten), the green heart of Munich, which is even bigger than Central Park in New York. Locals love their park for its many lakes, traditional beer gardens, overgrown paths, and lush lawns like the Schoenfeld Wiese, where you can also sunbathe nude.
Take part in a free, English-speaking walking tour through Munich and get a personal introduction to the Bavarian capital.
There are a plethora of companies which operate in Munich with some specializing in local guides, different languages, etc. Most walking tours start in Marienplatz. Look for guides that are entertaining as well as knowledgeable.
Did you know that Oktoberfest is free? You don't have to pay admission to visit the most famous beer festival in the world, and all Oktoberfest parades and events are free too.
The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Today, the largest beer festival in the world attracts over 6 million visitors annually who are free to enjoy traditional oompah music, rides, and atmosphere.
Munich is the gateway to the Alps and surrounded by beautiful Bavarian countryside. Take a trip to the Würmsee (in German), which lies 16 miles south of Munich.
Ideal for a day trip, it is lined by some of King Ludwig’s best palaces. The lake is a favorite destination for many locals.