Munich is a city that welcomes millions of tourists every year and is known as city of beer, pretzels, and German tradition. But there so much more to Munich than meets the eye, especially if you’re just in the city for a flying visit. From venturing into the mountains, to experiencing the alternative nightlife, here my 6 tips for exploring Munich like a local.
An integral part of Munich life, especially in summer, is relaxing by the Isar. Whether you choose to BBQ or grill along the Flaucher, or lounge on the riverside by the Reichenbachbrüke, make sure to bring a couple of beers along with you (well, you’re in Munich after all). The location is perfect for meeting up with friends for a chilled afternoon or evening, or just sitting reading, writing and clearing your head of all that stress.
In the summer months the main section along the Isar which runs close to the city centre tends to get pretty packed with everyone trying to get a little piece of the Isar action. To avoid the crowds just try walking further along the river past the Tierpark to the west, there is no doubt you’ll find a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy all that mother nature has to offer … along with the few canoe boats and inflatable dinghies that may even pass you by.
Coffee, Cake, and Ice Cream
Caffeine and sugar what’s not to love? Munich has a host of independent cafés and ice cream parlors. The area around Universität has streets full of coffee spots, including a British themed tea room. Throughout spring to late autumn tables and chairs line the streets and in the winter the cafés are all the the more cozy yet chic.
If you’re crazy for ice cream, well Munich is for you. Check out the Der verrückte Eismacher for some great ice cream and some truly unique flavours … did someone say beer flavored ice cream or maybe even a scoop or two of brie flavoured ice cream if you’re feeling brave! So if you want to fit in around town make sure you designate some time to explore the local coffee scene, have yourself a slice of cake and find your favorite ice cream flavor!
The Alternative Scene
Munich has a pretty cool alternative scene going on. From an abundance of techno to some new funk and disco, the bars and clubs in Munich will not disappoint. Take a look around Sendlinger Tor for some great bars, one for every mood and group.
If you’re looking for some funky beats there is no place like the Goldener Reiter, it’s chic yet edgy with a bit of grunge thrown in. Forget the pretentious PI or the mainstream clubs like 089, the Goldener Reiter has something different to offer, and with no cover charge (at least last time I checked), what have you got to lose?
If you’re ever in Munich and looking for memorable night out be sure to check out Bahnwähter Thiel, a hub for techno located in a series of shipping containers… complete with an ubahn carriage in the club’s outside area. Even if you’re not a techno fanatic, hey not all of us are, this spot is still worth a visit! The atmosphere here is always fun and the design of the venue is truly unique, it’s almost like an adventure playground disguised as a club.
Hit the Mountains
If you’ve ever been to Munich you’ll know that on a clear day you can see the Alps from the city and if you want to explore the Munich and the surrounding area like a local then you should take a trip to the mountains. If you love skiing or hiking, or just looking at some truly stunning scenery then what are you waiting for? For the child inside all of us the Rodelbarns (best described as tobogganing tracks for the summer months) scattered throughout the hills, are the perfect weekend treat.
The best part of any trip into the mountain (apart from the views) is of course the Alms (hilltop restaurants) on the side of the mountains. Traditional in every way, this is the best place to sample some the area’s delicacies. My number one recommendation has to be Kaiserschmarrn — chopped up pancake usually topped with apple sauce and icing sugar.
Museums on Sundays
On Sundays a number of museums in Munich lower their entry fee to just 1 Euro. Shops are closed and the city has a distinct calm about it. The Alte, Neue, and Moderne Pinakotheken offer the chance for art lovers to view some of van Gogh’s most famous masterpieces and well as a very vast collection of chairs (ok, maybe the chairs were not the most exciting part of gallery). Other museums that are just 1 Euro on Sundays include the Museum on Egyptology, Museum Brandhorst, and the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum.
Enrich your mind and spend the day gazing at some of the art world’s most famous masterpieces.
Move Over Oktoberfest
Ok, so we all know that Munich is famous for its Oktoberfest, and don’t get me wrong you should definitely pay the word’s most famous beer festival a visit if you get the chance, but be aware of the masses of tourists that swarm the city during the final weeks of September. For a more authentic experience it’s worth spending the day at Frühligstfest, held towards the end of April. Although there tends to be a fair amount of young sixteen year-olds, and fewer tents, there are far less tourists, and the atmosphere is a little more easy going.
If you’re looking for a true traditional beer festival it’s worth exploring the smaller festivals in the surrounding towns and cities, from Friesing, Rosenheim to Dachau, there is no better way to experience a true German beer festival.
Just make sure you take your Tracht seriously and buy yourself a traditional pair of Lederhosen or a genuine Dirndl…fancy dress costumes are not welcome here!