Many of the traditional attractions are located in the city centre which is found within the city’s old fortifications. The area is roughly bounded by the Altstadtring traffic loop where some of the old walls are still visible but the obvious markers are the old city gates: Karlstor, Isartor, and Sendlinger Tor.
To get to the city centre, head east from München Hauptbahnhof. As you approach Karlsplatz via the underground passage, be sure to turn around to snap a picture of the Palace of Justice. Now pass through Karlstor and you’ll formally be in the city centre. You’ll quickly notice that the street you’re on (Neuhauser strasse) is for pedestrians only – much like many of the streets in this area.
The high-end shops may throw you off at first but many of Munich’s most historic buildings are right around you. It won’t take you very long to notice St. Michael’s Church with the large bronze statues that line its facade. The interior is just as impressive not only for the high altar but also for the crypt where many members of the royal Wittelsbach family rest including Ludwig II of Bavaria who is most famous for building Neuschwanstein Castle.
You probably noticed the two towers peeking around the corner, those belong to Frauenkirche, a triple-naved cathedral. Much of the beauty of Frauenkirche is found within. Benno arches span the central nave while the organ, despite its appearance, is a relatively new addition having arrived in 1994. The most notable monument here is the tomb of Ludwig IV of Bavaria but in the middle of the church is the “footprint of the devil” where it’s said the devil stamped his foot with rage upon completion of the church.
Once you reach Marienplatz, you’ll be in the heart of the city. Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) is practically the face of Munich but most tourists come here at 11 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. when the Glockenspiel figures perform the story of the marriage of the Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine and the end of the plague. For sweeping views of the city, pay the admission price and take the elevator up the tower to the tiny observation deck.
To learn more about the history of Germany, head north to the Residenz Palace which was home of Bavaria’s monarchs until 1918. Now a museum, Residenz Palace has 120 rooms housing sculptures, antiques, art, and much more. Of particular note is the hall of antiquities (Antiquarium) and the treasury where the Bavarian crown jewels are on display.
If you’re in Munich for just a short time, be sure to at least walk through Hofbräuhaus, Munich’s most well-known beer hall. If you manage to grab a seat, the giant beers and traditional German food will keep you full for days. Even if it’s packed, take a few minutes to walk through the hall and upstairs where bands play to get a feel of what a German beer hall is all about.
For a more relaxed end of the night, head over to the W XYZ Bar located in the Aloft hotel. New bands and DJs are always playing here and there’s no charge even if you’re not a guest of the hotel. This has become one of the trendiest spots in Munich and really shows what the culture of the city has become. Conveniently located by Hauptbahnhof station, the Aloft is also the perfect location to spend the night. The stylish and versatile accommodations will give you a great night’s sleep before you’re ready to continue on with your travels the next day.