Like many parts of Germany, the Bavarian city of Munich is surprisingly wheelchair friendly, with most museums, many historic sites, and public spaces quite welcoming to wheelchair users. If you find yourself in Munich during your European travels, here are some of my most accessible recommendations for places to visit.
1. The Marienplatz. This large pedestrian-only area is the vibrant heart of Munich, filled with historic buildings, churches, stores, and restaurants. There are a few sections of flat cobblestones to negotiate, but they’re not too bad; the majority of the Marienplatz is flat and smooth. Roughly half of the stores and restaurants have a step to get in, but there are plenty of eateries with patio seating and stores with flat entry. The Marienplatz is usually very busy, filled with both locals and tourists alike, so be prepared to navigate through some crowds.
2. The Pinakothek museums. Widely considered some of the world’s top museums, the trifecta of the Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pnakothek, and Pinakothek der Moderne are worth a visit. More than 800 masterpieces by European artists bring to life the development of art from the Middle Ages to the end of the Rococo period in the Alte. The Neue’s focus is European Art of the 18th and 19th century and is one of the most important museums of art of the nineteenth century in the world. In the Moderne, Various art movements of the 20th century are represented in the collection, including Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, New Objectivity, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Minimal Art. All are wheelchair accessible via ramps and elevators.
3. The Deutsches Museum. Established in 1903, this museum is among the world’s oldest museums of science and technology, and also one of the largest. Its unique collection of original exhibits makes Deutsches Museum a leading international venue for celebrating science and technology as a cultural endeavor. The entertaining communication of basic ideas of science and technology is geared to the target groups and provides an overview of historical developments while offering insights into the latest research. Many parts of the museum have hundreds of hands-on displays and activities that are easy to reach from a wheelchair. For more information about accessibility, click HERE.
4. The BMW Museum and BMW Welt. Even if you’re not a big fan of BMW, or fancy cars in general, the BMW Museum and enormous showcase across the street (the Welt) is well worth the trip outside the city center. The museum is so slick and modern, it could pass for a high-end night club. The history of BMW is fascinating, starting before WWI, and it’s especially interesting to see how the company adapted and recovered during and after WWII. Pretty much every model of motorcycle and vehicle designed and produced by BMW is represented in the museum in stunning visual fashion. In the Welt across the street, you can see the most current BMW car and motorcycle offerings, as well as those of subsidiaries Rolls Royce and Mini Cooper. For more information about accessibility, click HERE.
5. Olympiapark München. This is the complex that was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Located in the Oberwiesenfeld neighborhood of Munich, the Park continues to serve as a venue for cultural, social, and religious events such as events of worship. The central Stadium, constructed from 1968 to 1972, was designed by the architecture firm of Behnisch and Partners. It is currently home to the highest number of staged national and international competitions in Germany. The Aquatic Center became an integral part of Olympic history when the US swimmer Mark Spitz won 7 gold medals there during the 1972 Munich Games. At a height of 190 meters, the Olympic Tower has an observation platform, as well as a small rock and roll museum housing various memorabilia. For more information about accessibility, click HERE.
6. Cathedral of Our Lady of Munich (Frauenkirche). This impressive cathedral, also known as München Dom, is located in Munich’s Old Town, not far from the centrally located Marienplatz. Construction on the cathedral began in 1468 under Prize Sigismund, who commissioned Jörg von Halsbach with its construction. In World War II, the Frauenkirche was very heavily damaged by air strikes, but was later rebuilt and renovated in several construction phases. The south tower of the cathedral can be climbed and offers a unique, wide view across the rooftops of Munich and on to the Alps. In the entrance of this imposing late-Gothic interior you encounter among other things the legendary devil’s footprint in the floor of the church. Also worthy of note is the tomb of the princes in the space under the chancel. There is a wheelchair ramp to enter on the side of the building to the left of the main entrance.
7. The English Garden. It all started in 1789 when Elector Carl Theodor ordered that a public park be established along the Isar River. He put the project in the hands of the Briton Benjamin Thompson, who worked at the time for the Bavarian Army. The park was given the name Englische Garten because it was laid out in the style of an English country park. Today the Englische Garten offers numerous leisure time activities. Cyclists and joggers train on the 78-kilometer-long (48.5 miles) network of paths, and amateur soccer players meet on the fields for recreational games. A beautiful vista of the city if offered by the Monopteros, which was added to the park landscape along with the hill in 1836. The Japanese teahouse first opened in 1972 on the southern end of the park on an artificial island in the Schwabinger Bach (stream). Japanese tea ceremonies are performed here regularly. With 7,000 spots, the beer garden in the Englische Garten, right by the Chinese Tower, is Munich’s second largest.
8. The Gasteig. Gasteig Munich is a concert hall and cultural center that is every bit as modern and charming as you would hope for a city like Munich. Since it was finished in 1985, it has been the home of not only the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra but also smaller, chamber performances and some special events that run throughout the year. In addition to being a performance center, there are also other things you can do at the Gasteig. The original estate building that was located behind the center was the site of an assassination attempt on Hitler’s life. The event, which was plotted and carried out by George Elser, is commemorated in a small display located on the property. I was able to purchase wheelchair seating for a Philharmonic performance over the phone with München Ticket. For more information about the Gasteig’s accessibility, click HERE.
9. The Hofbräuhaus. Wilhelm V., Duke of Bavaria, had a thirsty and demanding royal household, which was dissatisfied with the beer brewed in Munich. As a result, beer had to be imported to Munich from the city of Einbeck in Lower Saxony. Wilhelm ordered his royal court to come up with a way to reconcile cost and pleasure. On September 27, 1589, the chamberlains and council members approached him with an idea: why not build their own brewery? Wilhelm welcomed the plan with open arms. As a matter of fact, that same day, he recruited the master brewer of the Geisenfeld Monastery, Heimeran Pongraz, to be the planner, developer and the first “brown” Hofbräuhaus’ master brewer, which went into operation at the “Alter Hof” ( Old Court ) in 1592. It was called the “brown” Hofbräuhaus as only brown ale was brewed there. As it exists today, it is wheelchair accessible with flat entry. For more information about the Hofbräuhaus, click HERE.