If you’re looking for a short 2 day break that offers a little bit of everything, Munich (or Munchen) is the perfect destination.
The Bavarian capital is home to historic buildings and sites, excellent museums, spacious parks and gardens, and impressive palaces.
And if you’re partial to a German beer or two, then there’s no shortage of beer halls and beer gardens to choose from, not to mention the famous annual beer festival, the Oktoberfest.
No matter what your interests are, there’s something for everyone here.
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2 days in Munich
A Munich getaway might be part of a longer trip to Europe, but it’s also a really easy place to get to for a short break. If you have only 2 days in Munich, you’ll still be able to see the city’s major attractions and get a taste of its most popular attractions.
In this post, I outline some of the main attractions to consider during your 2 days in Munich. I’ve also included some more practical information that you’ll need.
Where is Munich located?
Munich is the third-largest city in Germany and is situated in Bavaria in the south of the country. It is around 80 km from the Bavarian Alps.
Munich is relatively close to the border with Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. This makes a longer trip that combines sightseeing through several central European countries a real possibility.
How to get to Munich
You can catch direct flights from the UK to Munich from a number of cities, notably London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Birmingham. Flights times are around two hours.
You can also fly to Munich from other European cities, such as Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, and Thessaloniki in Greece.
Munich airport is around 36 km from the city centre. The S-Bahn (lines S1 and S8) connect to the city centre, a journey time of about 40 minutes.
Mainline trains also connect with the Central Station and take 45 minutes.
Where to stay in Munich
When considering where to stay in Munich, there are lots of places and types of accommodation to choose from. But if you only have 2 days in Munich, then I’d advise staying within walking distance of the historic centre.
Below are some suggestions if you do want to stay centrally, all of which get good reviews on TripAdvisor.
- The Mercure Hotel Munchen Alstadt is centrally located, just 300 metres from the main Marienplatz square. It is reasonably priced for such a central location. It is well located for public transport, but also has a car park. Pets can stay for an extra charge.
- The Hotel Concorde is also close to the main sights of the city. The Isartor City train station is just 200 metres away. This connects to the airport, making it a convenient place for a short break to the city.
- For a bit more luxury, the Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munchen fits the bill. It’s also in an ideal location for a city break but has the added benefit of allowing you to unwind after a day of sightseeing: it has a luxury spa and indoor swimming pool. It also has an onsite restaurant and several bars.
How to get around Munich
Munich has an efficient public transport system, which makes getting around the city really easy.
You can buy a CityTourCard for different periods of time which allows you to travel for free on public transport.
It also gives you discounts on a range of things you may want to do during your stay, including for museums, theatres, shops and restaurants.
There is also a tourist hop-on/hop-off bus which is ideal for short sightseeing breaks. There are three different tours and 16 stops.
The best time to visit Munich
The best time to visit Munich really depends on what you’re looking to do. If you’re interested in experiencing the city’s Oktoberfest festival, then the best time to visit is in late September or early October.
However, if you want to avoid the crowds, then early spring or late autumn may be a better time to visit.
Weather-wise, Munich has a continental climate with warm summers and colder winters. The temperature climbs into the mid-20s during June, July, and August and then tails off.
It is still likely to be relatively mild in early October, although it will start becoming chilly towards the end of the month and into November.
Top things to do in 2 days in Munich
If you have 2 days in Munich, the sights below are among the must-see attractions to put on your itinerary.
Visit the Marienplatz and see the Neues Rathaus
The Marienplatz Square is one of the most visited areas of Munich and is home to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. As such, it’s one of the most popular tourist spots in the city.
The square is located in the heart of the altstadt (Old Town) and is a great place to start your sightseeing tour of Munich.
Some of the highlights of the Marienplatz include the wonderful neo-gothic Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall).
This is the large building (it has 400 rooms) right in the middle of the square. You literally can’t miss it. It was completed in the early years of the 20th century.
Although it is a functioning city hall, you can still wander in and see some of the rooms, including the mayor’s office. For panoramic views of the city, take the elevator to the top of the tower.
The Neues Rathaus is also famous for its glockenspiel, itself a popular tourist attraction.
Three times a day there is a glockenspiel show featuring its 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures.
The show is a must-see when visiting Munich. It’s why you’ll often see crowds gathering in the square outside the Rathaus.
If you fancy seeing this, head to the square for either 11 am or 12 noon (between March and October, there is also a 5 pm showing).
