Munich, Germany is one of those cities I hadn't really thought too much about visiting, but once I did, I fell in love! This is a beautiful and charming city that can be seen in a matter of days, but my recommendation is to take your time and savor the experience.
Germany was a country that, before I went, I didn't really have too many expectations. That's not to say I didn't think I'd like it, but it didn't necessarily rank as high as other European countries on my travel bucket list.
That was, until I spent 5 days in Munich and the Bavarian countryside!
Germany…you proved me wrong! You impressed me and I fell in love with you! Now…I want to come visit you again (and again).
Those 5 days changed my entire view on Germany, and Bavaria now ranks as one of my favorite places that I've been. I'd go back there in a heartbeat (if I didn't have so many other places on my list!).
Just in case Germany isn't on your bucket list, let me share what I loved about this beautiful city that will have you booking your flight tomorrow!
Unfortunately, it rained most of our stay, but that didn't damper our enjoyment! The city was still alive with energy, culture, and new experiences.
My overall impressions of Munich was that it was very pretty and charming. There are tons of people and most seem to be zipping around on their bikes (so, watch out!). It’s a very walkable town with a lot of gorgeous scenery, yummy food options, and cute places to shop.
What to See & Do
Even though we stayed 5 nights in Munich, we did 3 day trips outside of the city, so we really only had 2 days to explore. So, while I’m not listing everything to see in Munich, these were my favorites and where we spent the bulk of our time...
The Munich Residenz served as the seat of government and was the home to countless Bavarian dukes, electors, and kings from 1508 - 1918. It's HUGE so I'm sure there was plenty of space for the government to do it's thing and still ensure the various members of the royal families had their privacy.
The tour is self-guided and there are over 90 rooms to go through!! At first, you’re slowly going through and taking in everything. But after awhile, you start to just go through the paces because all of the rooms start to look similar at that point…I mean seriously…NINETY rooms!
While it looks pretty darn big outside, you don’t appreciate how massive it is until you’re inside. This place is ENORMOUS!
The architecture is from Renaissance, early Baroque and Rococo, and the neoclassical era. Each room is filled with furniture and various knick-knacks, so if you’re into antiques and period pieces, it’s a real treat!
Be sure to take the time to tour through the adjoining Treasury! It's not nearly as big and won't take quite as long and is really the gem in my opinion. This is where all the jewels, crowns, and trinkets are on display and it is quite impressive! It is also self-guided and I actually liked this tour better than the palace (although, I wouldn’t skip the palace!).
And if you have time, don't forget to stroll through the gardens outside! There are walking paths, a beautiful Gazebo, and plenty of beautiful flowers for excellent photo opportunities.
The Marienplatz is the heart of Munich and is a must see! This is the central square where people meet and social activities happen. There are plenty of shopping and eating options, but I thought the best part of the square was people watching!
The German culture is alive here and to really feel the history of this beautiful city, spend a little time here.
We happened to be in town when a major soccer game was to be played with Bayern Munchen (their team) and the square was PACKED with locals coming out to celebrate (and the game wasn't even in Munich that day!). I was amazed at how many fans were decked out in their lederhosen and since there are no open-container laws as in the US, people were strolling around with their huge steins of beer (all.day.long!). It was awesome!
If you read about the Marienplatz, you’re likely to read about the Glockenspiel. This is a little animated show on the clock tower that is played at certain times throughout the day. To be honest, I was a little disappointed by this and wasn’t overly impressed. I’d say if you’re nearby when it’s about to happen, check it out, but don’t make any special plans just for this. There are a lot better things to see and do, in my opinion.
Since this is the center of town, you really can't miss it. Pretty much all roads (and trains!) lead to it, so if you're in Munich for any length of time, you will find yourself strolling through the square.
This is a definite must-see! The Viktualienmarkt is an outdoor market/bazaar that has a little bit of everything! 'Viktualienmarkt' translated to English means 'Victuals Market', so as you can imagine, they have plenty of food options! We had lunch at the outdoor beer garden and there was quite a selection of yummy food.
Right next to the beer garden is a huge outdoor market with vendors set up in stalls. They sell food products, traditional Bavarian goods, and all kinds of trinkets. Even if you have no plans to buy anything, it's just fun to spend an hour strolling through here. And, right in the middle is a traditional German Maypole! These were historically used to alert travelers to the various services available in town.
What to Eat
Unfortunately, I didn't take too many photos of my food on this particular trip (I tend to do a better job of this now!), but these were the most memorable of both things to eat & drink and places to eat & drink!
