Munich… a city that caught me off guard. Arriving by train from Salzburg, I only had a few days to explore before jetting back to Washington, D.C. The trip had been a whirlwind – in a good way – but I was looking forward to a a laid-back finale. Little did I know, Munich had other plans for me.
In this blog post, I’ll be sharing some of my personal encounters and top recommendations and tips to help you plan your amazing Munich experience.
Take Advantage of Public Transportation
Munich has a comprehensive public transportation system that’s easy to navigate. Buy a day ticket or travelcard for unlimited travel on buses, trams, and subways.
The U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn) subway system is particularly efficient and can take you to most of the city’s major attractions.
But if you’re interested in taking day trips outside of the city, consider the S-Bahn (Stadtschnellbahn) subway system. It’s the suburban commuter train system that connects Munich with the surrounding regions, including more distant suburbs and neighboring towns.
You can purchase the travelcard at ticket vending machines located at train stations, tram stops, and major bus stops, as well as from authorized retailers.
By the way, I highly recommend taking the train to the airport, if needed. It’s a 45-minute ride that cost me somewhere around 15 euros.
When I needed to travel, I purchased a single ticket for the S1 line at the station, covering the entire trip. But here’s the coolest part: I unexpectedly had the chance to ride on a detachable train for the first time. These trains are made up of multiple sections or modules that can be connected or detached based on capacity. Halfway through my trip, the section in front of me detached and continued on a different route. The operator gives you multiple warnings, but if you’ve never seen it before, it can still catch you off guard. I know, I know – it’s a small thing, but I was genuinely fascinated.
For the airport route, you can take either S1 or S8 lines from Munich. S1 runs typically from 4:30 am to midnight, and S8 runs from 4:00 am to around 1:00 am. But like everything in life, things change, so make sure you check the train schedule to confirm times.
But if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, rent a bike from one of Munich’s many rental stations and explore the city on two wheels. Biking is incredibly popular here. And with that comes a city that is designed to be bike-friendly, and a fantastic culture of drivers sharing the road with cyclists – which is really nice and makes it not only a fun way to get around, but a safe one.
Take a Dip in the Isar River
If the weather is warm, head to the Isar river for a refreshing swim. Locals love to cool off in its clear waters, and there are plenty of spots to jump in and enjoy the scenery. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at river surfing on the standing waves at the Flosslände, a popular spot for local surfers.
Experience Bavarian Cuisine Beyond the Obvious
Yes, you should try the traditional Bavarian dishes like schnitzel and pork knuckle, but don’t stop there. Munich has a diverse food scene that offers many other tasty options.
My personal favorite was a trendy, but cozy eatery that served vegan traditional dishes – Max Pett. Wishing I could bring that restaurant to Washington, D.C. ever since!
For a bustling outdoor market with a variety of vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handmade chocolates, check out the Viktualienmarkt. And if you’re in the mood for something sweet, try the famous Bavarian cream-filled pastry, the Nussschnecke, at one of Munich’s many bakeries.
Experience Munich’s Festivals and Events
Munich is home to some of the world’s most famous festivals and events, like Oktoberfest and the Christmas markets. But there’s also plenty to see and do in between. Check out the Tollwood Festival, a multicultural event that takes place twice a year and features live music, food, and art. And if you’re visiting in the summer, don’t miss the Auer Dult, a traditional Bavarian fair with rides, games, and plenty of food.
Visit the Englischer Garten for a Relaxing Escape
If you’re in need of a break from the city lights, head to the Englischer Garten, one of the largest urban parks in the world. Take a stroll through its lush greenery and meandering streams, or catch some rays on the expansive lawns. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try surfing the Eisbach river’s standing wave, a popular spot for local surfers.
Visit Munich’s Lesser-Known Churches
While Munich is known for its stunning churches like the Frauenkirche and the Theatinerkirche, there are also plenty of lesser-known gems worth visiting. Check out the St. Michael’s Church, a stunning example of Bavarian Rococo architecture, or the Asamkirche, a small but ornate church decorated with gold leaf and frescoes.
Explore Munich’s Art Scene
Munich has a rich artistic history, and its museums and galleries showcase works by some of the world’s most famous artists. Check out the Pinakothek der Moderne for contemporary art, or visit the Neue Pinakothek for classic works from the 19th and 20th centuries. And for a more alternative experience, explore the city’s street art scene, with murals and installations throughout the city.
Get a Taste of Munich’s Nightlife
Munich has a great nightlife scene. Visit the popular Hofbräuhaus for traditional beer and live music, or check out one of the city’s many nightclubs for a more modern vibe. The Kultfabrik, a former factory turned nightlife complex, is a must-visit for its numerous bars and clubs.
And apart from the mini techno parties during Bolt rides, make sure to explore the city’s underground techno club scene, like Rote Sonne.
Don’t Miss Out on the Alternative Scene
No surprise that Munich is known for its traditional beer gardens and historic sites. But don’t overlook the city’s alternative scene. Visit the Glockenbachviertel neighborhood for its trendy bars, independent boutiques, and street art. Check out the Feierwerk, a cultural center that hosts concerts and events for a range of genres, from indie rock to hip hop. And if you’re into vintage clothing and unique finds, head to the Ruffinihaus Flohmarkt flea market on Saturdays.
Take a Day Trip to Dachau
Located just outside of Munich, the Dachau concentration camp memorial is a sobering but important reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust. Take a guided tour of the site, which includes a museum and various exhibits that tell the stories of the camp’s prisoners.
Experience the Charm of Neues Rathaus
And lastly, one of my favorite recommendations, the Neues Rathaus.
Neues Rathaus is one of Munich’s iconic landmarks that never fails to impress. Standing tall in the city center at Marienplatz, this stunning Gothic Revival building offers a little entertainment with its famous Glockenspiel. As I waited for the show to begin, I had no idea what to expect.
But the moment the clock came to life, I was captivated.
Tourists and locals gather to witness the cute display of moving figurines and chimes, narrating various historical events. I don’t want to spoil it, but this is definitely a must-visit.
Have you visited Munich? Which of these recommendations did you enjoy the most? Share your Munich travel stories in the comments. Prost!