Opening hours and entry costs for the Neues Rathaus: You can go up the tower in the Neues Rathaus between 10 am to 8 pm. Entry costs 6 euros.
Guided tours of the Town Hall take place Fridays to Sundays at selected times.
See the Altes Rathaus
The Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) is also located on the Marienplatz in Munich. It’s a more modest building than the Neues Rathaus, but beautiful nonetheless.
It’s much older than the Neues Rathaus and a great example of Gothic architecture.
The building was originally built in the 14th century, but has been remodelled and added to over the years. It now houses the city’s Toy Museum, an extensive collection that is exhibited over four floors.
There is also a Gothic ballroom on one floor.
Opening hours and entry costs for the Toy Museum: The museum is open every day between 10 am and 5.30 pm. Adults enter the Toy Museum for 6 euros (under 17s pay 2 euros).
See some culture in the Munich Residenz
Not far from Marienplatz square is the Residenz. Once a royal palace, it suffered heavy bombing during World War II and much of the building is now a reconstruction.
The Residenz is a popular tourist attraction in Munich. It is home to a number of important sights, including the Residence Museum, the Treasury, and the Cuvilliés Theatre.
The Residence Museum
The Residence Museum gives you the chance to look around different rooms that the royal family used and that still contain some original furniture, paintings, and artefacts. As you might imagine, the rooms here magnificent and opulent.
The Treasury is home to over 1,250 items, including the crown jewels and regalia of the Bavarian royal family. There’s lots of glitz and glamour here: jewel encrusted crowns, ornate ornaments, and golden chalices and crosses.
The collection is on display to the public and is worth visiting if you’re interested in art or jewellery.
The Cuvilliés Theatre
The Cuvilliés Theatre is a beautiful Rococo structure with an auditorium built in the mid-18th century. Its name is taken from the court architect, François Cuvilliés the Elder.
The theatre is absolutely stunning: a vibrant room decorated with ornate gold carvings.
In addition to the museum, the Treasury, and theatre, you can wander around the Court Garden on a visit here. This beautifully landscaped garden was created in the early 17th century.
There’s also the 19th century Court Church of All Saints to see, and the Bronze Halls that houses over 40 bronze sculptures.
Opening hours and entry fees: The Residenz is open every day, except for a number of public holidays. However, opening hours vary from season to season.
The Residence Museum and Treasury are open from 9 am to 6 pm between April and mid-October, closing an hour earlier during the rest of the year.
For most of the year, The Cuvilliés Theatre opens at 2 pm (and at 9 am or 10 am on Sundays, except for 6 weeks during the summer). Closing times vary between 5 pm and 6 pm.
Given the variation in opening times, it’s worth checking the website in advance if you particularly want to visit this part of the Residenz.
It costs 9 euros to enter the Residence Museum, 9 euros for the Treasury, and 5 euros for the Cuvilliés Theatre. It is free to get into the Court Garden.
See some of the city’s wonderful architecture in Munich’s churches
There are many churches worth visiting on your 2 days in Munich.
With its two domed towers, the 15th century Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) is one of Munich’s most iconic and famous churches. It is another sight that can be found when visiting Marienplatz in the heart of the city.
You can climb to the top of the 99 metre South Tower for fantastic views across central Munich. You can also explore the church’s interior with its Gothic architecture and three naves.
The legendary devil’s footprint, said to be the result of a bet with the church’s builder, is in the entrance.
St. Peter’s Church, a Roman Catholic church with a tower (“Old Peter”) looming just over 91 metres over the city, is Munich’s oldest parish church. It’s also near Marienplatz Square.
It’s another building from where you are afforded some breathtaking views of the city. The viewing platform is 56 metres high which can be reached by climbing 300 steps.
Opening hours and entry fees: The tower is open to the public every day except for two days over Easter and 1st January. You can visit between 12 pm and 4.30 pm.
It is 5 euros for adults to enter; children under 6 can enter for free. It doesn’t cost anything to go into the church itself.
Another beautiful church, the Michaelskirche is a 16th century Jesuit church in the centre of the city.
It is the biggest Renaissance church north of the Alps and houses the tomb of King Ludwig II (you can also visit one of his palaces – Neuschwanstein – on a day trip from Munich: see below).
Take a walk in the Englischer Garten
What struck me about Munich was just how green it is.
