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A trip to Germany’s Bavarian capital can feel as if one as stepped back in time. Women in dirndls and men in lederhosen stroll down the cobblestone streets as musicians play brass instruments. There is truly so much to explore here and each district is unique with it’s own distinctive charm.
Recently, I had the opportunity to explore this beautiful city with the help of my local friend and author, Amadeus Danesitz, and the tourism board, Simply Munich. They welcomed me with open arms and invited me to experience Munich as a local. Together we climbed rooftops, drank at traditional bierhauses, wandered the markets, watched river surfers, and much more.
Amadeus wrote the Marco Polo Munich guidebook, which I brought along with me. When he wasn’t there to guide me, I followed along on it’s pages, interactive app, and pull out map. The great thing about Marco Polo’s guidebooks compared to others is that they are a combination between a glossy magazine and a traditional book. It is the ideal travel accessory. In the guidebook, Amadeus included insider tips that helped me learn how to act like a local. For example, never order a small beer (seriously!) nor go to Oktoberfest on a Saturday. This allowed me adapt better to the Munich culture, and blend in with the locals.
Now let’s get to the bucket list guide (that’s what you came here for, right?). This is a delicious combination of suggestions from Simply Munich, Amadeus, and yours truly. We’re giving you the best of the best when experiencing Munich as a visitor. This covers things to do, gardens & parks, transportation, eating & drinking, and LGBTQ suggestions. Enjoy!
Also make sure to watch my video guide on Munich! Click here or on the video icon below. Remember to subscribe! I put out new travel videos every Thursday.
Things to do:
· See the view from the top of St. Peters Church
· Rooftop tour at Olympic stadium – Do a climbing tour with Flying Fox and end zip lining across the stadium.
· Radius Tours & Bike – Take a bike tour through the city. Biking is the best way to see Munich – it’s one of Europe’s most bike-able cities.
· English Gardens – Try river surfing, have a picnic, stop at the Chinese Tower beer garden for lunch, or enjoy the beautiful walks among gardens.
· Shop or feast at the food stalls at Viktualienmarkt
Gardens & Parks:
· Gartnerplatz – Relax at this districts center, with it’s colorful flower beds and fountain
· Nymphenburg Park – Translated to palace of the nymphs. Beautiful park surrounding the Baroque palace, that has crescent-shaped flowerbeds in front of the main entrance and fountains that come together to create a artistic masterpiece.
· Munich’s botanical gardens – A green paradise that stretches 21 hectares with 14,000 plant species, wildlife, greenhouses, and ponds.
Munich has an extensive network of trams, buses, subway and railway that make it easy to get around town and explore the city at your leisure. Click here for more details on getting tickets and using public transportation. It is much easier than driving!
Also, if you are traveling throughout Germany, there are easy ways to do that on public transportation too. A new service that just opened is the high speed train ride through Rail Europe. It was a very smooth, relaxing ride and we got to Berlin from Munich in three hours! Normally that takes six hours by car. Plus, it was such a gorgeous ride through yellow fields of flowers (see gif below for reference). Tickets are available and can be booked in advance through Rail Europe.
Eat & Drink:
Dining with a view:
· Café Glockenspiel – View with a front row seat to the daily performances by the Glockenspiel.
· Gaststatte Donisl – Look straight through the glass roof to the Frauenkirche.
· Le Buffet – Rooftop terrace on Karstadt Oberpollinger
· Blu Spa Terrace – Rooftop on the Hotel Bayerischer Hof
· China Roof Terrace – Rooftop on the Hotel Mandarin Oriental with a pool
· Emiko Roof Terrace – Rooftop at the Louis Hotel that serves excellent Japanese cuisine
· Hotel Deutsche Eiche – LGBTQ friendly rooftop cocktail bar
· Hotel Flushing Meadows – Rooftop cocktail bar at the top
Organic, Green Goods (conscious consumption):
· Der Herrmanndorfer – Eight shops throughout Munich with handmade, ecologically produced groceries.
· The Bakery Neulinger – Famous for it’s award-winning ecological biking craft.
· Der Brotraum – Prepares their bread following ancient, traditional craftsmanship using organic ingredients and baked on natural stone in a wood stove.
· Duke Gin – Handcrafted gin and vodka that only uses natural ingredients.
