Just 90 minutes from the Alps, Munich is the largest city in southern Germany. Just a short distance from Austria and Switzerland, this is a prime destination for backpackers who want to explore Europe. Though museums like the Deutsches Museum and Pinakothek der Moderne are well-known options, Munich also offers several lesser-known attractions. Try these picks for something a bit more unusual.
Beer and Oktoberfest Museum – A Laid-Back Look at Lager
In Munich, beer is more than just a beverage. It has its own rich culture, history, and heritage. Go beyond the rowdy beer halls and wild festivities of Oktoberfest to explore this aspect of Munich in a more subdued and organized manner. The Beer and Oktoberfest Museum is housed in a building that is deeply historic in its own right; it dates back to 1340.
The Beer Museum takes you on an intriguing journey through time, following the evolution of beer through artifacts like centuries-old brewery instructions, tools, and inventions. The Oktoberfest Museum features art, posters, and other historic items from decades of Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich.
No exploration of Munich’s beer history would be complete without a tasting. At the on-site Museumsstüberl Pub, you can enjoy just that, sampling Munich lager, dark, and wheat beers. If you can’t make it to a scheduled tasting, you can still enjoy a snack and beverage here to satisfy the cravings this museum will surely stir up.
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Location: Sterneckerstrasse 2, 80331 Munich
Rock Museum Munich – Music on High
Housed in the Munich Olympic Tower, the Rock Museum has the distinction of being the highest of its kind in the world. Space is limited here, so just one percent of the museum’s total collection is on display at any one time. Items you may spot on your visit include microphones used by the Beatles, guitars autographed by KISS, and a functional jukebox.
Tours are available on request, but you need to make arrangements well in advance. Since this museum is so compact, it’s easiest to simply explore on your own when you’re in the area.
Admission: €5.50 for adults; €3.50 for children under 16
Hours: Monday – Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to midnight
Location: Visitor’s Platform of the Munich Olympic Tower, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7, 80809 Munich
Das Kartoffelmuseum – Scenes of the Spud
If you’re looking for unique museums, you can’t get more specialized than this. Das Kartoffelmuseum, or The Potato Museum, focuses exclusively on the spud. The museum dishes up whimsy and oddity in equal measure with exhibits that illuminate the long history of the potato and its many varieties alongside a surprisingly diverse array of potato inspired art. You’ll find this vegetable featured prominently in drawings, paintings, and photographs. Sculptures don’t just depict potatoes; many are made from potatoes.
The gift shop at the end of the small museum is almost as fascinating as the museum itself. Pick up quirky souvenirs like potato moisturizer, potato blossom paperweights, and potato inspired postcards. Visit around the holidays and you can even sample potato gingerbread as a seasonal treat.
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday by appointment only; Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location: Grafingerstraße 2, 81671 Munich
Kindermuseum – Kicks for Kids
If you’re visiting Munich with children, the Kindermuseum is an essential stop. In a city that is otherwise light on child-oriented attractions, this museum caters exclusively to kids. Exhibits rotate so you never know what you’ll experience during your visit. Past exhibits have explored architectural design, jungles, salt, sound, paper, and bubbles.
The most distinguishing feature of this museum is its philosophy. Where other museums use velvet ropes and polite admonitions to remind guests not to touch, the Kindermuseum encourages a hands-on approach. Though geared toward children, the Kindermuseum is a lively destination that visitors of all ages can enjoy.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Weekends, Holidays, and Vacations 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location: Arnlfstr. 3, 80335 Munich
Reich der Kristalle – A Gem-Lover’s Dream
Part of the Bavarian Natural History Collections, the Museum Reich der Kristalle, or Kingdom of Crystals, is a sparkling addition to your Munich itinerary. This museum illuminates the world of crystals, gems, and minerals. Though the topic may seem dry at first glance, the extremely visual nature of this museum makes it a breathtaking stop for laymen as well as scientists.
At the Reich der Kristalle you can expect to see precious metals, rough and cut gemstones, and meteorites. Movable models and specimens from throughout Bavaria bring concepts such as crystal growth, optics, and symmetry to life. Whether you want to view diamonds or stones from Mars, you can find something intriguing to experience at this museum.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location: Theresienstr. 41, 80333 Munich
Museum of Man and Nature – Picks for All Ages
The Museum of Man and Nature is housed in the Nymphenburg Palace and centrally located near many hotels in the city. Exhibits cover nerves, genes, food, biology, natural history, and the environment. This museum is best for children age 5 and up. It includes hands-on exhibits to keep children engaged, but all signage is in German.
One of the museum’s most notable exhibits is the stuffed and mounted body of Bruno the bear. Originally part of a wildlife restoration program in Italy, Bruno wandered across Austria and eventually into Germany. The first brown bear on German land in more than 170 years, Bruno caused quite the commotion and terrorized local farms. Though there were several attempts to capture him alive, these proved unsuccessful and he was eventually killed by a hunter.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Weekends and Holidays: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Location: Schloss Nymphenburg, 80638 Munich
Enjoy a diverse sampling of all that Munich has to offer with these distinctive options. Whether you’re interested in the history of beer or the allure of diamonds, there’s an attraction sure to draw you in.