Most people abroad know Munich as the birthplace of Oktoberfest, where for a few weeks every year, millions from around the world come dressed in lederhosen and dirndls and drink more beer than humanly possible. And while that alone can make Munich one of the best cities in the world, during the other eleven months of the year, Munich proves to be a cosmopolitan city, oozing of grand architecture, culture galore and a vibrant expat scene.
Here are some of my favourite things about this Bavarian city!
Surfers at the Englischer Garten
The Englischer Garten (English Gardens) is Europe’s largest city park and is even larger than Central Park in New York City! It stretches alongside the river Isar, and within the park, you can find everything from a Japanese teahouse, to the Chinese Tower, and if you’re really daring, you could join the nude sunbathers! (or just go to check them out depending on your preference).
When the weather is nice, there’s nothing better than having some drinks at the Seehaus beer garden and up the hill, you can get a view of the Munich skyline and the Alps in the distance. My favourite attraction however, is definitely the surfers on the Eisbach river. Even in the dead of winter, you’ll find them there! Now, that’s dedication.
Restaurants, bars and cafes
With Bavaria, being the home to all the popular German food stereotypes, there is definitley no shortage of German restaurants and beer halls around the city, such as the legendary Hofbrauhaus. I would definitely recommend some schnitzel and beer for the ultimate German dining experience!
With such a big international scene in Munich, even when you’re tired of those hearty Bavarian meals, there are still lots more dining options to choose from. Burger and burrito joints are popular, which definitely helps when I feel like I’m suffering from Chiptotle withdrawal. Funny enough, my absolute favourite restaurant in Munich is this little Korean diner called Zum Koreaner. If you go, the Schweinebauch is a must!
There’s also tons of bars and cafes in Munich, although I have yet to find my absolute favourite. Although that does encourage discovering new places, like that cat cafe, Cafe Katzentempel, with that cute cat with only 3 legs. Or Harpers & Queens, a bar that blasts hip hop music at ear deafening volumes. Normally I love hip hop music, but it’s a pretty awkward place when there’s no dance floor space, forcing you to sit, but at the same time, unable to talk to anyone around you (perhaps they want you to contemplate the ideas of urban isolationism while listening to Eminem through a shaky bass sound system)
Then there’s a restaurant/bar called Drugstore, where true to its name, everyone inside looks like they could be part of a drug cartel.
Then there was that bar me and the bf went to on Valentines Day. Every other bar on the street was full, so the one we ended up at was a sports bar that played heavy metal music…it took us awhile to notice that it was actually some sort of gay bar since at every table there sat a pair of middle-age guys holding hands.
So as you can see, there’s a lot to be discovered in the strange, dark world of Munich’s night life.
1 euro Museums on Sundays
There are over 80 museums in Munich and with most museums costing just 1 euro entrance on Sundays, you can experience a bit of Munich culture and history, with still lots of beer money left over. My favourites include the Neue Pinakothek, where you can find works by Monet, Degas and van Gogh’s sunflowers (although I have to say, there is A LOT of academic style religious paintings that I find strange to be classified as “neu”), and the Pinakothek der Moderne, where you can find works by Magritte, Dali and Miro. There’s also an interesting Egyptian art museum (Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst) that I highly recommend.
For a museum that’s free, there’s the BMW Welt, but unless you’re into cars (which unfortunately I’m not), it’s probably not the most exciting. On the plus side, it’s located by the Olympic Village, where Munich held the summer olympics in 1972. On the down side, while it’s fun for a stroll, I have to warn you, 70′s architecture isn’t pretty!
Friday night sneak previews at Cinema München
I love going to the movies but I’ve always felt that it’s even more overpriced in Europe than it is back home. If you’re looking for English movies, there’s also not that much of a selection. Something I think is really cool is this concept of “sneaks” they have in German theatres, where for a reduced price, you can watch an English movie that hasn’t made it into theatres yet, with the catch being that you don’t find out what the movie is until the movie actually starts.
At Cinema München they offer a sneak movie on Friday nights for 6.50 euros, which I think is an amazing price for a weekend movie. The movie selection is quite good too, since the two times I’ve went, they showed American Hustle and Philomena. It’s perfect on those weekend nights when you want to take a break from bar hopping and clubbing.
Castles and Palaces!
I went to visit the Nymphenburg Palace last weekend, and the interior was breathtaking! When I was in Paris, I never had a chance to visit the Palace of Versailles, so I think the Nymphenburg Palace is a nice alternative. It’s smaller, but at the same time, most of the rooms are fully furnished, so it’s pretty cool to see how these royals lived back in the day.
If you go a bit out of the city, the Neuschwanstein castle is like the holy grail of castles. When I saw it for the first time, I couldn’t believe that it’s real. It looks out something straight out of a Disney movie, which funny enough, was actually the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella castles. With more than 1.3 annual visitors to the castle, it’s definitely in a league of its own.
A side note for anyone who is afraid of heights, it might be a bit disconcerting to know that you have to go on a shakey bridge to get a good photo of the castle! But I assure you, it’s worth it!
And there you go…those are a few of my favourite things about Munich. If I had to list everything I love about this city, this list could go on for ages. Rather, go have some Bavarian beer, sausages and check out for yourself the charms this city has to offer.
There’s a reason why Munich is called “Weltstadt mit Herz” (World City with Heart).
Have you guys been to Munich? What do you love about this city?