A Bavarian Adventure - Culture, History, and More in Germany's Vibrant City
We had first visited here in 1996, and I had worked here for Siemens in the 1980's timeframe, but we had not been back for quite a while. We also have some very good friends who live here and we wanted to introduce Germany to our teenage son, so staying here for a week was an easy decision.
Munich is the third largest city in Germany. It's a very livable city with modern and historical sites, museums, parks and outside beer gardens to visit for an afternoon pretzel and a beer. Munich is also known for its Oktoberfest held in September every year which is an outside amusement park and festival like no other. The Isar River flows through the middle of the city and there are many beautiful parks that offer views of the river. My favorite is the English Garden which is a very large urban park and beer garden and perfect on a warm summer day. Munich is perfect for visiting with families. Families are fundamental to German culture and the Kinder (children) are included in many ways. For example, beer gardens frequently have playgrounds for kids to enjoy while the parents converse with friends. There are many fun and educational things to visit in the city and nearby such as Ludwig's castles; Neuschwantstien being the most recognizable. Although somber, it's also worth visiting one of the concentration camps that are required to remain in place as museums so as to not forget the atrocities that took place there during World War II.
Munich also has a fantastic public transportation system with underground trains known as the U-Bahn, suburban trains known as the S-Bahn and trams and buses. There is no need to have a car in Munich since the transportation system is so extensive. In fact, the area in central Munich known as "Marienplatz" is a "pedestrian only" area.
NOTE: The same transportation ticket is valid for all these forms of public transportation. You don't need different tickets, if you move from train to tram to bus. Where appropriate, a subway station will have trams and/or buses at the surface level of the station.
If you have never been to Germany, or if you have never had the opportunity to have good German friends, then I would invite you to increase your German knowledge by clicking here to read about German Culture at the "Live Science" website.
Some Interesting Facts about Munich
- Munich is the southernmost major city in Germany, but it is farther north than any major U.S. City (excluding Alaska).
- Munich's Technische Universiät (Tech University) has four-story slides to help students get to class faster.
- Old Town Munich closed down it’s major streets For The 1972 Olympics to pedestrians only and they have remained that way ever since.
- The Bavarians consider beer their national beverage, but at the same time they do not view it as a drink, rather as liquid bread - a food.
- The Englisch Garden in central Munich has beer tents, restaurants and a clothing optional area.
- Munich is home to the oldest cinema in the World - the Neues Kino Gabriel.
For discounts on Munich Transportation, Deutsches Museum, Lenbachhaus and other Munich sights, SEA Life Munich, the Olympiapark Park Railway and to save money while shopping and enjoying restaurants in Munich - consider the Munich Card.
Click the Card Image to go to their website.
Drive from Annecy, France to Munich
On this European Driving trip, we had been in Annecy, France for most of a week and our next stop was Munich. Our drive there took us through Switzerland via the E25/E27 and E60 allowed us to cross into Germany at the southern end of the Bodensee. We drove north on the E60, and then eastward to Munich on the E54.
And this begins the portion of the trip, where Suzette (our Tom-Tom mapping device) really earned her stripes. We had rented a condo, in an area of Munich that would give us easy access to not only the subway, but to bus & tram service as well. This condo unit had underground parking, but we were not familiar with the streets there.
The first issue that arose, is that our Tom-Tom device insisted on taking us to Klenzestraße, as though it was a two way street, which it was not. Since we had an excellent Munich street map, we were able to navigate our way around the block, and to drive into the street with the correct driving orientation. Getting back to our rental was a constant challenge throughout the week, complicated by the direction we would re-enter Munich as each day trip was over.
Augustiner Keller Beer Garden Map
Our first outing was to the Augustiner Keller (one of the largest & oldest Munich Beer Gardens) for dinner with old friends in Munich. Since it was Jeremy's first trip to a German beer garden, he was fascinated by the people, the food items, especially the HUGE pretzels, and the enormous amount of beer being consumed, etc.
- NOTE: Click here to display a Google Map of the Augustiner Keller Beer Garden on Arnulfstrasse.
