Described by the locals as a city of ‘laptops and lederhosen’, Munich is a charming blend of the old and the new. Amid the perfectly paved little streets, gothic and baroque architecture and historic grand palace, the city, which is home to the headquarters of BMW, Microsoft and Siemens, has a forward-thinking edge.
It’s one of the most popular cities to visit in all of Germany, with its major draw card being the world-famous and delightfully boisterous Oktoberfest. But outside of beer drinking, Munich’s Mediterranean vibe, excellent cuisine, thriving arts and culture scene and enthralling history make for an unforgettable experience.
There’s no shortage of cultural, historical, leisurely and downright entertaining things to do in Munich. Begin in the heart of the Old Town at the bustling square of Marienplatz, where the New Town Hall dominates with its grand gothic revival architecture. Step inside and take the lift to the top for magnificent views.
South of the New Town Hall is the oldest church in Munich, St. Peters, with its bright white and gold ornate interiors and baroque ceiling fresco – make sure you climb to the top of the tower.
Not to be missed in the city centre is the royal Bavarian palace, Munich Residence, where you can explore opulent rooms and regal treasures. Continue on your cultural and historic tour by making your way to Alte Pinakothek where you’ll find incredible works of art, before moving on to Olympiapark, home of the 1972 summer Olympics, where you can ride to the top of Olympic Tower.
Eat and Drink
While Munich delivers on hearty Bavarian cuisine, you’ll find flavours from all around the world as well, with Italian dishes loved by the locals. Many Italian and international eateries can be found in the Haidhausen neighbourhood.
You can’t visit Munich without eating and drinking in a traditional beer hall or beer garden, where you can feast on Weisswurst (veal and pork sausage) and soft pretzels washed down with Bavarian beer – try the popular Weissbier. For something a little more substantial, look out for restaurants serving Schweinebraten (braised pork with potato dumplings and sauerkraut).
For a taste of Munich nightlife outside of the beer halls, head to Haidhausen for bars and nightclubs or comb the city to discover the sophisticated cocktail bars scattered throughout.
Where to Stay
If you’re visiting Munich during Oktoberfest (September to October), make sure you book accommodation well in advance. Luxury hotels can be found around the inner city area and near Munich Central Station. Art and culture lovers will appreciate staying close to museums and galleries in the Schwabing area, while party animals will enjoy the buzz of Ludwigsvorstadt-Isarvorstadt. No matter where you base yourself, Munich’s efficient public transport system will ensure you reach all the must-see attractions.
High quality shopping is how the Munich locals roll. Shopping streets shoot out from Marienplatz, with pedestrian-only shopping strips including Kaufingerstrasse and Neuhauser Strasse. For luxury local and international brand names as well as chic art galleries, the streets around the National Theatre will not disappoint.
But the best shopping may well be at the markets. Both Viktualienmarkt in the city centre and Elisabethmarkt in Schwabing offer stalls selling fresh produce and local delights as well as beer gardens when the weather is warm. Visiting Munich during December means you can throw yourself into the merry holiday spirit of the Christmas markets, the main one taking place in Marienplatz with plenty of tree decorations, toys, traditional sweets, hot-spiced wine and Christmas cheer to revel in.
Munich Like a Local
Pack a picnic with market delights and head to the stunning English Garden, where you’ll find locals jogging, cycling and simply watching the world go by. This place is bigger than New York’s Central Park so set aside a whole day to explore, and make sure not to miss the Chinese Tower, beer gardens and surfing river.