Live like a local in… Munich!

Photo: Sami Tuoriniemi

While it’s Oktoberfest in Munich, here’s our local guide to the Bavarian capital with a lot more tips to do when you’re done with the madness of the “Wies’n”, as the locals call.

Words by Anna Langer

In a recent article the New York Times confirmed what Bavarians have known forever – forget Berlin, Munich is the hottest destination in Germany. The city on the banks of river Isar has a special way of combining nature and traditionalism with modern coolness, plus it’s known as THE Mecca for boardsports lovers and action-girls of all sorts. Where else can you do snowboarding, skating and surfing all in one day?


If you come to the city for the first time, you should start with a stroll around Viktualienmarkt in the city centre. Try some of the typical Bavarian delicacies like Weißwürste (cooked veal sausage) or Leberkäs-Semmel (very special type of meat loaf, but you’re better off not knowing the exact ingredients), which are sold from typical old market stalls.

If the weather gods are on your side, there’s nothing better than a visit to one out of over a hundred of Munich’s beer gardens. This is where you get the famous “Maß”, a litre-jug of beer, as well as typical Munich dishes like Obazda (savoury mixture of different creamy cheeses) and Steckerlfisch (salted grilled fish). An ancient tradition lets you bring your own food to eat alongside bought drinks, so people of all ages have their picnics on chequered tablecloths on the long, wooden tables.

The Königliche Hirschgarten in the west of Munich, is the biggest beer garden in Europe, woo hoo! It’s not only surrounded by a huge park, it also has it’s own enclosure for wild deer. Here tradition is still taken seriously and you wont get beer at the bar unless you bring a jug that you have to fetch from a rack and wash by yourself. If you’re looking for a scenic beer garden in the city, go for a walk through the English Garden: at the Chinesischer Turm you can listen to a Bavarian folk band and the Seehaus more to the north is the catwalk for Munich’s high society, where it’s all about to see and be seen.


When beer gardens close at 11 p.m. (as does the Wies’n) it’s time for the revellers to head to Glockenbach Viertel or Schwabing, where there are so many bars they almost stack on top of each other. Check out the Schall und Rauch (Schellingstr. 22) close to university for an alternative casual vibe. If you prefer stylish bar hopping with live DJs you’d want to hit the Café am Hochhaus in Blumenstr. 29 or Ksar (Müllerstr. 31) in Glockenbach Viertel. THE place to be for the Munich in-crowd (and all who think they are) is the New York Bar by German skate legend Robinson Kuhlmann (Cornelisustr. 14), that is always packed to the brims – in- as well as outside.

If you’re in the mood for Bavarian flair, stay clear of the oh-so-well-known Hofbräuhaus, rather check out the drinking halls Augustiner-Bräustuben (Landsberger Str. 19) or Löwenbräukeller (Nymphenburger Str. 2), which is also called “lion’s cave” for a good reason. Instead of Japanese tourists you can meet some Munich originals here.

If you feel the urge to shake things up a bit, Munich has an awesome club scene directly in the city. Atomic Café at Marienplatz (Neutrumstr. 5) is the first choice for indie rock and alternative, at the Rote Sonne at Stachus (Maximiliansplatz 5) you can witness the finest electro and house tunes in town and in the Ersten Liga (Thalkirchnerstr. 2) you get a good mix of everything. If you fancy hooking up with one of the star-kickers of the FC Bayern and don’t mind insanely overpriced drinks, mingle with the party crowd at P1. Getting in used to be as hard as getting Boris Becker to keep his pants on, but today a nice smile and decent dress should do the deal.


