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Munich from above and climb up the 306 stairs to the viewing platform of ‘Alter Peter’ (old Peter), one of Munich’s landmark churches right in the centre of the historical old town. On a good day, you can see the Alps from here, so it is more than worth the climb.
Don’t miss the cluster of museums featuring world-class collections of classic and contemporary art in central Munich: Pinakothek der Moderne, Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek are every art buff’s dream. Plus new kid on the block Museum Brandhorst, housing the collection of a wealthy couple in a stunning modern building.
Munich is also a centre for the performing arts in Germany as exemplified by the magnificent building of Munich Opera on Max-Joseph-Platz. Guided tours provide a fascinating view behind the scenes or treat yourself to an opera or ballet performance (also great for watching Munich’s high-society).
Art nouveau gem Müller’sches Volksbad next to Munich’s Isar river features two pools and saunas. Swimming underneath the high arches and surrounded by murals and stuccos still in their early 20th century condition is quite a treat.
Munich’s futuristic side is represented by BWM World, a cutting-edge architectural structure which is also a visitor attraction opposite the 1972 Olympic grounds. Have a wander around inside the impressive building and enjoy a coffee in the on-site bar or – weather permitting – on the terrace.
Shopping in Munich’s city centre is a treat since it’s (almost) all pedestrianised. Bliss (as long as you beware the cyclists on their dedicated lanes). For high-street fashion, Theatinerstraßeleading from Marienplatz to Odeonsplatz is a perfect stroll including a stop-over at Fünf Höfe (five courtyards), an interconnected network of courtyards, each one with its own character and full of shops, restaurants and cafés.
Round the corner on Maffeistraße, Loden Frey has been going since 1842, a household name in Germany for quality fashion and the best place to get some proper Bavarian gear such as Dirndl and Lederhosen. Next door, My Theresa is a haven for the latest designer stuff, clothes, shoes, bags and accessories. And seriously dangerous for credit cards. Probably most for window-shopping than anything else but not to be missed is the super-exclusive Maximilianstraße.
For quirky and independent shops the central Glockenbachviertelis a Munich favourite and Sendlingerstraßeleading from Marienplatz to Sendlingertor features a good mixture of bigger (Sport Scheck, top destination for outdoor and sport freaks) and smaller shops plus the delightful baroque jewel of the Asam Church for some peace and serenity amidst all the shopping frenzy.
Meanwhile back on Ledererstraße near the Hofbräuhaus, the Servus Heimat shop is best for quirky-cool Bavarian souvenirs (non-tacky!).
A lot. From traditional Bavarian fare to Mediterranean-influenced cuisine, Munich is a foodie paradise. Start your day with a breakfast at Café Glockenspiel looking over Munich’s rooftops from the fifth floor and try to get a window table with direct views on the old town hall on Marienplatz to see the famous Glockenspiel. Beats standing down there with all the tourists any time.
A few minutes walk away, Dallmayr delicatessen which goes back over 300 years, is a beautiful food shop including restaurant and café. They have their own coffee brand and the chocolates and truffles are to die for. While in the area head over to Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s and indeed Germany’s major food market with 140 stalls and little shops offering local products and international delicatessen.
Sample the famous Bavarian Weißwurst (and Weißbier) at one of the city’s beer halls such as Weißes Bräuhaus, where unlike the Hofbräuhaus you’ll actually eat and drink among locals. For more refined local fare, try the Spatenbräuopposite the Opera.
And if you’re even remotely into ice-cream, don’t leave Munich without having paid a visit to Sarcletti on Rotkreuzplatz, a household name since 1921.
It’s a bit of a tourist trap, but just for the fun of it, have a Maß, one of those 1 litre Bavarian beer monsters in the Hofbräuhausincluding oompah music and the like. Best for enjoying the variety of Bavarian beers are the fabulous beergardens (weather permitting, obviously) such as the one at theChinesischer Turm(Chinese tower) or near the Kleinhesseloher See (also indoor) in the city’s Englischer Garten.
For a stylish cocktail hour, try he bars of the Cortiina Hoteland Louis Hotel. More off-beat locations can be found in the Glockenbachviertel such as the Trachtenvogl café or Ksar Bar.
In general and in relation to other German cities, Munich is a bit higher priced. and residing in style is not a problem here: High-end options Kempinski Vier Jahreszeitenand Hotel Bayerischer Hofare proper old-style grand hotels with modern day amenities. Likewise the Mandarin Oriental which features a great roof-top terrace that is also accessible for non-guests of the hotel.
A lovely four-star traditional Bavarian hotel is the Platzl right in the city centre just of Maximilianstraße. Good modern boutique hotel options are the Advokat, Cortiina and Louis. Three-star Hotel Bavariais a friendly family hotel close to Oktoberfest site Theresienwiese. German budget chain Motel One has five hotels in Munich and offers a very good standard at great rates. Concept Living Munich serviced apartments are also worth looking at for good value for money options
Stroll around the Hofgartenright next to the Residenz in the city centre. For a longer walk, explore the famous Englischer Garten, Munich’s green lung which at 3,75 square kilometres is one of the largest urban parks in continental Europe, and much loved by the locals.
In the Nymphenburg district in the western part of the city, Nymphenburg Palacefeatures a beautiful park with sculptures, picturesque waterways and lakes (the palace is well worth a visit, too!).
The famous Bohemian Schwabing district is nice for an urban stroll. Walk along Ludwigstraße past the university and break off right and left to explore the area’s streets.
Just an hour’s train ride or by rental car, Murnau is a picture-perfect Bavarian community in the so-called Blaues Land (blue country) of lakes and mountains that inspired Kandinsky & Co’s Blue Rider art movement. Follow in their footsteps in the local museum.
Or head down to Neuschwanstein, a day-trip from Munich, to marvel at Mad King Ludwig’s über-kitsch castle design. The 125th anniversary of his death is celebrated in 2011 and for the Bavarian people, their Kini, as he’s called, is as vital a presence as ever. Quite bonkers and quite brilliant as well.
To Bavarian folk music with a twist as practiced by G-Rag and the Landlergschwister. Yes, there’s the tuba, accordion and other traditional instruments but also a megaphone in use to work up a unique mix of folk music, jazz, blues, country, sung in Bavarian dialect and a bit of English thrown in as well.
A good venue for live music is the Schlachthof, a cultural centre featuring music, cabaret, comedy as well as being a typical Bavarian pub and beergarden.
Local weather phenomenon known as Fön, warm airs coming up from Italy that may make for nice temperatures and sun but, unfortunately, also cause truly lethal headaches.