- NOTE: Click here to display Map of All Munich Beer Gardens
The next day we visited another friend in Munich that we had worked with in the 1980's. He had started a new Chauffeur Service Company (First Class Chauffeur Service), and offered to take us around the city in his new Volkswagen Phaeton. This was an interesting way to see Munich, and even though I have been there a huge number of times, going around the city with someone who lives there and knows how to drive there, is a treat!
Where to Surf in Munich Map
Our German friend started the tour, by taking us by the world famous Eisbach River surfing spot. Many years ago as Munich grew, the old river channel was forced into an underground tunnel, which allowed the city of Munich to "grow" over the tunnel. And this produces a river outlet spot with considerable water pressure, as shown in these pictures.
The surfers line up on the bank, and step in as the previous surfer steps out, or falls off. It is truly amazing to watch, as these guys are seriously good surfers and they put on a great show! This is not a spot for surfers who are not extremely experienced, because one does not paddle to catch a wave, you jump on your board and the wave propels you immediately!
Oktoberfest Grounds "Theresienwiese" Map
The next stop was at the Oktoberfest grounds, where workers were busy constructing the festival tents that will house each "tent". Back in the day, each tent represented a Munich Brewery, however this is no longer the case. Nonetheless, each tent will offer food, beer and ompah bands to sing along with! And just for the people who do not like beer, there is usually a "wine tent" as well.
The first image above (left side), shows the Theresienwiese as it is being prepared for the Oktoberfest festival, this picture was taken in July and the festival starts in the last week of September - so it gives you a good idea of how much work remains to be c ompleted. In the center of image #1, you can see the "tents" being constructed which will house the beer gardens and restaurants. If you do not understand the use of the word "tents" in relation to the Festival, I suggest you click the "tents link" to go to Wikipedia and learn what it means.
The second image above (right side) is of the "Ruhmeshalle & Bavaria Statue" (located on the west side of the Theresienwiese) which is part of an ensemble which also includes a hall of fame (Ruhmeshalle) and a stairway. It was commissioned by Ludwig I of Bavaria, with the specific design being chosen by competition. It was cast at the Munich foundry of J.B. Stiglmair between 1844 and 1850 and is the first colossal statue since Classical Antiquity to consist entirely of cast bronze. It was and is up to the present day considered a technological masterpiece. Because of its size it had to be produced in several parts; it is 18.52 metres (60 ft. 9 in.) high and weighs about 87.36 tons. It rests on a stone base which is 8.92 (28 ft.) metres high.
NOTE: Image # 2 is from Wikipedia, however, the image does not have an author, so no accreditation is offered herein.
BMW Museum Map
Our next stop, was the BMW museum next door to the 1972 Olympic Center area. This is a fascinating museum, and it contains a number of BMW cars (including the Mini Cooper) and motorcycles.
In image # 1 that building on the left is the BMW museum, and the building on the right, is the BMW headquarters building.
It is simple to travel to the BMW Museum, for example from Marienplatz take the U3 subway. Taxi and/or uBer is a brief ride, or you could easily walk as it is only 3.4 miles. No matter how you arrive, the museum is an interesting visit, and then the Olympic Park is right next door.
NOTE: Image # 2 is the property of Arnaud 25 via Wikipedia.
BMW Museum Day Dreaming
This is the BMW K-1300-S (found in the BMW Museum) which I initially thought was going to be my next motorcycle. Instead, I wound up with a Harley-Davidson VROD (another story). This BMW has tremendous power and gets amazing reviews, so only time will tell if I made the right choice.
As you can see, Celeste and I were trying out the "riding comfort" of the BMW, and then I was explaining to Jeremy what I liked about this BMW motorcycle.
Munich's Olympic Park Map
After our BMW museum tour, we walked across the autobahn on the pedestrian walkway to the Olympic Park. We rode up to the top of the Olympic Tower (right center of picture) so that we could show Jeremy the amazing view of Munich from that height.
You can see the BMW Headquarters building in the right side of this picture, gives you a good idea of the proximity of the Olympic Center to the BMW complex. Not a huge walk, Google Maps indicates approximately 500 meters if you use the footbridge across the Georg-Brauchle-Ring freeway.
