Things to Do in Munich
Sea Life Munich is Germany’s largest Sea Life center, taking visitors on an underwater journey through local rivers and tropical seas, from the comfort of its 2,200 square meter Olympic Park building. With over 8,000 weird and wonderful sea creatures swimming in over 700,000 liters of water, and 33 climate-controlled aquariums, the facts speak for themselves, and there’s no better place to stand face-to-face with the creatures of the deep.
The center’s star attraction is its 400,000-liter ocean aquarium, equipped with a 10-meter long glass-walled foot tunnel that burrows through the tank, beneath prowling sharks, sea turtles, slimy octopus and hundreds of colorful fish. Featuring interactive exhibits that are as entertaining as they are educational, the aquarium’s focus is on recreating and preserving the world’s natural habitats and themed tanks represent the natural ecosystems of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Danube and the local River Isar, among others.
Amalienburg is Emperor Charles VII's most precious legacy and the beautiful park gardens and fountains have become one of Munich's most scenic locations. A former hunting lodge on the grounds of the Nymphenburg Palace Park, the Amalienburg palace is considered one of the finest examples of European Rococo style. The ornate decorations of every room reflect a French-inspired refinement, especially the breathtaking Large Salon, also called the Hall of Mirrors. This circular room alternates windows, mirrors, and doors creating the illusion of an open pavillion through the real and reflected light.
Each room has a unique artistic feature that make the Amalienburg palace a main attraction of the Nymphenburg park. The wood carvings in the Bedroom, the Rococo paintings in the Hunting Room, the Chinese wallpaper and pheasant motif of the Indian Cabinet, and the Dutch tiles of the Kitchen all create an exotic air in the style of the palace.
The oldest church in Munich, St. Peter's Church, or Peterskirche, is a Roman Catholic establishment built in the 12th century in the Bavarian Romanesque style. The interior of the church features the magnificent Mariahilf-Altar, Gothic paintings & sculptures, and a ceiling fresco. But even these beautiful works of art can't top the bizarre gem-studded skeleton of St. Mundita, who stares at visitors with false eyes and jewelled teeth.
From the spire of "Old Peter", as the church is known to the locals, are spectacular views of the oldest part of Munich. Remember to check the colored rings at the bottom, a white ring means the Alps are visible, making the hike to the top even more worthwhile. Although the spire was almost completely destroyed during World War II, it was fully restored with the traditional architecture.
Oktoberfest is possibly the world’s most famous beer festival, taking place in fall in Munich, Germany. Around one million partygoers pour into the city between mid-September and the first Sunday in October for 2.5 weeks of serious carousing and drinking; the epicenter of the merrymaking is Theresienwiese (‘Wiesn’ for short) festival ground just to the west of the Altstadt (Old Town). Here local Bavarian breweries sponsor 14 gaily decorated tents – each accommodating up to 6,000 beery revelers – with their own theme and local beer to sample in one-liter (2.2-pint) glass steins. As the hours pass by, the vibe ramps up and singing and dancing become the order of the day.
But Oktoberfest is not just for drinkers; there are fairgrounds for kids, costumed parades through the streets, an abundance of Bavarian folk costumes – dirndl skirts and leather shorts – to be admired, brass-band concerts and horse-and-trap rides.
Right next door to the current City Hall in the heart of Munich’s Aldstadt is the Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall); it is adjacent to a rotund and red-topped 15th-century Gothic tower that today hosts the city’s Toy Museum. With displays on four floors connected by spiral staircase, the collection is far removed from the computer led toys of today. Its story began with the historic toy collection of Ivan Steiger, who was a Czech film-maker with a fascination for teddy bears, mechanical dolls and automata. Today the exhibits have grown to include old toys from across the world, including Russian dolls, antique train sets, Barbie dolls, mechanical Ferris wheels, hordes of model Cowboys and Indians, and gaily painted wooden rocking horses. Educational toys from an era long gone include tiny sewing sets, cookers and miniscule tea services from the 1960s but most heart-rending of all are the primitive models made of bread by concentration-camp internees during World War II.
Tierpark Hellabrunn, Munich's Zoo, is the oldest "Geo-Zoo" organized geographically by continents and natural habitats of the creatures and critters. Some of the most popular habitats for vistitors are the creatively named "Villa Dracula" for bats, penguins and polar bears of the "Polarium", and "Orangutan Paradise".
The orientation of the Zoo on the Isar meadow allows for unobstructed viewing, and the little ones will especially enjoy watching their 5,000 new furry, aquatic, and feathered friends during feeding time - even the piranhas. In the petting zoo, kids are also allowed to feed the deer and goats.
The Jewish Museum in Munich, inaugurated in 2007, is dedicated to the city’s long Jewish history and is part of the massive Jewish Center on Sankt-Jakobs-Platz. This includes a synagogue, a community center, an elementary school, an auditorium, and a kosher restaurant. The center’s first stone was laid on November 9th 2003, exactly 65 years after the somber November devastation that had Munich’s synagogues systematically torn down during the Holocaust – in fact, the actual synagogue stands over the remains of a previous synagogue. The current architecture of the center is governed by two famous forms in Judaism, namely the temple and the tent; all buildings are connected to each other through a network of inviting public passageways. The museum itself houses temporary and permanent exhibitions across three floors and aims to provide an overview of the local Jewish history and the diversity of the Jewish identity.
Movie buffs and film fanatics will be in their element at Bavaria Filmstadt, a theme park set within one of Europe’s largest and most renowned film studios. Founded in 1919, the Bavarian film studio has provided the backdrop to films like The Never Ending Story and Asterix and Obelix vs. Cesar, and remains a working studio today.