We visited in late May and were fortunate enough to experience dry and relatively clear, sunny days. We were, therefore, able to do a lot of walking around the city’s gardens and parks.
I particularly loved the English (Englischer) Garden. This is the largest public park in Munich, and one of the world’s largest city parks.
You can wander around this green space for hours. There are apparently 78 km of pathways within the park – and it’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.
The park stretches for over 370 hectares and is home to several attractions. This includes a monopteros, a neoclassical temple, and the Chinese Tower, a 25 metre high pagoda.
There’s a café/ beer garden if you want to take the weight off your feet and fancy refreshments and a toilet break.
The park also has a lake where you can hire a boat or relax by the water. Also make sure you stop by the Eisbach River at some point. I got to see surfing on a river for the first time!
So if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping areas, head here. And at Christmas, there’s a market near the Chinese Tower that will get you in the festive spirit.
Try the German beer in the Hofbräuhaus
The Hofbräuhaus is one of the city’s most well-known beer halls, and it’s a must-see for beer lovers. The hall dates back to 1589.
The Hofbräuhaus is the perfect spot to sample some traditional Bavarian beer and German food. The hall is always lively, with live music, and is an excellent place to people watch.
If you do fancy an evening of learning about German beer and sampling some, you may be interested in this tour.
Visit the Schloss Nymphenburg
The Schloss Nymphenburg is a beautiful Baroque palace located on the outskirts of Munich. The palace was built in the 17th century and is set in extensive gardens. It once served as the summer residence for the Bavarian royal family.
The palace is definitely worth visiting if you have 2 days in Munich. Although it’s slightly outside the main centre, the hop-on/hop-off bus stops here, so it’s not difficult to get to.
There are several museums you can visit inside the palace. This includes a natural history museum in the north wing and a porcelain museum in the south wing. There is also an art museum on the site.
Even if you don’t venture into the palace itself, you should try and spend some time in its grounds. These are extensive and full of variety, with lots to see, so grab a map when you arrive or click here for one.
The grounds include lakes, pump houses, pretty pavilions, and another monopteros. You can even pay to ride a gondola on the main canal in the summer.
Opening hours and entry costs: Between April and mid-October, opening hours are from 9 am until 6 pm and it costs 11.50 euros to go in. At other times of the year, Nymphenburg Palace opens an hour later at 10 am, closes two hours earlier at 4 pm and entry is 8.50 euros.
It is free to go into the palace grounds.
Wander around the Munich botanical garden
If love flowers and other plants , head for the Munich Botanical Garden. The green space is over 21 hectares in size and is home to over 19,000 plant species.
It’s near the Schloss Nymphenburg Palace so you could visit both on a trip out to this area of the city.
The garden is divided into a number of areas representing different regions of the world. This includes an area housing desert plants, a section covering temperate regions and another covering mountain forests. There’s also an arboretum to wander through.
The garden is a definitely worth seeing in a morning or afternoon, especially if the weather is good.
Opening hours and entry costs: The garden is open from 9 am until 6 pm; the greenhouses in the garden close half an hour earlier. Admission is 5.50 euros.
See the animals in the Hellabrunn Zoo
The Hellabrunn Zoo is located in the Munich district of Thalkirchen and set in a nature reserve. The U3 underground train and the Metrobus number 52 will take you here.
Hellabrunn Zoo was created in the early 20th century as the world’s first ‘Geo-zoo’. The zoo’s website explains that “animals live according to their geographic distribution…the visitor can enjoy the…unobstructed view of animals that could normally only be obtained on safari”.
There are lots of different species in this impressive zoo representing all of the world’s continents and with specific attractions to see. These include an elephant house, a rhino house, an aviary, an aquarium, a turtle house, and a giraffe savannah. You will also find a children’s zoo.
Opening hours and entry fees: The zoo is open from 9 am until 6 pm between April and the end of October. During the winter months, it closes an hour earlier. Entry is 18 euros for adults and 7 euros for children.
Unleash your inner foodie self in the Viktualienmarkt food market
The Viktualienmarkt food market in Munich is an excellent spot if you want to try some traditional German food. The market is open every day except Sunday, and it’s home to over 140 stalls selling everything from fresh produce to meat and beer.
There’s a lively atmosphere here, and it’s perfect for wandering around and taking in the sights and smells of Munich. You can stop for a bite to eat or buy some souvenirs to take home.
