In Travel

Making The Most Of Munich, Bavaria’s Biggest City

With its myriad beer halls and many festivals, Munich is a great party city. But with its fascinating history, it’s also a destination for lovers of arts and culture. Distinctively different to most of the rest of Germany, the capital of Bavaria is a very attractive blend of old and new.

Stradling the River Isar, a tributary of the Danube, Munich is the third-largest city in Germany behind Berlin and Hamburg and is a global centre of business, art, technology, science and culture. It’s also a magnet for tourists, who flock to its old quarters and squares, many of which are pedestrian-only zones.

Home to institutions like the Deutches Museum and BMW Museum, it’s at its most expensive during the riotous annual Oktoberfest – and hotel rooms can be in short supply.

Image: J Lutz / supplied

With a history dating back to the 12th Century, Munich is a cultural melting pot with over a third of its residents born in other countries. It’s a city easily explored using public transport.

Two contrasting attractions in the Schloss Nymphenburg palace and gardens and the former Dachau Concentration Camp are worthwhile day trip destinations. 

Where to eat

Munich is known as the beer capital of the world and visitors can enjoy a range of traditional beer halls as well as learning about local favourites: lagers and wheat beer.

The raucous Hofbräuhaus, which dates back to 1589, and the atmospheric Paulaner Brauhaus are both very popular, as is a trip to the historic Lowenbrau Keller.

With wait staff in traditional Bavarian costumes, a range of terrific beers and hearty German food, it is a whole lot of fun. You can even drop in for breakfast if you wish – and on good weather days, the leafy beer garden is a must. Pair your beers with a giant wiener schnitzel or a pork knuckle.

Image: G Standl / supplied

Also try beers from Spaten, Augustiner and Erdinger, from a small brewery just outside the city.

Make sure to try weisswurst, the delicious, plump white veal and herb sausages that are an archetypal Munich delicacy, and part of the unofficial “holy trinity” of the Bavarian capital, along with beer and Gemütlichkeit – that notion of everything that is easy-going and laidback in the city.

Other food classics include pork pot roast with hearty gravy; and a range of dishes with bread or potato dumplings and red cabbage

What to do

The Allianz Arena, home to the famous Bayern Munich football team, is one of the highest-tech sporting arenas in the world. On the northern fringe of the city, it holds 75,000 spectators and is known as the only stadium in the world where the exterior colours constantly change.

Since 2012, it has been home to the museum of Bayern Munich, FC Bayern Erlebniswelt. There is also a merchandise outlet: the FC Bayern Munich Megastore, a bistro and a bar.

Image: Markus Dlouhy / supplied

The stadium sits above Europe’s biggest underground car park and the roof of the stadium has built-in roller blinds that may be drawn back and forth during games to provide protection from the sun. For a special experience, book a behind-the-scenes tour.

In addition to the area, the city is also known for having one of the most renowned opera houses in the world, top-class orchestras and a vivacious music scene. The Kunstareal is the city’s art quarter with attractions ranging from the Egyptian Museum to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the Neue Pinakothek.

In total, Munich boasts more than 60 museums and galleries. Due to the great number of internationally renowned design artists that have made Munich their home, the city is now also regarded as a design capital.

After appreciating the city’s art scene, it’s time to explore outdoors. Conveniently, Munich is largely flat and so a great city to do so by foot.

Image: Sigi Mueller / supplied

The English Garden, which dates back to 1789 is one of the largest urban gardens in the world and, because this is Munich, has its own beer garden. The park, in the suburb of Schwabing, was given the name Englische Garten because it was laid out in the style of an English country park. Cyclists and joggers train on the 78-km-long network of paths, and an impressive vista of the city is offered from the Monopteros, a small Greek temple which was added to the park landscape in 1836.

Also take in the Viktaulien Market, Munich’s oldest open-air market and a major drawcard for foodies, and the old streets and squares in the area surrounding Marienplatz in the city centre. Here you’ll find the dramatic Neues Rathaus (town hall), with a glockenspiel show that chimes and tells stories. Also don’t miss the new Jewish Cultural Centre.

With its distinctive towers, the Frauenkirche is one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Where to stay

Image: Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor / Facebook

Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor is one of the city’s newest hotels in the bohemian quarter of Schwabing. It’s home to the Lonely Broccoli eatery and M’Uniqo Rooftop Bar.

The Gambino Hotel Werksviertel is a lifestyle hotel in a creative district, while the smaller Hotel Schwabinger Wahrheit will please those looking for a more boutique option. The Hotel Munich The Royal Bavarian offers “royal tradition with a cheeky twist”.

(Lead image: G Standl / supplied)

Published 03 March, 2020