There is plenty to please even the most demanding traveller in Munich, travel editor Winsor Dobbin reports.
Think Munich and you probably think beer, castles and football. Distinctively different to most of the rest of Germany, the capital of Bavaria is a very attractive blend of ancient and modern.
On the River Isar, a tributary of the Danube, it is the third-largest city in Germany behind Berlin and Hamburg. A global centre of business, art, technology, science and culture, it is 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 Museumand BMW Museum, it is also known as a city whose residents enjoy beer and partying – most notably at the annual Oktoberfest.
With a history dating back to the 12thcentury, Munich is also a cultural melting pot with over a third of its residents born in other countries. It is not uncommon to see someone sporting traditional lederhosen chatting to a friend wearing a sari.
With trains, buses and trams, Munich is easily explored using public transport. The Schloss Nymphenburg palace and gardens and the former Dachau Concentration Camp are both just a short drive from the city.
A Beer or Two
Munich is known as the beer capital of the world and visitors can enjoy a range of traditional beer halls as well as learning all about local favourites lager and wheat beer. The raucous Hofbrauhaus and the Paulaner Brauhaus are both very popular but a trip to the historic Lowenbrau Keller is equally as fun.
It has wait staff in traditional Bavarian costumes, a range of terrific beers and hearty German food. You can even drop in for breakfast if you wish – and on good weather days the leafy beer garden is a must. Try a giant wiener schnitzel or a pork knuckle. Even though it is now owned by American brewing giants Anheuser Busch, there is a whole lot of history dating back several centuries. Also try beers from Spaten, Augustiner and Erdinger, from a small brewery just outside the city.
The Allianz Arena, home to the famous and hugely successful 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. The stadium sits above Europe’s biggest underground car park and the roof of the stadium has built-in roller blinds which may be drawn back and forth during games to provide protection from the sun.
Several behind-the-scenes tours are available.
Take a stroll
Munich is largely flat and a great city for exploring on foot. The English Garden, which dates back to 1789 is one of the largest urban gardens in the world. The park, in the suburb of Schwabing, was given the name Englische Gartenbecause 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 a vista of the city is offered from the Monopteros, a small Greek temple which was added to the park landscape along with the hill in 1836.
Also take in the Viktaulien Market, Munich’s oldest open market and a major drawcard for foodies, and the old streets and squares in the area surrounding Marienplatz in the city centre with its city hall with glockenspiel chimes and the new Jewish Centre.
The Gartnerplatz and surrounding streets are full of small shops and trendy bars popular with locals.
Make a Movie
Bavaria Filmstadt (or Bavaria Film City) is a movie and television studio complex on the southern fringes of the city. Check out movie memorabilia including the submarine from Das Boot and the Gallic village from the filming of Asterix and Obelix Take on Cesar.
There are also original movie sets where visitors can star in their own mini feature under coaching of a director. Guided tours and 4D rides are also popular.
Station to Station
The bustling Munich Hauptbahnhof is much more than just the major railway station serving the city. As you enjoy a traditional sausage in a roll with onion and sauerkraut while you wait for your train, you’ll probably be blissfully oblivious to the lower levels of the station.
The subterranean S-Bahn with two platforms and U-Bahn stations with six platforms are also part of the complex. In recent years, the mezzanine level linking the Hauptbahnhof to the S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations and pathways to tram platforms have been extensively renovated.
There is a bright and lively shopping area with several restaurants and cafes. The bad news is the station is huge and it is easy to get lost. The good news is 24-hour food options, luggage lockers, paid bathrooms with showers, and free wifi. There are several hotels of varying quality in the streets nearby.