Munich is the third largest city in Germany and the capital city of the German state of Bavaria. Flying into Munich Airport for a holiday? Well, apart from being known worldwide as the venue for the beer festival known as Oktoberfest, the city is also a hub for culture and tourism. Very few cities in the world can rival Munich when it comes to museum-hopping; after all, the Bavarian capital is home to more than 80 museums and art galleries.
The incredible collection of museums in Munich cover nearly everything you can think of – from art and history to technology and even potatoes! If you happen to be in the city on the month of August, you might be lucky enough to experience the annual Lange Nacht der Museen (which translates to “Long Night of Museums”), where a single ticket can give you access to nearly all of the museums in Munich until the wee hours of the morning.
With the overwhelming amount of museums in Munich, there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to visit many of them, especially if your time in the city is limited. To help you plan your museum-hopping itinerary, we’ve narrowed down the list and picked the 10 best museums in Munich that you do not want to miss. Remember, you cannot bring large bags into most museums. Drop them at one of our luggage storage lockers in Munich and start exploring!
Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery)
Address: Barer Strasse 27
Lcoated in the Kunstareal area, Munich’s famed museum quarter, is the Alte Pinakothek. Among the most visited art museums in the city, the Alte Pinakothek is home to one of the largest and most impressive permanent collections of European art. The collection of the museum encompasses art works from the 14th to the 18th centuries, spanning various periods such as the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods.
The works on display at Alte Pinakothek, which have been passed down over the centuries among Bavarian royalty, have been created by some of the most recognizable names in the art world, including Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Raphael and Albrecht Durer. Some of the highlights to look out for in the museum including da Vinci’s Madonna with the Carnation and a rare self-portrait of Rembrandt.
Pinakothek der Moderne
Address: Barer Str. 40
If modern and contemporary art is more of your thing, you should definitely pay a visit to the Pinakothek der Moderne. Also situated within the Kunstareal area, it is the largest museum for contemporary art in Germany and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Munich.
The Pinakothek der Moderne houses four independent collections under one roof - the Architecture Museum (all things related to architecture); the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (collection of drawings, prints and works on paper); the Sammlung Moderne Kunst (work made by masters of modern and contemporary art, such as Picasso and Warhol); and the Neue Sammlung Design Museum (which is said to be the world's oldest design museum). With its massive collection, it may be hard to figure out where to start. A good strategy would be focus on one section and treat each collection if it was its own museum.
Residenzmuseum (Munich Residence Museum)
Address: Residenzstraße 1
Located right in the city center of Munich, the Residenzmuseum is a definite must-visit when visiting the Bavarian capital. As its name suggests, the museum is housed inside the Munich Residence, which served as the former residence of Bavarian royalty. The Residenzmuseum showcases a priceless collection consisting of items that were once owned by the monarchs, including porcelain, bronze works, paintings, sculptures, tapestries and other valuable objects.
Deutsches Museum (German Museum)
Address: Museumsinsel 1
Founded in 1903 by renowned engineer Oskar von Miller, the Deutsches Museum is the biggest museum of science and technology in the world. One of Munich’s top tourist destinations and arguably the most visited museum in Munich, the facility welcomes an average of 1.5 million visitors annually.
The museum’s main site, which is situated on a tiny island in the river of Isar, houses a vast collection composed of more than 28,000 historic artifacts, including the first-ever automobile and a Dornier Do 31 transport plane. The Deutsches Museum also regularly hosts exhibitions related to transportation, photography, astronomy and more.
Bayerische Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum)
Address: Prinzregentenstraße 3
Established in 1855 the Bayerische Nationalmuseum is among Europe’s best museums for art, culture and history. Also more commonly known as the Bavarian National Museum, the facility is home to several collections consisting of high-value works of art and important artifacts. Perhaps the highlight of the museum is its collection of royal art that was once owned by the Wittelsbach family, which was the ruling dynasty of Bavaria for hundreds of years.
The Bavarian National Museum also has an internationally-acclaimed sculpture collection (primarily German and European) ranging from the 13th to 19th centuries. The museum also features specialized collections that showcases objects such as musical instruments, porcelain, costumes, religious folklore and weapons.
Address: Luisenstraße 33
Originally built in 1981 as a home and studio for German painter Franz von Lenbach, the Lenbachhaus now houses one of the best modern art museums in Munich. Hard to miss because of its lemon-yellow exterior, the Lenbachhaus Museum is best known for showcasing the biggest art collection by the Blaue Reiter (“Blue Rider”).
Founded by artists Franz Marc and Wassily Kandinsky, the Blue Rider is a group of avant-garde artists considered to be the forefathers of Expressionism. Other members include other famed artists such as Gabriele Münter, Marianne von Werefkin, Paul Klee and August Macke.
Bier- Und Oktoberfestmuseum (Beer and Oktoberfest Museum)
Address: Sterneckerstraße 2
The city of Munich is synonymous with Oktoberfest so it really is no surprise that the city has a museum that celebrates this iconic festival. Found right in the city center, just a short walk from the Marienplatz, this museum is dedicated to highlighting Munich's most renowned product – beer.
