Munich (or München) is the capital of Bavaria in Germany, Europe. A modern city surrounded by natural beauty and packed with historical buildings in its center.
I was there in April 2015 and this is how I explored this city, while at the same time enjoying its rich beer history. Because, let’s be honest, when you visit Munich you just have to drink 0,5l beers! 😀
First of all, I suggest you book your hostel or hotel weeks of even months before arrival, since prices go up fast and if you have a preference for a certain hotel or hostel, they might not be available anymore or you would have to pay a higher room price than if you had booked earlier. When I was there, the Oktoberfest was still months away, but when I checked the availabilities of the best hostels in the city, many of them were already fully booked. I spent 3 nights in Munich, the 1st night I stayed at the Wombats hostel close to the main railways station, the other 2 nights I was in the Euro Youth Hotel, just a few meters further down the street. In this street, the Senefelderstrasse , you can find a lot of hostels, which is convenient if you just arrived. You walk out of the railway station and just cross the street. I was definitely not the most pleasant street, but the hostels were great.
The breakfast at both was cheap and good. At Wombats, next to the indoor courtyard, there is a bar where you can indulge in 0,5l glasses of Bavarian beer for a great price and this bar turns into the breakfast area in the morning. At the Euro Youth Hotel, the bar also becomes the breakfast room. This bar looked very alive on Friday night, but it was completely empty on Saturday night, which is unfortunate for me since I went to bed early on Friday. 🙂
Exploring the city
Day 1 in Munich (Friday): The best way to explore a city where all the main sights are reasonably close to each other is always on foot. And there is no better way to get to know a city than by joining a Free Walking Tour, often organized by the hostel you are staying at. The guides pick you up at your hostel of you can join them at a nearby square. They tell you all about the history of the city, the purpose of the buildings, the lifestyle of the locals, what you should go visit after the tour, … while walking for 2,5 to 3 hours. At the end of the tour, you can pay them whatever you want, depending on how useful it was to you.
I have never experienced a bad Free Walking Tour so far, so I strongly recommend them to anyone, even if you are not staying in a hostel. Just look up ‘Free Walking Tour + the name of the city you are going to’ in Google. My 1st experience was in Lisbon, with Lisbon Chill-out Free Tour, which I found purely by coincidence, and the guide was very nice, enthusiastic and passionate about his city, he even took us off the beaten cobblestones. Be sure that it’s an actual ‘Free Walking Tour’, not a (paying) tour that is organized by a big company, that takes away some of the charm.
The tour guide was from South-Africa, so I could talk some Dutch (Nederlands and Afrikaans are related languages, so we understand each other, with some effort) :).
Lunchtime! An authentic bratwurst accompanied by a German beer is the perfect way to satisfy your appetite before exploring the city further. Before lunch, we got the opportunity to see the Glockenspiel on the Marienplatz. The tower of the Rathaus comes to life every day at 11:00 and 12:00.
After the tour, I went out to find the surfers at the Eisbach river in the Englisher Garten, which I was very curious about. Der Englisher Garten or the English Garden is a huge public park stretching from the city center to the northeastern city limits. It was created in 1789 and with an area of 3.7 km2 (370 ha), it’s is one of Europe’s largest urban public parks, even larger than New York’s Central Park. The name refers to its informal landscape and locals come there to relax, have a picnic and even surf. 🙂
After that, I went back to the city center to climb the 299 steps of Alter Peter, to get an amazing view of the Marienplatz. Entrance fee was just 2 EUR. Its actual name is the Church of St. Peter and it’s another one of Munich’s landmarks, being the oldest parish church in the city. The locals affectionately call it Alter Peter or Old Peter, due to its location on the hill called Petersbergl.
Day 2 in Munich (Saturday): I took the subway to the north of the city to visit the Olympiapark, it takes about 20 minutes to get from the city center to metro station Olympiazentrum. After the Olympic Games in 1972, an enormous park was developed into a recreation center and now you can walk, run, swim for hours and enjoy the view on one of the panoramic hills. You can also visit BMW Welt, dedicated to the legendary auto brand and designed as a four-cylinder engine. I didn’t visit this one, since it was such a beautiful day and the sun was shining on the glass panels of the tent-style buildings. I must have spent 4 hours there and loved every minute of it.
In the afternoon, I went back to the English Garden to walk around in the north part of this huge garden before ending the day with a Bavarian dinner and Hofbräu beer.
Day 3 in Munich (Sunday): Sunday is museum day in several cities and Munich is one of them! There are many great museums in this city and one Sunday in hardly enough to visit just a few of them. The street to be is the Barerstrasse. My choices were the Alte Pinakothek (masterpieces of European Painting from the 14th to the 19th century) and the Brandhorst museum, which was all about contemporary art and the building itself was very modern. For my final lunch in Munich I went back to the English Garden (I couldn’t get enough apparently 🙂 ), more specifically to the biergarten at the Chinesischer Turm. If you, just like me, prefer traditional, local food, you can choose crispy roast pork, potato dumplings (in German: Kartoffelknödel) with coleslaw in the beergarden. If you want traditional, but more fancy food, go to the Restaurant am Chinesischen Turm. The Kartoffelknödel looks like a big ball of bouncy potato, I wasn’t a fan of this, but the pork was great. I went to pick up my luggage in the hostel and got the train to my next stop: Salzburg!
Getting around in Munich is very easy. Most of the time, I visited everything on foot, except for the Olympiapark, the museums and to get back to the hostel from the English garden, on those occasions I took the metro or the bus. The best option is to buy a pass for several days, depending on how long you are staying and what you want to visit, as this will usually be cheaper than buying separate tickets. It’s a city with West-European prices, so you have to look around to find a good deal. As always, restaurants located near the center are more expensive.
Other things to do in Munich
- Allianz Arena: the big stadium built for the famous football team of Bayern München, which is beautifully lit up at night.
- Go see a football match of the same Bayern Munchen.
- Visit the other museums and just pay the entrance fee, they are worth it. Don’t go on Mondays however, as the museums are closed.
- Go to the famous Oktoberfest, be sure to book accomodation MONTHS before. In 2017 it will be held from September 16th to October 3rd.
- Visit the stunning surrounding nature, where the famous telenovela of Sturm Der Liebe is recorded.
- Go to Neuschwanstein Castle near Füssen, it was the inspiration for the Disney palace in Paris and it looks like it came straight from a fairy tale.
- Visit several biergartens and breweries.
- On a warm and sunny day you can just drink beer at a biergarten while reading a book, why not 🙂
I hope you enjoy Munich as much as I did! I went in the spring, but I’m sure it is great to visit this city all year round.