· Ruff’s Burger – Burger restaurant that uses 100% Bavarian beef, minced daily and formed by hand with home-made bus and sauces.
Michelin Rated Restaurants:
· Tantris - Upscale, architect-designed restaurant with international dishes served in abundant stylish space.
· Dallmayr - Classic gourmet cuisine served in a modern way.
· Geisels Werneckhof - The cuisine prepared by Tohru Nakamura is anything but "off the peg". The finesse and fluency with which he combines top-quality produce, classic principles and Japanese influences to create elegant, creative dishes are genuinely impressive and clearly bear his inimitable signature.
· EssZimmer - Elegant but far from stiff, the Kaiblinger's restaurant is decorated with lively colour accents and the charming front-of-house team serve punchy cuisine that is modern with classical influences, always finely balanced and anything but boring! Attractive rear courtyard terrace.
· Schwarzreiter Tagesbar & Restaurant - Chic and upmarket without being overly formal, Schwarzreiter is this classic Munich hotel's "fine dining" restaurant. The "Young Bavarian Cuisine" served up here is sophisticated food of the very highest calibre and the friendly and professional front-of-house team will be only too pleased to provide wine recommendations.
· Schuhbecks Fine Dining - Another of Alfons Schuhbeck's restaurants in the Platzl, Fine Dining promises an interior that is elegant without being overly formal and a friendly and professional front-of-house team. Culinary offerings include two seasonal set menus that are modern, harmonious, tasty and based on the finest ingredients.
· Konigshof - The panoramic view of the Karlsplatz Stachus is unsurpassed and the ambience in the Gourmet Restaurant Königshof delights the fine palate: fine wood paneling on the walls, silky and velvety fabrics in the finest shades, and the quiet but lighthearted steps of the attentive service team.
· Showroom - Showroom offers a winning formula that combines a relaxed atmosphere and creative cuisine with the emphasis on good, fresh produce. Presented in the form of a surprise menu, each dish is a perfectly judged blend of flavours served up by the professional front-of-house team who also provide excellent wine recommendations.
Breweries and Beer Garden:
· Augustiner – Munich’s oldest brewery (130 years old). They also have a large, rustic beer garden at Augustiner-Keller.
· Hinterhofbrauerei Hopfenhaecker – Great beer tastings
· Nockherberg – Massive beer hall that offers brewery tours and beer tastings with Bavarian finger foods and pretzels.
· Chinese Tower Beer Garden – Located inside the popular English Gardens park is the Chinese Tower Beer Garden. This tower was originally built in 1790, but was destroyed in WWII then rebuilt in 1952. It’s the second largest beer garden in Munich with 7,000 seats, and often attracts a young crowd because of its proximity to the local university. Here you can get traditional beer garden food such as Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Hendl (roasted chicken), and Schweinshaxn (roasted pork knuckle).
· Wolf’s Farmacy Sodabar – Whiskey cocktails and creative sodas – there is a barbershop in the back so you can come for a drink and a haricut.
· Zum Wolf – is the place to go if you’re looking for a nice cocktail. It is inspired by classic American cocktail bars and southern style juke joints. Their ingredients are the finest spirits from Kentucky and Tennessee.
Viktualienmarkt (shops to visit):
· Gartnerplaz and Glockenbachviertel are famous for their nightlife and alternative culture. The first gay pubs and initiatives for promoting sexual equality launched here in the 1960’s. Most of the nightlife is based around Mullerstrasse. Members of the LBGT community have found both their home and their freedom here. Proclaiming your gay or lesbian has not raised eyebrows here in a long time. Their message is that Munich shines all colors of the rainbow! Many LGBT events run from August to December every year.
· St. Paulskirche – Church near the entrance to Oktoberfest that holds many LGBTQ events for the community. It acts as the bridge between all the people, religions, and cultures that live there.
· Christopher Street Day – July – Pride parade and street festival
· Hotel Deutsche Eiche – LGBT hotel with nice rooftop and sauna – 12k visitors a month (200k a year). They do gay friendly tours with the Catholic church, government, or whoever is interested.
· Munich was the top gay city in the 1980’s
· Flaucher is a gay beach on the Isar river. There is one island that is specifically gay.