Munich is a spectacular multicultural city with tons of great things to experience. My girlfriend and I spent time there this Spring. We enjoyed 7 intentional experiences in Munich, Germany. When you only have 5 days to visit the area you have to plan with intention.
I know most travel experts tell you to hit the ground running when you get off the plane and power through so you adjust to the time change. However, when you don’t sleep well, or at all on an international flight you have to rethink that strategy. Thankfully we were able to check into our hotel early. We set the alarm for a 1-hour power nap and the rest is history. We were good to go and explore. I was pleasantly surprised that there was no language barrier as most people spoke English and almost every sign had German and English.
Just a word of warning I’ve included lots of pictures.
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Here is my list of 7 intentional experiences in Munich, Germany
Rick Steve’s Walking Tour
Do you know Rick Steve’s the American Travel Writer who travels around Europe? He has a free app with walking tours, travel tips and interviews with experts. The walking tour of Munich highlighted 19 different sites throughout the city. Not only does the app have pictures of each site, but it also shows where you are on the map. I’m not one for reading plaques so hearing the details about each site and its significance was right up my ally. I loved the ability to stop and start the tour as needed. And FREE! Who doesn’t love FREE!
The old and new town hall flank two sides of Munich’s main square. The New Townhall has a “Neo”-Gothic style with arches, prickly spires, and statues. The glockenspiel is the most famous attraction here. When the tower chimes figurines come out on the balcony to dance and spin. It happens daily at 11 am, 12 noon and 5 pm. The figures tell the story of a noble wedding that actually took place in Munich in 1568. You can even take the elevator to the top for a view of the city.
Marienplatz is a buzz of activity all day long with musicians, mimes, shopping, outdoor restaurants and thousands of people. I would recommend dining at one of the sidewalk restaurants especially when the glockenspiel is ready to chime. They are pricy but totally worth fully taking in the activity of the square while giving your feet a much-needed rest. It was fascinating to see every walk of life in one place. Marienplatz and much of Munich was completely destroyed during WWII and then rebuilt matching their original design or a modern style.
St Peter’s Church
This is the oldest church in Munich dating back to 1368. Here make sure and spend the few Euros to climb the 300 stairs to the top of the church’s spire. The views are breathtaking. When visiting a new destination go to the highest spot you can find to get your bearings. Not only will the views be dynamite it will help you get a feel for the destination as a whole.
St Peter’s church was badly damaged during WWII. Since the Nazi’s photographed everything before the bombs fell they were able to restore the altar and ceiling frescoes.
Neuschwanstein, Linderhof Royal Castle & Oberammergau Tour From Munich
Ever wanted to be King or Queen for a day? This must-do day trip to visit the famous castle built by Mad King Ludwig II is what served as inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. Getting there is not easy. If you choose to go it alone you will take every mode of transportation and be sure to get your tickets in advance. My friend and I originally chose that route and then couldn’t get tickets to the castle. We were a little panicked and then we discovered Grayline Tours. Phew!
As a former travel agent, I recommended them all the time to clients. Grayline was the way to go! Grayline Tours hand carried us on a 47 passenger motorcoach with airconditioning and a bathroom. We had a scheduled time for the Neuschwanstein (we purchased that guaranteed entry through our guide), visited Ludwig’s summer retreat the Linderhof Royal castle, had an experienced guide who narrated along the way and we got to relax and enjoy! Do yourself a favor and make it easy by reserving a Grayline tour. This tour was one of the highlights of our trip!
Sunday’s in Munich
Nothing is open in Munich on Sunday’s including some restaurants. When you’re used to having access to every store in the US available on a Sunday it’s a hard pill to swallow. What’s a girl to do? You go to the Museum! On Sundays, all the state-run Museums are only 1 Euro. I have to admit I don’t normally do museums. I don’t like to read plaques, remember. I’d rather have someone tell me all about it. Enter, the audio guides. All the Museums I visited had an English audio guide you could rent for under 5 Euros. Totally worth every penny.
My favorite museum by far was Alte Pinakothek which houses famous artwork from the 14th to 18th century including Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, and Raffael. Many of the artists depicted Christ in some way and the artistic expression was powerful. I could have stayed for hours sitting and contemplating what the artist was trying to convey. The audio guide was a tremendous help in understanding the painting and highlighting areas you might easily overlook.
Dachau Concentration Camp
Is this is what Hell is like? The entrance gate used by the prisoners has the phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei” in English meaning “Work shall set you free”. The prisoners were anything but free. When the prisoner entered the gate their property, rights and human dignity were immediately stripped away. Intimidation was a key part. Dachau was the first and longest concentration camp in operation for almost 12 years.
I’m still dumbfounded that one person, Adolf Hilter could gain that much power. Dachau was originally created to house political opponents to Hilter and the Third Reich. Prisoners included Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah’ Witnesses, and Catholic Priests. They estimated over 188,000 inmates were housed; 11,000 of which were Jews and 41,500 people died working to death.
It’s a mandatory field trip for the local German High School students to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp. We have no idea what persecution is like. To walk into the museum where the prisoner’s personal belongings were on display was heartbreaking. I wanted to hear their stories, know about their families and understand their thoughts and feelings. They were hard-working people like you and me and they were imprisoned for having a different belief. Seeing wedding photos, family portraits, and passports hit me hard. As a result, I bought a book “Names instead of Numbers”, which is a remembrance book for the prisoners of the Dachau Concentration Camp.
You can easily do this tour on your own however I reserved a Grayline Tour – Dachau Concentration Camp & Hebertshausen from Munich. Grayline tours hand carried me from start to finish and that is exactly what I wanted. It included roundtrip transportation on a 47 passenger Motorcoach with a bathroom and air conditioning, a licensed guide, admission fees and lots more information that I would have never known. It was worth every penny!
Take it all in
Do you tend to view your vacations through the camera lens? I found myself doing the same thing. It was hard to balance being in the moment and enjoying my surroundings without taking a picture. My suggestion for you and myself is to stop, take a breath and take it all in. Stand in one place and slowly turn around. What are you seeing, smelling, and sensing right now? Is it a breathtaking picturesque scene or ornate architecture? One thing I noticed were the walkways inside and outside, doors, spring flowers and adorable children in traditional German dress playing hide and seek outside their family restaurant. Enjoy the journey with or without your camera. Those memories will still be captured in your mind’s eye and those are the ones you’ll never forget.
If you want an authentic German meal this is the place to go. Munchner Stubn is directly across from the main train station and the U (underground). Wanna avoid the crowds at dinner? Eat early because most Europeans eat dinner at 8 pm. Here’s what I selected off the menu and I was not disappointed.
MÜNCHNER STUBN BOARD
with smoked kaminwurzen (semi-dried
sausage), blackened smoked pork, cold roast,
coarse liverwurst, Tegernsee mountain cheese,
obazda, leberkas, and herbed cream cheese.
Served with crunchy radishes and beer radish,
pretzel stick with chives, assorted breads,
a pretzel, and tub butter
Munich is a wonderful city. My friend and I felt safe to explore. No matter where you are you have to be smart and aware of your surroundings in any city but we really enjoyed our time in Munich. It was easy to get around and a worthwhile trip that left a lasting memory.
Have you been to Munich? Were you intentional about your experience? Share in the comments below.