Munich Introduction Walking Tour, Munich

Munich Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Munich

Straddling the banks of the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps, Bavaria’s capital Munich is home to centuries-old buildings and numerous attractions.

The city was first mentioned in 1158. Its name is usually interpreted as the Old/Middle High German term Munichen, which means "by the monks", deriving from the monks of the Benedictine order, who ran a monastery at the place that was later to become the Old Town of Munich. A monk is also depicted on the city's coat of arms.

Once Bavaria was established as a sovereign kingdom in 1806, Munich became a major European center of arts, architecture, culture and science. After World War I, it was at the center of substantial political unrest. In the 1920s, Munich became home to several political factions, among them the NSDAP. After the Nazis' rise to power, Munich was declared their "Capital of the Movement". The city was heavily bombed during World War II, but restored most of its traditional cityscape. After the end of postwar American occupation in 1949, there was a great increase in population and economic power during the years of Wirtschaftswunder ("economic miracle"). The city hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics and was one of the host cities of the 1974 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.

As a global center of art, science, technology, finance, culture and tourism, Munich enjoys a very high standard and quality of living. It is particularly popular for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and beer halls, including the famed Hofbräuhaus, founded in 1589. In the Altstadt (Old Town), central Marienplatz square contains landmarks, such as Neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus (town hall), with a popular Glockenspiel show that chimes and reenacts stories from the 16th century.

To experience first-hand the delights of Munich, take this self-guided orientation walk and explore!
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Munich Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Munich Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Munich (See other walking tours in Munich)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: alexei
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Marienplatz (Mary's Square)
  • Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall)
  • Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church)
  • Viktualienmarkt (Farmer's Market)
  • Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
  • Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall
  • Maximilianstrasse
  • Residenz Royal Palace
  • Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshall’s Hall)
  • Theatine Church
  • Hofgarten and War Memorial
  • English Garden
Marienplatz (Mary's Square)

1) Marienplatz (Mary's Square) (must see)

Mary's Square is the central square in the heart of Munich, and has been the city's main square since 12th century. Its origins can be traced back to 1158 when it was established by Henry the Lion, Duke of Bavaria, as a market place for the city. Known for its stunning architectural monuments and vibrant atmosphere, Mary's Square is both a historical site and a lively urban hub that reflects the spirit of Munich.

The square is named after the Marian column erected in its center in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years' War. Atop the column is a golden statue of the Virgin Mary, which has become one of the defining symbols of the city.

Mary's Square is surrounded by significant architectural landmarks. On the east side, the New Town Hall stands as a striking example of neo-Gothic architecture. With its intricate facade and the iconic Glockenspiel, a beautiful carillon that chimes and reenacts two stories from the 16th century daily, the New Town Hall is a focal point of the square.

On the opposite side of the square, you'll find the Old Town Hall in a striking contrast of styles, showcasing late Gothic architecture. This building now hosts a toy museum, adding to the cultural richness of the area.

Mary's Square is not just a place for admiring historical architecture. It also hosts various markets and events throughout the year. The most notable of these is the Munich's traditional Christmas market, which transforms the square into a festive wonderland.

In addition to taking in history and admiring architecture, Mary's Square is also an excellent place for enjoying a pleasant stroll or a meal at one of the many nearby restaurants and cafes. Mary's Square offers a uniquely Bavarian experience that any visitor to the city should not miss.
Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall)

2) Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) (must see)

The New Town Hall was built in the 19th century, at a time when the city of Munich enjoyed great prosperity. The Old Town Hall was too small to accommodate the local government, so a new Hall had to be constructed.

The site for it was chosen right there nearby, and to clear space, twelve buildings had to be demolished. The Hall was erected between 1867 and 1908, designed by young architect, Georg Hauberrisser, who was only 24 at the time.

The building features Gothic Revival style, has 400 rooms and covers area of more than 9,000 square meters. Overlooking Marienplatz, it also has a small garden at the back, called the Marienhof. In the basement there is the Ratskeller restaurant, and the first floor balcony is often open to visitors to observe sporting events and concerts that are taking place in Marienplatz from time to time. The 85-meter main tower of the Hall is served by elevators.

Another key attraction here is the mechanical, two-level Glockenspiel (Carillon) consisting of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures, dating from 1908. Each day at 11am and 12pm, as well as at 5pm during summer, it chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century. The first one is of marriage of local Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine. In honor of the couple there is a joust with life-sized knights on horseback representing Bavaria (in white and blue) and Lothringen (in red and white). The Bavarian knight always wins, naturally.

