5 Must-do Activities in Munich
My long weekend in Munich was filled with festivity, fairytale castles and a lot of fun!
It involved copious amounts of glühwein (mulled wine), Christmas markets and enough beer to drown a fish!
I would whole-heartedly recommend visiting Munich just before Christmas as the markets just add a whole new level of sparkle to the already buzzing atmosphere. It may be pretty chilly, but you’re never short of beer halls to warm up in; or if you'd rather grab something on the go, the streets are peppered with log cabins selling the most delicious (and oh so alcoholic) fruit-flavoured glühwein.
Saying that, Munich is full of art, architecture, culture and entertainment, so no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll never be short of things to do in this lively city. I love the intimate feel to Munich; whilst it’s an expansive city, it still manages to feel small and cosy. Affectionately known as a ‘big village’ amongst locals, it has a pedestrianised and bike-friendly city centre, which makes it a breeze to get around and explore by foot. Thanks to an old law that states no building can be taller than the 99 metre high St Peter’s church spires, the city is free from eyesores and skyscrapers. I love this about the city; it gives Munich a unique charm, which is further enhanced by its almost toy-like buildings and their painted on designs. We spent a lot of time comparing the palaces and town houses to... Lego!
I really recommend braving the 299 step-climb to the observation deck at the top of St Peter's church. You'll be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views over the entire city and beyond - it's so worth the trek (as seen in the picture above)!
5 must-do activities in Munich
The number one beer hall in Munich (obviously top of the list). Renowned as much for its jovial and welcoming atmosphere as it is for its beer, this beer hall has a huge history behind it. A regular watering hole of Hemmingway and even Mozart, it’s known for having no social stigma and is open to everyone. The beer may be good, but don’t expect service with a smile! The staff are very ‘get the job done’, but this didn’t stop me from gazing in awe at how many steins they could hold at once. Our waiter literally had five steins in one hand, and three pints in the other. I mean, I can barely carry three pints with my two hands!! So impressive. Got told numerous times by locals not to bother with the food here as it’s very substandard. I suppose when you’re the most famous beer hall in the city you can afford to rest on your laurels when it comes to food. Not the beer though!
Free City Walking Tour (twice daily)
I love a good walking tour. It helps you get your bearings of a city, and provides an interesting insight into the history behind the buildings, the traditions and the people. I did the Sandemans tour on my first full day in the city, and it did not disappoint. Our tour guide, Ben was hilarious, and despite the freezing cold weather, he made the tour enjoyable, interesting and fun. We learnt all about history of the Bavarian capital, the traditions of the people and the colourful history of its royal family.
Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall)
The New Town Hall was the first stop on the city walking tour, and it is a magnificent building to behold. Located in the northern part of Marienplatz, it has an immensely impressive neo-Gothic façade with ornate baroque detailing and looming spires. Construction began in 1867 and was finished in 1874, so although it looks ancient, it's not actually that old! The world-famous ‘glockenspiel’ gives two shows every day at 11am, 12pm and 5pm. The first is a re-enactment of a 1568 wedding, which ends with a jousting match, and the second is a rendition of the plague-defying dance, the ‘Schäfferltanz’, which was first performed by barrel makers who ‘danced away the plague’ in 1517.
Full of market stalls selling vibrant fresh produce, budget eats and colourful trinkets, this square is the buzzing heart of the city centre. Of course, as we were there during the Christmas markets, the entire city was filled with log cabins and wooden huts selling lots of delicious food and handmade gifts, but if you went any other time of year, this is where you should get your fix of local fast food. Be aware that the square is closed on a Sunday!
As if straight from the pages of a fairytale, this castle is a beautiful feat of architecture and is bound to leave you staring wide-eyed with wonderment. The best view can be found from the bridge to the rear of the castle. You may need to jump over one or two fences to get there, but it’s totally worth the trespassing. The bridge stands above a roaring waterfall and is surrounded by the Bavarian Alps, which simply adds to the magnificence and enchantment of the magical castle before you.
Built by King Ludwig II (known as the mad king), it is said to have inspired Walt Disney to build Sleeping Beauty’s castle after he saw it on his trip along the ‘romantic road’. Only a third of the inside of the castle was ever finished – not that you’d ever know looking at it from the outside – and its majesty is unrivalled. Although a little pricey, I definitely recommend going with a tour group for this one. It is possible to find your own way there, but you get a much greater sense of the history of not only the castle but the Wilhelm family too. As a lover of the aesthetic, Ludwig spent all of his royal revenue ( and then some) on building lavish castles; many thoughts that his extravagance, along with his hermit-like isolation, deemed him insane.
I may not be a big beer drinker, but after my trip to Munich, I have a new found appreciation for Augustina weissbier – it’s so light and far too easy to drink! Whilst it may not have always been easy to find vegetarian or vegan food, we never found ourselves too far from a pretzel stand. I just prepared by taking lots of snack bars and nuts with me.
There are also so many other things to see and do in Munich! Art galleries, royal places, the English Gardens, opera, theatre...