Munich is one of Germany’s most visited cities. And if you ask any traveler to Munich what they’re anxious to see, they’ll tell you Oktoberfest, Marienplatz, Englischer Garten and so on. But there’s so much to explore and experience in this cosmopolitan city that feels like a village. From lesser known museums to meals and shopping, here are ten fun (and unique!) things to do in Munich off the beaten path.
Go shopping at MJ Guitars
The German rock band Scorpions are best known for their hit “Rock You Like a Hurricane” or the anthem “Wind of Change.” The band’s guitarist Matthias Jabs owns MJ Guitars just down the street from Pariser Platz. (And given that the members are from Hannover, it’s a little surprising that he has a shop in Munich.) Fans will no doubt enjoy the Scorpions memorabilia and photographs that line the walls of the shop. MJ Guitars is stock full of gear so there’s plenty of choices if you’re looking for something specific. The staff are also really friendly and knowledgeable.
MJ GUITARS GmbH, Pariser Str. 32, 81667 Munich
Pay your respects at Bogenhauser Friedhof
Tourists flock to a certain cemetery in Paris that’s the final resting place of people like Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. In Munich, just a quick walk from Englischer Garten and across the Max-Joseph-Brücke is the Bogenhauser Friedhof, or cemetery. This historic cemetery is a popular resting place for famous Germans. Visitors can pay their respects at the graves of filmmakers Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Helmut Dietl, film producer Bernd Eichinger and author Oskar Maria Graf, among others. Each grave is very individualized and there are many lovely plants. It’s a very peaceful spot and definitely Munich off the beaten path, especially for foreign tourists.
Bogenhauser Friedhof, Bogenhauser Kirchpl., 81675 Munich
Visit the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art
In late 2016, the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art opened in Munich’s Hackenviertel. The museum is the first museum for urban art in Munich. The exhibitions on display are always changing but the museum is very laid back. There is no clear map or path and many of the galleries are behind closed doors. You can explore at your own pace.
Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA), Hotterstraße 12, 80331 Munich
Visit the Lenbachhaus & Kunstbau
Munich is rich with art and the city’s Lenbachhaus is no different. Situated at Königsplatz, the majority of the collection is located in the one-time villa of artist Franz von Lenbach. But the museum, since 1994, has an exhibition space called the Kunstbau. The Kunstbau is located across the street from the Lenbachhaus. Specifically, it’s located in the U-Bahn station. You read that right. The Kunstbau is underground in the subway station. From inside the gallery you can even look out a window over an escalator that takes commuters to and from the tracks. It’s a unique experience but one done so well that you’ll forget the building and be entranced by the art.
Lenbachhaus & Kunstbau, Luisenstraße 33, 80333 Munich
Sip hot chocolate at Chocolaterie Beluga while people watching at Viktualienmarkt
Munich’s central marketplace, Viktualienmarkt, is popular with locals and tourists alike. You can get any manner of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other delicacies and items for your home. But hidden off in the buildings surrounding the marketplace is Chocolaterie Beluga. The shop sells gourmet chocolates that will make your mouth water. Their specialty is hot chocolate. One wall of the shop is lined with dozens of varieties of chocolates on wooden spoons. Pick a flavor and take it to the cash register. They’ll steam some milk for the hot chocolate flavor you selected. Relax at one of the tables and people watch at Viktualienmarkt while stirring your wooden spoon to dissolve the chocolate cube.
Chocolaterie Beluga, Viktualienmarkt 6, 80331 Munich
Go on a walking tour of Munich’s historic sites
As you explore Munich you’ll no doubt notice that there are plaques and signs explaining certain sites. These historic markers highlight such places as the birthplace of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (better known as Sissi) and the assassination of Kurt Eisner, the Minister President of Bavaria who was shot as he approached parliament to resign. The city is also full of World War II-era history with much of the city being destroyed as a result of its importance. Take a stroll around the city and experience history firsthand.
Enjoy Sunday brunch at the Maximilianeum
When Sunday rolls around, consider spoiling yourself with a brunch at the Maximilianeum. During the week, the stately building houses the Bavarian parliament. But on Sundays it offers a sumptuous brunch that promises to satisfy a Bavarian monarch. The building also offers lovely views of the city so take your time and enjoy.
Maximilianeum, Max-Planck-Straße 1, 81675 Munich
See the skyline from inside the Bavaria statue
The Theresienwiese is best known as the spot where Oktoberfest and other festivals are held. And watching over it all is a more than 60-foot tall bronze cast statue of the lady Bavaria, a loyal lion by her side and her left arm raised overhead. It’s a remarkable statue and even more so once you find out that it’s actually hollow. For a small fee you can climb a narrow, winding staircase up through the statue. At the top you can peek out holes that are in Bavaria’s head! What’s more, the artist molded pillow-topped couches into this lookout area. It’s all very whimsical and unexpected.
Bavaria statue, Theresienhöhe 16, 80339 Munich
See the skyline from inside city hall
While visitors often climb the towers at the Frauenkirche or Alter Peter to get a view of Munich’s skyline, the observation deck in city hall is less well known. The impressive city hall building on Marienplatz has a dedicated elevator near the courtyard that takes you right up into the building. From there you pay admission and take another elevator straight to the tower. 360-degree views of Munich from Marienplatz await you. If the weather’s clear you can see all the way to the Alps.
Neues Rathaus, Marienplatz 8, 80331 Munich
Stroll the grounds at Schloss Blutenburg
Just west of Schloss Nymphenburg, less than three miles by foot, lies the often overlooked Schloss Blutenburg. Complete with a moat, the original castle served as a hunting lodge for Duke Albert III in the 15th century. Due to fire, war and abandonment over the centuries, the castle has been built and rebuilt. Also on the site is palace chapel.
Today the castle houses an international youth library. But the chapel and the grounds are open to the public and can be visited at no cost. It’s the best of Munich off the beaten path.
Schloss Blutenburg, Seldweg 15, 81247 Munich
All opinions, as well as all photos, are my own.