Munich (“Home of the Monks”) is a perfect rendition of all our typical German stereotypes. In stark contrast to Berlin, Bavaria brings to life charming market squares, the Alps, pretzels and men in lederhosen. With a history rich in kings and castles, the architecture is both Gothic and Baroque in style and reminiscent of yester-year. Cobblestone streets and misty mountain air add alluring charm to the city. The perfect place to enjoy litres of local beers and soak in the tales of a Benedictinian time, München and neighbouring town Fussen are must-sees when in Bavaria.
Country | Germany
Language | German & English
Location | South East Germany
Closest Airport |MUC (35km)
Currency | Euro
Days Needed | 3-4
From Munich Airport: The S1 and S8 S-Bahn trains depart from the airport to the city centre (Marienplatz) every 20 minutes and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
We stayed at an Airbnb near the Münchner-Freiheit S-Bahn stop. The city is well connected with the underground, so getting around is very easy. This area has lots of little cafes, is clean and safe.
Once again, I would highly recommend doing a free walking tour(s) when in Munich. We went with Sandemans, which meets at Marienplatz in the city centre. Our guide was a local Munich resident, hilarious and really well informed on the entire history of the city, giving us an authentic and in-depth overview. On the tour you’ll walk around the picturesque city and visit Viktualienmarkt, The National Theatre and Opera House, Mary’s Column, learn about the origins of Oktoberfest and see Hitler’s Beer Hall. The tour ends at Hofbräuhaus, one of the most famous and historic beer halls in the city.
The main square of the city, right in the city centre is called Marienplatz. Founded in 1158, the history is tangible. Outside of transferring here on the S-Bahn, the square is alive with shops, eateries and tourists soaking in the stunning architecture. This square is home to the Glockenspiel, a giant cuckoo clock that chimes every day at 11am (12pm and 5pm in the summer as well). The figures in the clock re-enact two historical stories, complete with jousting and dance, with a golden bird chirping at the end. You’ll see a large crowd gathered at the base of the clock, faces tilted upwards, rain or shine. For some charming Bavarian folklore, definitely check this out.
Famous for its beer gardens, a must-see in Munich is the charming Viktualienmarkt, just around the corner from Marienplatz. When the weather is good, locals and tourists alike all flock to this lively market for some beer and pretzels. Browse the many stalls for artisan-made handicrafts and local farmer’s fare before settling in for a hazy afternoon in the garden. Surrounding the tables, are beer and food stalls along with leafy chestnut trees – a languid afternoon spent sitting at communal picnic tables has never been more alluring. You’ll catch many glimpses of local men wearing their lederhosen and alpine hats, an image we usually reserve for Oktoberfest, but one that is commonplace here.
Located just outside of Munich, in the endearing town of Füssen, lies one of the most famous castles in Bavaria and the world, Neuschwanstein. Made famous by Disney for basing Sleeping Beauty’s castle on this architectural masterpiece designed by King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein is truly a thing of beauty. Rather than signing up for a guided tour, get yourself to Füssen for a more economical and independent visit.
Board a Füssen bound train at the Hopbanhauf in Munich (München Hbf). The journey takes about 1 hour and trains leave every hour (no reservation required). This is a delightful ride with rolling green hills, farms and the Alps in the distance. Once you arrive at Füssen station, busses will carry you forward. Take RVA/OVG 78 towards Schwangau. This is a short 8 minute bus ride and costs about 2.30 euros. At your stop, Hohenschwangau, you can walk to the castle, which takes about 30 minutes.
We didn’t go inside the castle and therefore didn’t require an entry ticket. The tours aren’t that interesting and seeing as the castle was a work-in-progress and was never finished, there isn’t much to see inside. You can go as far as the inner courtyard without a ticket, which was plenty to get the full scale of the place. The walk up itself is a meandering road through a thick forest, and the views of the town from the castle are stunning. Don’t miss the misty lake at the base of the castle – perfect for pictures and glimpses of swans.
Dachau Concentration Camp
Another must-see when in Munich, Dachau Concentration Camp is both eerie and fascinating. For purveyors of WWII history, seeing the model camp of Hitler’s Final Solution is a textbook brought to life. I would recommend signing up for a free tour with Sandemans – you’ll get a guide who can share a wealth of information with you. The tour begins at the München Hbf. You’ll take the train to the town of Dachau and your guide will take you through the camp. With much of it replicated, some of the buildings are still original, giving you a firsthand experience of the atrocities that occurred there. Your tour will end back at the München Hbf.
Eat & Drink
The oldest beer hall in Munich, one that is next to impossible to get into during Oktoberfest, is highly recommended, especially after the tour. This three floor hall dates back to the 16th century, and was restored and rebuilt in 1958 after the WWII bombings destroyed most of it. Inside, you’ll find a massive hall with hundreds of tables, and an elaborately painted ceiling. Traditional German barmaids serve litre beers in giant glass steins, alongside sausage, pretzels, schnitzel, and spätzle. While not the best place for a vegetarian to hang out, the carb overload and delicious beer make for an afternoon well spent.
Eataly – Italian Restaurant and Upscale Grocery Store
Escobar Cantina Y Bar – Veggie Friendly Mexican Fare
Brotraum – Authentic German Bakery and Cafe
The charm and allure of Munich is representative of traditional Germany. Go for the famed festive of Oktoberfest, or in the calmer off-season for a more relaxed visit.
Check out my travel post for more photos.