By Guest blogger Christoph Ruzicka with Eco Backpacking
Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is mostly known for hosting the annual Oktoberfest. However, the famous beer festival is not the only reason to visit. It’s easy to get lost wandering through the historic quarters, relax in one of the many parks or use Munich as a base to explore the lake and mountain regions in the south. There’s so much to see in the and do in the city, but following is a three days in Munich tour where we explored the city in a different mode of transportation and visited many unique spots around the city.
What to do and see in Munich
Day one – Munich by bike
While Munich is a large city, it feels more like several connected villages. With its quiet side streets and vast network of bike paths it is perfect for exploring by bicycle. There are two main companies: The DB bikes and Next bike, both offer easy and convenient bike rentals via their app. We decided to go with DB because you can drop off the bikes at any intersection in the city. Not having to look for a drop-off station saved us a lot of time. With the app it is really easy to find bikes again when you need them. If biking is not your thing, then you can considering doing a free walking tour of Munich as a different alternative to try on day one to visiting the city.
On day one we started our tour at 8 am from the Marienplatz, the central square of the city. In case you start later, at 11 am or 12 pm you can watch the Glockenspiel in the tower of the New Townhall. We continued our tour by walking down the Dienerstrasse on the right side of the Town Hall towards Odeonsplatz. On the way we passed the beautiful Opera House and further on, the Residenz on the right side of the street. The Residenz was the home of the former rulers of Bavaria and is now open to visitors to explore. One thing we love about Munich is its rich history. Especially the Odeonsplatz has some stories to tell before and during the Nazi era. Before reaching the square we had a quick look at the Drückebergergasse. People used this alley as a detour to avoid passing a Nazi shrine and doing the obligatory salute. The Odeonsplatz was a great spot to take a stroll around the Feldherrenhalle, the Theatinerkirche with the tombs of some of Bavaria’s royal family, and the Hofgarten.
If you only have 24 hours to tour in Munich, then check out this one day in Munich guide to show you the top things to do in the city.
This square was the perfect place to get on our bikes and start cycling on the Ludwigstrasse away from the city center. After passing several government buildings from the late 1900s we reached the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, one of Germany’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Exploring this area by bicycle made us feel like students again. We left our bikes by the road and crossed the street to the main entrance of the building. In front of the main entrance you will find artwork covering the Scholl siblings and their White Rose Movement against the Nazi regime. From here we explored the Schwabing area by foot. This part used to be its own town until it became a part of Munich in 1890. Here the artists, painters and other trades lived avoiding the exorbitant rents in Munich. Now it is one of the trendiest and most expensive areas to live in. It is perfect for getting lost walking around, admiring the historic buildings and having a coffee in one of the many cafés. Since it was already 12pm we decided to have our first beer in the Max Emanuel Biergarten.
After this relaxing break we got back on our bikes and crossed the Ludwigstrasse at the University to make our way to the English Garden. It was perfect to cycle around, covered by the shade of the trees. We only made two stops because we were starting to feel hungry. The first was at the Monopterus for a view over the city skyline. The second to sit on the grass and watch students and locals play games or soak up the sun. Be aware, clothes are optional in some areas. For lunch we really wanted the Bavarian experience and had two options close by. The Biergarten at the Chinese Tower is one of the most popular ones in Munich. It has good food and beer, plenty of space and a lot of trees to offer you shade. We chose the Seehaus for its beautiful location right next to a little lake.
After lunch we rode our bikes to the Eisbach to watch surfers riding Munich’s standing wave. After that we decided to get out of the city. Via the Maximilianstrasse, Munichs shopping street for the wealthy we cycled towards the Bavarian government building. After snapping a picture we crossed the river and head south along the rider. On previous occasions we rented mountain bikes and helmets because you can ride your bike more than 40 kilometers along the river. On some parts there are detours to single trails where you can play around.
After reaching Wolfratshausen you can stop for a beer and then take the train back. This time we wanted to do just a bit on the trail and the scenery is totally worth it. One highlight along this ride is the Flaucher area which is filled with locals barbecuing on the weekend. After all this cycling we deserved another beer, which was waiting for us at the Flaucher Biergarten. After getting back to the city we refreshed ourselves a bit at the hostel before having dinner at one of our favorite beer gardens. The Hofbräu Biergarten at the Wiener Platz is a bit outside the center and a bit more quiet. But the garden is full of gigantic trees and has a really nice atmosphere.
