Beautiful Munich, with its stunning alpine backdrop, centres on Marienplatz, the city’s main public square and the heart of the historic Old Town. It’s the perfect place to kickstart your German adventure, as it boasts a number of must-see sights, attractions, eateries and shops in and around it.
One of Marienplatz’s highlights is the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), which rises above the square in neo-Gothic splendour. The building is home to the mayor’s office and the city council. Here, you can climb to the observation deck of the 85-metre-tall clock tower for views that sweep the city and extend all the way to the Alps. New Town Hall also boasts the famous Glockenspiel in the tower balcony, though it’s best to enjoy this from outside the building. Why? Because at 11am, noon and, except from November to February, 5pm, the Glockenspiel erupts into action with its 43 bells and 32 figurines for a captivating 12-minute show.
In the centre of the square you’ll find the Mariensäule, or the Column of St Mary, which was erected in 1638 to commemorate victory over the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War. During the warmer months, the eateries around Marienplatz set up alfresco seating in the square so you can dine on Bavarian delights as you watch the world go by. Marienplatz also attracts a huge number of visitors in winter, when, in the lead-up to Christmas, the dazzling Munich Christmas Market, the oldest such market in the city, sets up shop to the delight of locals and visitors alike.
The closest U-Bahn underground station is Marienplatz, which exits directly onto the square. Other nearby attractions include the oldest church in Munich, St Peter’s, and the popular open-air fresh produce and gourmet-food market, Viktualienmarkt.