The Apple Schorle is an alcohol free drink that is common in Germany. Basically, it's apple juice and seltzer water and can be found pretty much anywhere! In a few places, they also had different flavors besides apple, but that is definitely the most widely available.
I LOVED this stuff! Honestly, I could probably make it at home, but it probably just wouldn't taste the same without the German atmosphere around me.
I'd say you can't go to Germany and NOT have beer, except that's exactly what I did! I don't really like beer (to be honest, I don't really like the taste of any alcohol). But, my friend that was traveling with me is a big fan of craft beers and the imports (to the US) so he was super excited to have a few good beers.
I'd heard of schnitzel before my German adventure, but I honestly had no idea what it was. So, I decided to order it and see! Basically, it's a meat that has been pounded so that it's really thin, then it's breaded and cooked. I think chicken is probably the most common form of schnitzel, but I could be wrong on that! My favorite was corn flake coated turkey breast! It was SO yummy!
Knuckle was another dish I was unfamiliar with, although unlike the schnitzel, I'd never heard of this one. Since we had read it is a specialty in Germany, we had to try it!
Basically, knuckle are huge slabs of pork. While you can order a whole knuckle, which is leg of a pig between the knee/elbow and foot, I opted for just some slices since I’m not traditionally a huge pork fan (nor do I want to eat that much meat!). While I wasn't expecting to really like it that much, I have to say, it was pretty tasty, so be sure to give this a try to indulge in some local dining.
This little place is the gem of Munich in my opinion! I LOVED Dallmayr! They call it a 'delicatessen', so we expected a sandwich shop since that's what a deli is in the US. Au contraire! This place is magical...it's essentially a food hall. If you've ever been to the ground floor of Harrod's in London, it's like that (only not quite as big).
It's filled with little rooms of chocolates and sweets. There are freshly baked breads of different types and flavors. And in the main room is a huge area of food items that you can purchase for a meal!
Everything is beautifully presented (think a 'buffet' table at a high end wedding) and tastes just as good as it looks. I'll be honest...we made a few trips here and I'd go back to Munich JUST to go to this place!!
Hofbrauhaus is the world famous beer garden and even if you're not a beer drinker (like me!) it's well worth the visit. Walking inside for the first time is quite an experience.
It's easily the biggest restaurant I've been to...it's enormous! And it's packed! And these people are having a GOOD time! It's loud and full of energy. People are drinking lots, eating lots, singing at the top of their lungs, and basically enjoying life.
Because it was so crowded when we went, we opted to sit outside in the courtyard. It was much quieter, but still full of energy (even though you can't see people in the picture above, the area to the left of me had people!). Plus, it was really pretty out there, so I was a happy girl! The food is pretty good...it's traditional German fare, so think bratwurst, potato salad, etc. (but it was excellent!).
I mentioned Viktualienmarkt above as a place to go see in reference to the outdoor market/bazaar, but it's also a great place to grab a quick and inexpensive lunch! There are a ton of options and you just pick a picnic table and enjoy your lovely food in the fresh air!
Where to Stay
We didn't stay anywhere fancy or trendy or charming. We stayed at, what is basically, a European chain hotel. The Motel One was reasonably priced, well located, and a great stay! The room was comfortable and modern. The breakfast, which is included in the morning, was fantastic. European hotels do a much better job of a 'continental' breakfast than US hotels.
My only complaint for this particular location was the front desk staff. One of the ladies was just downright rude and another man seemed too busy to help us (maybe he was, but he could've been a tad friendlier about it!). Other than those two individuals, the staff was friendly and helpful, so I won't judge everyone by their bad behavior.
As for where to look for a hotel, I'd recommend something near the Marienplatz since that's basically the center of everything. You'll also be near the subway line which will get you everywhere you might want to go!
I feel I've only scratched the surface of this part of Germany and it’s high on my list for returning some day (I’m dying to go back at Christmas time to take in the Christmas markets in the Bavarian towns!). I have more to share with you on my German experience and will be back with a post on just Bavaria later this month.
In the mean time, if you missed my post from a couple of weeks ago on Rothenburg ob der Tauber (my FAVE town in Europe!) be sure to check that out because that is definitely a destination in Germany that you DON'T want to miss!
Alright friends...have you been to Munich before? What did you think? And...have you ever been to a place completely threw you off by impressing you more than you expected? Tell me where! I'd love to hear your comments!