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Munich Self-Guided Walking Tour

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This self-guided tour covers some of the most historic and notable sites in Munich. We’ll also include a map to help you find your way around the city.


Overview

Our self-guided tour of Munich will cover a lot of significant sites in the city centre, including 12 different stops of varying historical or social importance.

Here is a list of each site we’ll visit on the tour, as well as a map with directions to each location.

  • Marienplatz
  • St. Peter’s Church
  • Jewish Synagogue
  • Asam Church
  • St. Michael’s Church
  • Frauenkirche
  • Platzl
  • Hofbräuhaus
  • Max-Joseph-Platz
  • Munich Residenz
  • Odeonsplatz
  • Hofgarten

The tour begins at Marienplatz near the New Town Hall and at one of the most central spots in Munich. The tour will take you around the city in pretty much every direction, and you should wear comfortable shoes and socks for the walk.

You can also use public transportation or perhaps rent a bike to get around the city much easier. If you’re looking for help from a professional guide, consider taking a pay-what-you-want Munich walking tour instead.


Self-Guided Tour

There are 12 stops on this self-guided Munich tour, and we will provide details about each location. We will also include directions to help you find each stop on the tour. 

Don’t forget that there is also a free audio tour available. If you have a smartphone and earbuds or headphones, this could be a great alternative.


Marienplatz

This plaza has been the main central square of Munich since 1158. It wasn’t always just a public square, as it was originally called Markth (market).

The site became so well-known as a marketplace for grain that it eventually earned the title of Scranne (grain market), and then Schranneplatz (grain market square).

It wasn’t until the Scranne was moved to another location in 1853 that this public square earned its current name, which translates to Mary’s Square.

Overhead view of Marienplatz. Source: Pixabay.

This plaza is named after Mariensaule, a Marian column located at the centre of Marienplatz. This column depicts the Virgin Mary at the top and it was erected to celebrate the end of the Thirty Year’s War and subsequently the cessation of Swedish occupation in Munich.

Every December, this public square is transformed into a Christkindlmarkt for three weeks before Christmas where you can find festive gifts, foods, and drinks. 

If you face south in Marienplatz, you’ll find our next stop right down Rindermarkt street and to the left.


St. Peter’s Church

This Roman Catholic church is the oldest in Munich and the point at which the entire city originated. Its 91-metre (299 ft) tower is colloquially known as “Old Pete,” and it’s a well-known site people will use to orient themselves while walking around the city.

Even before Munich was founded, there was already a Merovingian church at this location which was used by monks as early as the 8th century. At that time, the church was called Petersbergl.

St. Peter's Church in Munich. Source: Pixabay.

Eventually, a new church took its place and was consecrated at the end of the 12th century. Throughout centuries of different renovations done at St. Peter’s Church, several different architectural styles have been adapted into its structure including Bavarian Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque.

The interior includes a beautiful fresco by Johann Baptist Zimmerman, paintings by Jan Polack, and altars by Ignaz Gunther.

To reach the next stop, head to the back end of St. Peter’s Church and walk south down Peterspl. Turn right on Viktualienmarkt and keep walking south until you reach Prälat-Zistl-Straße.

Keep walking south on Prälat-Zistl-Straße until you reach Sebastianspl. Turn right and walk west to Sankt-Jakobs-Platz. Follow this road west until you reach the Jewish Synagogue.


Jewish Synagogue

This site is known as Ohel Jakob Synagogue, it’s actually relatively new and was built in 2006. There was another synagogue nearby, but it was sadly destroyed in 1938 upon the orders of Adolf Hitler.

Following WW2, the Jewish population of Munich was gone, but in the years since many Jewish people have moved back into the city and population levels are now where they were before the war.

Ohel Jakob Synagogue. Source: Wikimedia.

The synagogue is closed off to all non-worshippers, but the Jewish Museum behind it is open to all visitors. They house a permanent collection and also offer temporary exhibits every few months on average.

Just north of the synagogue, you’ll also find the Munich City Museum. If you want to learn more about this city, the museum covers both its medieval and modern history.

