Germany’s third largest city after beautiful Berlin and handsome Hamburg, Munich is best known for its annual Oktoberfest. But this Bavarian baby brother is growing up. Boasting 1.472 million people and plenty of historic stories and sights, there’s also some cool culture, exciting eateries, and sophisticated shopping, proving that there’s much more to Munich than beer and pretzels.
For a great overview of Munich, take a trip its Umadum or Observation Wheel with a view which stretches all the way to the Bavarian Alps. Take a flight with a difference with Zeppelin, which offer scenic journeys from a height of 300 meters over the city. The Jochen Schweizer Arena is home to indoor skydiving among a range of other high-octane experiences, such as surfing and outdoor climbing. Another Munich must is a helicopter tour with Hubschrauberflug, where you can enjoy a chopper flight over the city, the Alps, or other interesting locations.
Munich is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants. The three-starred Atelier Bayerischer Hof combines creative and seasonal cooking with a sun deck. Restaurant Alois Dallmayr Fine Dining takes its delicious delicatessen reputation to the next level, Salon Rouge specializes in modern Japanese/German fusion cuisine, and Les Deux focuses on modern French food (all hold two stars). The single-starred Aquarello is considered one of the best Italian restaurants outside Italy. Vegetarians will adore the rare single-starred Tian restaurant, which focuses on organic produce.
There are a number of high-end houses which offer personal shopping experiences from outfit planning to style advice, including Ludwig Beck, Hirmer, Kustermann, and Oberpollinger. Munich’s Old Town is also home to specialty Hoflieferanten — former suppliers to the royal Bavarian court — that are renowned for luxury. Shop at Andreas Huber for watches, Hemmerle for jewelry, Eduard Meier for shoes, and Bruckner for perfume. Maximillianstrasse is best known for its luxury flagship stores selling fashion labels, shoes, accessories, and fine jewelry. More great shopping can be found at Funf Hofe, Maffeistrasse, and Theatinerstrasse.
While there is more to Munich than beer halls, the highlight of the year is Oktoberfest. Leap into the spirit of the event by renting traditional lederhosen (for men) and dirndl (for women) and witness the start of the festival with the parade, the official tapping of the keg, and the Oktoberfest mass. Choose between beer from half a dozen Munich breweries served in almost 40 tents. For a drinking experience that is a little more sedate and sophisticated, head to Schumman’s Bar Am Hofgarten, which specializes in classic cocktails. Wine drinkers should check out Zero Dosage, Manu, and Bar Mural.
Want to rub shoulders with royalty? Nymphenburg Palace is the summer residence of Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria and his family. Tour this beautiful palace with its amazing architecture and blossoming gardens. In summer, take a gondola ride around the grounds. Visit The Munich Residence — the former seat of government and home of Bavarian dukes, electors and kings from 1508 to 1918. This building was restored after much of it was destroyed during World War 2 and is considered one of the largest museums in Bavaria. Visit the Olympic Stadium to see an outdoor exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Summer Olympic Games.
BMW Welt (BMW World) has a number of terrific tours related to car manufacturing history. Check out the BMW Museum, which is home to 125 automobiles, motorcycles, and engines. For another luxury Munich experience, take a backstage tour through Munich’s Nationaltheater, which opened in 1818 and is home to the Bavarian State Ballet, Bavarian State Orchestra, and the Bayerische Staatsoper. Don’t leave the city without a private guided tour through Munich’s Old Town, which includes the New City Hall as well as some of this destination’s secrets. Soccer fans will love the private tour of the Allianz Arena, which features a peek into the dressing room used by FC Bayern Munich players.
Text by Christine Retschlag
Photos by shutterstock, bayericsher hof Beijamin- Moon.