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Exploring Munich: 7 free and fun things to do

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Munich
The classic cityscape of Munich. Photo: John Morgan

Bavaria is Germany’s wealthiest region, and Munich is known for its posh spots and expensive tabs.

However, not everything is out of a Cheapo’s budget in this city. Munich is also home to wonderful traditions and scenery that won’t cost you even one euro to experience.

Here are seven of our top free things to do when visiting Munich at any time of the year.

Related: Top budget hotels in Munich

1. The Glockenspiel clock

Every day at 11 AM and 12 PM there are hundreds of tourists waiting at Munich’s Town Hall. The crowd’s size misleads others to think something huge is going to happen, but it’s really just a joyful chime of traditional music and figurines circling around the clock tower. Maybe you shouldn’t plan your European vacation around it, but it’s cute to see once while drinking a coffee to go.

Glockenspiel

The Glockenspiel is a fun way to kick off a day of sightseeing in Munich. Photo: Katie

2. Church of Our Lady

Nearby the town hall and Marienplatz is Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) boasting the tallest towers in the city. One of the towers is open to climb, and on a clear day you can see as far as the Alps. The inside holds artwork from the 1300s, as this is one of the oldest churches in the city, built in the 1400s.

English Gardens

Grab a seat and a stein at the beer garden in the English Gardens. Photo: Jennifer M.

3. The English Gardens

The large central park has everything you need for a typical Bavarian summer outing: a babbling brook, trees, soccer games, al fresco picnics, nudists… and a beer garden next to a large Chinese-style tower. Alright the last two sound weird, but in the English Gardens (Englische Garten) it’s totally normal. Wandering around the park leads to rose gardens, more cafes and large, gothic buildings. It’s a must see.

Related: 3 beer gardens popular with locals in Munich

4. Isar River

There’s a part of the river running through the English Gardens where locals surf on a naturally made wave. It’s great to watch from the bridge above. Following the river is a beautiful walking path, especially when the leaves are changing. Some of the waterfowl along the Isar are raraties in Europe—like Asia’s mandarin ducks.

Viktualienmarkt

Discover an array of tasty goods at the daily Viktualienmarkt. Photo: Justo

5. Viktualienmarkt

Just next to the town hall is a market area with all things foodie. From boutique cottage stores selling homemade jams and organic honey to a slew of butcher’s competing for the world’s best pork slice of leberkase, it’s free to walk around but the smells are tempting. There are quite a few fresh juice stands and traditional Bavarian food kitchens, all of course surrounding a beer garden to sit and eat at. This is a great lunch spot.

Related: 5 classic Bavarian bakery items in Munich for around €1

6. Hirschgarten

This is my favorite attraction, and it’s perfect for families. Hirschgarten has everything Bavarian: nature, wilderness, hearty food and beer. The word means “deer park”, and dozens of deer hang around, grazing and snoozing. Kids (and adults) love to feed them grass through the fencing, while the park itself is large with play areas and nature paths.

To top it off, Hirschgarten is the largest outdoor beer garden in the world, with ample seating, and tasty food and drink at very fair prices. The S-bahn even recently built a “Hirschgarten” metro station to better guide park visitors.

Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace in Munich. Photo: Kyle Cheung

7. Nymphenburg Palace

Within walking distance from the Hirschgarten is this jaw-dropping Baroque-style palace built in the 1600s. Rulers of Bavaria like Maximillian II and his son King Ludwig II resided with their families in this gigantic building that looks more like a grand hotel. Entrance inside is €11.50 during peak season, but it’s free to walk around the stunning gardens, ponds and greenery sculpted around the premises.

About the author

About the author: Audrey Sykes hopped across the pond from the US eight years ago for a Masters degree in global journalism. Since then, she’s lived all over Europe, reporting and editing for music sites, snowboard mags, and travel media. She’s also the Amsterdam author for Party Earth, a guide to nightlife across Europe.

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