At the Bier- Und Oktoberfestmuseum, visitors get to learn about the history of beer, why Oktoberfest is being celebrated and other burning questions you might have about beer-related topics. Additionally, guests get the chance to sample some of the best brews that the city has to offer. Don't forget to try the best local street food in Munich at some point as well!
Address: Theresienstraße 35a
Although relatively new compared to other museums in Munich, having just opened in 2009, the Museum Brandhorst has immediately made a name for itself as one of the go-to contemporary art museums in the city. Nestled in the Kunstareal area, the Museum Brandhorst is an art facility that owns the distinction of being the only Munich museum solely dedicated to showcasing contemporary art.
The permanent collection in Museum Brandhorst features over 1,200 American and European art works that date back to the late 1950s, including 200 pieces that were once collected and owned by the Brandhorst family. Some of the must-see sections of the museum include one entire floor that exclusively features the works of American painter and sculptor Cy Twombly. Other highlights include over 120 art works by Andy Warhol as well as creations of contemporary artists such as Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman, Albert Oehlen and Louise Lawler.
NS Dokumentationszentrum (Munich Documentation Center)
Address: Max-Mannheimer-Platz 1
The NS Dokumentationszentrum is one of the most important museums in Munich and one you definitely have to visit while in the city. Situated in Munich’s Maxvorstadt area, the museum was inaugurated in 2015 on the very site of the “Brown House”, which served as the headquarters for Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
The museum explores the upsurge of the National Socialism, the role of Munich as the Hauptstadt der Bewegung (which means “capital of the movement”) and the horrific consequences brought about by the Nazi regime. At the NS Dokumentationszentrum, guests will discover documents, images and films that explains the ideology of National Socialism and the things that can be learned from this harrowing period to ensure that it does not happen again.
BMW Welt and Museum
Address: Am Olympiapark 1
The BMW is one, if not Munich’s greatest export and one of the best places to learn about its fascinating origins is at the BMW Welt and Museum. Among the most renowned tourist attractions in Munich, the BMW Welt and Museum is instantly recognizable because of its metallic exterior and design that resembles a giant soup bowl.
Located in the Am Riesenfeld district of Munich, just beside the Olympic Park, the attraction is a sprawling complex that houses a museum, a factory and an event venue. At the BMW Welt and Museum, you can find some exhibits related to the automotive company, such as some of the earliest BMW vehicles, record-breaking motorcycles and more.
What are the best free museums in Munich?
The city of Munich has always been dedicated to making art, history and culture accessible to everyone, which is why there are plenty of museums in Munich that can be visited free of charge.
One of the best museums in Munich that you can visit for free is the NS Dokumentationszentrum, which aims to educate guests about the tormenting effects of the Nazi regime and how the city of Munich played a role in this dark period.
Another Munich museum that you can visit for free is the Archiv Geiger (Geiger Archive), an art gallery dedicated to the life and works of Rupprecht Geiger, a renowned German painter, sculptor and architect. The museum offers tours, art education for children, workshops and other programs - this is in line with its advocacy to make abstract art accessible for people of all ages.
What are the best museums in downtown Munich?
Downtown Munich, which is the city center, is where all the action happens. Most of the city’s most popular attractions can be found in this area, including its top-rated museums. In fact, the city center is where Kunstareal, Munich’s museum quarter, is located.
One of the best museums to visit in downtown Munich is the Alte Pinakothek (Old Picture Gallery), situated within Kunstareal. One of the world’s oldest art galleries, the museum is home to an extensive collection of European art works dated between the 13th and 18th centuries.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Alte Pinakothek is another noteworthy museum in downtown Munich – the Neue Pinakothek (New Picture Gallery). Founded in 1853 by King Ludwig I, the museum is considered as one of the most significant museums of 19th century art in the world. The museum’s permanent collection mainly features European art spanning the 18th and 19th centuries.
Are there any cheap museums in Munich?
While Munich is notorious for being one of the most expensive cities in the world, it does not necessarily mean that you will spend too much to admire the city’s best museums. In fact, there are a number of museums in Munich that charge no more than 7 euros for the entrance fee.
One of the cheapest museums to visit in Munich is the Museum Mensch und Natur (English Museum of Man and Nature), which features permanent exhibitions related to natural history. Entrance to this museum only costs around 3.50 euros.
Another museum that you can visit without breaking the bank is the Das Kartoffelmuseum, which probably holds the title for the “most random museum in Munich”. The museum, which is free of charge, highlights the potato’s art historical aspects.
Pro tip: If your trip to Munich falls on a Sunday, set that day aside for museum hopping. This is because every Sunday, most of Munich’s top museums charge only 1 euro in admission.
From Priceless Collections to Art Nouveau
With over 80 museums to choose from, it's no doubt that Munich is a prime destination for culture vultures. If you are coming to Munich, you should definitely make a plan to visit some of the city’s best museums. Whether you’re into art, technology, science or history , you can easily find a museum in the city that will pique your interest.
After you have visited the city’s top museums and other tourist attractions, you may want to make plans to visit these lovely hiking spots near Munich.