The second story is called Schäfflertanz (the coopers' dance). Set in 1517, the year of plague in Munich, according to myth, the coopers, loyal to the duke, danced through the streets to "bring fresh vitality to fearful dispositions." Their dance came to symbolize perseverance in difficult times. By tradition, the dance is performed in Munich every seven years during Fasching (German Carnival). Described in 1700 as "an age-old custom", the current dance moves were defined only in 1871, though.

The entire show lasts between 12 and 15 minutes, depending on the tune played that day. At the end, a small golden rooster at the top of the Glockenspiel chirps quietly three times, marking the conclusion of the spectacle.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church)

3) Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) (must see)

Affectionately called “Alter Peter” (Old Pete) by the locals, Peterskirche is said to be the site around which the city of Munich has evolved. Originated in the 12th century, it occupies the place of an older, 8th-century monastery and pre-Merovingian church.

The monks who lived in the monastery called the hill “Petersberg” (Peter’s Hill). The city is subsequently named after these monks, as “Munchen” derives from the German word “Monch” which means monk. A Bavarian Romanesque temple was first built on this spot in 1180; it burned down in 1327. The present church dates back to 1368. Its spire-topped steeple and Baroque choir were added in the 17th century. Severely damaged during World War II, the building was carefully restored to its original appearance later on.

Inside Peterskirche, you will find 15th-century Erasmus Grasser’s sculpture and paintings by Johann Baptist Zimmerman. Another key attraction is the gilded skeleton of St. Mundita, adorned with precious stones. Visitors can climb 306 steps to the upper platform of the steeple for a breathtaking view across Munich and further afield, towards the Alps, on a clear day. Color-coded circles at the lower platform indicate visibility conditions. A white circle means the climb is worthwhile and the Alps are visible from the up there.

It's worth to pay a few euros to climb to the tower's top for a 360° view of Munich. The climb is not easy and definitely not for those with fear of heights – only for the adventurous lot!
If you come before noon, you can get a brilliant view of the Glockenspiel clock in action at Marienplatz without having to jostle with tourists down there.
The are two viewing binoculars allowing to soak up the atmosphere (colored rooftops, etc.).
Note: it might get windy and cold up there.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5:30pm; Sat-Sun: 10am-5:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Viktualienmarkt (Farmer's Market)

4) Viktualienmarkt (Farmer's Market) (must see)

Farmer's Market is a bustling open-air marketplace in the heart of Munich. A beloved institution for both locals and tourists, this vibrant market offers a colorful array of fresh food, traditional Bavarian specialties, and artisanal products.

Established in 1807 by King Maximilian I, it began as a simple farmers' market in Mary's Square, the city's main square. As Munich grew, so too did the market, eventually requiring more space and relocating to its current location.

Spread across an area of 22,000 square meters, the market is home to more than 140 stalls and shops. Visitors can find a vast selection of items ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, meat, baked goods, and spices to exotic ingredients, gourmet foods, and homemade crafts. Traditional Bavarian delicacies, such as pretzels, sausages, and local cheeses, are also readily available, providing an authentic taste of regional cuisine.

Beyond its food offerings, Farmer's Market is also known for its beer garden, one of Munich's most popular. Amidst the market's hustle and bustle, the beer garden provides a delightful spot for people to unwind and enjoy local beers under the shade of chestnut trees.

Farmer's Market isn't just a marketplace; it's a vital part of Munich's cultural fabric. It hosts a variety of traditional events, including dance and music performances, seasonal festivals, and a colorful Mardi Gras celebration.

Operating Hours
Monday-Saturday: 9am - 10pm (summer) and 9am - 6pm (winter); Sunday: closed
Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)

5) Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)

Once the seat of the Munich Municipality, prior to the construction of Neues Rathaus in 1874, Altes Rathaus (the Old Town Hall) stands on the eastern side of Marienplatz. It was left untouched, unlike many other buildings that were demolished to make way for the building.