NOTE: This image is the property of Taxiarchos228 via WikiMedia Commons. All other images (unless otherwise noted) are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
Views from the Olympic Tower
As seen from the top of the tower. For those of you who watched the 2013 World Cup Final, this stadium was completely full of soccer fans, watching the final on several jumbo-tron monitors erected for the fans to watch the finals.
DIRECTIONS: As I previously mentioned, our good friend dropped us off at the BMW Museum, and then we walked across the footbridge to the park. If however you are at Marienplatz, you have the choice of riding either an S-Bahn or a U-Bahn to get to the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum Station which is the closest subway station to the park. In fact, we rode the U-Bahn (U-3) back to Marienplatz after our park exploration was completed.
Marienplatz Area Map
Metro back to Marienplatz
We walked back to the Olympia-zentrum U-Bahn Station and rode the U3 back to Marienplatz Station. This is a large 4 level station, where the S-Bahn (S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S7 and S8) lines intersect with the U-Bahn (U3 and U6).
We exited the station and strolled through Marienplatz (pedestrian area) to watch the glockenspiel march when the hour ticked over.
Not sure that you can tell from these pictures, that it had just stopped raining. Which, given the heat wave that was still over Europe, cooled things off nicely.
Strolling along in Marienplatz in central Munich, and you can see how crowded it is? This is typical for a summer day.
We were looking for a place to purchase an afternoon snack and an iced coffee - and fortunately for us, we found one quickly.
Munich Rathaus Glockenspiel Map
Every day at 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. ( as well as 5 p.m. in the summer) the glockenspiel chimes and re-enacts two stories from the 16th century to the amusement of mass crowds of tourists and locals. It consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. The top half of the Glockenspiel tells the story of the marriage of the local Duke Wilhelm V (who also founded the world famous Hofbräuhaus) to Renata of Lorraine.
In honour of the happy couple there is a joust with life-sized knights on horseback representing Bavaria (in white and blue) and Lothringen (in red and white).
NOTE: Image # 2 is the property of Christoph Braun via Wikipedia.
We were "forced" to find various ways to deal with the heat, and discovered that ice cream worked very well to reduce the heat effects ! While trekking about, we found a great little ice cream shop, in an alley that led to a shopping area, just off Marienplatz (sorry we did not record the name of this shop). As we needed some afternoon "motivation", the ice cream was accompanied by a cappuccino and we were ready to keep on walking!
Karlsplatz Area Map
Hike to Karlsplatz (Stachus)
We walked to the far western end of Marienplatz to Karlsplatz (via Kaufingerstrasse & Neuhauser Strasse) to catch the bus back to our apartment, and the fountains there always attract a crowd. Of course, some of the crowd here is because Karlsplatz is a major transportation intersection point; buses, tram cars and the subway all converge here.
For those of you familiar with Munich, this is a nice stroll through the center of the city, lined with shops, restaurants and other types of stores. In fact, there is a large shopping center underneath Karlsplatz ( "Stachus Passagen").
A view of Karlsplatz
This is a great picture of Karlsplatz from the western side of the square, you can see the fountains and bus stops. You might not be able to see the U-Bahn sign (to the right of the stairs in the lower right corner of the picture) but the station is just below the square.
The twin spires church is the "Frauenkirche" which is a church that serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising and seat of its Archbishop. More importantly, in the background are the Bavarian Alps. Beautiful isn't it?
The Frauenkirche was built in the late 15th century and has a unique architectural style that blends Gothic and Renaissance elements. It is famous for its stunning interior, which features intricate stone carvings, colorful stained glass windows, and an impressive organ that is considered one of the largest in Germany.
- NOTE: This image is the property of etour.ua
- DIRECTIONS: Click here to view a Google walking map from Marienplatz.
The Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshals' Hall) is a monumental loggia on the Odeonsplatz in Munich, Germany. Modelled after the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, it was commissioned in 1841 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria to honour the tradition of the Bavarian Army.
In 1923, it was the site of the brief battle that ended Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch. During the Nazi era, it served as a monument commemorating the death of 16 members of the Nazi party.
