Jhe rich Bavarian capital is a fascinating blend of proud tradition, world-class culture and global innovation. You’ll find a modern center against a backdrop of Italianate architecture, royal palaces, breweries and parks, including the Englischer Garten, one of Europe’s largest urban green spaces. Come during Oktoberfest for amped up levels of lederhosen.
As host of the European Athletics Championships in August, Munich is a city that attracts a sporting crowd. Locals swim in the river, ride their bikes and dust off their skis at the first sign of snow. Of course, others may feel more comfortable behind the wheel of a luxury engine or prefer to lift nothing more than a liter of beer.
● Home at Marienplatz, the neo-Gothic Neues Rathaus and the onion-domed Frauenkirche, the Old Town (Altstadt) is where your visit will soon count. Allow plenty of time to explore the grand interiors of the Munich Residenz, Germany’s largest city center palace (from £8; residencenz-muenchen.de).
The historic Hofbräuhaus brewery
● The Hofbräuhaus brewery (hofbraeuhaus.de) has been replicated around the world. While dumbfounded regulars at their usual tables remind you that the Munich branch is the original, it can still seem quite touristy. For less oomph, try leafy beer gardens, like Augustiner Keller (augustinerkeller.de) and Biergarten am Wiener Platz (hofbraeukeller.de), or craft beer bar Frisches Bier (frischesbier-muenchen.de).
● Many great museums and galleries are grouped together in an area known as Kunstareal. The choice here can be overwhelming, but one place stands out. Housed in a white box-like structure, the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism delves into the city’s Nazi past – starting with the surrounding buildings and the site itself (free; nsdoku .of).
● Bigger than New York’s Central Park, the English Garden is a mix of green lawns, winding paths, man-made waterways and thriving breweries. Head to the northern end for peace and quiet, and to the southern end for surfers riding a static wave known as Eisbachwelle (free; no website).
● Previously located on Marienplatz, the open-air food market Viktualienmarkt was moved to its present location — right next door — in 1807 (free; viktualienmarkt-muenchen.de). People come here to have a bite to eat or to do their shopping on the wooden stalls with striped awnings. Join the lunch queue for the very popular baked potatoes from Caspar Plautz (casparplautz.de) and try cheesecake from Patisserie Lea Zapf (leazapf.de).
● Finally, head to the Isar River. In summer, the banks are particularly busy with people who gather at the edge of the clear water to swim and socialize. Cycle south along the east bank of the Deutsches Museum for wilder, quieter spots (free; no website).
The coolest neighborhood
The Glockenbach area has gentrified since Freddie Mercury frequented his clubs, but remains a bustling area with lively bars and a cutting-edge food scene. It’s also a great place for shopping with fashionable boutiques and independent stores lining the streets around Gärtnerplatz. Try Madame Anna Ekke (madamannaekke.de) for breakfast, About Given (aboutgiven.de) for sustainable labels and Junge Römer (jungeroemer-muenchen.de) for fresh negronis.
Al fresco dining in Glockenbach
Where to eat and drink
A traditional yet contemporary Bavarian pub. The young owners, one of whom gives the bar its name, work closely with organic farmers and local producers to create an interesting menu. Find favorites like schnitzel, roast pork and macaroni-like käsespätzle. Leave room (and time) for kaiserschmarrn, a pancake pud that takes 25 minutes to make (dish from £12; xaver-s.de).
The Hutong Club
Once your eyes get used to this dimly lit restaurant in Schwabing, they’ll be drawn to the handmade noodles, colorful salads and steaming dumplings on offer, including lobster and saffron (dishes from £11 ; thehutongclub.de).
On the third floor of the futuristic BMW World, this gourmet restaurant has two Michelin stars and a view of the car showroom below. The driving force behind the multi-course tasting menu is Bobby Bräuer, one of Germany’s top chefs (five courses £160; feinkost-kaefer.de/esszimmer-muenchen).
This trendy cafe in the trendy Westend district specializes in white dishes and fresh waffles. Toppings vary but include combinations such as smoked salmon, pickled beets and sour cream (waffles from £8; bean-batter.de).
Cocktails at the curtain call
Run by the guys behind Illusionist, a gin produced in Munich, Curtain Call is a must for cocktail lovers. The dry gin, which changes from blue to purple-pink with the addition of tonic, makes an exciting base for their in-house creations (drinks from £8; curtaincall.bar).
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For a crash course in German wine, pull up on a stool or perch on the windowsill of this lively Old Town bar. Cozy and a little avant-garde, this place offers a wide selection of white and red wines from all over the country. Whatever you choose, the Brotzeit platters make a perfect match (mains from £4; das-griabig.de).
Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski
KEMPINSKI MEDIA LIBRARY
Where to stay
Cocoon Sendlinger Tor
This new budget hotel – one of three branches in Munich – is close to the southern gate of the Old Town. Since breakfast is more expensive, it might be worth going out. One of Munich’s best coffee roasters, Man Versus Machine, is just a ten-minute walk away (double room from £85; cocoon-hotels.de).
Hotel MOMA 1890
This charming hotel in Haidhausen has been run by the same family for generations. Thanks to its position next to the Ostbahnhof transport hub, you’ll have no problem finding fast connections around the city and to the airport (double room from £147; moma1890.com).
Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski
Located on Maximilianstrasse, Munich’s premier address for designer brands, this place is as luxurious as the shops that line it. With a classic charm, the hotel was opened in 1858. Its Michelin-starred restaurant, Schwarzreiter, serves ‘young Bavarian cuisine’ (double room from £318; kempinski.com).
If you only do one thing
For stunning views of the Old Town and beyond, climb the 306 steps to the top of St. Peter’s (Alter Peter). On a clear day you should see the Alps (£4; alterpeter.de).
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