The city of Oktoberfest, historical palaces, avant-garde art and green spaces, Munich has a uniquely Alpine flavour that’s quite unlike other German cities. City breaks in Munich will linger in the mind long after you’ve left this vibrant destination.
Munich’s public squares are the life and soul of the city. Marienplatz is a very popular meeting spot and a great place to kick back and people watch. This square is where you’ll find the Neues Rathaus (New Townhall) with its extravagant Neogothic façade and handy tourist office. Also in the square is Mariensäule (Mary’s Column), erected in the 17th century to commemorate victory over the Swedish army during the Thirty Years’ War. Another popular square is Karlsplatz, where you’ll find the medieval Karlstor. This structure marks the limits of Munich’s ancient city wall, which kept the city protected from the medieval period until the end of the 18th century. Finally, Odeonsplatz is a square that lies beside the 19th-century Maxvorstadt quarter. In Odeonsplatz you’ll find the Feldherrnhalle and Residenz, home to Bavaria's Wittelsbach, rulers until the First World War.
To discover the history of the Wittelsbach rulers, head to the fascinating Residenzmuseum. One more essential landmark to visit is the enormous 15th-century Frauenkirche, towering over the heart of the city.
For beer-lovers, Munich goes hand-in-hand with Oktoberfest. During this famous festival the city overflows with Bavarian beer and lederhosen, and if you happen to be visiting during the celebrations you’re in for a raucous time. Not that the festivities are limited to Oktoberfest – Munich is world-famous for its beer halls and beer gardens. If the weather is nice, there’s no better way to unwind in the afternoon than by heading to the outdoor Biergarten Rathenauplatz. Another popular destination is Augustiner Bräustuben, a traditional beer hall where you can also grab some delicious local specialities such as Schweinshaxe (pork knuckles). For a real Bavarian atmosphere, head to the vast Hofbräuhaus and join in with a sing-a-long as you drink locally brewed beer.
Munich is home to some of the greatest art galleries outside of Berlin. Alte Pinakothek is the place to go for Old Masters, and you’ll inevitably spend a good few hours basking in artwork by some of the greatest heavyweights, from Albrecht Dürer and Michael Pacher to Titian and Botticelli. If you prefer modern art, Pinakothek der Moderne is the largest modern art museum in Germany, and you’ll find work here by Dali, Klee and Beuys amongst hundreds of others. Other top museums in Munich include Museum Brandhorst and the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum.
There are plenty of green public spaces in Munich, including the vast Englischer Garten and the elegant Hofgarten. To the north of the city is the Olympiapark, the site of the 1972 Olympic games and a fantastic location for afternoon strolls and lakeside picnics.