Munich is so laidback you’ll see surfers wandering through the city centre with their boards (seriously). They also invented the beer garden here. So while that’s probably enough to get us booking our flights, we’d thought we’d better tell you more about the Bavarian capital, which is consistently voted one of the best cities in the world to live. Here’s our guide to the place that has riverside beaches, mountains and beer. Lots of beer.
Munich’s got more sausages than you can shake a cocktail stick at. If you’re being adventurous try a Weisswurst (white sausage). It’s made with minced veal and pork. To be fair, it’s not the most attractive to look at, but it tastes good with either a bagel or a big dollop of sauerkraut (cabbage). Pudding wise go for Apfelstrudel (like a pastry-filled apple pie) or Dampfnudel (a sweet dumpling-like roll). While you really should sample the local cuisine, there’s food from every corner of the globe in Munich – here are some of our recommendations.
1. For a bit of Bavarian breakfast
The Hungriges Herz (Hungarian Heart) is a great place for breakfast and it’s located right on the River Isar, so if you’ve been a bit of a piglet you can do a scenic stroll to walk it off. We also like Café Lotti. It’s a cute little cafe in Schwabing with awesome cake and coffee for elevenses (or any time of day, we’re not judging).
2. To eat in a restaurant with a beer garden
You can get your fill of roast pork in these two Bavarian restaurants, both with beer gardens – the Kaisergarten and the Georgenhof. If you want a cosy and small biergarten, then the Mini Hofbräuhaus next to the English Garden is for you. It’s very relaxed, although it’s mega dog friendly, so if you’re not a fan of dogs (they’ve even got their own pub pooch, dachshund Waldi) then maybe try somewhere else.
And if you’ve always wanted to try a fusion of Japanese and Bavarian but never had the chance (?), Nomiya is very welcoming for sushi and sausage. Of course there’s always a need for a late “snack”. Bergwolf’s the place to get that much-needed fast-food fix of curry wurst after a night sampling the local ales.
3. You can buy some produce to take home
Take a walk over to the Viktualienmarkt on a Sunday. It’s grown to become 22,000 sq metres of food and drink stalls. You can buy local foods (and international stuff) here with a typical Bavarian backdrop.
4. To go bar-hopping
Ah a rooftop bar. Hands up who hasn’t posted a holiday snap of their drinks with the view in the background. The Flushing Meadows is the place to do just that in Munich. It’s worth visiting both day and night – and of course the sunset has its charms.
There are also loads of cool bars in the student area around the University of Munich. Go for cocktails at Don’t Call Mama or the James T. Hunter. The Fox bar is dinky but the music is always good. Wohnzimmer (it translates as “living room”) is a nice bar which feels very homely. Good drinks and music too.
If you want a secret bar, then Maria Passagne should do the trick – you have to ring a bell to get into this crazy place which also does sushi (naturally). It’s Germany, so of course they’ve got a dance club in a sauna.
In the summer you can even just drink on some floating logs.
5. Obviously there’s Oktoberfest
Don your Dirndl and Lederhosen for a trip to the biggest beer event on the planet. It’s huge. It’s six million people huge. This is a beer festival on a grand scale and it is totally brilliant. Try and book a table in advance (it might be more expensive but worth it to get a guaranteed spot – and, of course, table service).
Learn some German toasts, “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit“ or “Oans, zwoa, drei – g’suffa” (your new German friends on the neighbouring tables will help you learn them). Get up out and stand on the tables for the live music and maybe work on those drinking muscles (the two-pinter steins are heavy).
BE IN THE KNOW: On the west hand side of the Oktoberfest tents is an inviting little glass slope. Never sit down here. Among Bavarians it’s called “Urin-Bergl”, which means “pee-hill”…….
6. But you can also get gin too
While you might think it’s all about the beer here, there’s recently been a bit of a boom in spirits, and you can try Munich’s own version of Mother’s Ruin (and go see how it’s made). Go and try their new gin t The Duke. They also produce their own Bavarian vodka if that’s more your tipple.
7. You can hang out in the open air with the locals
You’ll feel at home in the Englischer Garten (English Garden) with its many beer gardens. The largest one is near the Chinese Tower – so you should be able to spot its 25m high pagoda. Strolling along the River Isar is great at all times of year, but in the summer you’ll see people cooking on barbecues and hanging out on the “beaches”.
Another must do in Munich is a visit to the Olympia Park as there’s loads of indoor and outdoor sporty stuff going on. Walk up on the Olympia Hill for a far-reaching view over the city. If the weather is good you can even see the mountains.
8. Because you can watch the river surfers
We say watch, as you’ve got to be pretty skilled on a surfboard to ride the Eisbach Wave in the English Garden. Surfs up all the time as it ha a permanent 1/2 high by 12m wide wave where one of the brooks feeds into the Isar River.
9. Or have a swim and a sauna indoors
The Müller’sche Volksbad is possibly one of the most beautiful swimming baths in the world. Its art nouveau roof will make you want to be backstroking up and down the pool so you can admire its beauty.
10. To visit Munich’s museums, palaces and churches
The Sammlung Brandhorst is a small museum devoted to modern art – particularly pop art, so expect Andy Warhol to feature prominently.
Nymphenburger Schloss is a huge palace with massive grounds to walk around. This is where the royal family used to hang out.
Pop into the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in the city centre (it’s the one with the onion-like domes). See how your shoe size compares to that of the Devil. His blackened footprint is just inside the front door.
11. Go and watch the biggest team in Germany play
They don’t just like football in Munich – they love it. Bayern Munich is one of the top five clubs in the world, with a very proud history. And they’ve got a decent stadium too. The Allianz Arena is often used to host some of the biggest games in Europe, as well as being Bayern’s home ground.
12. Or take a spin in a BMW
13. There’s some really nice spots out of town
You can be in Starnberg in just under half an hour by train. There you’ll find a beautiful lake with a view of the Bavarian Alps.
14. To attend the Kocherlball
Time your trip for July and get dressed up for the Cooks Ball. You can show off your polka and waltzing skills on the dance floor. Really it’s just an excuse to get your best period or Bavarian garb on.
15. The Christmas markets of course
The month-long Munich Christmas Market in the Marienplatz dates back to the 17th Century. It’s the oldest one in the city, but there are so many here you can even take a “Glitter, Gifts and Gingerbread” guided tour around them all. We fancy the Advent tram ride as they lay on mulled wine as well as sweets. The Tollwood Festival is more of an alternative Christmas market with a circus, handmade stuff, food from all around the world and music acts. The entry is free but you need tickets for the shows.
Your essential Munich information
When’s the best time to visit Munich?
It’s a European city – so really there is no bad time to visit. The summers are warm but the winters are pretty chilly. The peak times are for the Christmas markets and of course Oktoberfest in September and October. While these are super fun times to visit, hotels tend to be more expensive and harder to come by.
Getting around Munich
As you’d expect, the public transport system MVV is a very efficient way of getting to see Munich. You can use the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn, as well as buses and even trams, to make your way around. They’ve got a wide range of ticket choices, so you can get a day pass or a group adult pass if you’re there with friends – it’s usually cheaper. Make sure you remember to validate your ticket. Visit the MVV website
It only takes around two hours to fly there from London – find flights to Munich.
Where to stay
We’d love to know your top Munich tips
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