Make the Most of Munich
Munich is Germany in microcosm, both satisfying all the visions of Bavarian life that you’re imagining, while still holding onto a few surprises. Nestled along the River Isar, with the Alps as a breathtaking backdrop, this upscale city boasts Baroque churches, designer stores, a world-famous clock tower, and not-to-be-missed Oktoberfest. Visiting over the winter holidays? The Christmas markets are superb. Here’s how to make the most of your time in Munich.
Marvel at the World-Famous Glockenspiel
More than a century old, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel is the jewel of Munich’s New City Hall tower. Two times a day (or three from March to October), the clock’s 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures come to life as the wooden characters cycle through the balcony. There are two festive scenes depicted: a wedding, including a jousting tournament, and a traditional Schäffler dance, celebrating the end of the Black Plague. Stop by at 11 am, or 12 pm (also 5 pm between March and October).
Witness The Devil’s Footprint
An iconic site along the Munich skyline, with its twin blue-green domes, the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, also referred to as “Frauenkirche,” is said to house the Devil’s footprint. The legend goes like this.
The interior of the church, though fairly bright thanks to white columns and golden arches, was supposedly visited by the devil, who scoffed at the “windowless” nave. (In Baroque times, the higher church windows were sometimes hard to see beyond the high altar.) Happy to have found a dark space, the Devil danced around the church, but quickly saw the windows. Angered, he stomped down onto the ground, leaving a permanent black mark, which you can see in today’s entryway. See for yourself on a tour of the magnificent Frauenkirche.
Sip and Snack
Munich is the beer capital of the world and is well known for its 210-year-old Oktoberfest. If your trip coincides with this jolly festival, you really must celebrate your good timing with a local beer. Ready for another Stein full? Just say, “Noch ein Bier bitte!” (another beer, please!). To really get into the spirit, consider a guided tour of the Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, one of the city's most popular and world-famous beer halls.
The regional cuisine of Bavarian Munich is one of its greatest assets. Come with an appetite for everything from Weisswurst (white veal sausage) to schnitzel (breaded and fried meat cutlets). Don’t miss the famous bretzel (pretzel), which pairs well with a pint of beer.
Tour Old Town
In addition to the Rathaus-Glockenspiel and the Frauenkirche, you’ll have the chance to see the Maximillianstrasse, the Residenz and the Feldherrnhalle at Odeonsplatz on an Old Town tour. Sip for a while and soak up the ambiance of the city at the bustling, open-air Viktualienmarkt.
Stroll through the Englischer Garden
The English Garden is the largest city park in Germany at 910 acres. Any time of year, it’s worth a walk along its winding bridle paths and past pretty streams and an artificial lake. Be sure to stop at the Chinesischen (Chinese Tower), a 25-meter-tall pagoda, and the Japanese Garden, with an authentic teahouse. The Eisbach River boasts a natural phenomenon in the park, too: the Eisbachwelle, a wave created where the river emerges from underground. Watch as experienced surfers take to the swell!
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