Exploring Munich via a free city walking tour with Sandeman
By: Author Jaclynn Seah
Posted on Published: May 8, 2013 - Last updated: October 1, 2017
My very first morning in Munich , I reached there pretty early in the morning. While waiting to check in at the Euro Youth Hotel where I was staying at, I decided to check out the city via the Sandeman’s New Munich walking tour . It’s free and happens twice a day (1045am and 1pm), so if you’re not familiar with the city already, it’s a great way to get acquainted – Munich’s city centre is full of history, and while a lot of it was destroyed during the World Wars, the city has taken a lot of effort into restoring it to its original glory.
The tour guides come to the hostel lobby to pick you up at 1010am, and gather up other interested folk from the neighbouring hostel as well. After that, it’s a 10-15min walk to Marienplatz where other people interested in the tour gather.
Sandeman has a few tours that all meet at this spot, the rest are paid tours but the most popular one is naturally the free city tour. To sort everyone out, each person is given a ticket to hang on to.
Often, they split large groups up according to the number on the ticket
The tour starts out in Marienplatz at 1045am, so you’re just in time to catch the famous Glockenspiel at 11am at the New City Hall, a giant cuckoo clock of sorts that does this intricate little dance of sorts every hour. It really isn’t very exciting, a rather old-fashioned mechanism that displays some of Munich’s historical events. The guide did try and make it as exciting as he could though, kudos to him.
It’s about 3 hours of walking around, so wear comfortable shoes and if you’re there in winter like I was, make sure you stay warm! Here are a few of the highlights from the tour.
Munich’s New Town Hall is the centerpiece of Marienplatz
The famous Glockenspiel clock that everyone comes to see. What I thought was interesting is that the music that the figures dance to are metallic chimes which are affected by the weather, so the music sounds different depending on the weather
Halfway toilet break + drink stop. I don’t know why everyone headed to the nearby starbucks when you have a lovely gluhwein stall right there. This is also how I met my friend S on this walking tour – we bonded over gluhwein
The Church of St Peter doesn’t just have some impressive architecture, it also has a real antique cannonball stuck in its window. After the war, the building was bombed and in pieces, but they managed to locate the original cannonball so they put it back in place when they rebuilt it.
The Frauenkirche or Church of our Lady – this is a pretty iconic symbol of Munich
This Gold Line is a memorial to those who resisted the Nazis
There’s a lot more that I saw of course – this is just a snapshot of what you will see on the tour. I recommend anyone visiting Munich to check out this free city tour. You can also do paid tours with them to Dachau (though you can go on your own quite easily) and Neuschwanstein as well.
Exploring Munich in Winter? Check out all my Munich posts from this trip.
Thursday 12th of July 2018
I did this tour in Munich, as well. It was amazing! I had written in my journal about a story our guide told us about St. Peter's church. Years ago, a storm blew the cross off the top of the church. Church leaders scrambled to find someone to put it back up, to no avail. Finally (apparently) a man drinking in a beer hall climbed up with the cross and his full stein of beer and was able to put the cross back in its place. She said that he then chugged his beer and threw the stein off the top of the church, but it did not break. It is now a holy relic! I have searched and searched for confirmation of this story and have had NO luck! Did you hear this same story?? Thanks!
wow that's new to me! Can't give you any confirmation unfortunately~
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Sandeman tour Munich - SANDEMANs NEW Europe - Munich
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My boyfriend and I did the walking tour with Vassily on Christmas Eve. He was very hilarious and... read more
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Sandeman tour Munich
While in Munich we decided to do two of the sandeman tours after having done them in both Berlin and Amsterdam previously. We went on the free city tour (a tips based tour where you give what you think it is worth at the end) and also the third reich tour (€15). Both tours were led by Scott and were insightful and knowledgeable. I have found with all sandeman tours that I have learnt so much more about the city than if I explored myself - it also gives me ideas of what else I would like to do on my trip so I recommend doing this early on in your holiday.