Hofbräuhaus am Platzl Map
This is perhaps one of the most widely known beer halls in Munich, Germany, originally built in 1589 by Bavarian Duke Maximilian I as an extension of the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus in München brewery. The general public was admitted in 1828 by Ludwig I. The building was completely remodeled in 1897 by Max Littmann when the brewery moved to the suburbs. All of the rooms except the historic beer hall ("Schwemme") were destroyed in the World War II bombings. The reopening of the Festival Hall in 1958 marked the end of the post-war restoration work.
Nymphenburg Palace Map
The Nymphenburg Palace is a Baroque palace situated in Munich's western district Neuhausen-Nymphenburg. Combined with the adjacent Nymphenburg Palace Park it constitutes one of the premier royal palaces of Europe. Its frontal width of 632 meters (2,073 ft on the north-south axis) even surpasses Versailles Palace. The Nymphenburg served as the main summer residence for the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach.
- NOTE: Image is the property of Richard Bartz via Wikimedia.
Englischer Garten Map
This is a picture of the Chinese Tower in the English Gardens, a large public park in the centre of Munich, Bavaria, stretching from the city centre to the northeastern city limits. It was created in 1789 by Sir Benjamin Thompson (1753–1814), later Count Rumford (Reichsgraf von Rumford), for Prince Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria. Thompson's successors, Reinhard von Werneck (1757–1842) and Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell (1750–1823), advisers on the project from its beginning, both extended and improved the park.
With an area of 3.7 km2 (1.4 sq mi) (370 ha or 910 acres), the Englischer Garten is one of the world's largest urban public parks. The name refers to its English garden form of informal landscape, a style popular in England from the mid-18th century to the early 19th century and particularly associated with Capability Brown (real name "Lancelot Brown" an English landscape architect).
The Chinesischer Turm ("Chinese Tower") is a 25 metre high wooden structure, first constructed in 1789 to 1790, from a design by the Mannheimer military architect Joseph Frey (1758–1819). It was modelled on the "Great Pagoda" in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. The Pagoda, twice as high as the tower, was supposed to resemble a porcelain pagoda in the gardens of a Chinese emperor. The Munich tower has five storeys: the ground storey roof has a diameter of 19 meters, the top-most story of 6 meters
On July 13, 1944, the original tower burned down after heavy bombing; but a society aiming to rebuild it was formed in 1951 and the new tower, copied accurately from the original by consulting photographs and old drawings, was completed in September, 1952.
The Englischer Garten offers numerous leisure time activities; Cyclists and joggers train on the 78-kilometer-long (48.5 miles) network of paths, and amateur soccer players meet on the fields for recreational games.
A Few German Beer Types
There are over 7,000+ varieties of beer in Germany brewed in 1,500+ breweries. A good fifth of these are found in the southern region of Bavaria, whose capital, Munich, is home to the world-famous Oktoberfest beer festival. The following list is therefore not "all beer types", but represents perhaps some of the most popular.
|A moderately dark, wheat-based German ale that is often described as a cross between a dunkel and a hefeweizen (weissbier). These refreshing beers typically range from copper to dark brown and are distinguished for banana and clove-like flavors and aromas.
|A German beer style that was introduced in 1907 by the Schneider Weisse Brauhaus brewery located in Munich. Weizenbock was supposed to be a middle-ground between the rich and malty doppelbock and wheat beer (weissbier) that was popular at the time.
|A protected designation used by six Munich breweries that serve their beer at Oktoberfest—the biggest beer festival in the world. The breweries include Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, Löwenbräu, Paulaner, and Spaten.
|A German beer style from Bavaria that is closely connected with Oktoberfestbier and shares some similarities with Vienna lager. This style officially appeared in 1841 when it was brewed by Spaten brewery, but a similar style existed well before that.
|A German beer style that was first brewed in Munich by Paulaner monks. As the name might suggest—doppel translates as double—this style developed as a slightly stronger version of traditional German bock style.
