The 19th-century Wittelsbach rulers of Bavaria shaped their capital in the image of Europe’s cultural behemoths, transforming Munich into “Athens on the Isar River.” It’s a legacy that continues today as Munich remains an important European cultural center. Here are some ways to explore Munich’s cultural side.
Go museum-hopping at the Kunstareal.
Visit Munich’s top museums in one swoop with a visit to Kunstareal, Munich’s museum quarter. Here, you find the three Pinakotheken galleries—Old Pinakothek (Alte Pinakothek), New Pinakothek (New Pinakothek), and Pinakothek der Moderne—as well as Lenbachhaus art gallery and Museum Brandhorst. Admission to some of these institutions is included as part of multiattraction sightseeing passes.
Visit royal residences.
The former palaces of Bavarian royals are scattered around Munich and the surrounding regions. They serve both as architectural eye candy and as repositories for art, antiques, and decorative objects. Some, such as the Munich Residenz (Residenz München) and Baroque-style Nymphenburg Palace (Schloss Nymphenburg), are situated within Munich itself, while others, such as Linderhof Castle, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Hohenschwangau Castle, can be easily visited as part of day trips.
Catch a music performance.
A night out at a concert is a classic Munich activity. Attend orchestral performances at the Rococo-style Cuvilliés Theater, Max Joseph Hall, or the Hofkapelle (Court Chapel)—all of which are in the Munich Residence. For something less formal, catch oompah bands performing at the Hofbräuhaus beer hall.
Immerse yourself in traditional Bavarian culture at this world-famous festival, which starts in mid-September and features parades, processions, and a fairground. Attendees don traditional Bavarian garb while they eat, drink, and dance the days away. Some packages include a tour of Theresienwiese, the festival site, as well as food, beer, and reserved spaces in an Oktoberfest tent.