I had the opportunity to spend five weeks in Munich, Germany over the course of 2014 – three glorious weeks in July and two weeks in the magical month of December. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the city. To honor this love affair, I created a list of ten reasons why I love Munich and why it will forever have a place in my heart.
1. Munich is the capital of Bavaria.
Many of Germany’s world-famous customs, looks, quirks and charms originate in Bavaria, the southeast region of the country: Fairytale castles, beer-sloshing Oktoberfest, jolly Oompah bands, beautiful Alpine lakes, the fashionable lederhosen and dirndls.
Some locals have explained it to us this way: Bavaria is to Germany what Texas is to the United States. Bavaria and her people are big on personality, studded with wealth, and proud of a rich heritage. In my opinion, Lonely Planet says is best:
One of Europe’s oldest states, with origins dating back to the 6th century, it’s safe to say that Bavaria, Germany’s largest and southernmost Land, has enjoyed a long and eventful past, one populated by a weird-and-wunderbar cast of oddball kings, scandalous courtesans and infamous Nazis. (…) Although never really at the centre of European power, Bavaria was a key player in continental politics for centuries. Governed by the same family, the colorful Wittelsbachs, for over 700 years, it was able to form a distinct culture that continues to shape its image and identity to this day.
Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest (4th Edition, March 2013, pg 278)
2. A Pedestrian-friendly City Center
European charm at its best, Munich’s historic center – the Alstadt – is a maze of wonderful delights that makes for easy sightseeing. For example, in just a few hours, you could…
Gaze upon the archaic Glockenspiel of the Rathaus in Marienplatz, still chiming away with its jerky mechanical medieval figures at 11am and noon each day,
Climb 306 stairs for a view of the city from St. Peterskirche,
Sample local spices, cheeses, and other victuals at the Viktualienmarkt,
And then down a liter of helles in the mother of all beer halls, Hofbräuhaus München,
Do some world-class shopping on Maximilianstrasse
(or actually shop in the more budget friendly retailers – H&M!- on Kaufingerstrasse)
The Altstadt is absolutely chock full of historical interest points, great (window) shopping, traditional Bavarian fare, and spectacular people watching. It’s the heart and soul of Munich and an exciting place to be at any time of the day!
3. Munich is clean and safe for travelers.
Municipal hygiene and relative safety are two things that I deeply appreciate as a traveler, and Munich wears both of those distinguished badges on its Bavarian trachten jacket. You are more likely to get run over by a cyclist by standing (accidentally!) in the bike lane than find yourself in any serious trouble.
4. Public Transportation
Getting around Munich is easy, and the variety of transportation options provides you with a multitude of routes to take you where you want to go. The S-Bahn is the suburban train that moves people in and out of the city with punctuality and dependability, and the U-Bahn is the extensive underground rail system.
Usually, when I travel, I prefer to see the city by walking, and for the longest time, Munich was no exception. However, I discovered the beauty of the tram after becoming well acquainted with the city: I can still see all the shops, buildings, and people as I move across town, but my little legs get a well-deserved reprieve!
5. Summer in the Biergartens
Summer in Bavaria couldn’t be better. The sun doesn’t set until 9pm, and everyone is outside enjoying the fine weather. Hanging out in one of Munich’s many beer gardens while sipping on a liter of beer under the leafy trees is just what you do.
Not a huge beer fan? Try a Radler or Russn, blends of the local lager (Helles) or wheat beer (Weissbier) with lemon-lime soda, which translated in English as lemonade but is actually more like Sprite.
Beer gardens are a great place to enjoy a giant pretzel or fish on a stick!
6. Englischer Garten, The Central Park of Munich
Strolling through the wooded paths alongside the rushing creeks of the “English Garden” makes for a pleasant afternoon in the city. Munich’s princely park is actually bigger than both Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London.
I love watching happy dogs run free in the large green meadows and surfers tackle the wave. Free entertainment, people!
7. Nymphenburg Palace, A Royal Escape
The summer palace and surrounding grounds for former Bavarian royalty is a favorite place of mine in Munich. I imagined myself wearing a large bustled dress, a feather neatly placed in my hair, and dancing the night away under the chandeliers of the grand hall, called the Steinerner Saal, a fanciful and magnificent room of rococo excess.
While I absolutely adored being outside in the woods and out on the grounds, I did find the Carriage Museum (Marstallmuseum), housed in the former horse stables, surprisingly enjoyable. King Ludwig was prone to take wild sleigh rides at night, and you can see his outlandish sleighs in addition to dozens of royal carriages. Also, you can find an exhaustive collection of porcelain from the Nymphenburg factory upstairs.
8. Christmas Markets
Munich is full of sweet yuletide cheer in December, with Christmas markets scattered all across the city. A cup of glühwein and some holiday shopping will warm your heart.
9. Always Something to See, Always Something to Do.
Five weeks wasn’t enough for me to see all of what Munich has to offer. Even though I did not make it to the BMW Museum, The Olympic Stadium, or all the Pinakothek art museums, I still did my fair share of touring. I particularly enjoyed the Residenz Museum, the Deutsches Museum, dipping my feet in the Isar River, and reverently touring some of Munich’s cathedral buildings.
Palaces. Science and History Museums. Art. Architecture. It is all here.
10. Munich is for Lovers.
To complete your experience in München, make sure to snag a park bench and snuggle up with a loved one.
Are you in love with Munich yet?