Looking for things to do in Munich with kids? We were too! After flying into Germany from Oslo, we spent about 36 hours exploring Munich on our way to our good friend’s wedding in a small town north of the city. We packed a lot of fun into that short visit and of course focused mainly on family activities. Here’s our quick guide to Munich.
Getting Around Munich
We weren’t scheduled to pick up our car until the morning of our last day in Munich, so we mostly relied upon public transportation.
Getting from the Munich airport to the city center is pretty simple using the S-Bahn. There are signs in the airport to lead you to the station.
You may need a little assistance buying the tickets at the machine (we did) but just keep in mind that a group pass is probably most economical even if there are just 2 of you. There was a DB (Deutsche Bahn) staff member at the machines helping folks when we were there, so just look for someone in uniform if you need a hand.
Once in the city we used the U-Bahn underground system to get everywhere. The system is really straightforward with its U# lines and clear maps. We used the Here Maps app on my iPhone to get offline transit directions (we downloaded the Germany map pack before leaving home) when we were trying to plan our routes. It seemed to work better here in Munich – we had a bit more trouble using it to get around Oslo.
Things to Do in Munich with Kids
Of course with limited time we tried to cram in as many family activities as we could during our short stay. Here’s our list of things to do in Munich with kids.
BMW Welt & Olympic Park
The BMW Welt (free entry) is an epic car showroom with gleaming beasts from BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce. You can get up close to the vehicles and no one freaks out if your kids lean up against them or touch them with their candy-covered hands.
There are several video game driving simulator stations setup around the showroom too. Aurora and Jasper were instinctively drawn to these.
We were exhausted after traveling from Oslo so we didn’t do a lot of exploring in Olympic park, but it’s a beautiful area to walk around. The cherry blossoms were out during our visit and Jasper collected a lovely bouquet of them for his sister.
The Marienplatz is tourist central in Munich, but for good reason.
At several times each day the Rathaus-Glockenspiel goes off high above the Marientplatz. Hordes of tourists crane their necks and train their smartphones on the jerkily moving characters acting out the show. It’s cliche but totally fun.
The areas around the Marienplatz are also full of entertainment, and worth wandering around.
St. Peter’s Church
At St. Peter’s Church you can climb many many steps to the top of the church tower for some panoramic views of the city.
It’s a beautiful view but keep in mind that the way up is narrow and jam packed with other people trying to see the same view. If you’re claustrophobic it may not be for you. We definitely had the added challenge of not only the twins but also Kat’s belly to maneuver up the many, many stairs!
The Viktualienmarkt adjacent to Marienplatz is full of delectable treats to tempt your appetite.
We picked up some cheese, bread, olives, pickles, and fruit to make a nice picnic lunch. There’s a beer garden in the center of the market where you can sit. Some tables have tablecloths and it looked like you should buy a beer if you sat there. We found an area of tables without cloths where it seemed like you didn’t need to buy beer, and no one bothered us about it.
There were also lots of stands selling the legendary Munich white asparagus. We didn’t get to try any until later in our trip, but once we did we couldn’t get enough!
The Residenz is a massive sprawling palace complex built and utilized by the Bavarian kings. Oozing opulence it’s probably the most impressive palace of its kind we’ve ever seen, just for its sheer size if nothing else.
We cruised through it, even taking the “short” route at a junction that had “short” and “long” path options, but it still took us nearly an hour to walk through. That was the right amount of time for Kat… I mean Aurora and Jasper… but you could easily spend much longer.
At the same site there’s also the Treasury where you’ll find the monarchy’s jewel collection (a major highlight for Aurora) and a very fancy theater. Both are worth seeing and you can get a discounted pass for all three together.
The treasury probably takes 20-30 minutes minimum, but an hour is more realistic for interested adults. The theater is a quick stop – say 15 minutes.
Hofgarten and Englischer Garten
The Hofgarten directly north of the Residenz is a carefully manicured formal garden. We walked diagonally through it, passing some bocce games around the perimeter, and then through the tunnel below the road to get to and from the Englischer Garten (English Garden).
The English Garden is less formal but much bigger. We explored only a tiny corner of the English Garden, mostly around the duck pond near the southern end. Watch out for the angry swans!
Both parks are beautiful areas for a walk and definitely good for kids to burn some energy.
Around Munich: Flight Museum
While Kat took in the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site (I had seen this during a trip in high school & this site is definitely not recommended for small children) I brought the kids to the nearby Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim.
The flight museum is about 15 minutes away from Dachau and located at an old airfield. It basically consists of a bunch of airplanes that you can walk around, look at, and in a few cases get inside.
There are planes from the beginning of aviation up through the two world wars, the cold war, and contemporary planes.
In the last hangar there are a couple of cockpits that kids can climb into. Aurora and Jasper absolutely loved flipping the switches, turning dials, and pushing pedals – barking out commands to each other to avert imagined imminent crashes or collisions.
I had to drag them out of this place.
Where to Stay in Munich
We rarely book hotels ahead of time but in Munich we did at Hotel Olympia. Located about a 5 minute walk from the end of the U3 metro line at Fürstenried West stop, it was a good choice.
Our first impression wasn’t great as the lobby smelled very smoky, but after that everything was excellent. We got upgraded to a family room at no charge (and they didn’t even know we write about this stuff on the internet).
The family room actually had two separate rooms – a bedroom area with 3 beds, and a sitting room with table and chairs, sink, and a 4th bed. There was a shower in the room, but you had to use the shared toilet which was just the next door down the hall.
The included breakfast was terrific and included typical continental fare plus scrambled eggs. You could also order any type of coffee drink you wanted (like cappuccino or espresso) in addition to regular coffee or tea.
There’s a large parking area, but it’s very convenient to the metro so really no need for a car while you’re exploring the city. We definitely recommend this place for families looking for a good value.
Where to Eat in Munich
Since we had such a short visit we didn’t get a big sampling of the Munich restaurant options. We ate breakfasts at our hotel, and other than that mostly grabbed small meals at markets like the Viktualienmarkt described earlier.
One place we tried and really liked was Bratwustherzl a couple of blocks from Marienplatz. They had great bratwurst (of course) as well as a good selection of beers (including non-alcoholic). Very friendly family atmosphere.
Munich Quick Visit
We spent about 36 hours in Munich and felt like we saw a lot without feeling rushed. There’s obviously a ton more to the city, but we are really happy with what we experienced in the time we had.
Do you have favorite stories from Munich, or know of great Munich family activities? Let us all know!