To reach the next stop on this tour, walk northwest past St. Jakobs-Platz, past Oberanger Street and onto Dultstraße. When you reach Sendlinger Street, turn left and head southwest past Herrmann-Sack-Straße. When you reach Singlspielerstraße, our next stop will be on the right.


Asam Church

Built between the years of 1733-1746, this Baroque church is one of the most unique in all of Germany. Brothers Egid Quirin Asam and Cosmas Damian Asam had the building constructed to serve as their own private church.

Since the construction was not under the control of a religious order, they had the opportunity to build this church with the design elements they wanted to see.

Asam Church. Source: GraphyArchy - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Asam brothers were both artists. While Egid was a respected sculptor, Cosmas was one of the great painters of his time. You can see some of his work in the fresco of the church, entitled “Life of Saint Nepomuk.” Many consider this one of his greatest pieces of art.

The two brothers both studied under Lorenzo Bernini, one of the greatest Italian sculptors of the 17th century. Bernini is credited with creating the Baroque style, so the architecture you see on display here is among the most authentic you’ll find in the entire country.

When you’re done looking around, head back up Sendlinger Street until you reach Fürstenfelder Street. Turn right and then make a left on Rosenstraße. 

This street will take you back to Marienplatz, where you should turn left and walk west down Kaufingerstraße until you reach Ettstraße.


St. Michael’s Church

This is the biggest Renaissance church you’ll find to the north of the Alps, and its architectural style actually influenced early Baroque architecture in Germany.

St. Michael’s is one of the most notable Jesuit churches in the country. Built in 1583 and consecrated in 1597, this religious structure has the second largest barrel-vaulted roof in the world, beaten only by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

St. Michael's Church. Source: Berthold Werner under CCA 3.0

Many important people are buried in the crypt of St. Michael’s, including Bavarian royalty such as King Ludwig II, King Otto, and Prince Leopold.

To find our next stop, head back down the way you came on Neuhauser Street and turn left at Augustinerstraße. This street will lead you right to the next big church on the tour.


Frauenkirche

Also known as the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, this is actually a somewhat common name for churches in Germany. What sets the Munich Frauenkirche apart from others is its status as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, and the seat of its Archbishop.

It’s difficult to miss this church when walking around the city, as its towers are among the largest structures in the area at 99 metres in height. If you’re interested, the south tower is usually open for visitors to climb to the top and enjoy great views of Munich.

Frauenkirche. Source: Pixabay.

This church features elements of both Gothic and Renaissance architecture because it was built in the late 15th century, but the domes of the tower were added in the 16th century.

There are a lot of beautiful works of art inside this church from notable artists such as Jan Polack, Hans Leinberger, Ignaz Gunther, and others. 

Many famous and important people were buried here including Roman Emperor Louis IV and King Ludwig III.

Our next stop is a few blocks east, so begin heading past Frauenkirche to Löwengrube, which quickly turns into Schäfflerstraße. We recommend walking through the Marienhof park and onto Hofgraben on the other side.

Eventually this street turns into Pfisterstraße, which will lead you to our next stop if you keep walking east.


Platzl


This public square is named after the restaurant and theatre which were once located in the area. From 1368-1805, this location was actually referred to as Graggenau, roughly translated to “the Point.”

The Theater am Platzl stood here from 1901-1995, and it was mostly frequented by folk singers.

Platzl and Hofbrauhaus. Source: Berthold Werner under CCA 3.0

The most famous building here is the Hofbräuhaus, but that’s our next stop, so we’ll cover it a little later. 

Another notable site nearby is the Orlando House, a five-story home to the north of the square. This house was built by Max Littmann, who also built the Hofbräuhaus. Today, the building is registered in the Bavarian List of Monuments.

There are several restaurants and plenty of outdoor seating for customers in the area, so you might want to stop and take a break while you’re here. That said, we recommend saving your appetite for beer if you plan to visit Hofbräuhaus.


Hofbräuhaus

This famous beer palace is the home of the Hofbräu brewery, and it’s definitely a popular stop for beer lovers around the world. Constructed in 1589, this is one of the oldest breweries in the world which is still in operation today. 

If you’ve ever wondered why beer is so popular in Germany, it’s because hundreds of years ago it was actually considered a substitute for food due to its contents of barley, hops, and yeast. 

