Out of all of the places that I have been in my life, Munich is one of my absolute favorites. When I was studying abroad in Spain, I was lucky enough to be able to take time and visit Munich and the Bavaria area of Germany. It truly took my breath away. There was so much to see and do that it was hard to decide exactly how to spend my time. After exploring all over, I have narrowed down how to spend a weekend in Munich and truly make the best of your time!
Visit the Marienplatz and see the Glockenspiel
The Marienplatz, or “St. Mary’s Square,” is located in the middle of the downtown area of Munich. It is surrounded by great shopping, great eating, and more importantly, the very famous Glockenspiel. The Glockenspiel is a large cuckoo clock that goes off every hour on the hour. When it goes off, little wooden children actually come out and dance to music. It is really a sight to see and an architectural beauty. This is a great place to stop on your way out to lunch.
This is also the location of one of the amazing Christmas markets in Germany during the Christmas season. Because this is the center of the city, there is often different events that take place here. For example, when I arrived in Munich, I walked right into a parade that was starting at the Marienplatz. I was both very confused and very excited, and it was wonderful. If you are think about how to spend a weekend in Munich, this is the perfect place to start.
How to Get Here: Get off at Marienplatz Station on the U-Bahn
The Residenz Munchen stands for “The Munich Residence.” The Munich Residence is a palace that was used on and off by royalty on their visits to Munich. It was honestly one of the most amazing palaces that I have ever laid eyes on. Not only is it a gorgeous palace, but it also contains one of the royal treasuries, and the crown jewels reside here. I spent hours exploring the rooms and the treasury. I feel like I learned more from my visit here than any other “museum” that I’ve ever been too. There is so much to see, I honestly can’t wait to go back next time I am in Munich.
There are no guided tours of the residence, but they provide FREE audio tours so that you can look at your own pace. I used this experience and it made the experience so much more real as I could learn the history behind the rooms and items while exploring the whole palace. It is truly an interesting and historically driven experience. One really cool fact about the residence is that it was actually partially destroyed in a bombing during World War II. Recently they have been working to restore those parts, but it is still absolutely magnificent without them. I can’t imagine what it might have looked like in its prime.
One of the really amazing things about the Residenz Muenchen was that each room had a different theme and color pallete. There were golden rooms, like the INSANELY beautiful one pictured above, but there were also red rooms, blue themed rooms, and rooms that the decor was themed from other countries. The art was spectacular, the furniture was ancient, and the experience was overall amazing, I highly recommend that when you are planning how to spend a weekend in Munich, you include plenty of time to explore all that the Residenz Muenchen has to offer.
How to Get Here: The Residenz Muenchen is actually walking distance from the Marienplatz! Take the train to the center of town and you can walk from there.
Estimated Time to Spend Here: 3-5 hours
Hours: 9am-6pm (Last entry at 5pm)
Cost: Free for children 18 and under. 9 Euros for entry to the residence and another 9 Euros for entry to the treasury.
Experience the night life
Munich has an amazing night life. There are clubs and bars all around the city. One of the best parts of traveling is getting to experience local culture. Going out on the town at night is one of the most fun ways, besides eating, to achieve this! Just make sure that you follow all the steps to keep yourself safe, and you will have a blast in Munich. I even stumbled upon one of the “Secret pop-up clubs” that only exist for a day and then they move to an entirely new city and location. It was probably the most fun club that I have ever visited in my entire life, and it wasn’t even a real club! I couldn’t wait to go back. The next day I went back to enjoy myself again, and it was gone. I did some research and found out that I had accidently stumbled upon a very hip and secret pop-up club. Definitely thankful to have decided to participate in that spontaneous adventure. Maybe you’ll get to experience the same type of adventure!
If you are asking yourself how to spend a weekend in Munich, one of the absolute best answers is actually located about 2 hours outside of Munich itself: The Neuschwanstein Castle. The Neuschwanstein Castle was Built by a Crazy King, Copied by Disney, and is Still Standing Today. This castle is located in the Bavarian Mountains and is one of the most amazing castles in the entire world. This castle was actually the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, even though no one ever lived in the castle!
This is definitely an entire day trip. It is four hours round-trip by train from central Munich, but it is so worth it.When you arrive at the Neuschwanstein Castle, you actually arrive at the town of Fussen. This town has a bunch of cute little shops and activities. Around the Neuschwanstein, there are actually two other castles that you can go see! From the town, you have two options to get to the castle which is situated at the top of a mountain: you can walk up the mountain or you can take a horse drawn carriage up for a moderate fee. Can you guess which one I chose?
How to Get There: From Munich, you have a train every two hours to Fussen.
Cost: 17 Euros for the tour of the castle
Hours: 24 March to 15 October: 9 am-6 pm
16 October to 23 March: 10 am-4 pm
How Much Time to Plan For: This is an all-day activity. Get there early so that you aren’t fighting crowds and have time to see everything!
Another palace! Surprise, surprise, you can always count on me to recommend anything that will make you feel like royalty! The Schloss Nymphenburg is a royal palace located on the outskirts of Munich. It began construction in the 1600s and is still used for various functions today. Did you know that Schloss actually stands for castle or palace in English? This building definitely earns its title as a Schloss due to its enormous size and grounds. Visits the Schloss Nymphenburg can range from an afternoon activity to an all day adventure as there is so much to do here.
When I went, I didn’t have time to see everything, although I wish I had. I spent the majority of my time exploring the palace grounds, gardens, and guest houses. One of the really cool things about the Nymphenburg palace is the fact that the grounds span over 449 hectares (181 acres) and include gardens, canals, lakes, and many other attractions. When you visit, you can even do a gondola ride on the canal if you so desire!
The park also contains “Mini-palaces” or guest houses throughout the grounds for visitors and family members to stay in as they visited the royal palace. These were actually my favorite part of the entire palace! Each guest house was designed with a different theme in mind. They were as exiquisit, if not more than the palace itself. If you don’t have time for much, definitely put these on your list!
How to Get There: U-Bahn (underground) to “Rotkreuzplatz”, then tram to “Schloss Nymphenburg”
Cost: 14 Euros for a palace and ground combination ticket. Free for children 18 and under
Hours: April to 15 October: daily 9 am-6 pm
16 October to March: daily 10 am-4 pm (NOTE GUEST HOUSES (PALACES) ARE CLOSED DURING THESE MONTHS)
Time to Spend Here: 4 hours – a full day
Visit a Beer Garden
No visit to a German city would be complete without visiting a beer garden. They are truly unique experiences full of food, fun, and of course, beer. Make sure that you schedule at least one afternoon or night to enjoy this cultural activity. While your at it, make sure you also try a giant schnitzel. I was once surprised by the size of the food in Germany, and the waiter simply looked at me and said, “If the food is too big, you are too small.” That quote I still carry in my head today whenever I go out for a big dinner.
What is your favorite thing to do in Munich?