|A German beer style that is associated with Franconia and the city of Bamberg. Translated as smoked beer, the style is made with smoked malt, and it initially appeared in the 14th century. At the time, using smoked malt was the standard, but the invention of drum kiln, which allowed for the malt to be dried without the exposure to the open flame, became the preferred technique in the 1880s.
|A classic Bavarian wheat ale that is top-fermented and characterized by its mousse-like foam and cloudy appearance—which is a result of a large proportion of wheat and a small amount of barley malt used in its production.
|A German dark lager that is mostly associated with Bavaria and Munich. This dark beer, which can range from copper to dark brown, is mainly brewed from Munich malt which gives the beer its typical caramel-like and toasty character. You can also find "Dunkel Weisse" (AKA "Dunkelweizen") a southern German wheat beer brewed as a darker version (Dunkel means "dark") with deliciously complex malts and a low balancing bitterness.
|Eisbock is the strongest beer style that falls in the category of bock beers (bockbier). This beer style is primarily brewed as doppelbock, but then it undergoes freeze distillation — in which the water is partially frozen and then removed. This is an extremely strong beer with a typical alcohol content well beyond 7% ABV.
|A Bavarian lager style that first appeared as a special brew to celebrate the beginning of the garden season—hence the name Mai, which translates as May.
|Black beer, is a dark lager that originated in Germany. It has an opaque, black colour with hints of chocolate or coffee flavours, and is generally around 5% ABV. It is similar to stout in that it is made from roasted malt, which gives it its dark colour.
|Generally known as ‘Pils’. The light-golden beer with the dry hoppy aroma is very popular in the North, West and East. The name goes back to the Czech town of Pilsen.
|A German-style lager that first appeared in Munich in 1894. It was a Bavarian answer to light Czech pilsner. Although Bavaria heavily relied on strong and dark lagers, the popularity of crisp and golden pilsner beers influenced Bavarian brewers to start producing a similar style.
|It can only be produced in the municipality of Reuth bei Erbendorf in Bavaria. The beer is produced by the Schloß brewery, and it comes in four main styles: Lagerbier, Schloß-Pils, Weißbier, and Spezia
|Along with ale, lager is one of the two main beer categories, and in terms of production, it is the most common beer style in the world. The main distinction between lagers and ales depends on the type of yeast. Lagers use Saccharomyces pastorianus, generally known as bottom-fermenting yeasts, which ferment more slowly and at cooler temperatures than ale yeasts. Lagers come in a wide variety of styles, which differ in color, alcohol content, and flavors, but they tend to have a cleaner and crispier character than ales.
|A style of beer originating in Cologne, Germany. It has an original gravity between 11 and 14 degrees Plato. In appearance, it is bright and clear with a straw-yellow hue.
Note: The majority of the above information came from the "Taste Atlas" site. Click here to visit their site.
Although all of the locations we have described on this page were driven to in our rental car, you could also reach these locations via tour bus or train. Bear in mind that it would be impossible for us to describe every interesting place in Munich or Bavaria, so what we've done on this page and in the list below, is to describe those places we've actually visited;
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is 254 Km from Munich, a simple drive north on the Romantische Straße. Most of this route is comprised of two lane country roads, all in excellent condition and the countryside is beautiful.
Rothenburg is a well preserved medieval town built in the ninth century., and one of only 3 towns in Germany that still have completely intact city walls. The town is mostly "auto free" except if you own a shop there, or live there - in which case you are allowed to drive your vehicle into the town. So the city streets are primarily pedestrian and cobble stoned (hint; wear good shoes to walk about!). Visiting Rothenburg is like traveling back in time, the medieval architecture makes it feel like you are definitely a time traveler.
Viator offers numerous tours throughout Germany, check their site for more information & pricing.
Parking is outside the town, and you will also find numerous & varied small shops, pubs and restaurants.
- Munich to Rothenburg via bus
- Munich to Rothenburg via train
- Munich to Rothenburg via tour bus.
- Munich to Rothenburg via a "private tours" operated by various companies, best to do a Google Search for those types.
- Click here to view our Rothenburg Page.
