FREE Walking Tours of Munich

Rick Steves, the guru of tourism in Europe and publisher of significant content for tourists in Munich, has weighed in on the topic of free tours of Munich at

Unfortunately, and very out of character for Germany, tour guides are not required to be qualified or even registered. Most tour operators pretty much allow the guides to say whatever they want. We assume there is some basic quality control, but it isn’t much. As every car buyer knows, ymmv – your mileage my vary. New Europe guides pretty much construct their own tours.

When you get your guide from Munich Tours, our guides are trained, and highly knowledgeable. You can be sure that we cover all the ground, and impart accurate information at each station. That is a baseline that all of our guides achieve, but we hope to make your tour much more than just facts. We believe you will be enthralled by the entire experience, as we strive to make it a come alive as a real story of human endeavor and, sadly in part, failure.

Beware the Free Walking Tour of Munich

There is no such thing as a free guided walking tour of Munich. Rick Steves makes this point clearly.

For a start, you get what you pay for. If it’s free, you don’t get much. Our market research has taken us on numerous free walking tours of Munich and we found them fun and entertaining for the most part. We also found them factually inaccurate on some occasions, and we also found large chunks of the Munich experience simply left out. We also found a lot of personal biases, preferences, and other tidbits that, while endearingly personal, were worth no more than the opinion of the guy at the bar. You don’t need to go on a Sandeman’s New Europe tour to hear this stuff, just buy the dude in the pub a beer. Same thing.

If you want a qualified, professional, comprehensive, verified, accurate – yet fun and entertaining – walking tour of Munich, then you will need to pay for it.

The tourist in Munich is inherently deceived by the name “free walking tour of Munich” because you must pay a tip. You cannot expect the guide to work for free. You must pay him/her, because Sandeman New Europe does not. This walking tour of Munich is not free.

Worse, the guide is obliged to pay his/her company for every guest on his tour of Munich, whether he receives a tip from them or not. Some free walking tours of Munich companies are heartless and ruthless. Do not endorse this behavior by joining a guided free walking tour of Munich.

The guides are only barely local. They’re mostly overseas students studying here, or other folks here temporarily for a few years. The Sandeman’s New Europe CEO explained that he wasn’t able to make his point adequately to a TV crew preparing an expose on his industry, because his German wasn’t good enough! Exactly! You’re getting a tour of a major German city from folks who can’t speak German. Our guides at Munich Tours are truly local – we live here permanently, and have done for decades. We are also trained, informed, and hand selected for not only our knowledge, but also our engaging and stimulating manner with tourists visiting the beautiful city of Munich that we love.

We specifically do not accuse anybody of avoiding taxes, but please also note that an undefined and unrecorded handover of cash is not easy to monitor for income taxes and benefits contributions, even for the guide him/herself. Sandeman New Europe free tour of Munich makes no pretense to do so, devolving the obligation to pay taxes to the guide. Again, we do not accuse anybody, but the structure of Sandeman New Europe free tour of Munich excludes them from paying taxes on the income you pay to the guide, and the guide can’t realistically track the income s/he has earned.

While there is a view that says “pay no taxes, good on you”, the problem is that the city they are showing off is maintained by taxes! If somebody else weren’t paying the taxes, the guides and their company would have no city to show you round. This is called freeriding – I pay, and you benefit. Please don’t endorse this behavior.

Furthermore, if a guide receives education like a university degree (free in Germany) or health services (extremely low cost at this income level), it is only right that they pay their correct contributions, right? But are they? And how is this monitored? “Pay less tax” is a great cry, but not when you’re getting safe, clean, well-lit streets, affordable healthcare, and an education at the expense of somebody else who is paying his/her fair share while you are not. Please use professional walking tour of Munich guide services, so as to be fair on all the people who live and work here.

We have heard some people say how pleased they are to have taken a free city tour of Munich because they’re on a budget. Rick Steves Munich makes this point. My friend, you’re screwing everybody. You have to “tip” (ie pay) the guide, otherwise they get no money for their work. That’s not fair. Or do you think it’s ok because others tipped him/her? That’s also not fair to free ride on others. Would you dine-and-dash from a restaurant because you’re on a budget? Would you “try on” a coat in a store and walk out with it on because it’s cold outside and you’re on a budget? My friend, you’re stealing. If you’re visiting our warm and friendly city on a budget, please make yourself at home in a hostel or campground, buy your food and a few Munich beers at the grocery store supermarket, and download a free pdf or podcast tour and go self-guided, and enjoy. If you want a restaurant meal or a hotel room or a personal guided tour, you must pay for it. Free to you is a cost to somebody else. Live within your budget, and please enjoy the simple things this wonderful city has to offer.

The free city tours industry was litigated in German court, and it was found that the operators like Sandeman New Europe are not breaking the law. However, the judge stated explicitly in his decisions that the information the company provides is “not accurate”. The legal eagles among us may debate the merits of the finding, but the person-in-the-street understands clearly that this is not fair on him/her, and that it is morally wrong. Please buy your Munich walking tour from a transparent company that makes clear to the tourist in Munich what the cost is, and who submits the legally defined – and very fair – taxes and contributions.

City Walking Tours of Munich, Outdoor Adventures in Bavaria, and Day Trips from Munich

What to do with time in Munich? Besides our standard Walking Tour of Munich or your own Custom Munich City Tour that visits the best sights of Munich, consider getting outdoors into the Alps or an excursion in Bavaria. Day trips from Munich include a hike or walk in the nearby Bavarian Alps, or a walk-and-water day at Lake Starnberg including beer garden. Get your guide for what to do on a spare day in Munich to inspire you with our unusual Gardens of Peace tour, or visit sites on our Celtic Heartland with museum and oppidium tour. In winter, guided skiing with ski rental from Munich for the day to Garmisch, or a winter hike or walk in the pre-Alps near Munich.