We met in Marienplatz - the red coats/umbrellas were easily spotted. We had Vass as our tour guide, out of Kazakhstan via Toronto and our fellow walkers were from all over the globe. The tour was interesting and informative.Definitely something worth doing at the start of your trip to Munich.Its your choice what you pay at the end
My boyfriend and I both had an amazing trip! I had wanted to visit the castle for so long and I was worried my boyfriend would hate the day with travelling and the rain however he loved it as much as I did! Ali was a great tour guide, she is super intelligent and lovely young woman all round! Not only did she share with us her expansive King Ludwig knowledge, she also told us more about her home country, Italy, as well as plenty of other tips on Munich. She really is a true expert in all things Munich/ travelling and I'm sure plenty of other topic areas! The trip was great value for money and so beautiful. Would 100% recommend it to anyone!
My daughter and I took the excursion to Neuschwanstein and the walking tour in Munich with the same guide, Jax. We really enjoyed how well he knew the history of the sites we visted and he kept it light with appropriate amounts of humor. We enjoyed the Neuschwanstein tour with him so much that we asked for his walking tour soecifically the next day. I highly recommend him
This tour is fun and informative. Jax started the tour in Marienplatz, told us about the history of Munich, starting with the city's founding all the way through WWII and the rebuilding since. In addition, he was he generous with his time and went out of his way to recommend places in the city to eat and drink. A fantastic experience - highly recommend!
Yes, you could do this trip on your own and it wouldn't be too difficult to get on the right train and then the right bus and find your way to the Castle. But it would be a total faff so just take the tour! I was lucky enough to have a group of friendly passengers who were up for a laugh and a good chin wag throughout the day. Aileen, our guide, told us all about the history of the beautiful castle and made sure we got to where we needed to be on time all day long. Seamless
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Munich Walking Tours, itinerary for 2+days in Munich?
Can anyone offer recommendation and/or recent experience with Munich Walks, Radius Tours or Sandeman’s Walking Both Radius and Sandeman’s offer “free” tours and I hesitate to rely on those because well…just because.
We would also like to take a Third Reich Walking Tour and all of those agencies offer those as well. Frankly the tour time for Munich Walks tours suits us best as it is in the am —not 3 PM as the I did come across old posts about the Dark History tours but apparently they have raised their prices dramatically-
I am wondering if we would benefit from both tours -City Walk and 3rd Reich- or if the 3rd Reich alone would give us enough history and we can just tour the other sights on our own?
We have 3 nights in Munich arriving at 10 AM on a Sunday- so I really want to make good use of our 2.75 days! We will tour the Residenz on our own, and will not be going Dachau. How would you spend that amount of time?
I'll be interested in you feelings about the Residenz. To me, at first it was interesting, but after a while it got to be tedious, with all those over-the-top Rococo rooms.
The Deutsches Museum is interesting. I've been there twice and enjoyed it every time.
Schloß Nymphenburg is also nice to visit. Beautiful park between the buildings.
But we enjoyed just hanging out on the pedestrian mall (Kaufingerstr), visiting all the little shops. And lunch at the Hofbräuhaus is a must.
Some might be interested in the München Stadtmuseum. Both times I've been there they had interesting historical displays. But it's only in German.
We did the Munich Walks "Hitler's Munich" walk in November 2013 with Levi, and it was exceptional! Highly recommended. No need to buy tickets ahead of time, just meet in Marienplatz and pay then. I think this tour would give you enough history and then you could do any remaining sites on your own.
Thanks Lee- As far as the Residenz I hear you on the tediousness of those sort of sights. It is not a priority- we will have Bavarian Castle Pass so it's basically paid for, we will do if we have time, or if weather is lousy, etc. Nymphenburg- probably can skip that- if we had an extra day it might have made the list. Been to Versailles, Schoenbrunn and will have seen Linderhof day before Munich.
Hofbrauhaus- better for lunch or dinner? We had planned to head there in the evening.
And thanks Dawn for the Munich Walk recommendation- we will do just that,
For a city walking tour I'd recommend doing a self paced audio tour, Rick has a decent one ( https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/audio/audio-tours/austria-germany ) that is similar to the tour I used to give friends and family when they visited us in Munich. Good option would be to do Munich Walks "Hitler's Munich" as a history tour then pick and choose the sites you want to see with a self paced audio tour later.
I also agree that Nymphenburg, while nice, will seem redundant after seeing Linderhof the day before.
