Munich lies in the heart of Bavaria, home to a culture that has been viewed by the international community as a (mis)representation of all of Germany: lederhosen-wearing, beer-guzzling, polka-dancing folk who eat nothing but sausage. Dismissing a region based on presuppositions should be avoided, particularly when speaking of Munich; on the contrary, you'll be floored by this modern city of museums, rebuilt architectural wonders, and romantic squares. Then again, presuppositions of brewing history would be dead-on. Bavaria is home to some of the oldest and arguably best breweries on Earth and, along with Oktoberfest, are some of the main reasons travelers come from across the globe.
In such an historic city, there is always something of cultural value to be explored. The city center is a natural starting point, with its two main squares, Marienplatz and Odeonsplatz, and the four royal avenues that originate from them. The architecture in this part of the city, although much of it is rebuilt from World War II, is largely in the grandiose stylings of its 19th century heyday. The incredible Marienplatz is home to the Neues Rathaus (New City Hall) with its automated Glockenspiel, the Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall), and the Mariensäule column at its center. The Odeonsplatz, located a short walk north, hosts the Residenz (a one-time seat of government), the Baroque Theatine Church, and the Field Marshals' Hall. Walking through city center is an awe-inspiring look at the regal architectures that line boulevards like Maximilianstrasse, Briennerstrasse, Ludwigstrasse, and Prinzregentenstrasse. Mostly high-end shops exist here, although there are some decent museums and monuments. If anything, follow any of these to other districts of the city. Other highlights of city center include Peterskirche, the oldest church in the district; Michaelskirche, the largest Renaissance cathedral in Germany; and the highly symbolic Frauenkirche, known for its 99 meter tall twin towers. Lastly, the Hofbräuhaus is a can't miss for anyone interested in beer culture. The original is located at Platzl 9, and has seen great characters in Germany history walk through its doors to share a pint.
Although short on age-old cathedrals, the rest of the city has more modern accomplishments to be proud of. The three-part Pinakotheken is located north in Maxvorstad and provides some of the best art and history in Central Europe; the great art of the Lenbachhaus, the Greek and Roman sculptures of the Glyptothek, and the antiquities collection of the Antikensammlung are all located on or near the Königsplatz in this district. The English Garden in Schwabing is a great match of nature and art, with numerous monuments and unique structures, while Olympiagelände is a great destination for its park and tower, as well as for the nearby BMW Museum (one of the foremost automobile brands in international history).
For fans of archetypical German castles, complete with columns and spires that have inspired Disney, there is Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau (near the Austrian border). For one of the rare ancient city centers left intact by war, trek out to beautiful Regensburg; for a sense of the brutality of genocide, there is the humbling opportunity to explore the Dachau Concentration Camp. Lastly, there are plenty of historic breweries within a day trip of Munich. They include the delicious brews of the Andechs Monastery south of the city, as well as the Weihenstephan Abbey in Friesing, which is documented as the longest-running brewery on Earth. If you aren't curious enough to make a trip for its own sake, we're sure there's a beer garden somewhere nearby where you can get the experience without the sense of history.
Also, don't forget to check out the most popular and internationally successful football team in Germany, FC Bayern, which plays in Allianz Arena. If this proposition is too expensive, two other teams (TSV 1860 München and Spielvereinigung Unterhaching) play in lower leagues and the city also hosts the EHC Munich hockey team and the FC Bayern basketball team.
There's plenty more to see and do in and around Munich, particularly if you show up for the few weeks of madness that is Oktoberfest. Also, if you're looking to see much of the city with the help of someone who lives there, we suggest Munich Greeters, a group of volunteers that shows off the city. For more information, look through our related activity pages or talk with our embark community.