Nailing your Germany vacation: What to do, what to eat and where to stay in Munich
By Dan Koday, Feb 2020
Munich's best known for Oktoberfest, but that doesn't mean you can't delight in this bustling German city year-round. Here's what's hot in the Bavarian capital, just in time for your next Germany vacation.
What to see
Think of Munich Law Library as the opposite of the dim fluorescent lighting and low ceilings of your alma mater's reading room. The world-renowned library is jaw-dropping, bedecked with details that make it reminiscent of a forest from a Brothers Grimm fairytale. Make sure that your smartphone is juiced up so you can capture the library's fine filigrees, such as the intricately carved vines and leaves on the railings and paneling, the ornate spiral staircase and book-stuffed oak cabinets.
See the baroque Nymphenburg Palace's magnificent fountain and manicured gardens.
The 17th-century Nymphenburg Palace is a massive baroque and rococo castle that grew bigger and more opulent over five generations of Bavarian rule. Admire the lavish decor inside on your way to the Gallery of Beauties, a gallery that, as its name implies, is filled with portraits of beautiful German noblewomen from the 19th century. Outside, your camera will find the best light to photograph Nymphenburg in the spring or summer, when the sun reflects off the nearby fountain and the palace's groomed gardens are in full bloom. The palace is also adjacent to Mozzamo, one of Munich's best excuses to take a break from German food. A quick 10-minute walk from the castle, the restaurant serves tasty wood-fired pizzas, rich pastas and other elegant Italian dishes.
Make room in your German vacation itinerary for Marienplatz, Munich's central square, and Neues Rathaus, the city's new town hall; the famed Residenz, a palace-turned-museum and prestigious concert venue; and Asam Chapel, a baroque beauty. And few Munich experiences live up to seeing the hundreds of urban surfers line up at Eisbachwelle, a continuous wave on the man-made Eisbach river in the Englischer Garten. If you're confident in your surfing skills, you can suit up and try the wave yourself, but be warned: It's not suitable for beginners.
Pro tip: For the ultimate Germany vacation in Munich filled with memories (and photos) of you and your crew decked out in your finest lederhosen and dirndl, you'll of course want to opt for October dates. The Bavarian bands, the singing, the dancing and the seemingly endless supply of German grog and grub make Oktoberfest a bucket list trip you need to experience to believe.
Visit the famous beer court in Munich's Englischer Garten as you take in the impressive Chinese Tower.
What to eat and drink
This is Munich, so let's get those iconic beer halls out of the way. The Augustiner-Keller, the Paulaner Bräuhaus and the Hofbräuhaus are can't-miss spots for suds, for sure, but the Englischer Garten still serves as one of our favorites, especially in the warmer months. The park has its own beer hall, where you can sit in the shadow of the Chinese Tower, an 18th-century wooden pagoda-style tower.
For eats, hit up the Viktualienmarkt, a food market with fresh honey, vegetables, sausages, spices and more. If you're on the hunt for popular restaurants, you'll find them in the high-end and vibrant Schwabing district, an energetic area known for its culture and diversity. At Tantris, scrumptious dishes are served up surrounded by a playful mix of midcentury modern chairs, extravagant light fixtures and curved chandeliers, crimson red walls and Oriental statues. The splurge is worth it just to sit and snap pics of the Justus Dahinden-designed dining rooms.
Bratwurst, potato soups, pretzels and Black Forest cake make up the menu at the Ratskeller, a traditional cellar dining hall. Restaurant Alte Heide's traditional pub has a no-frills charm and cheap, tasty German grub. The schnitzel is just 11 euros, and there's an extensive list of beers and German wines priced between 2 and 4 euros.
Where to stay
Sleek, modern rooms and large soaking tubs make Sofitel Munich Bayerpost a sure bet. The hotel, set in a handsome Wilhelminian building, is a perfect example of how old meets new in a city that values minimalist, functional design. Our favorite part is easily the indoor pool, with its soothing curved mosaic walls and candlelit mood lighting, which make it a relaxing experience regardless of the season.
The bright, contemporary guest digs at the Hotel NH München Messe are as spacious as they are comfortable. The hotel is set slightly outside the city center but conveniently situated near stops for Munich's reliable public transportation system, and we like this spot's Insta-worthy European hotel breakfast spread.
Whenever you decide to visit Munich, the Bavarian capital is brimming with sites, experiences and German fare that will leave you thirsty for more.
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