- Nuremberg is 83 Km from Rothenburg and 170 Km from Munich. We toured Nuremberg & Rothenburg in a single day
because that was our "time plan", if you have more time, consider seeing Nuremberg as a separate trip because if you
are a WW2 history buff or just a regular history buff, Nuremberg has some interesting things to see, ie;
Nazi Documentation Center,
the Imperial Palace (Kaiserburg),
the Nazi Party Rally Grounds
(this is where Hitler stood and watched his troops march by, an erie feeling to stand there),
the World's Oldest Sausage Restaurant, and
Altstadt the old city (from 1050 AD) section of Nuremberg.
- Munich to Nuremberg via bus
- Munich to Nuremberg via train
- Munich to Nuremberg via tour bus.
- Click here to view our Nuremberg Visit.
- Neuschwanstein Castle (King Ludwig's finest construction) is a 110 Km drive from Munich via the Bavarian Highways B2 & B17. The
area around the castle is picturesque, but be forewarned that the castle is very popular with tourists, and you should
acquire advance reservations (or you might not be able to get in!). There are several sites where you can acquire advance tickets,
to go to the Viator Website for ticket purchasing. Note: there are multiple sites that offer tickets, including
the Official Site - or do a
Google Search to find one.
- Munich to Neuschwanstein via bus
- Munich to Neuschwanstein via train
- Munich to Neuschwanstein via tour bus
- Click here to view our Neuschwanstein Page.
- Garmisch-Partenkirchen is 90 Km from Munich, and the Zugspitze Mountain (tallest in Germany) is just south of Garmisch.
There was originally two small towns, but they were merged in 1936 for the Winter Olympics. Garmisch still
has a "village feel" to it, as the population is small, however this is a popular tourist destination, so
crowds and parking issues are going to be challenges. Take a look at
of things to do and see here.
There is a Munich train (operated by Deutsche Bahn) but it is perhaps easier for the visitor if you have your own vehicle, as you would then be able to visit Zugspitze or Alpspitze. There are a wide variety of hiking trails in this area, click here to view one of the better hiking lists.
- There are of course many other excellent day trips, consider doing some of your own research about places like
Obersalzburg, Salzburg, Berchtesgaden, English Gardens, Chiemsee or the Lindorhof Palace. Lest I forget, the Dachau
Concentraion Camp is 24 kilometers from Munich and reachable via Metro (MVV). We can recommend any of these, as we have
- See our "things to do and see" links below, those links will aid you with your own trip research. If you are looking for a chauffeured private tour, click here or check the Viator Website as they offer a range of tours.
It would be impossible for any single web page to tell you everything in the world about Munich, so we have included below a list of web sites that we utilized to research & create our own plan to visit Munich.
- History of Munich on the 'Britannica' Site
- Munich History on the 'Discover Munich' Site
- Google Search Results List for "Beer Gardens in Munich"
- 25 Best Things to Do in Munich on the 'Crazy Tourist' site
- Top 51 things to do in Munich on the 'Like a Local Guide' site
- 7 free things to do in Munich on the 'Euro Cheapo' Site
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Munich on the 'Planetware' Site
- Visit our Youtube Channel
- Rules to follow visiting Munich Beer Gardens
- First Class Chauffeur Service
- Amazon Search Results list for "Munich"
- Google Search Results list for "restaurants in Munich"
- Google Search Results list for "accommodations in Munich"
- Munich WW2 Walking Tour from the "Get Your Guide" Site
- Youtube Search Results list for "Munich Germany"
- European Travel Tips from the "Just Traveling Thru, LLC" site
- Travel Planning Tips from the "Just Traveling Thru, LLC" site
- Munich on the "Rick Steves" site
- Our Image Gallery for Munich
- Wikipedia Article for Munich
- Google Image Gallery for Munich
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are Affiliate Links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, that we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. So we would appreciate any click throughs, if you are inclined.
Note: All images on this page are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.
Note: If you are interested, click here to view our European Travel Tips & Warnings. Or to take a look at our methods for planning, click here to view our Trip Planning Page..
To review any of our content, make suggestions and/or comments, please click the "Info" menu button at the top of this page. You will find our "Contact Us" link on that drop-down menu.