A look inside Hofbrauhaus. Source: Pixabay.

In other words, beer is almost like an essential part of a meal for many Germans. Back in 1844, King Ludwig I actually set the price of beer lower than usual because he wanted to “offer the military and the working class a healthy and cheap drink.” Yes, beer was considered healthy!

The beer hall at Hofbräuhaus has space for about 1,000 people, and the ballroom can fit close to 1,500 guests. 

During the summer, the inner courtyard is usually turned into a beer garden. If you’re visiting during the warmer months, you might want to check and see if this beer garden is open.

Once you’ve had your fill of beer, head back up to the Platzl square and continue north onto Am Kosttor. Turn left when you reach Maximilianstraße and walk west until you reach a plaza on the right.


Max-Joseph-Platz

This public square was constructed at the same time as the nearby National Theatre in 1818. The plaza was named after King Maximilian Joseph.

The building to the north is the Königsbau of the Munich Residence, a former royal palace. We’ll talk more about this location later, as it’s the next stop on our tour!

Max-Joseph-Platz. Source: Guido Radig under CCA 3.0

To the south of the square you’ll see several Neo-Renaissance arcades that were once part of the former Palais Toerring-Jettenbach.

You’ll see a monument at the centre of the square which was erected in honor of King Maximilian Joseph. The statue could not be revealed until 1835 (10 years after the king’s death) because he did not want to be eternalized in a sitting position.

Head past this plaza and take a good look at the buildings lining its northern side as you walk up Residenzstraße to our next stop.


Munich Residenz

This is the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. The Munich Residenz is an amalgamation of several different buildings constructed for royalty between the 14th-20th century.

With so many structures attached to the Residenz, it actually qualifies as the largest city palace in all of Germany, and it’s now open to the public.

This palace has a combined 10 courtyards, 130 rooms, and dozens of buildings. If you want to learn more about this location, consider visiting the Residenzmuseum in Königsbauhof.

Munich Residenz. Source: Wikiolo | derivative work: MagentaGreen CC BY-SA 4.0

Another notable site here is the Treasury, which contains the jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty. This building also includes important relics such as Emperor Charles the Bald’s prayer-book, the altar-ciborium of Emperor Arnulf of Carinthia, and many other historic artifacts.

The Munich Residenz also houses the Bavarian state coin collection with more than 300,000 coins, medals, and banknotes dating back to ancient periods in human history. This is one of the most impressive coin collections in the world.

Our next stop is just north on Residenzstraße, at the northern end of the palace.

Odeonsplatz

This is one of the more historically relevant public squares in Munich. One of the most notable events that took place here was the gun battle that ended the march on Feldherrnhalle during the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.

Odeonsplatz. Source: Pixabay.

The square is named after a former concert hall called the Odeon located on the northwestern side. You can also see the northern end of the Munich Residenz on the southeastern end of the plaza.

On the southwestern side of the square you’ll see the Theatinerkirche, a Baroque church built in the 17th century. Many notable people are buried here, including King Maximilian Joseph, Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII, King Otto of Greece, and many others.

Our final stop is at the northeastern end of Odeonsplatz, the Hofgarten. 


Hofgarten

Built in the 17th century, this Italian Renaissance garden is a great place to finish your tour. There is a pavilion for the goddess Diana at the centre of the Hofgarten.

On the east side of the garden you’ll see the Bavarian Staatskanzlei, also known as the State Chancellery. This was once an Army Museum, but it was repurposed in 1993.

Munich Hofgarten. Source: Wikimedia under CCA 3.0

If you choose to walk over to the Staatskanzlei, you’ll find the Kriegerdenkmal (War Memorial” in front of the building. This is a memorial to commemorate the people of Munich who were killed in action during WW1.

At the northeast corner of the garden, you’ll find a black granite memorial in honor of the White Rose group. This organization was executed for committing to non-violent action against Hitler’s regime. 

There are a lot of other things to see here including arcades on the southern side with wall paintings telling the history of Bavaria. 

We recommend taking a good look around the serene Hofgarten to see as much as possible before heading back toward the city centre. Take a break and enjoy a walk through a garden!


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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: October 31st, 2021
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