Photo: Udo Titz

Alongside its reputation for tradition and high society, Munich is heaven on earth for all kinds of boardsports lovers. Just one hour by train or car takes you to various Munich “homespots” (Spitzing, Brauneck, Garmisch-Partenkirchen/Zugspitze) and many Austrian ski resorts are pretty damn close too. Though the true highlight lays in the heart of the city – the standing wave at the Eisbach, at the beginning of English Garden, where you can watch dedicated surfers follow their passion in the icy river almost all year long. Even spoiled Hawaiians such as Jack Johnson get tempted when they visit the Bavarian capital. It’s not uncommon to see guys and girls with surfboards under their arms cycling by when you’re sitting in a nice café in Schwabing (like Vorstadt-Cafe in Türkenstr. 83). Due to very strong currents, surfing the Eisbach isn’t for beginners, instead they should try the gentler wave at Floßlände (Thalkirchen) first.

And if you prefer hard concrete beneath your feet, you won’t get bored in Munich either. Four years ago the Keyhole Skatepark in Lerchenau (next to the lake Fasaneriesee) opened its gates to two bowls and loads of action. One of the local’s favourite places to hang out is the stairs of the opera, where skaters present their tricks to a crowd of mostly young people in spontaneous sessions.

With a bluebird sky you can see the Alps from the southern spheres of Munich, and after a couple hours driving you can even enjoy a nice Espresso at Lake Garda, which is great for mountain biking. When you’ve had enough action, try to fit in a visit to Deutsches Museum (entrance fee 8,50 euros), which is the world’s largest museum for science and technology.


Munich’s gay district around the Gärtnerplatz has sweet second hand stores and cute little shops like Salon Tsé Tsé, where you get all kind of hotchpotch (Jahnstr. 25). Those who want to spend their money in a more classy way should head to Schwabing, especially in the Türken- und Hohenzollernstraße where you’ll find millions of ways to get rid of your cash. A good choice is Karma Karma, for very stylish fashion and lots of pretty little things (Friedrichstr. 28 Ecke Hohenzollernstraße). When your funds start to vanish, you can still get some nice bargains at the flea market at the Trabrennbahn in Daglfing in the eastern parts of the city. Make sure you go there first thing in the morning, as the Munich vintage-hunters are real early birds (Saturdays, take the train S 8 and get off at Daglfing, then take the bus or walk to the harness racing track).


Although Munich is one of the most expensive cities in Germany, you don’t have to spend all your beer money on accommodation. Next to the main station in the city centre are the A&O (Arnulfstr. 102 ) and the Euro Youth Hostel (Senefelderstr. 5). The atmosphere resembles comedy school trips, but the prices are unbeatable. 15 minutes walking distance from Marienplatz is Hotel Mariandl (Goethestr. 51), some of the cute old-fashioned rooms overlook a tiny romantic courtyard. The whole building is quite old and looks a bit worn, but that only adds to the rustic charm. Chic Munich also has a couple of design hotels where you can expect to spend 175 euros or more for a double room. Very nice ones are Hotel La Maison in Schwabing (Occamstr. 24 ) or Anna Hotel at Stachus (Schützenstr. 1).

Getting Around

Public transport is super-well developed. The S-Bahn trains go to most sights in the hinterland and with the wide net of underground trains, buses and trams you can reach even the most remote corners of town without too much trouble. A single ride costs 2,40 euros, though usually it’s wiser to get a day ticket or a multi-journey ticket/travel card for more than one ride (Streifenkarte). Make sure you stamp your ticket before boarding – inspectors have no mercy, even with ignorant tourists! Of course there are also cabs on every corner, but they are, like everything in Munich, quite expensive.

Essential Vocabs

Servus –Cheers
Do legst di nieda {Do leagst dee needa} – when you’re stoked about something
A Hoibe und a Brezn bittschee {Ah hoybe unt ah Bretzn bitschay} –a beer and pretzl please
Saupreißn {Saupreissn} – a nasty word for non-Bavarians

Rough Spend

Night in hotel (double room): from 69 euros
Night in hostel (6 to 8 bed room): from 12 euros
Beer: From 2,90 euros – depending on the location
Schweinsbraten (roasted pork): approx. 7 euros
Day-Ticket from 5.50 euros


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