How to make the most of your time and spend one day in Munich, Germany
Munich is a fabulous city. Beautiful architecture, excellent food, and museums everywhere you look. There are just so many things to do in Munich. But depending on your Germany itinerary, sometimes time is short. Which really is no problem, because you can have an amazing 24 hours in Munich nevertheless.
As a local, I know all the highlights and historical sites inside out. In this guide, I’m going to show you exactly what you need to see and what you can skip. I’m also going to walk you through some alternatives, so you’ll enjoy your one day in Munich the best possible way.
I’m not going to lie, though. 3 or 4 days is probably what you would need to cover the basics (click to check out a 3 day itinerary). You will have to make some hard decisions and you will have to skip some highlights. Obviously, there is no time for any of the beautiful day trips from Munich or for the many beautiful fairy tale castles in Bavaria.
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The basic one day Munich itinerary
As time is precious, I do recommend you to start your day early. Most museums and attractions don’t open before 9:00 am, so you are somewhat limited in your choices though. I recommend you to buy the Munich Card (buy it here), as it will give you discounts for all the entrance fees and free public transport.
- 8:30 am: Start at Odeonsplatz and check out the beautiful Theatinerkirche; You might also want to drop by at the adjacent Hofgarten park
- 9:00 am: Head to the Munich Residenz Palace (don’t go on the extended tour)
- 10:50 am: Walk towards Marienplatz, enjoy the Glockenspiel & climb Alter Peter for the best views of the city.
- 11:45 am: Lunchtime; Check out the Viktualienmarkt and buy some snacks. It’s a good location to sit down in the beer garden to enjoy a stein of local beer (or maybe two).
- 1:00 pm: Walk down the pedestrian area towards the Church of our Lady
- 1:30 pm: Now it’s time to marvel at Königsplatz (walk or take the subway from Marienplatz) where the Art Quarter starts.
- 2:00 pm: Alte Pinakothek is probably the most famous museum, but if you don’t like Old Masters (Da Vinci, Raphael, etc), pick the Museum Brandhorst for contemporary art.
- 4:00 pm: Now you can either visit one more museum or head towards Englische Garten (take bus #100 to Odeonsplatz or walk). Walk past the Monopteros temple and check out the beer garden at the Chinese Tower.
- 5:00 pm: Walk towards the Eisbachwelle – surfing spot right in the middle of the city
- 6:00 pm: Head towards Hofbräuhaus. There’s usually live music, excellent traditional food, and of course Bavarian beer. Stay as long as you like and then walk home. Munich is perfectly safe at night.
The above 24 hours itinerary for Munich is my recommendation, but of course, we are all different and you might want to change things up a bit. Which is quite easy, as you’ll skip a couple of attractions on the way. I do want you to know, however, that Munich really is worth visiting and you should consider skipping other cities like Frankfurt or Cologne. Anyways, here are some further options.
- In the pedestrian area are two amazing churches: 1) St. Michael’s Church, where you will find the crypt of the Bavarian Kings. And the Asamkirche, a fantastic (yet tiny) baroque masterpiece.
- In the afternoon, the Englische Garden is a beautiful spot, but you could also head towards Nymphenburg palace (takes about 30 minutes from the central station) if you want to see another palace and a beautiful park. The famous Munich zoo could also be an option if you are traveling with kids
- In terms of museums, I would like to point out the Deutsche Museum, which is an extremely huge and fun technical museum (aviation, physics, computer, geology) sitting on an island on the river Isar. Here is a list of the top museums in Munich for some further alternatives.
- You can also choose to do the extended tour inside the Residence Palace and check out the fantastic Treasury Museum. Then you’ll need 4 hours instead of 2, though.
- It’s also possible to use the whole afternoon and take a suburban train to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial. If you start around 2 pm, you should be able to make it work easily.
- Instead of the Hofbräuhaus, you could also attend a performance at the Bavarian National Opera, which happens to be one of the opera houses in the world
Munich has an amazing public transport system and you can basically walk most of the time, as the inner city isn’t all that large. Still, I wouldn’t crowd my day too much because it’s easy to underestimate the transfer times.
Where to eat in Munich
The whole pedestrian area is full of restaurants, cafés, and bars, so you will have to problem finding a place to eat. If you don’t want to eat at the Viktualienmarkt or the Hofbräuhaus, there are plenty of amazing alternatives.
One thing you should know is that Germany is famous for its bread. You will find a bakery around every corner and they all sell lovely pastries & sandwiches for a euro or two. This is the cheapest way to eat. Butcheries usually also have some nice takeaway options (try Leberkässemmel!). There are also little Turkish kebab restaurants all over the city, which is another excellent street-food option very popular among locals.
Almost all the traditional restaurants in the immediate city center are touristy. Local’s really don’t go there. But as probably don’t want to eat pizza or sushi, there is somewhat no way around it.
The Rathskeller directly below the city hall is one of these touristy places, that is nevertheless quite lovely (beautiful ceiling murals). Donisl, also on Marienplatz is also a popular budget alternative for traditional bavarian food. If you don’t mind paying a little premium, then the Spatenhaus an der Oper is an excellent choice with beautiful interiors (go on the second floor!!). The Augustiner Bräustuben is also quite wonderful.
But like I said, in summer I’d recommend eating at a beer garden (while you can bring your own food, there is also tons of traditional options you can order there). One of my favorite’s is the Wirtshaus Zum Straubinger. The Schneider Bräuhaus is also quite an institution.
Where to stay
One day in Munich is short, so you will want to stay somewhere in the city center or near the central station. Please be aware that Munich is an incredibly expensive city, and it’s almost impossible to find a hotel in the direct city center for less than 100 USD a night.
Luxury hotels in Munich’s city center:
budget hotels in the city center
How long does it take to the city center from Munich Airport
Do you have a long layover at Munich airport and now you are wondering if you can use that time to see Munich while you are waiting? Well, I do have to break the news to you that this will be somewhat problematic. There is no highspeed airport connection, only a regular suburban train. It takes about 40 minutes from Munich airport to the central station.
There are coin lockers at the central station (or the airport) where you can store your luggage. The problem is: the suburban train leaves only every 20 minutes and it takes you quite a while to get out of security, etc. So, for the transfer to the city center and back, you have to calculate 3 hours to be on the safe side.
If you got a layover of 6 hours or more, I’d say its worth it. Otherwise, it might be better to check out the beer garden at the airport 😉
FAQ: Things you should know before you plan your one day in Munich
- Is there a tourist card?
Yes, the Munich Card and gives you free public transports and discounts for most attractions (but it here). The Munich Pass costs 39,90 (free entry and tours), but probably not worth it
- Most museums are closed on Mondays
All the state-run museums are closed on Mondays. But harken, a lot of them are just 1 euro on Sundays.
- National holidays
There are 13 national holidays in Bavaria. Please be aware that shops won’t be open, some museums are closed. Some national holidays are “silent”, which means loud music and dancing are prohibited. Definitely something to check before you visit.
- Opening hours
All the shops are closed on Sundays. Grocery stores usually open around 7:00 am, but all shops close at 8:00 pm or earlier. So, if you plan some shopping, don’t come to late.
- Bring cash
Credits cards are not universally accepted, especially in small shops and bars. You should definitely bring some cash. Museums, palaces, etc accept them, though.
- Trade Fairs & Festivals
There are quite a couple of large trade fairs in Munich. Especially the BAUMA and the Heim+Handwerk. Also, the Oktoberfest and the Christmas Markets. Hotels will be booked out quite a long time in advance and will be considerably more expensive. Do your research in advance!