A walking tour of Munich with kids; see the kid-friendly Munich highlights; Frauenkirche
Europe,  Travel

Munich walking tour with a young child

Why do we always seem to end up in Munich? I think we have been to Munich four times already this year. We visited twice in a week on the way to and from Italy and we have another trip planned. As often as we have been, I thought it was time to share some of our Munich tips, starting with our Munich walking tour.

As with all our trips, we are travelling (or in this case walking) with a young child in tow. Miss Just-turned-four put this tour through its paces, adding her input. At her insistance, this walking tour includes playgrounds and other kid-friendly distractions.

Where to start

Our original plan was to start our Munich walking tour at Sendlinger Tor. However, on the day of our tour, major works on the tram lines made Sendlinger Tor difficult to reach. We started at Karlsplatz instead.

It was a hot Summer’s day, so our first stop was for Miss M to play in the fountain at Karlsplatz and try to dodge the water sprays. She was not that successful.

The fountain at Karlsplatz and the start of our walking tour of Munich; trying  unsuccessfully to dodge the raindrops

Neuhauser Strasse

To start your walking tour, pass under Karlstor and head down Neuhauser Straße towards Marienplatz. If you are looking to do some shopping – perhaps for a Dirndl or Lederhosen – this is a good place to start.

Don’t miss the statues of the wild boar and fish in front of the Hunting and Fishing Museum. They are a great photo opportunity!

Wild boar statue in front of the Hunting and Fishing Museum in Munich.  A great photo op on your Munich walking tour.

After snapping a few happy pics, turn left towards the Frauenkirche.

Frauenkirche

The Frauenkirche – or the Cathedral of our Dear Lady – with its onion spires is a quintessential silhouette in the Munich skyline.

Before the spires could be completed, the church ran out of money. Consequently, the spires remained unfinished for 30 years. Eventually, a leaky roof forced a change and a new budget-friendly design, modelled after the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

This change sparked a craze. Onion spires are now common throughout southern Bavaria.

Frauenkirche, or  Dom zu Unserer Lieben Frau, in Munich, the most famous silhouette in the skyline; photo taken from the tower of the Neue Rathaus

You can see the Frauenkirche spires from almost anywhere in Munich – and this will remain the case. The city administration decree that no building in the inner city may be higher than 100 metres. As both towers of the Frauenkirche are nearly 99 metres high, they are unlikely to be dwarfed.

If it is a hot day, your child will probably enjoy cooling off in the fountain. Miss M and numerous other children did!

If you are getting hungry and looking for something to eat, we can recommend the Augustiner am Dom. Miss M loves Weisswurste for breakfast, but not all children will. For lunch, she recommends Brezels and Nurenburger sausages (grilled pork sausages about 10 cm long).

Marienplatz

Neues Rathaus

Marienplatz is the centre of Munich and the focus of Marienplatz is the Neues Rathaus, or New Town Hall.

Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz, the next stop on our walking tour of Munich. Stay a while, watch the Glockenspiel and visit the tower

While it looks significantly older, the Town Hall is actually only a little more than 100 years old. The 100-metre long facade in neo-gothic style is an imposing sight on the square. This facade hides 400 rooms, most of which are closed to the public.

Glockenspiel

One of the highlights is the world-famous Glockenspiel on the tower balcony of the Town Hall.

With 43 bells and 16 figurines, the nearly 12-minute long Glockenspiel tells the story of the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V. with Renate von Lothringen in 1568. It includes the duel between two knights (Wilhelm’s knight wins of course). On the lower level of the Glockenspiel, the coopers (barrel-makers) dance and twirl and celebrate their survival from the plague.

The Glockenspiel plays at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.; from March to October, it also plays at 5 p.m. Try and time your visit to Marienplatz to catch the Glockenspiel. You also have a great view from the Café across the other side of the square.

The famous Marienplatz Glockenspiel in Munich. Plays at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. as well as 5 p.m. in Summer

Tower of the New Town Hall

We have Miss M to thank for the next suggestion.

For the best view over Marienplatz, the Frauenkirche and the old town, view them from the top: the 85-metre high tower of the New Town Hall. Fortunately, access is via a lift – so much easier than the 306 stairs of Alten Peter with a child! On clear days, you can even see as far as the Alps.

View from the top of the New Townhall tower, where everything looks like it is in miniature. Here the view is of Marienplatz with the Ate Rathaus.

Old Town Hall and the Toy Museum

The other building on Marienplatz that deserves a look is the Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall, which sits at the eastern edge of Marienplatz.

Built between 1470 and 1475, the Altes Rathaus was almost completely destroyed during World War II. It was rebuilt in the 1950s in its original gothic style.

I like its unpretentious nature, especially compared to the New Town Hall. Now, its primary use is representative purposes.

Alte Rathaus on Marienplatz in Munich, a brief stop on our walking tour. The Toy Museum can also be found in the building, which is otherwise now mostly used for ceremonial purposes.

