Munich is a city suspended between times.
On one hand, beer, dirndls, sausages, and oompah bands are still part of the culture. Oktoberfest brings them together once a year in a colourful explosion of hops-soaked Alpine clichés.
On the other hand, Munich is home to BMW, a number of electronics and computer firms, and an entire suburb steeped in Olympic legacy. The Bavarian capital is a thriving modern metropolis – Germany’s answer to Silicon Valley.
It’s called the land of laptops and lederhosen. On a clear day you can see the Alps over a sea of red-tiled rooftops, then grab lunch at the Viktualienmarkt and shop Chanel on Maximilianstrasse. By night, you can knock back a brew at a traditional beer garden and party until sunrise at P1. Old, new, and everything in between, München has it all.
Munich may look like a city of quaint gingerbread houses, but that doesn’t mean it’s old fashioned. There are accommodations for every kind of traveler, from budget-friendly youth hostels, to trendy boutique hotels, to the historically grand Bayrischer Hof. Rest your head in style at these top lodgings:
Sofitel Munich Bayerpost
The Sofitel offers 5-star treatment in a majestic, Wilhelmian building in the heart of the city. The convenient location puts you within walking distance of the main Munich train station and many of the city’s major attractions. Make sure your stay includes a dip in the spectacular grotto-like pool.
Mandarin Oriental Munich
Rest in quiet luxury at the Mandarin Oriental in Munich’s Old Town. The former opera house is now home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, a rooftop pool and bar, and a buffet breakfast worth splurging on. The location offers easy access to the high-end shops of Maximilianstrasse and the world-famous Hofbräuhaus brewery.
Odds of a good view go astronomically up when your hotel is built inside a garden. Even the most discerning guests will be charmed by The Charles, which offers Art Deco architecture, original works of art, a culture-centric location, and some of the largest hotel rooms in town.
Munich is the hub of everything quintessentially Bavarian, and food is no exception. Perhaps the most traditional dish is the Münchner Weisswurst, a veal-based sausage eaten as a late breakfast with a pretzel, sweet mustard and a Weissbier (‘white beer’). When not having beer for breakfast, chow down on these choice eats:
Pull out your platinum card for this one. Mark’s offers a tantalising, and Michelin-starred, combo of fine dining and delicious drinks. Awesome views come courtesy of its location at the top of an ornate staircase inside the Mandarin Oriental. If the weather allows, book a table on the outdoor terrace overlooking the picturesque Old Town.
Hans im Glück
You’ll tell yourself that you didn’t come to Germany to eat an “American” staple, but you’ll change your mind when you see the burgers at Hans im Glück. The selection of gourmet creations is inventive (think goat cheese and fig sauce) with the trendy ambiance to match. Spring for a cocktail if it’s that kind of day.
Some of Munich’s best fare is found at the Viktualienmarkt, an outdoor farmers’ market with stalls that serve fresh produce, exotic fruit, game, poultry, finger food, fish, cheese and more. Grab whatever goodies catch your eye and enjoy them in the beer garden. 140 stalls should be plenty to keep your eyes amused and your stomach full.
There’s no way around it: this is a city of beer. Between Oktoberfest and the local breweries, no city symbolises German beer culture as much as Munich. But that doesn’t mean beer is all you’ll drink during your visit. Munich is also home to high-concept cocktails and stylish nightclubs.
The Augustiner-Keller is operated by Munich’s oldest independent brewery. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s one of the best places in town to experience a classic Bavarian beer hall. Large brews, regional nibbles and traditional costumes are in ample supply. It’s a playground for your inner beer geek.
A cocktail a day keeps the doctor away. Negroni Bar mixes 140 of them, designed to please all palates, no matter how discriminating. The mixed drinks here consistently rank as some of Munich’s best, and they have the golden shakers above the bar to prove it.
What Berghain is to Berlin, P1 is to Munich. The infamous nightclub, located beneath the Haus der Kunst art museum, is considered Munich’s best. Getting in is notoriously difficult, but if you do, you’ll have bragging rights for the rest of your clubbing days.
Munich’s shopping options are as diverse as you’d expect in a major city. Art galleries and luxury goods are available when you’re looking to give your wallet a workout. Smaller boutiques and vintage shops can be found if you want to get snapped by a street style photographer. Munich’s many seasonal and flea markets are also worth a visit.
Maximilianstrasse & Theatinerstrasse
Munich’s most exclusive shopping area can be found in the streets around the Opera in the city centre. All the usual international suspects, plus some local designers (and often a celeb or two), are present. The list includes Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Armani and Valentino.
Neuhauserstrasse & Kaufingerstrasse
Neuhauserstrasse and Kaufingerstrasse, in the city centre, are the main shopping areas in Munich. Both pedestrian-only streets are lined with large department stores and global chains aimed at more modest budgets, like Zara and H&M.
Munich is bursting at the seams with traditional markets. In addition to the Viktualienmarkt for food, you’ll find flea markets dotted around the city selling all manner of goods. If you come during Christmas time, be sure to visit one of the legendary Christmas Markets.
With its blend of industrial modernity and old-world charm, Munich has something to interest any kind of traveller. There are opportunitites to take in everything from theatre, to music, to sports. There are festivals and museums, pub crawls and bike tours, scenic helicopter rides and calming spas. You’re bound to find something to suit your style.
For The Museum Addict
The Pinakothek museums are a must for art lovers. In total there are three: Alte Pinakothek for older works, Neue Pinakothek for 19th century art, and Pinakothek der Moderne for modern pieces. All are part of Munich’s Kunstareal (the ‘art area’). If you’re less into art and more into engines, head to the BMW Museum instead.
For The Adventurer
There’s not a lot of wilderness to be found in Munich, but it is home to the spectacular Englischer Garten, one of the world’s largest urban public parks. There’s even a place where you can surf. Thinking about a day trip to the Bavarian Alps? Test your mettle first at Kletter & Boulderzentrum München, the world’s largest climbing gym.
For The Relaxation-Seeker
If unwinding is the sole item on your travel to-do list, your destination is Müller’sches Volksbad. Since 1901, this magnificent Art Nouveau bath house has offered guests pure relaxation in the form of indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, and tension-releasing massage treatments.