If you do squeeze in a trip to the Deutsches Museum (highly recommended) be aware it is under going a multi year long renovation so check the website to see what is open. http://www.deutsches-museum.de/en/information/visitor-information/closures/
I did the Sandeman's free walk and I was not very happy with it. I've taken 'free' walking tours in many cities with other companies and enjoyed them but this one was a dud. Now, that may just be the particular guide that I had, he was boring and I didn't learn anything from him. It was raining that day and that may also color my objectivity a bit because he made us stand in the rain a lot rather than keep walking. Anyway, I gave up and left the tour early. Another thing was how big the groups were - it's hard to get much out of a tour with so many in the group. Other walking tours I've taken have been with much smaller groups.
Yes, the self-guided Munich city walking tour in Rick's Germany guidebook, and in the podcast, is very good. It can take anywhere from two hours to two days, depending on your level of curiosity and interests.
The walking tour ends at Odeonsplatz. I recommend continuing west on Briennerstraße to the new NS Doku-Zentrum , which just opened last May on the site of the Third-Reich-era Nazi headquarters building. Next door is Führerbau, Hitler's office building, where the 1938 Munich Accord was signed. The building has been repurposed as a high school for music and theater. Historic Königsplatz is across the street.
The city's website offers free downloadable maps and audioguides for self-guided walks dealing with the history of National Socialism in Munich.
These sights would be all the more vivid if before your trip you read up on the dark and dramatic history of National Socialism in Munich. I recommend Where Ghosts Walked - Munich's Road to The Third Reich by David Clay Large.
An alternative to the Residenz and/or Nymphenburg is the colorful, and relatively untouristed, Schleißheim Palaces , summer home of the Wittelsbachs (20 minutes on the S2 from Hauptbahnhof to Oberschleißheim, then a 5-10 minute walk). Aviation history buffs will enjoy Flugwerft Schleißheim , aviation branch of the Deutsches Museum, just a short walk from the Schleißheim Palaces, on a small airfield that dates back to WW1.
If you're into the "Biergarten" scene, buy "The Beer Drinkers Guide to Munich" available on Amazon. It lists the locations throughout the Munich area, and how to get there.
Hi Christine- I noticed nobody mentioned the Marienplatz, the Viktualienmarkt, and the Englisher Garten. The first 2 are on the east end of Kaufingerstrasse, the pedestrian only street . The Englisher Garten is nice to wander through on a sunny afternoon. The Asamkirche is also worth a peek. It is on the RS self-guided walk.
Have a great trip!!!
I would recommend doing the RS audio tour on your own --it's an easy walk and interesting. But do one of the Munich Walks or Radius tours for the 3rd Reich era. There's a lot of history to be seen, and it helps to have someone point out what you are seeing -- it won't necessarily be obvious to you as a casual stroller. The city's downloadable guide to the National Socialism sites is very thorough, but it you don't have the time to do the research and reading beforehand, the guided tour will be great.
Re: the Odeonplatz. That in itself is historical. The famous picture of Hitler cheering as one of the masses, repeated in all big European cities in 1914, takes place in the Odeonplatz.
In front of the Odeonplatz is the Feldherrnhalle with statues of two of the famous Bavarian generals, Tilly of the Thirty Years War for the Catholic side and Wedel, who switched sides against Napoleon, still did not do him any good, since he still was beaten by Napoleon at Hanau. The Feldherrnhalle was the site of Hitler's failed coup to seize power in Munich in 1923, when to his surprise the Munich police opened fire on him.
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Hi! I plan to take the free walking tour in December, and wonder how much to tip if happy with the tour. Is Euro 8 good enough?
given that each of the guides 'pays' a commission to the company of around 3euro - I think 'tipping/paying' less than 2.5 euro per HOUR is not nearly good enough
Would Euro 10 -12 be the norm?
my wife & I have taken free Sandemans tours in a number of European cities and all of them have been excellent. We have always assumed that, as the guides rely on tips for a living, they have to perform in order to maximise their earnings. We have always been very satisfied and have tipped in the region of €15-20.
I took a free walking tour in Lima and loved the energy and enthusiasm the guides brought into it.
Has anyone done the third reich walking tour, I am interested in this.
I will read up on the Third Reich walking tour thanks.
I would just be interested to hear from anyone who has been on it.
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