Munich ("München" in German), often called Germany's most livable city, is also one of its most historic, artistic, and entertaining. Until 1871, it was the capital of an independent Bavaria. Its imperial palaces, jewels, and grand boulevards constantly remind visitors that Munich has long been a political and cultural powerhouse. (Meanwhile, the concentration camp in nearby Dachau reminds us that eight decades ago, it provided a springboard for Nazism.) Immerse yourself in the city's art and history — crown jewels, Baroque theater, Wittelsbach palaces, great paintings, and beautiful parks. Spend your Munich evenings in a frothy beer hall or outdoor Biergarten, prying big pretzels from buxom, no-nonsense beer maids amidst an oompah, bunny-hopping, and belching Bavarian atmosphere.
At a Glance
In the Center
▲▲ Marienplatz Munich's main square, at the heart of a lively pedestrian zone, watched over by New Town Hall (and its glockenspiel show).
▲▲ Viktualienmarkt Munich's "small-town" open-air market, perfect for a quick snack or meal.
▲▲ Hofbräuhaus World-famous beer hall, worth a visit even if you're not chugging.
▲▲ The Residenz Elegant family palace of the Wittelsbachs, awash in Bavarian opulence. Complex includes the Residenz Museum (private apartments), Residenz Treasury (housing Wittelsbach family crowns and royal knickknacks), and the impressive, heavily restored Cuvilliés Theater.
▲▲ Alte Pinakothek Bavaria's best painting gallery, with a wonderful collection of European masters from the 14th through the 19th century.
▲▲ Egyptian Museum Easy-to-enjoy collection of ancient Egyptian treasures.
▲▲ Nazi Documentation Center Thoughtful look at Munich's role in the rise of Nazism.
▲▲ Lenbachhaus A pleasant look at three stages of German art: 19th century, Blue Rider, and post-WWI — most important for its Blue Rider collection.
▲ Munich City Museum The city's history in five floors.
▲ Asam Church Private church of the Asam brothers, dripping with Baroque.
▲ Neue Pinakothek The Alte's twin sister, with paintings from 1800 to 1920.
▲ Pinakothek der Moderne Munich's modern art museum with works by Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Magritte, and Ernst.
▲ English Garden The largest city park on the Continent, packed with locals, tourists, surfers, and nude sunbathers. (On a bike, I'd rate this ▲▲.)
▲ Deutsches Museum Germany's version of our Smithsonian Institution, with 10 miles of science and technology exhibits.
St. Peter's Church Munich's oldest church, packed with relics.
St. Michael's Church Renaissance church housing Baroque decor and a crypt of 40 Wittelsbachs.
Frauenkirche Huge, distinctive twin-domed church looming over the city center.
Outside the City Center
▲▲▲ Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Notorious Nazi camp on the outskirts of Munich, now a powerful museum and memorial.
▲▲ Nymphenburg Palace The Wittelsbachs' impressive summer palace, featuring a hunting lodge, coach museum, fine royal porcelain collection, and vast park.
▲▲ BMW-Welt and Museum The carmaker's futuristic museum and floating-cloud showroom highlighting BMW past, present, and future in unforgettable architecture.
▲ Museum of Transportation Deutsches Museum's cross-town annex devoted to travel.
▲ Schleissheim Palace Another Wittelsbach palace, highlighted by Baroque architecture, fine garden, and fewer tourists than the other palaces.
▲ Andechs Monastery Baroque church, hearty food, and Bavaria's best brew, in the nearby countryside.