Here's how to make the most of Munich outside of Oktoberfest

Anja Samy
Anja Samy - [email protected]
Here's how to make the most of Munich outside of Oktoberfest
Munich skyline. Photo: DPA.

With the world's biggest beer festival just around the corner, it's easy to forget what else the city of Munich has to offer, aside from endless beer tents.*


Munich is home to a rich array of culture and history, aside from Oktoberfest, so here are a few ideas on how to spend a weekend in the Bavarian capital.

*This article is by no means a beer free zone, just an Oktoberfest free zone.



The interior of the Hofbräuhaus boasts an incredible vaulted ceiling. Photo: DPA.

Complete with a brass band in Lederhosen, the Hofbräuhaus is a natural start to your first evening in Munich. The city's most iconic beer hall is the perfect place for large groups due to its sharing tables and capacity to seat several hundred guests.

Built almost 500 years ago, only men were originally allowed in and the beer hall previously contained no bathrooms. Instead, disgustingly, but perhaps practically, there were simply troughs under the table and the men would use hollow sticks to direct their 'flow'.

Luckily, nowadays women are allowed in and plumbing has been installed. Interestingly, and most likely due to the early closing time of 11.30pm, wherever there is a beer hall, there seems to be an Irish pub nearby where punters can carry on their night.

Café Kosmos


Alter ego

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After the Hofbräuhaus, take a step away from Bavarian tradition with Café Kosmos. Bottles of beer are very cheap here and other drinks, although more expensive, are generously measured by the friendly bar tenders.

Custom in Munich appears to be that, if you order a mixed drink, you receive your shot (or two, or three) in a glass with the mixer in a bottle alongside. The cosy bar's quirky décor is completed by their mascot Vodkarella - a Barbie doll in a space helmet and silver suit - proudly displayed by the bar.



View through the fountain at Karlplatz towards one of the town gates. Photo: DPA.

A great place to start a tour of the city is the square on the edge of the Altstadt, officially named Karlsplatz. But tourists beware, calling the square by this official name is a faux-pas. The city has a centuries-long grudge against its creator - Karl Theodor, Duke of Bavaria. Instead, Münchners refer to it as 'Stachus', after the bar that was flattened to build it.

Reminders of the war


#münchen #drückebergergasse

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Although a huge number of Munich's buildings were destroyed during WW2, most were rebuilt in their original style. Certain prominent buildings linked to the Nazi regime were given new, more positive purposes after the war.

The former Rathaus is now a toy museum and Hitler's old apartments are a music school, which teaches, among other things, jazz - a musical style the Fuhrer reportedly hated.

Another response to the tragedies of the war is silent memorials dotted around the city. These include the gold path in Dodgers' Alley to mark a detour Jews and those opposed to the party would take to avoid passing officers in the street by the Nazi memorial.

Bayerische Staatsoper

The National Theatre on Max-Joseph-Platz, rebuilt for the third time in the 1960's. Photo:DPA

The National Theatre in Munich, also known as the Bavarian State Opera, stands proud today, but it has had a troubled history. Unfortunately, the first opera house, comissioned by King Maximillian I, caught fire. Due to the winter temperatures, the pipes were frozen and no water could be collected to put it out.

Local legend has it that, in an attempt to extinguish the blaze, rescuers turned to the next most abundant liquid in Munich - beer. But the chain of volunteers decided to work on a 'one for me, one for you' system, so the fire destroyed almost all of the building.

The opera house was rebuilt but later destroyed again during the war, meaning the building you can see today is in fact the third incarnation of the theatre.

Residence Palace


Münchner Residenz. . . . . . #münchnerresidenz #munchen #munich #germany #fantastic #wow

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This huge building is decorated internally in a style to rival Versailles, but the city ran out of funds when rebuilding the outside and consequently decided that painting the bricks on would have to suffice. You could quite easily spend hours looking round the many rooms, just make sure to take advantage of the free audio guides.

Beer tour

Augustiner Keller Biergarten at night. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Munich has dozens of Brauhäuser and a fun and semi-educational way to visit the best of them is to do one of the many beer tours available. Unsurprisingly, considering how many beer halls Munich has, beer tours tend to start rather early. Something you may also notice is that the names of most of the Brauhäuser contain the word 'Augustiner'. This is after the oldest and most established brewery in the city, Augustiner-Bräu.

Cord Club

If the brass bands of the beer halls get too much, you can escape to Munich's premier indie club. Here you can expect songs ranging from Earth, Wind and Fire to Two Door Cinema Club, with a few German bands thrown into the mix. A great night out, the only downside being that the DJ tends to get a bit trigger happy with the smoke machine.


Neues Rathaus

The Neues Rathaus viewed from Marienplatz. Photo:DPA.

While walking through the city centre, make sure to stop in front of the new town hall in Marienplatz in time to watch the moving figures and hear the bells of the Glockenspiel. The moving figures appear daily at 11am, 12pm and 5pm.

Pro tip - the figures don't move when the bells first start to chime, so don't raise your camera to video until the clock has finished chiming the hour, otherwise all you'll get is a minute or two of uneventful footage and tired arms.

Alter Peter


Blick auf #münchen vom #alterpeterturm ?? #munichcity #munichlove #view

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To make the most of any blue skies and to view the whole city one last time, head up the 91m tower of the church of St. Paul. Some 306 steps (and several regrets about the amount of beer and food you've consumed) later, you are greeted with a birds-eye view of the city.

Munich's choice to rebuild rather than renovate its landmarks can really be appreciated from the top of Alter Peter. Although the long and narrow walk up is not for the claustrophobic or acrophobic.


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