Bavarian capital is rich with history and has a lot to offer to visitors. But for budget travelers there are also a lot of places that can be seen and done for free or for a little money. Follow below steps and you will have more money saved for another things.
Glockenspiel at Marienplatz
What usually most of the tourists do in a new city? Yes, they go to check the old town. Here the main square of Old Town is the Marienplatz. But it’s not the main reason to come here. Every day at 11am and 5pm you can hear the Rathaus Glockenspiel in Marienplatz chime, a 15-minute show, which involves 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures depicting notable events from Bavarian history: for more than 100 years the top story shows the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V to Renata or Lorraine and the bottom story shows Schäfflertanz, which was danced in the streets in the 1500s to cheer people up during difficult times. Once you hear the golden bird chirping three times, the show is over.
Free walking tour
If you are the one, who wants to discover the city with a guide, but you don’t want to pay much for that, then welcome to join the free walking tours in Old Town of Munich. Once you are in Marienplatz, look for guides with flags. They will be happy to show you the main attractions and hidden cute corners of the city. After the tour is ended, you may pay as much as you wish. Guides will be happy for any kind of “thank you”.
Rathaus (self tour)
Once you’re already here, why not to try to check the Rathaus itself? There are several doors on this huge square shaped building and (almost) all of them are open. You can get inside, walk in its corridors, cross the building from one side to another and no one will ask you to leave it. Take a look on the windows inside the New Town Hall: they are all representing different religious motifs. On below picture is shown the Hallway with a staircase, where the statue of lion is like looking after the building to keep it safe.
Most of us are eager to see not only cute streets and admire the city architecture, but check the rich art collections from the city museums. Of course, if you are limited with time, you can buy usual tickets and visit desired museums on any day. But if you are going to spend your Sunday in Munich, you can visit some of the museums for 1 Euro only. This is almost free, don’t you agree with me? The most popular museums to visit are all 3 (Old, New & Modern) Pinakotheks, Egyptean Museum and much more. Check the full list here.
Now let’s transfer to the green part of this beautiful city. Nymphenburg palace and gardens are probably one of the most visited places in Munich. But if you are not in a mood to see the Royal apartments (which I wouldn’t advise to miss), then you can just spend your time in its large garden. You can spend here a full day and don’t feel how time will pass. Except the adjacent buildings, the garden is full with several lakes and green quiet paths (feeling like in the forest). Pick a place that suits you best and spend a lovely day. But be careful, gates will be closed after the dusk.. so make sure you won’t spend a night here 🙂
Another park, which is quite famous here is the English Garden, which is one of the largest inner-city parks in the world. It is even larger than Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London. People come here for jogging, cycling, drinking beer or make friend-family picnics. While walking here don’t be surprised if you see some hedgehogs, squirrels, wild rabbits or foxes. All these animals and and more than 50 species of birds make this garden a real wild paradise.
English Garden will surprise you not only with its fauna. Next to one of the garden entrances you can see some surfers catching the waves of Eisbach river. Surfing is legalized here but for experienced surfers only. If you are not one of them, then you can just sit and watch the surfers “training” or fun. No need to buy expensive tickets and travel far, you can have your big waves here too 😉
The main river that flows in Munich is Isar. It is quite large and divides the city into 2 parts. It is quite nice to walk along its shore, but on sunny days it offers also more relaxing options. Next to the Tiergarden (Munich Zoo) there is a place, which reminds a beach. People come here for sunbathing, fishing or just sitting on the “beach”. Again, instead of spending money on buying tickets, find your “beach” and spend a nice time with your friends or locals.
If you are using public transport during your trip, you might also need to save some money here. Check my tips on how to travel in a budget.
In case you also want to visit several castles and palaces in Munich and Bavaria region, check my guide on how to save on your entrance tickets.
Residence court gardens
Another place that really worth a visit is the Munich Residence. It is one of the main building complexes in Munich that “calls” all the history and art lovers to visit. But as the Nymphenburg Palace, the Residence also has its gardens, which are open to visitors. Moreover, the Residence has 10 court gardens around it. On the picture below is shown the Hofgarden, which has a central pavilion, where you can usually see some people meeting, dancing or playing violin.
Another large and nice garden is Olympiapark. This is a nice place to walk around, relax by the artificial lake, go up the hill and enjoy the 360° view over the city. If you are visiting Munich in April, you shouldn’t miss this place as it is famous with its hundreds of sakura trees. Make sure to have some bread with you, as the birds here, especially crows, will follow you all the way long and will beg you for a bread. Believe me, I know this from my own experience! Crows were taking bread almost from my hands and weren’t scared!
Okay, now when you are here at Olympiapark, I am welcoming you to check all the last produced luxury cars. Next to this park you can see the BMW headquarter and the Museum. But you can visit BMW Welt totally free. Yes, this is not a mistake. You can enter without any ticket, check all the cars and motorbikes, touch most of them, sit in and feel yourself a “king”. Meet my favorite, i8 Roadster. Gorgeous …
But that’s not all free things you can do in Munich. As the city is famous with its beer and festivals, I will share few more things you can do while drinking beer.
This is where the music plays! This 500 years old tavern is considered to be the oldest in the world and is always full of people. The beer is quite tasty here. Didn’t try a food, but it looked tasty too 😛 If you are planning to have a beer, then better to come here, at least once. The atmosphere is totally different. A lot of joyful and dancing people and always playing Bavarian music musicians will transfer you to centuries back. The paintings on the ceiling and the special interior give another “spices” to this place.
Octoberfest & Springfest
Another beer-related place to be visited are the dozens of tents during world famous beer festival Octoberfest (happening from end of September to mid of October) and its small version – Springfest (happening from end of April to mid of May). Each tent is decorated different and usually they are always full. You can make a reservation in advance or stay in a queue for some (long) time. Then enjoy your beer in a crowdy but fun place.
Because of current pandemic situation, the Octoberfest 2020 is cancelled, but hopefully next year everything will be open and you can attend this crazy fest.
This is far from being the full list of free things to see and do in Munich. Start from those and will find your own best options on your way, as each of us have our own “best things” to do in a new place.