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It's time for one of my occasional travel guides, this time to Munich. For previous guides, see:
I have been to Munich literally dozens of times. That said, I'm hardly an expert since most of that time I've been working, not visiting museums, and doing other touristy things.
The first time I visited was as a student in 1973 on an Interrail tour around Europe for a month. It seemed very expensive, too expensive for our student budgets to stay overnight. "I know a good place to eat in Paris," one of my friends said. So we took the overnight train to Paris. We actually traveled at night as much as we could since we didn't waste daytime hours stuck on trains, and if you are on the train overnight, you don't need to pay for somewhere to stay.
I think the next time I came to Munich was when I lived in Sophia Antipolis, in France. We had monthly management operations reviews in Munich, so I spent a couple of days in Munich every month, although mostly stuck in a conference room or else having dinner with the rest of the European operating team. Then there was another hiatus until I rejoined Cadence in 2015, at which point I started coming to Munich for CadenceLIVE (fka CDNLive). As I type this, I am here in Munich again for this year's CadenceLIVE.
As a result of all this, I have been to Munich dozens of times.
Of course, there are thousands of hotels in the city, and I'm sure they are all fine. My go-to choice, though, is the Hilton Munich City. This is not because of anything especially wonderful about the hotel. It's a normal Hilton, but it's because of its location. The first aspect of this is that it is on the S-bahn tunnel. You can get the S-bahn from the airport, get off at Rosenheimerplatz, and take an elevator to the hotel lobby. You can literally get from your plane to your room without going outside, which is especially convenient if it is snowing or raining or just freezing cold.
By the way, you should download the MVV-App and link up your credit card. This allows you to buy public transit tickets on your phone without needing to go near a ticket machine. One particularly useful ticket to know about when you arrive gives you one ride from the airport into town and then unlimited use of the subway for the rest of the day.
The next aspect of the location is that the hotel is within walking distance from Marienplatz (see below), the center of the city. In the other direction, it is within walking distance from the Deutschesmuseum, the largest science museum in the world.
You shouldn't come to Munich without going to the famous Marienplatz. On one side of the square is the famous Rathaus. I know that sounds unappealing in English, but it is just the town hall. But don't restrict yourself to that square alone. If you wander around the area, there are any number of impressive squares and classical-styled buildings with pillars and sculptures.
In November and December (like right now), there is a Christkindlmarkt or Christmas market. The rest of the year it is mostly open space (and rather easier to get a good photo).
If you are in the mood for some of the best cakes you can get, I recommend Woerner's Patisserie and Café at what I think of as the far end of Marienplatz.
One thing to see, although it counts as ultra-touristy, is the glockenspiel. At 11 am and 12 pm (only) every day, the glockenspiel plays and the two carousels, one of jousting knights and one of dancers, spring into action.
For more about the museum, see my post German Computer Museums. As I said above, it is the largest science museum in the world. My focus in the post linked to was on the computer section. But there are sections on all sorts of things, from musical instruments to planes and more. Whatever your interests, it is worth a visit.
The B in BMW stands for Bayerische, which means Bavarian. The headquarters of BMW is in Munich, the capital of Bavaria. It has an interesting museum that is worth a visit. I have been there, but for some reason, I didn't write a full post about it. Maybe next year since I didn't go yesterday either. I am here with my wife, and despite the fact that she owns a Mini (part of BMW), I couldn't interest her in a car museum.
And yes, that really is a BMW above. The 1955 BMW Isetta. Maybe not quite the ultimate driving machine!
There is a ridiculously large number of museums in Munich, covering history, art, palaces, and more. I've been to a couple of art galleries, but I can barely remember which, except I remember one was the huge Kunsthalle ("kunst" means art). Google around to see which museums interest you the most since it is impossible to see them all.
I've not been there, but there is even a museum of the potato (Kartoffelmuseum).
Not far from Marienplatz, maybe a 30-minute walk, is an enormous park, the Englischer Garten (yes, that means English garden). It has literally miles of footpaths, rivers, and bridges. Not to mention a couple of biergartens where you can get not just beer but food. I suppose it is the equivalent of Central Park in New York or Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Especially in summer, it is a great place to while away for a few hours and get a little exercise (and a beer).
Talking of food, I have a couple of recommendations. Obviously, I have only been to a few of the thousands of restaurants in the city, and at least one that I would have recommended didn't survive the pandemic and closed permanently.
For traditional Bavarian food, my recommendation is Spatenhaus near Marienplatz, but far enough away that it is full of locals, not tourists. It is actually not really my recommendation but that of my ex-boss Craig Cochran, who used to be Cadence's VP Corporate Marketing. He lived in Munich for a few years, and he introduced me to it as his favorite place, so I'm passing on the recommendation.
Bavarian food is great to experience, but if you are in Munich for a few days you, certainly won't want to eat it every meal. If you have taken my advice to stay at the City Hilton, then there is a wonderful tapas bar nearby called Teatro Bar Tapas. You should have a reservation if you don't want to wait too long.
Another thing you should try is weisswurst (white sausage). Traditionally (meaning before refrigeration), this had to be eaten before the first stroke of noon on the clock tower. It is eaten with sweet mustard. Even more traditionally, but not something I recommend, it is eaten with a beer. However, since it is traditionally a morning dish, your hotel breakfast buffet almost certainly includes it. And if you go to somewhere like the aforementioned Spatenhaus, there is a cutoff time (3 pm), after which they stop serving it. Since we have refrigeration, I suspect this is more tradition than for any really good reason.
The other Bavarian food you have to try is Schweinhaxe, usually described as "pork knuckle" in English. The best place to get it was Haxnbauer, but Google tells me it didn't survive the pandemic and is permanently closed. But any Bavarian bierkeller will have it too.
Of course, you have heard of Oktoberfest. Despite the name, this mostly takes place in September. It lasts for a couple of weeks and ends on the first Sunday in October. When I used to come to Munich for those operations reviews, the September review usually involved an office trip to Oktoberfest where we would have booked a table a year in advance. But hotels are all full and expensive, so finding accommodation can be a challenge unless you do it literally six months in advance.
Everything so far is in central Munich and doesn't require a car. But if you have a car, there are a few places you can add to the list:
Ammersee and Andechs: Ammersee is a huge lake ("see" means lake) with lots of great views and places to walk. Nearby is Andechs Abbey. This is a very old monastery dating back to 1100. The monastery also has a brewery. I have heard that traditionally, the monks would not eat during fasts like Lent. They are fasts, after all. But they would allow themselves beer. So they brewed beer that is strong and has a lot of nutrition. Plus, they sold it to pilgrims (and probably you, if you go) to support the monastery.
Austria: Austria is a very long country from East to West. Salzburg is less than two hours from Munich, whereas Vienna is nearly five hours. But if you want to satisfy your Sound of Music itch, Salzburg is not far at all.
There are obviously many other places you can reach by car, far too many to list. It is not far from the mountains, with any number of walks of varying degrees of difficulty, many of them to the top of the mountains where you will find a cafe serving food and beer.
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