The Alte Rathaus now houses a toy museum. The collection includes vintage model trains, stuffed animals, dolls and dollhouses and tin toys from Europe and America spread over four floors.

The rooms of the museum are small and the staircases are narrow. Visiting it is almost like being in a dolls house.

If your child is like Miss M, they will not enjoy looking at toys that they can’t touch. We gave it a miss this time.

Viktualienmarkt

Vegetables and herbs at a stall in the Viktualienmarkt, the next stop on our walking tour of Munich. Grab something for a picnic or snack in the Hofgarten or find a table and try some traditional foods and beer in the Biergarten.

If you visited the tower of the Neue Rathaus and don’t want to visit Alte Peter for a view over Munich or plan to do that later, continue your walking tour of Munich with a visit to the Viktualienmarkt. Walk under the tower of the Altes Rathaus then turn right. The Viktualienmarkt should be on your left.

For more than 200 years, the Viktualienmarkt has been a Munich landmark and is Munich’s biggest market. It’s name stems from the latin word “victus“, which means food or stocks.

The Viktualienmarkt is the perfect place to pick up the ingredients for a simple picnic or afternoon snack. You can find fruit and vegetables, bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, delicatessen and speciality stores and flower stalls – all of it fresh.

Alternatively, wander around the market then find a seat in the Biergarten and grab something to eat and drink from one of the German-style “hot dog stands”. Miss M recommends the Bratwurst and the buttered Brezels.

If you are lucky (and the chances are good), you will even see some locals in traditional German dress: Lederhosen, Dirndl and “Janker” (like a thick wool cardigan).

Weisswurst, sweet mustard, brezel and beer: a traditional Bavarian breakfast at the Viktualienmarkt.

Jewish Museum

To continue on the Munich walking tour, make your way to the Jewish Centre at Sankt-Jakobs-Platz. The architecture is definitely worth a look!

The Ohel Jakob Synagogue (Hebrew for ‘Jacob’s Tent’), the Jewish Museum and the Community Centre together form the Jewish Centre.

On its inauguration in 2006, the synagogue became the main synagogue for Munich’s Jewish community – the second largest in Germany. This was the first time that there had been a main synagogue in Munich since the Pogromnacht or Night of Broken Glass in 1938.

As the picture shows, the synagogue consists of two cubes, one on top of the other. The base resembles the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.The glass cube that sits above it is interlaced with Stars of David and encased in a bronze metal veil. This represents a tent, which is both, part of the name of the synagogue and a symbol of the 40 years that Jews spent wandering the Sinai desert. The first ten letters of the Hebrew alphabet are on the doors to the Synagogue, representing the Ten Commandments.

You reach the interior of the synagogue via the “Corridor of Memory”. The walls of this passage bear the names of the 4,500 Munich Jews who were murdered under the Nazi regime.

Many young children will not appreciate the symbolism of the synagogue or understand what happened under the Nazi regime. However, between the museum and the synagogue is a small playground. The main feature is a sandpit, with shade, and the museum café next door makes great coffee.

On hot days, there is also a fountain in the square in front of the synagogue. Miss M had great fun (again) playing in the fountain with a number of other children.

Gay and Lesbian Monument

Walk the short distance along Sankt-Jakobs-Strasse and cross Oberranger to reach the start of Dultstrasse. On the footpath in front of you is a mosaic of coloured concrete blocks which form the “Monument to the Gays and Lesbians Persecuted under the Nazi Regime”.

In 1934, a gay bar stood where the blocks now lie. On 20 October of that year, Nazis raided the bar. This marked the start of the systematic persecution of homosexuals under the Nazi regime. The monument was unveiled in June 2017.

While the significance was lost on Miss M, she found the colours pretty. I assume most children will be the same. These colours represent the rainbow flag, as well as the pink and black of the triangles that gays and lesbians were forced to wear in concentration camps.

The Monument to the Gays and Lesbians persecuted under the Nazi Regime, a quick stop for some pretty colour on our walking tour of Munich

Asamkirche

The next stop on our walking tour (before turning around and heading back towards Marienplatz) is the St-Johann-Nepomuk-Kirche. It is better known as the Asamkirche or Asam church.

The Asam brothers, Cosmas Damian and Egrid Quirin, built the church between 1733 and 1746. They were builders, plasterers, painters and decorators and were commissioned to decorate numerous churches in Germany, the most famous of which is the Freising Cathedral.

Officially, they built the church as a private chapel. In reality, the church was their showroom, providing examples almost every form of decoration they could produce.

The chapel is a testament to their prowess in late Baroque decorations. While it is somewhat overwhelming – no corner has been spared – it is still worth a visit.

The impressive but full on beauty of the Asam Kirche or St-Johann-Nepomuk-Kirche. While it is almost overwhelming, it is definitely worth a visit on a Munich walking tour.

Alter Peter

Alter Peter, the tower of the Peterskirche with its 309 steps is the next stop on our Munich walking tour.