With parts of the studio open to visitors, movie fans can go behind-the-scenes and discover the original sets and props from hit films and TV shows like Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot, the highest grossing German film of all time, or beloved German soap opera Marienhof. Touring the studio offers fans the chance to unveil the secrets of movie making, learning about the film production process while wandering through the famous sets. Take a ride on the dragon Falkor from the Never Ending Story; explore the submarine from Das Boot; or check out the Viking Ship from the film ‘Vicky the Viking’.
With a 400-year history of beer brewing and famously one of the six breweries that provide beer for Oktoberfest, the Paulaner Brewery is a clear contender for the title of Munich’s top brewery. The origins of the Paulaner Brewery date back to 1634, started by the Paulaner monks of Kloster Neudeck ob der Au, and it remains one of Munich’s biggest traditional breweries, producing some 2 million hectoliters each year and exporting beer to over 70 countries around the world.
Today, beer lovers can also enjoy tours of the historic brewery, viewing the malting towers, brewhouse, fermenting tanks, beer cellars and wells, and learning all about the legendary Bavarian Purity Law and how it guarantees the quality and taste of the beers. Visitors can also enjoy a beer tasting or extend their visit at the neighboring Paulaner Bräuhaus beer garden.
More Things to Do in Munich
Neuschwanstein Castle was commissioned as the private refuge for Ludwig II of Bavaria, but opened to the public immediately after his death in 1886. Now recognizable as the inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular castles in Europe. The fairytale charm of Neuschwanstein Castle is also felt from the idyllic scenery of the Bavarian Alps. During the winter, some of the best views of the snow-capped mountains can be seen from the palace grounds.
The picture cycles in the castle were inspired by the operas of Richard Wagner, to whom the king dedicated the castle, and the corresponding medieval legends from his works. The throne room is magnificently decorated with frescos of angels, ironically the king died before the actual throne was built. Despite the medieval motif of the decor, the castle was actually outfitted with latest technology of the time with running water and central heating.
Germans' love of beer is unrivaled worldwide, and Munich is home to Bavaria's most celebrated beer hall: Hofbrauhaus. Formerly the royal brewery for the Kingdom, Hofbrauhaus is now owned by the state government and also has the second largest tent at Oktoberfest - "Hofbrau-Festzelt".
Grab a stein of their finest brew and drink with friends in the restaurant, die Schwemme (beer hall), or Biergarten (beer garden) often accompanied by live music . In case there was any doubt about how much Germans value their beer, regulars to Hofbrauhaus keep their valuable steins in a series of safes in the beer hall.
Herreninsel is the larger of two inhabited islands in Chiemsee, a Bavarian lake near the Austrian border. While it features a monastery which dates back to the 8th century, the site of the post-war conference which drafted West Germany’s constitution, the island’s main attraction is undoubtedly Herrenchiemsee. This was one of the three palaces built by the profligate 19th century Bavarian king, Ludwig II. But unlike Linderhof or the world-famous Neuschwanstein, Herrenchiemsee is not a pastiche of previous styles, rather it’s a copy of one particular building: the Palace of Versailles.
Ludwig’s palace is a salute to an era when monarchs were both the pinnacles of power and arbiters of style. But funds ran out before he could complete Herrenchiemsee, and only the central section was completed. As well as lavishly decorated rooms – boasting the world’s largest porcelain chandelier and a replica of the Hall of Mirrors – there are also eerie bare-walled loft-like spaces.
Fraueninsel is an island outside of Munich in the Bavarian region of Germany. It sits in Chiemsee, the largest lake in Bavaria, along with another island called Herreninsel. On Herreninsel visitors can see the Royal Castle of Herrenchiemsee, built by Ludwig II as a replica of the Palace of Versailles. On Fraueninsel there is a Benedictine church and monastery which covers about one third of the island. Though the church has existed since 782, the complex you see today was rebuilt in the 1700s. The island is one of the oldest cultural sites in the area. It is a popular place for tourists to visit due to its natural beauty and the surrounding landscape of the Alps.
A small community of artists, crafts people, and fishermen live on the island, making it a unique place to visit throughout the year. In late November and early December, visitors come to experience the Christmas market.
Munich’s beer gardens are world famous but few offer such idyllic surroundings as the Andechs brewery, housed in the historic Andechs Monastery, 40km southwest of the city. Dating back to 1392, the Benedictine Abbey is perched atop the Holy Mountain of Heiliger Berg and overlooks the glittering Lake Ammersee. The Abbey’s beautifully preserved cloister is its oldest feature, but the architectural highlight is its striking Baroque church, remodeled in 1712, and climbing the church tower offers dramatic views over the Ammersee valley.
A place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, the monastery is also famous for its adjourning brewery, which has been brewing traditional Bavarian beers since 1455 and continues to produce 7 different beer varieties. A popular day trip from nearby Munich, visitors to the Abbey can tuck into a meal at the monastery restaurant, sip a stein of Andechser Doppelbock, Andechs’ trademark dark beer, or even tour the working brewery.
The Romantic Road leads through unspoiled areas, picturesque villages and past medieval castles. This attractive area gives the travelers a taste of typical German scenery and culture. As a former trade route built in the Middle Ages, the road has retained its medieval charm and distinctive character to this day. Take a half-day trip to Heidelberg, the old university town at the banks of Neckar River, including a visit of the inner courtyard of Heidelberg Castle, one of the most impressive historic landmarks of Germany. Visit Linderhof Castle, a brief shopping stop in Oberammergau before arriving in Hohenschwangau. Venture to a land of fairy tales with your castle visit to Neuschwanstein, breathtakingly majestic and built on the ruins of Vorder und Hinterhohenschwangau.
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