The Old Town Hall was constructed between 1470 and 1480, based on the design by Jörg von Halsbach, the renowned architect who also created the Frauenkirche in Munich. At the time of its construction, the building appeared Late Gothic in style, but was remodeled several times and ultimately altered to Neo-Gothic, between 1861 and 1864. To allow passage of traffic, throughout 1877-1934, two tunnels were built through the building. The Rathaus suffered greatly from the World War II bombings and was extensively restored, based on its 15th-century design.

Today, the building hosts offices of the city council, some administrative departments and a Toy Museum (Spielzugmuseum) set in four rooms within the tower. There is a souvenir & gift shop on the first floor that sells unique items such as, in particular, replicas of The Morris Dancers, wooden sculptures by Munich's Erasmus Grasser.

***Third Reich Walk***
This stately complex in the heart of Munich played a key role in the Nazi’s seizure of power. It is here that Joseph Goebbels gave his infamous speech that inspired Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass,” on November 9, 1938, a nationwide pogrom that led to the destruction of numerous Jewish businesses and arrest of thousands of Jewish citizens. Kristallnacht is generally considered to be the start of the “Ultimate Solution of the Jewish Question”, i.e. the Holocaust.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the finest historical buildings to see in Marienplatz. Just as the neighboring New Town Hall, it is open to climb upstairs to the top. Inside, the ground floor is just as gorgeous, exactly as one would expect a typical German building to look like.

In addition to the Toy Museum, the Altes Rathaus offers yet another bit of fun in the form of the Juliet Capulet Statue, located on the side of the building, a gift from the city of Verona to Munich in the 1970s.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall

6) Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall (must see)

The Hofbräuhaus is probably the best-known “watering hole” in Munich. Dating all the way back to 1589, this beer hall was founded by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V, and originally, surprisingly enough, was not open to the public. Luckily for today's tourists and locals, though, in 1828 it finally opened up to the masses. Today, this hospitable spot, thick with traditional atmosphere and friendly vibes, is where you can come to enjoy typical Bavarian food to your heart's content, listen to the Oompah band play loudly on stage, and gulp down the rich Hofbräuhaus beer in large, one-liter steins, which the Germans call a Mass.

The Bavarian Beer Purity Law, passed in 1516, states that only natural ingredients can be used for beer brewing. To this day, this law is still duly adhered to and the beers of Munich, including Hofbräuhaus, are held to that high, delicious standard of beer making.

In case you want to take home one of the authentic huge Hofbräuhaus beer steins, you can find them at the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl gift shop at the cost of 10 to 15 Euros apiece. Just don’t tell any of your German friends that you might be willing to fill it up with something other than the pure, golden Hofbräuhaus beer. Never!!!

Opening Hours: daily 9:30 - 23:30

***Third Reich Walk***
Renowned for its beer, Hofbräuhaus also made mark in history on 24 February 1920, when Adolf Hitler held here one of his first propaganda gatherings.

7) Maximilianstrasse

Maximilianstraße is one of Munich's four royal avenues, along with Brienner Straße, Ludwigstraße and Prinzregentenstraße. It starts at Max-Joseph-Platz, home to the Residenz and the National Theatre, and runs east-west.

The street was planned and begun in 1850 by King Maximilian II of Bavaria, after whom it takes the name and whose statue, the Maxmonument, sculpted by Kaspar von Zumbusch in 1875, is found in the the eastern part of the avenue. Another “Maximilian” thing is the Maximiliansbridge with the statue of Pallas Athene, built in 1857-1863, as an extension of Maximilianstraße to the Maximilianeum.

With this project, the king aimed at "inventing" a new architectural style which would combine the best features of historical models with the then latest construction technologies. The avenue is framed by mostly Neo-Gothic buildings influenced by the English Perpendicular style.

In line with the concept, north facade of the Old Mint Yard, facing the National Theatre, got its Neo-Gothic appearance. Other notable sites along the street include the Schauspielhaus (1901), the Upper Bavaria district administration (1856–1864), the Museum Fünf Kontinente (Museum of Ethnology, 1858–1865), and the Wilhelmsgymnasium (1875–1877).

The western portion of Maximilianstraße is devoted to shopping and high living, packed to the brim with galleries, designer shops, luxury boutiques, jewellery stores, and one of Munich's foremost five-star hotels, the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten (Kempinski, built by Rudolf Gottgetreu, 1856–1858). Famous brands like Gucci, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Versace and other big names have established their presence here, increasingly ousting the traditional shops, art galleries and restaurants. Today, Maximilianstraße has the distinction of the highest retail rents in Germany.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Residenz Royal Palace

8) Residenz Royal Palace (must see)

The Residenz Royal Palace (or Munich Residenz) is the former seat of the Bavarian Government and the residence of dukes, electors and kings from the Wittelsbach family, rulers of Bavaria, who lived here between 1508 and 1918. Today, the palace houses a museum and boasts some of the finest room decorations in Europe.

