1 - Marienplatz
Any exploration of the Bavarian capital will inevitably begin in the Marienplatz, once a place of markets and jousting but now the focus of the pedestrian shopping zone.
The square is Munich’s front room, filled with tourists, workers, living statues and even, on occasion, a quintet complete with grand piano. This is where the city comes to meet up, to celebrate special festivals and football successes.
Visitors gather to gaze up at the flower-filled Gothic-revival façade of the Neues Rathaus, far more cathedral-like than the rather plain brick Frauenkirche, the cupola towers of which rear up just off the square’s north-western corner.
The Marienplatz gets particularly busy at 11am (also 12pm and 5pm in summer), when the Rathaus clock, with its 32 life-sized figures and 43 bells, commemorates dancing and jousting scenes from the 16th century.
2 - Viktualienmarkt
The lanes around the Marienplatz are lined with designer boutiques, but a five-minute walk south will take you to a true Munich institution, the Viktualienmarkt, an open-air market with more than 100 speciality stalls where locals do their shopping.
Fruit and veg dominate, but there are also wine and cheese delis, florists, fishmongers and honey sellers. Most stalls are open 8.30am-6pm.
Also part of the marketplace is Munich’s most central beer garden (9am-10pm) – you can buy delicacies from the stalls and take them to a table under the spreading horse-chestnut trees to enjoy with a beer from one of six local breweries, who take it in turns to supply the thirsty.
There’s no shelter, however, so if it rains, decamp north up through Sparkassenstrasse or Brauhausstrasse to the Hofbrauhaus, the boisterous Munich beerhouse where the oompah and the Oktoberfest ambience lives on all year round. Open 9am-11.30pm. viktualienmarkt.de; hofbraeuhaus.de
3 - Dallmayr
Back across the Marienplatz, this time head north out of the square some 150 metres up Dienerstrasse, where at 14/15 you’ll find the arcaded façade of Dallmayr, Munich’s famous delicatessen and restaurant, which dates back to 1700.
The food hall is reminiscent of London’s Harrods – elaborate presentations under vaulted ceilings, marble columns, and stags’ heads on the walls.
Dallmayr’s initial success was based on supplying the Bavarian royal family with luxurious and exotic foods, but in the post-war era it concentrated on the coffee business, and it now has 50,000 vending machines in 14 countries.
Its deli counters have gleaming displays of canapés, pastries and cheeses in varying palettes of colours, whilst elsewhere in the building there’s a fine-dining restaurant with exemplary service, and an oak-panelled bistro with tables in Jura marble and Thonet chairs from Vienna, a Bavarian take on the Viennese coffee house. Open Mon-Sat 9.30am-7pm. dallmayr.com
4 - Residenz
Not so long ago Bavaria was a powerful independent kingdom, and the sheer scale of the Royal Residence, a further five-minute walk up Dienerstrasse, is indicative of the wealth of its monarchs.
The largest city palace in Germany, with its ten courtyards and 300 years of architectural styles, from Renaissance to Neoclassical, is rather daunting for a visitor with limited time. It houses a huge selection of portraits, relics, jewellery and furniture, as well as the riot of Rococo that is the Cuvilliés Theatre, where Mozart’s Idomeneo opera was first performed.
If you are short of time, just dip into the Cuvilliés for a taste, and then walk around the circumference of the Residenz to admire its grandeur. Open 9am-6pm, entry €7, or €13 to include the Treasury and the Cuvilliés; €3.50 Cuvilliés only. residenz-muenchen.de
5 - Odeonsplatz
The northern corner of the Residenz adjoins Odeonsplatz, the site of Hitler’s first rally, where his clash with police ended in a prison term, during which he wrote Mein Kampf.
Looking around you, it is hard to imagine anything so ugly occurring in this romantic square, which looks like a stage set for an Italian opera, with its grandiose loggia copied from Florence’s open-sided galleries, and the distant Alps rising above the red-tiled rooftops.
The square is dominated by the flamboyantly Italianate Theatiner church, which on the outside is a sun-burst of Mediterranean yellow, but on the inside is like a monochrome Baroque engraving, seemingly made of intricately folded paper and left a dusky white.
Across the Odeonsplatz from the church stands the Hofgarten, a formal garden which fronts the Residenz, where nannies push prams and newlyweds have their photographs taken in front of the 17th-century Diana Pavilion.
6 - The Seehaus, Englischer Garten
It is a short two-stop U-bahn ride (U6) from Odeonsplatz to Munchner Freiheit, the trendy, artistic area of town.
An interesting ten-minute walk down Feilitzschstrasse, past architects’ offices and music studios, will bring you into the Englischer Garten, a huge tongue of tree-shrouded green threaded by water and popular with joggers, families and naked sunbathers.
Here, on the side of a small boating lake, is the Seehaus, looking like a villa resort transplanted from one of the North Sea spas. The skirt of lakeshore in front of it is one of Munich’s most upmarket beer gardens, patronised by the schicki-micki (trendy) crowd.
The Seehaus interior is all white linen, chandeliers and fine dining, but most people come here on sunny evenings for the waterside location, the beer and pretzels. And there’s all the length and breadth of the Englischer Garten for strolling in before or after, for working up a thirst. The Seehaus is open 10am-1am. kuffler.de/en/muenchen/seehaus