3 Days* in MUNICH
Let’s get one thing straight. Bavarian food is not for sissies! It’s not light. It’s not delicate. And you’ll probably need Schnapps to help with digestion. But I’m pretty certain you’ll find yourself happy as a clam anyway, not just because of the food, but the city’s sense of “Gemütlichkeit”. A simple visit to a local beer garden will prove to you that the Bavarians take this whole “gemütlich” thing to a whole new, badass level.
DAY 1* in Munich
The Old Town: The Sendlinger Gate, one of the entries along the old city wall is a great starting point. First stop: The Asam Church - an opulent rococo church of claustrophobic proportions. Next up: St. Mary’s Square in the heart of the city that’s dominated by its huge, ornate city hall.
Awaken your quads and hike up the 300+ stairs to the St. Peter’s church tower for a magnificent view of the city (and the Alps on a clear day) before inspecting one of my personal favorites - the Viktualienmarkt, an exquisite outdoor delicatessen market and beer garden. A local brew and nosh provide the culinary entertainment, while people watching will do the rest.
After you’re nicely lubricated, take a digestive saunter past the Cathedral of our Lady towards the '5 Höfe' – an architectural feat that elegantly marries the old with the new. Its shops and galleries will keep you absorbed for hours and its Bar Comercial serves their coffee proper Italian style.
You may need the caffeine kick before diving into a history lesson around the nearby Odeonsplatz. Worth a visit are: the Theatine Church, the Field Marshall’s Hall, to the Royal Residence, the Hofgarten and the Dodger’s Alley all of which are described ad nauseam in your local guidebooks.
Afterward you can mosey past the opera up and down the Maximilian Street, Germany’s most prestigious and expensive shopping mile. Unless you packed your black AmEx, you might want to stick to window shopping and leave the spending to the many Russian oligarchs and Middle Eastern oil sheiks that frequent this highly exclusive strip these days.
Continue down narrow cobblestone alleys to the Hofbräuhaus for dinner. Touristy as hell, this traditional restaurant might still charm your socks off with raucous oompa music and intoxicated Schunkeln. For the classier and more subdued version, try the Spatenhaus an der Oper.
DAY 2* in Munich
Hair of the dog? Don’t mind if we do. Start the day with a typical Bavarian breakfast. Ze Germans don’t fuck around when it comes to their sausages and the Weisswurst teamed up with a Weissbier is considered breakfast fare. Interestingly, the meat is traditionally sucked out off its skin – a practice called ‘zuzeln’. If you’re too modest for a public oral performance just peel and cut the wurst. Naturally that’s only half the fun!
Tresznjewski serves a delicious version of this Bavarian spread and is conveniently located across the Pinakothek der Moderne. Its contemporary art collection forms a welcome balance to the city’s old history.
Alternatively visit the BMW World -- an architectural jewel that’s engaging even if the ultimate driving machine doesn’t rank high on your list of tourist attractions.
Afterward you can explore the side streets off Hohenzollernstrasse in the bohemian district of Schwabing and work your way towards the English Garden. Don’t be surprised if you come across a few swinging testicles around here where clothing is optional. This town is all about sausages, after all! The area is best explored by bike, either solo or with the popular Mike’s Bike Tour.
Stop to watch the local surfers ride the current at Eisbach, a freezing stream that runs through the park or plant yourself at the nearby Chinese Tower, a cozy beer garden.
Gorged from meat and pretzels, settle in at Bar Kismet for a Jerusalem Old Fashioned (brandy and spices) and bat your lashes at Germany’s toughest bouncer at the highly pretentious yet entertaining P1 Club. The throbbing German house beats might bring back memories of the Love Parade’s heydays.
DAY 3* in Munich
Munich’s proximity to the mountains begs for an excursion towards the Alps. Rent a car – a fast one – and speed down the Autobahn towards King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein Castle. The mad king’s ostentatious vacation pad is rather touristy yet truly magical, much more so than the tacky Disney knock-off.
While an early arrival on a weekday can cut down on your wait time, the drive heading south from Munich is too beautiful to rush through.
Stop for an early lunch in Fuessen (Il Pescatore serves noteworthy Italian carb variations) before heading up the mountain towards the Germans’ most pricey property. If your craving for adorned interiors is satiated, skip the tour and enjoy the view of, not from, the castle. After all, the exterior is more remarkable than the interior. Following a brief hike you’ll reach Mary’s Bridge. Its airy construction won’t do much for those with acrophobia, but master your fear and you shall be rewarded.
If you prefer to explore a darker part of German history, an educational yet highly depressing tour of the concentration camp memorial Dachau is a worthwhile alternative and easily reached by public transportation.
Last stop - Restaurant/Bar/Club Helene; a rustic-loungy space with the slight aroma of Alpine romance in the Schwabing neighborhood. Helene serves mean Middle Eastern treats like the “Arabian Appetizer Platter” (couscous, date bulgur, falafel, etc) to switch things up a bit after days of pork knuckles and their international main courses also scream for more.
Give the dance floor a little digestive shimmy alongside Munich’s cool kids before you say 'Auf Wiedersehen und bis bald' (see you soon)!
- “Munich” (2005) by Steven Spielberg
- Wolfgang Petersen’s “Neverending Story” (1984) that was shot mainly in Munich
- BBC 2’s “Make Me a German” (2013)