Maximilian I of Bavaria commissioned the construction of the palace, then a small castle in the northeastern corner of Munich, in the early 17th century. In his time, King Ludwig I commissioned architect Leo von Klenze to expand it further toward the current proportions. The building was severely damaged by the World War II bombardments and was completely restored only in the 1980s.

Today, the Residenz consists of a museum, a concert hall, the Residenz Treasury, and the Cuvilliés Theater. The oldest part of the palace – the Antiquarium – is a magnificent, Europe’s largest Renaissance hall with statues from antiquity. The entire complex comprises 10 courtyards and 130 richly decorated rooms. The Treasury preserves jewelry and objects made of gems and precious metals belonging to the Wittelsbach family. The world’s most extensive coin collection of King Albert V, consisting of 300,000 coins, spanning from the ancient times to the early 20th century, is also displayed here. The palace is encompassed by a French-style garden with a fountain and a circular temple with replica of the Bavaria statue on top.

Why You Should Visit:
Versailles-like in its gilded opulence and glory, including the amazing courtyards.
The complex is huge, even more so now that several rooms and corridors have been renovated and opened to the public after many years.
There are an 'old' and a 'new' area to explore and a very good audio guide included with the ticket price.

You can buy combined tickets to the Theatre and the Treasury for a complete experience.
The audio guide offers wealth of information about the artwork/rooms/historical events, so you can skip forward to the parts of the tour suiting your interest.
A full tour takes several hours, so you may want to split it into sections with a break for coffee & snacks.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshall’s Hall)

9) Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshall’s Hall)

The Feldherrnhalle or Field Marshall’s Hall is a large loggia built to commemorate Bavarian military leaders and soldiers who fell during the Franco-Prussian War. The memorial was commissioned by King Ludwig I of Bavaria and designed by Friedrich von Gartner. It was built between 1841 and 1844 on the site of one of the old city gates, the Schwabinger Tor, at the southern end of Ludwigstrasse, near the Palais Preysing. The design was modeled on the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.

At the front, the building features large bronze statues of two revered Bavarian military heroes, Johann Tilly and Karl hilipp von Wrede, created by sculptor Ludwig Schwanthaler. In 1882, another sculpture paying tribute to the Bavarian army’s exploits during the Franco-Prussian war was created by Ferdinand von Miller Jr. and placed at the center. The steps leading up to the monument carry two lions, sculpted by Wilhelm Ruemann in 1906. The growling lion faces the Residenz Royal Palace while the other lion, with its mouth closed, faces the church.

The place is best remembered, however, for the skirmish between the Bavarian Police and Hitler’s followers in 1923, called the Beer Hall Putsch, resulting in the future Fuhrer and his supporters being arrested.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Theatine Church

10) Theatine Church

The Theatine Church of St Cajetan is a Rococo structure that was the first Baroque-style religious building in Munich. It was originally constructed for the Italian order of Theatines.

The Theatine church was commissioned in 1662 by the elector Ferdinand and his consort, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, in gratitude for the birth of their long-awaited son and heir, Max Emanuel. It was designed by the Italian architect Agostino Barelli on the lines of the Sant'Andrea della Valle Church in Rome. The church is clad in yellow-orange, giving it a bright, airy Mediterranean look.

The design of the Theatine Church later influenced the architecture of many churches in Southern Germany. The original architect, Agostino Barelli, was succeeded by another Italian, Enrico Zucalli, who created a 71-meter high dome and two 70-meter high towers. The rococo façade was designed by François de Cuvilliers and his son in 1738.

The interior stucco decorations were made by the Italian sculptor, Nicolo Petri, and the statues by Germany’s Wolfgang Leutner. The great black altar was designed by Andreas Faistenberger. The crypt of the Theatine Church holds the graves of Max Emanuel and his parents, and a small chapel within the church holds the graves of King Maximilian II and his consort.