Day two visiting Munich
The next day started again at the Marienplatz and we walked along the Kaufinger Strasse, the main shopping street in Munich, towards the Karlsplatz. We made a quick detour to have a look at the Frauenkirche, the landmark of the city. After reaching the Karlsplatz we got back on the bikes and headed towards the Theresienwiese, the site of the Oktoberfest. Apart from the beer festival there are other events like the Frühlingsfest or Wintertollwood during the year. Unfortunately nothing was happening, but we still could visit the Bavaria Statue and afterwards cool off at another beautiful biergarten, the Biergarten in der Au. The alternative option would have been the Augustiner an der Holzapfelstraße, the local alternative to the touristy Hofbräuhaus.
We began the afternoon with a cycle to the Olympiapark, host of the 1974 Olympic Games, and home to the Munich football teams until 2006. Since BMW is our favorite car brand we went to the museum nearby. This was definitely one of the highlights, even if you are not into cars. On the way back to the city we cycled past the Königsplatz with its three greek temple style buildings. From here we went to the Lenbachplatz and took the bike path to the Sendlinger Tor. After dropping off the bikes we walked towards the city center whilst window shopping along the way. Back in the center we had a beer and a snack at the Viktualienmarkt before moving on to the Gärtnerplatz. This was our favorite area for going out because of all the small, alternative bars. We highly recommend the Zephyr Bar.
Day three visiting Munich
On our last day we only had a little time before leaving the city. Since Bayern Munich is my favorite football team we had to go to the Allianz Arena. It was only a short ride on the U6 subway. After a 10 minute walk you reach the stadium and for the football fans I recommend the tour through the museum and arena.
When to go to Munich
The most popular time is during Oktoberfest season from mid September to beginning of October. However, everything from flights to accommodation is more expensive. Also you won’t be seeing the real Munich but a touristy version of it. If you want to combine your visit with a traditional festival I recommend the Starkbier season. At the end of February each of the Munich breweries offer a special strong beer (8-9 % alcohol). The main event takes place at the Paulaner restaurant on the Nockherberg. The downside by visiting at this time is that you wouldn’t be able to go around by bike. The upside, apart from the strong beer, is that you could combine your visit with skiing in the Alps.
Another traditional experience is the Kocherlball. It takes place at the Chinese Tower beergarden and everybody meets in traditional Dirndl and Lederhosen at 5am. There is a band entertaining and the music and dancing will make you forget that you started drinking beer so early in the day.
Where to stay in Munich
You can be in the heart of the city and some of the fascinating neighborhoods or just within the city limits but in complete forests and urban jungle. With easy access to public transportation to cover the entire city, it is easy to be based where you are more comfortable for accommodations. Here are a few cool lodging recommendations for staying in the city without breaking the budget.
Hotel Mecure Alstadt – located in a great location close to Marienplatz, this affordable and clean hotel is comfortable with nice breakfast service and friendly front desk staff.
Kings Hotel Center – Located close to the train station and city center, this affordable and clean hotel serves a full buffet breakfast with ample sized bedrooms.
Holiday Inn City Center – what you would expect from this brand with comfortable, clean and adequate sized rooms with fast wifi and decent breakfast service.
For more hotel rooms covering top rated places in Munich through TripAdvisor, check out their site here for more details and current prices.
Worth the splurge
Day trip to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castle – A fun day trip that takes you to the Mad King Ludwick’s getaway fairytale like castles in the beautiful Bavarian countryside.
Munich 3 hour guided Bike tour – for those that want a set guided tour of the city visiting the old town, new town, historic sites, beer gardens and other popular attractions in the city on this tour.
Local food and beer garden tour – Discover the specialty beers and local appetizers that go along with beers and other favorites in the historic district.
For more unique Munchin experiences, check out these other fun tours and venues here for more highlights to visiting Munich.
Bio – Christoph Ruzicka’s
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