Alter Peter, or Old Peter, is the tower of Munich’s oldest church, the Peterskirche. The 91-metre high tower has some of the best views over Munich’s rooftops, with 309 drawbacks – that’s the number of steps it takes to reach the top.

If you don’t mind arriving out of breath and going painfully slowly on the way up and then down again so that your child can see the views too, then climb Alter Peter. If you hate steps as much as my knees do and your child would not make it up and down all those stairs, try the tower in the New Town Hall instead – it has a lift. The views are very similar.

Odeonsplatz

Odeonsplatz is the next stop on our Munich walking tour (don’t worry, you are getting close to the end).

Munich is often referred to as Italy’s northernmost city. Why? King Ludwig I fell in love with Italy while he was studying in Rome. When he returned to Munich, he commissioned Leo von Klenze to design Ludwigstrasse in the Italian (baroque) style. This culminated in the square at Odeonsplatz.

Feldherrnhalle

At the southern end of Odeonsplatz is the Feldherrnhalle or Field Marshalls’ Hall. It is almost an exact copy of the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence and was erected in 1844 in honour of the Bavarian army.

The Feldherrnhalle at Odeonsplatz. Seem familiar? Probably because it almost an exact copy of the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.

The Feldherrnhalle was where Hitler’s Beerhall Putsch was defeated on 9 November 1923. Unsurprisingly, the site later became iconic for the National Socialists. An SS guard of honour watched the memorial at all times and anybody intending to pass by had to give the Nazi salute.

Locals would often detour down Viscardigasse to avoid the Feldherrnhalle (and the salute). As a result, Viscardigasse earned the nickname “Drückerbergergasserl” or “shirkers alley”. Gold paving stones now memorialize this resistance.

Theatinekirche

The other point of interest at Odeonplatz is the Theatinekirche. We were too late to go inside during our walking tour of Munich. However, it is a nice contrast to the busy, extravagant Asamkirche: almost everything in the church is white.

The Theatinekirche at Odeonsplatz, the next stop in our walking tour of Munich.

The Residence

The Munich Residence is one of the most important palace museums in Europe.

From 1508 to 1918, the Munich Residence was the seat of government and residence of the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings. Over the four centuries, each ruler put his mark on the palace, expanding, decorating and transforming it. The room designs and art collections reflect this passage of time, which span from the renaissance through the baroque and rococo to neoclassicism.

World War II saw much of the Residence destroyed. Painstaking and slow reconstruction work has seen the palace, the treasury and the Cuvilliés Theatre restored to their former glory.

The Munich Residenz, one of the best palace museums in Europe and the next stop on our Munich walking tour. Whether you want to visit or not will depend on your child and your other Munich plans.

Whether or not you wish to visit with your child will depend on your other Munich plans. If you will be seeing Schloss Nymphenburg or Neuschwanstein while you are in the area, I would skip the Residence. It also depends on how much time you have for your Munich walking tour.

While the Residence is impressive, it is also very large and can start to get very repetitive. It takes around 3 hours just to see the highlights. Miss M can only appreciate so many rooms of fine china (even just passing through) before she will have a meltdown. While she loves feeling like a princess, the Residence would have been one palace too many for Miss M on the weekend.

Even if you decide not to enter the palace, have a look at the impressive structure from the outside and visit the palace gardens.

Hofgarten

The Palace Gardens and the neighbouring Englisher Garten are green oases in Munich’s old town.

Built at the start of the 17th century, the Hofgarten is based on an Italian renaissance garden. Originally, only royals strolled in the gardens; in 1789 Karl Theodor opened the gardens to the public.

Arcade-style passages surround the garden. A pavilion, known as the Diana temple, sits in the middle. Spotted throughout the garden are park benches that are an ideal place to relax (and have that picnic food you bought at the Viktualienmarkt). With luck, you may even have a spontaneous concert in the pavillion to listen to while you eat.

Hofgarten with Diana Temple and fountain, a green oasis in the old city on our Munich walking tour.

Englischer Garten

Finish your Munich walking tour with some time in the Englischer Garten, the largest inner-city park in the world.

Let your child run around and explore the woods, meadows, streams and lakes and burn off any last energy. Don’t be surprised if you see nude sunbakers. In Winter, if it is cold enough, you can even go ice-skating on the Kleinhesseloher See.

If you don’t have any other plans, finish your walking tour of Munich with a visit to one of the park’s beer gardens. Aumeister (which has a kids playground) and the beer garden at the Chinesischer Turn (Chinese tower) are our favourites.

Milchhäusl (the milk house) and the Chinese Tower are the closest to the Hofgarten. Even so, they are quite a walk, especially for tired little legs. You may want to consider using one of the bike taxis or rickshaws to get there.

And that’s the end of our Munich walking tour

If you are visiting Munich with your kids, follow our walking tour and our tips and enjoy your trip.

Enjoy your trip sign-off
A walking tour of Munich's old town, with kids; child tested route with highlights, information and tips for your Muenchen walking tour; Lebkuchen hearts at the Viktualienmarkt; www.teawithmum.com

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