Why You Should Visit:
Amid the multitude of churches with fascinating interiors in Munich, this one truly stands out for its white appearance.
The white marble with beautiful ornate work is very beautiful in natural light, while the exterior is famous for its yellow color and rococo style.
Free to enter and nicely air-conditioned – a great spot for a break on a hot summer day.

Convenient to visit before or after spending time at the nearby Residenz.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6:30am-7:30pm
Hofgarten and War Memorial

11) Hofgarten and War Memorial

The Hofgarten is a peaceful oasis of greenery in the heart of Munich, found between the Residenz Royal Palace and the English Garden.

The garden was commissioned by the elector Maximilian I and laid in the Italian Renaissance style in 1613-1617. It is landscaped around two central paths that intersect at a pavilion, called the Temple of Diana. The pavilion was architected by Heinrich Schön the elder in 1615. Originally, a sculpture of Bavaria, created in 1623 by Hubert Gerhard, was placed at its rooftop. Today, only a replica thereof tops the Temple, while the original is kept in the Residenz. Largely destroyed during the Second World War, the Hofgarten was rebuilt based on the original landscape plans after the war.

Rich in its original 17th century ambiance, it has lawns and flower beds beautifully laid out. The original waterworks and fountains are restored and fully functional. In the northeast corner of the garden there is a square black granite monument to the White Rose group of philosophy students who were executed after a sham trial for conducting a non-violent struggle against the Nazi regime. The Hofgarten appears in T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Wasteland, as a symbol of the dying royal families of Europe and the emptiness of aristocratic life.

The Kriegerdenkmal ("warrior memorial"), on the eastern end of Hofgarten, in front of the Bayerische Staatskanzlei, commemorates the citizens of Munich killed in World War I. In the middle of its rectangular pit there is an open crypt with the statue of a fallen soldier. Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, the son of the last Bavarian King, inaugurated the memorial site in 1924. However, it was entirely finished only in 1928. Today, the memorial is designated as a cultural heritage.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
English Garden

12) English Garden (must see)

Munich’s English Garden is the largest publicly-owned park in Europe. Located in the heart of the city, it covers an area of 900 acres and is larger than New York’s Central Park.

Commissioned by Archduke and Elector, Carl Theodore, it was designed by American-born British physicist, Benjamin Thompson, who later became Count Rumford. The site chosen was once the hunting grounds of the Wittelsbach Royal family. It was opened to the public in 1792 as a three-mile long park along the Isar River. It gets the name from its design that was on the lines of informal gardens popular in the United Kingdom in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The English Garden is a popular place where the locals come to relax and play soccer. It is also a place where nude sunbathing is allowed. Attractions within the park include a monument to honor Count Rumford, a Japanese Garden created for the Munich Olympics, the Monopteros Apollo Temple and an amphitheater located in the north part. Four well-known beer gardens – the Chinese Tower, the Seehaus, Osterwald Garten and the Hirschau – are found here, too.

Why You Should Visit:
A large and sociable area with various routes to chose from and nice scenery, many places to eat, listen to music and swim or just dip your feet into the river water.
In it, among other things, you will find the popular 'Eisbach surfer' operating artificial wave outside all time of the year.
In the summer, it is also possible to visit the beer gardens at the Chinese Tower, where you can nowadays listen to traditional old-fashioned Bavarian music while sipping on a draft beer.

Go there on a Sunday if you dare... there's not much else to do on Sunday in Munich, so all the locals put on their walking shoes and off they go.
If you enjoy swimming or would like to make use of the artificial wave system, be sure to bring a swim kit.
Many people ride bikes through the park, so keep your eyes open for speeding cyclists!
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Munich, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Munich

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Munich is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Third Reich Munich Walking Tour

Third Reich Munich Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

The Old Town of Munich, sprawling on the west bank of the River Isar, is a treasure trove of architectural splendor and cultural heritage. Also known in German as Altstadt, this medieval area forms the historic core and cultural heart of the Bavarian capital. The entire Old Town is listed as a historical monument and is a living museum – “where the past harmonizes with the present in a grand...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Old Town Souvenir Shops

Old Town Souvenir Shops

"Collect moments, not things," wise men say. In reference to travel, this may be interpreted as the prevalence of experiences and memories over material gains. Still, when it comes to travel mementos, albeit material they are, memories and experiences are primarily what these little (or not so little) tokens are all about.

And it would be a pity to leave Munich without bringing home...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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