The best ways to explore Munich on a budget

Munich is one of Germany’s most expensive cities to live in, and it certainly has its fair share of fancy restaurants and big hotels, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit on a budget.

You’ll need a good stash of euros if you want to tick off all of Munich’s world-class museums, but there are plenty of great deals to be had if you know where to look. Whether it’s making the most of what the museums have to offer or finding the best places to grab a bite to eat, here’s how to explore Munich without breaking the bank.

Presentation of Munich, Bavaria and the Black Forest

Find out about museum offers

Many of Munich’s best museums are reducing their entrance fees to € 1 on Sundays – great news for those seeking culture on a budget. The list of museums offering cheap entry on Sundays includes Alte Pinakothek, Pinakothek der Moderne, and Museum Brandhorst, although full prices normally apply for special exhibitions. A number of other cultural venues offer occasional free admission, including Haus der Kunst, which lowers its entrance fees on the first Thursday evening of the month. Get there early to avoid the crowds.

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Take a city tour by public transport

You can easily swap these open-top sightseeing buses for regular public transport in Munich. An easy option is the number 100 bus (also a double-decker bus), which connects Munich Central Station to Ostbahnhof, passing through many of the city’s main sights. Stops include the large squares of Königsplatz, Odeonsplatz and Prinzregentenplatz, as well as several of the major museums.

A one-way ticket to the city center (zone M) costs € 3.50, and the ticket is good for two hours one way, meaning you can hop on and hop off if you’re quick – long enough to take photos, but probably not long enough to visit one of the museums.

There is a charge to explore Nymphenburg Palace, but entry to the vast grounds is free © Alberto Masnovo / Getty Images

Pass the palaces and visit the gardens

Bavaria is home to a fine collection of castles and palaces, and several fine examples can be found within the city limits of Munich. Although you have to pay to visit most of the buildings, admission to the park is normally free and still gives you a great introduction to the history of the city. Don’t miss the huge park surrounding Nymphenburg Palace to the west of the city, with its swans, canal, and Venetian gondola service during the warmer months.

Get excellent city views for a few bucks – and a couple hundred steps

For a cheap grandstand view of the city, head downtown and climb the tower of St. Peter’s Church. For the cost of € 3 (US $ 3.40) plus a small physical workout, you can visit the Observation Deck atop its 91m (299ft) tower. The reward for climbing over 300 steps is an incredible panoramic view of the Old Town, the surrounding town and – on a clear day – the distant Bavarian Alps.

Take your own food to a Munich beer garden

Most Munich beer gardens allow you to have your own picnic style food as long as you purchase your drinks on site. This rule dates back to a royal decree in 1812 that allowed breweries to sell beer directly to customers, but not food, to avoid conflicts with local innkeepers. Some people bring their entire Tupperware stuffed collection of side dishes, while others bring just a few dips to eat with a giant outdoor pretzel. If you’re hoping for a BYO meal, avoid places that look like restaurants or offer table service.

Four friends with a toast with mugs of beer in a beer garden
Many Munich beer gardens allow drinkers to bring their own food © Kzenon / Shutterstock

Do not visit during Oktoberfest unless you are here for the beer

Attracting large numbers of visitors each year, the world-famous Munich Beer Festival has a dramatic effect on the prices and availability of accommodation. If you are not planning on participating in the festivities, it is certainly best to avoid the city at this time – come a few weeks earlier or later, and you can enjoy the city without the crowds or the crowds. high prices.

Experience the Oktoberfest vibe without the markup

While it is certainly Munich’s biggest party, Oktoberfest isn’t the city’s only folk festival. The festival season begins in April and includes the locally popular Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) held at the Oktoberfest site. You’ll find a similar serving of beer tents, Bavarian outfits, and fairground rides, but there are fewer international visitors and less chance of inflated hotel costs.

Stock up on local snacks for a friendly lunch on the go

Sampling some classic Bavarian snacks can provide an inexpensive branded lunch. To discover local specialties, go to one of the city’s many butchers for a leberkässemmel (meatloaf sandwich) or search a bakery for a freshly baked butter pretzel. For a last calorie bomb try a French fries schmalznudel (donut-like) from the much loved Schmalznudel – Cafe Frischhut.

Join the locals for a cheap evening beer by the river

When it comes to soaking up the good things, Munich has it all, from fancy cocktail bars to traditional brasseries. But when the weather permits, many choose to skip those expensive options and head to the Isar River with a few cold beers to take out instead.

Spending an evening by the water isn’t only a great way to save money, it’s also a fun way to feel like a local in Munich. As the sun sets, the banks fill with people, many stopping to cool off at the riverside gazebos along the way; grab some takeout beer bottles from a grocery store and join them.

Spend a day in the park for free

It’s not just the river where you can spend a lot of time outdoors for free. Munich is home to many great green spaces, including the Englischer Garten, one of the largest city parks in Europe, and the Olympiapark, built for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Both are excellent for exploring, doing exercise, have a picnic or just relax on a blanket on the grass.

At the southern edge of Englischer Garten you’ll find one of Munich’s most unique attractions – a man-made river wave with talented surfers showing off their skills. If you’ve got the knack to participate, you can hire gear from the SantaLoco surf shop near Marienplatz, but just watching offers endless hours of (free) fun.

People watching ducks in a pond at the Munich Olympic Park
Munich’s Olympiapark is a great place to relax without spending travel money © Mariia Golovianko / Shutterstock

Determine which ticket is best for you and plan accordingly

Single tickets on Munich public transport are relatively expensive compared to a day or week pass; download a price chart from Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund (MVV) to compare costs. If you plan to make three or more trips in a day, it’s worth buying a Tageskarte (day ticket), which is valid until 6 a.m. the next morning – you’ll pay € 8.20 (9, US $ 25) total for downtown rides, compared to € 10.50 (US $ 11.85) or more for single tickets.

It is also a good idea to plan your route so that you have times when you use a lot of public transport and times when you move on foot, so you do not need a daily transport ticket to every day of your trip. Group tickets also offer great savings.

Check alternative airports, but be aware of the time and total costs

Some budget airlines fly to airports elsewhere in Bavaria, such as Nuremberg and Memmingen, instead of going to Munich. You can then reach the Bavarian capital using public transport or airport shuttles. However, both will add time and cost to your trip, which can negate some of the savings you made by traveling on a low cost. It is always worth calculating the total cost of the door-to-door before booking.

Daily costs in Munich

  • Bed in a dormitory in a youth hostel: 15 to 30 € (17 to 34 $ US)
  • Basic room for two: 100 € (113 $ US)
  • City center public transport ticket: € 3.50 (US $ 3.95)
  • Coffee: € 3 (US $ 3.40)
  • Small pretzel: € 1 (US $ 1.15)
  • 1 liter of beer in a beer garden: 8 to 10 € (9 to 11.30 US $)
  • Dinner for two: € 30–100 (US $ 34–113)

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