You can also book foodie tours that take you around the market and where you can sample some traditional food.
Visit The Deutsches Museum
The Deutsches Museum is another popular attraction that offers fascinating exhibits from the world of science and technology.
The museum is large, and with 28 permanent exhibitions, it’s a must-see attraction if you’re interested in this field.
Amongst the highlights are displays, exhibits, and information on oceanography, computers, pharmaceutics, and astronomy. There are also interactive sections that really bring the exhibits to life.
Opening hours and entry fees: The museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission costs 14 euros for adults and 4.5 euros for children aged 6 to 17 years.
Learn about the history of BMW
As its name suggests, the BMW museum is devoted to the history of BMW. The building houses a wealth of exhibits from the world of automotive transportation.
Some of the highlights at the BMW Museum include a collection of cars and motorcycles – both old and new – as well as impressive displays covering the history of BMW. If you’re into cars, you’ll absolutely love it here!
Opening hours and entry fees: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am until 6 pm. Admission costs 10 euros.
Head further afield
If you only have 2 days in Munich, I’d suggest you focus on the main sights in the city. However, you can also visit a number of attractions that can be found beyond the city centre.
Below are some suggestions of things you might want to see and do if you have time.
The Neuschwanstein Castle is located near to Schwangau, a Bavarian town near Munich. It was designed by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and erected in the late 19th century.
The castle sits on top of a hill and is famed for its fairytale-like appearance. It is one of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations.
A visit enables you to really appreciate this amazing palace as well as walk through the King’s personal apartments and State Rooms.
Note that you need to book a specific guided tour to look around the castle.
Given this, as well as the palace’s lofty position on a hill, it may be simpler to book a pre-organised excursion that will take you there.
The Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau is a small town about 29 km northwest of Munich. However, it’s best known for being the site of the first concentration camp in Nazi Germany.
The camp opened in 1933. People from 34 countries were imprisoned in the camp during its operation, and over 41,000 people died here.
The camp is now a museum and serves as a memorial to the atrocities that happened here.
Fans of The Sound of Music will love Austria’s Salzburg. The city provided the setting for the famous Hollywood film, and when you visit you can book tours that take you around the film’s locations.
Salzburg will also appeal to those who adore the music of classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born here in 1756. As visitors will soon discover, Salzburg has a magical, fairytale feel about it.
On a day trip you can see lots of fascinating sites. This includes the Hohensalzburg fortress towering over the old town, with the Alps in the background.
The old town is very beautiful, with a magnificent cathedral, the Residenzplatz (the district’s largest square), and St Peter’s Abbey, Austria’s oldest active monastery.
Best of all – for me at least – is the Mirabell Palace and gardens in Salzburg’s new town. Walk around the gardens and you’ll be awarded with stunning views of Hohensalzburg fortress in the background.
Nuremberg is another German city worth considering for a day trip or short break. It’s just over an hour from Munich and you can catch the train here.
Among the sights to see is the Palace of Justice. Inside, you can visit the courtroom where the Nazi war crimes trials (‘The Nuremberg Trials’) took place. The Documentation Centre museum, just outside the city centre, provides more information on the Nazis in Nuremberg if this is something you’re interested in.
Other city museums include a train museum – the DB Museum – that will delight adults and children alike. There is an old Adler steam train here and an up-to-date Ice (InterCityExpress) Train.
Although not all of the city centre was as chocolate boxy as I’d imagined for Bavaria (not surprising given that the old part of the city was largely flattened by Allied bombing in WW2), the main centre is very picturesque and great to explore on foot. There are also some relaxing walks to be had along the river.
And in the main square there’s a large ornate foundation that legend says will bring good luck if you turn the rings on the outside.
Other ideas for short breaks in the UK and Europe
I hope this has helped you plan your 2 days in Munich.
You may also be interested in other ideas for short breaks in the UK and Europe:
- A short break to Gibraltar
- A weekend in Portugal’s Porto
- 2 days in Lyon, France
- Things to do in Zurich in winter
- Top tips for visiting the Alhambra in Spain
- 3 days in the Azores
- 11 top things to do in Guernsey in the Channel Islands
- A weekend in Bath, the UK
- 3 days in Edinburgh, Scotland
For more ideas, see my website.
Lead and featured image: © Prasit Rodphan/ Dreamstime.com