When someone says Munich, most people immediately think of Oktoberfest. Yes, this famous festival does fill up the city for 2 weeks each year, but there is so much more to Munich than beer and pretzels.

We had the opportunity to visit Munich as guests of the Munich Tourism Board, officially known a München Tourismus. Their website, with information on just about everything available in Munich, may be the only guide you need. It’s certainly one of the most comprehensive city websites I’ve ever seen… and I’ve seen a lot.

Upon arrival at the main train station, we walked just a few hundred meters to King’s Hotel, which was exactly what we needed to get rested for our whirlwind tour. After a quick and delicious dinner at the famous Augustiner Keller and a tour around the beer cellar, we spent the next several hours before bed trying to decide what to see for the next two days. It was no easy task! We could easily have stayed two weeks and still not see everything! Instead I turned page corners in a city guide book and then tried to cull it down from roughly 30 of my favorite activities listed.

We jumped up early the next morning and headed off to the city center to take in some of the sites. Munich has so much history to learn about that we barely had time to take it all in. We even passed by a little known building with just a plain marker indicating the place where plans for the holocaust were first hatched. From there we took a short walk over to The Frauenkirche, also known as The Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, a beautiful church with several unique aspects, including the legendary “devil’s footprint,” and a curious menorah on the ceiling. You’ll have to visit to find out why it’s there! (It’s quite a touching story.)

By then it was nearly 11:00am and we rushed back to the Marienplatz to get a glimpse of the Glockenspiel in action. We were delighted when the hour struck and the giant clock came to life. You really can’t miss it and it wasn’t at all disappointing to us! Below is a video of the clock in action. It’s a bit long, but fascinating, especially if you’ve never seen it before. Although, I highly encourage you to head there and see yourself!

We settled down to lunch with Isabella from München Tourismus and took her advice on some traditional Bavarian menu items. I think we would weigh entirely too much if we stayed in Munich for any longer than a few days. Wow, that food is amazing.

Finally we headed off to meet up with the famous New Europe Free Walking Tour group to catch some more history for a couple of hours. If you’ve never tried one of these walking tours, you don’t know what you’re missing. They are informative beyond belief, entertaining and will help you get oriented in the city in no time. Plus, they’re free! You should tip your guide at the end according to what you think their tour was worth. What a nice business plan.

When I say that it’s important to get into a tour, I really mean that. Any walking tour will take you around the city to places you never knew existed and give you more information than you could find in a thousand guide books. We had no idea about some of the landmarks in Munich as they are so subtle, yet so important. We saw an extremely unique memorial to the German resistance, the place where the army tried to block the Nazi’s from marching, fun things like the May Pole in the city center, markets, beer gardens and so much more, all while being thoroughly entertained and enlightened about each of these places. The more you know about a city, the more you will love it! München Tourismus can also set you up with a tour, and personally knowing how thorough they are, I know it would be a great option for sure.

When the tour was finished we took a closer look at a couple of beer gardens and had a bratwurst dog for dinner. Yum. Griffin tried out the famous Weissbier, or Wheat Beer, but I’m not crazy about beer so I settled for a Fanta. After Griffin grabbed some night photography time, we headed back to the hotel to catch up on rest.

As if day one didn’t hold enough, we quickly headed out the next morning to see what else we could get into. We were delighted to “hop” onto a Gray Line tour bus to hop on and hop off throughout the city. What’s great about this company is there is a live tour guide to give you information about the upcoming stops and different landmarks about the city. Other companies tend to have a recording, but recordings don’t answer questions, so we were happy for the change. A complete circle takes around an hour and half, which we actually did just to have some uninterrupted information about the city. Then we jumped off at the different stops that interested us the first time around.

Of course, no tour of Munich would be complete without a visit to BMW Welt (World). Here you can catch people driving their new cars around the indoor test facility or venture over to the BMW Museum and see how the company got started as well as all the makes and models! It was really cool, but there was no free gift of a new BMW at end! Too bad!

BMW Welt is the same tour stop as the Olympic Park, which is a beautiful site in itself. It’s easy to spend hours wandering around taking in all the athletic history.

We were also able to check out the English Garden, Opera House, City Hall, and the Nymphenburg Palace, all within a few steps of a Gray Line stop.

After picking up a few souvenirs, we finally and regrettably had to leave the beautiful city of Munich all too soon. I am absolutely sure we’ll be back again! If you get the chance, please make sure to visit Munich… even if it’s not Oktober!