Visiting Munich - What to See and Do
(Munich Airport MUC, Germany)
No other city in Germany
manages to honour its folksy roots and celebrate its modern economic prowess as well as Munich
. Anchoring the southern region of the country, Munich is a fun live-and-let-live kind of city. The down to earth friendliness of its residents climaxes each autumn during the Oktoberfest beer festival.
Few visitors leave Munich unimpressed with its level of sophistication overlaying its enthusiasm for 'oompah' music and its outdoor drinking gardens, while others prefer to check out the nearby mountains. However, there are also world-class museums, nightclubs and shopping districts to balance the old with the new.
Start at a sidewalk café on the central Marienplatz, admiring the people and the Gothic Town Hall. There are a number of historic attractions within the downtown core, including the well-stocked Pinakothek art galleries and the high-tech BMW World. Munich keeps busy all year with conventions, concerts and the famed Oktoberfest, so be sure to get your preferred hotel lined up well before you arrive.
Ten things you must do in Munich
- If the weather is warm, seek out one of Munich's 400 or so biergartens (beer gardens). From the first sunny break of spring until the trees are bare in autumn, the city's beer gardens are where you go to savour the joy of being alive. In the English Garden is a particularly scenic and popular venue, the Biergarten Chinesischer Turm.
- Spend the afternoon in the overtly trendy district of Haidhausen, sipping coffee at cafés and browsing the parade of unique boutiques, art galleries and other shops. The Weissenburger Platz and Pariser Platz are both hubs of coolness in Munich, especially after dark when the bars and clubs get rolling.
- The city's river is called the Isar, and a great way to spend a warm day is to walk up its riverside path and raft back down to the city centre. The left bank of the Isar has a superb walking path that starts at the Höllriegelskreuth and runs all the way to the Valley of the Mills and beyond. After a beer or three in Kloster Schäftlarn village, hop on a raft made of logs and float serenely back home.
- Whether it is Oktoberfest or not, you have to visit the Hofbräuhaus, Munich's premier beer hall. It was built in 1589 by Duke Wilhelm V as a nobleman's beer hall, and by 1828 it was opened to the common public. It holds 4,000 drinkers, but its main hall, the Schwemme, is the heart and soul of this beer swilling holy site.
- The Alte Pinakothek has one of Europe's most important collections, with over 900 pieces by masters from the 14th to 18th centuries. Besides its Rubens, Raphaels and Rembrandts, the museum also has running temporary exhibitions.
- Get a taste of Bavarian nobility at the Schloss Nymphenburg, one of the area's top palaces. It took 150 years to complete this highly embellished projection of wealth, and its interior rarely fails to dazzle visitors. From the horse-drawn coaches of Ludwig II to the incredible artwork and portraits that line the walls, this palace exemplifies the power of Bavaria in the 18th century. The 500-acre / 202-hectare garden that surrounds it is also absolutely magical.
- Fans of technology will want to visit the Deutsches Museum, the world's largest museum attraction dedicated to the timeline of technology. Some of the objects on display are priceless, from the first electric dynamo to modern-day telecommunications - the exhibits are excellent. An attentive staff of English-speaking helpers can explain everything.
- Munich has some very appealing public parks. You can work on your all-over tan at the nude-friendly Englischer Garten or stroll the 54 acres / 22 hectares of botanical gardens at the Botanischer Garten. The old deer hunting park known as the Hirschgarten is the city's most tranquil spot to escape into the beauty and softness of nature.
- If you enjoy classical music or opera, Munich will give you plenty to cheer about. The Munich Philharmonic and Bavarian State Opera are both based here, with a range of performances throughout the year. There is also a delightful schedule of summer concerts at Nymphenburg Palace.
- Every Saturday morning, the residents of Munich make their way to the Viktualienmarkt in the Altstadt to buy fresh produce and goods as they have done since 1807. This glorious market has lots of tasty treats, but just observing the colourful untouristy scene is reason enough to place it on your itinerary.