Recently I spent four days in Munich on a city break holiday, and it was an amazing whirlwind of enjoyment. My friend and I were partaking in two or three activities daily, and so it was immensely intense but we managed to see so much of the city, and even surrounding areas (namely the beautiful Bavarian alps).
Here is my overview of the best things we did and saw in and around Munich;
1. Flacher Beach, River Isar
On our very first day we stumbled across this industrial looking pebble beach, the river Isar runs through here and locals use it as a beach spot. There is a stunning juxtaposition between the traditional church steeples in the backdrop versus the super industrial feel of this make shift beach. A cool place to chill and sunbathe, I would highly recommend checking out this spot.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle Tour & The Bavarian Alps
The world famous Neuschwanstein Castle is the most visited castle in Europe, and when you see it in reality you can really start to understand why. Not only is it surrounded by breath taking views of the alps; the stories behind the aloof, seclusive King Ludwig the Second who built the castle are even more alluring. The tour included exploring the grounds of Linderhof Castle (another of Ludwig’s haunts), Neuschwanstein Castle and a stop in a cute village called Unterammergau.
We pre-booked this coach trip, and we had to meet early morning in the city centre (near Marienplatz), and then took a two hour drive towards the alps.
The tour included an inside guided tour of Linderhof Castle and grounds. Linderhof is the smaller of the castles, but one in which King Ludwig spent more time at. Although the palace is much smaller than Versailles, Ludwig was inspired by King Louis XIV. Much of the interior is reminiscent of the former sun kings style, but you will learn more about this within the interior tour. An elaborate palace inside and out, it is just stunning amidst the mountain views.
Once we arrived at Neuschwanstein, we also had a guided tour booked for later that afternoon. The views surrounding these magical castles honestly are not truly depicted in these photographs, these are views that you really need to experience first hand. Neuschwanstein has its own legacy, it’s own story and it’s own superb beauty. Placed on the side of a mountain, King Ludwig the Second deliberately secluded himself from everyone and only resided for 162 days in the castle before his mysterious and sudden death.
Just one word of advice if you decide to visit the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Cinderella, logistically be aware that the castle is on a mountain. Ensure to wear walking shoes and have a bottle of water to hand! I’d also recommend booking the castle tours in advance as they are popular and do tend to sell out.
3. City Centre & Marienplatz
There is such an array of sights within the city centre, that I don’t actually know where to start! Marienplatz reminds me of what you would associate with typically Bavarian scenery, you have gothic style buildings (plenty of churches too) combined with white architecture and traditional touches.
It’s well worth visiting Marienplatz as it is surrounded by many quaint streets, shops, aesthetically pleasing buildings – as well as places to eat.
Traditional Bavarian Gift Store
4. The English Gardens & Hofgarten
Chances are if you’ve been googling Munich and things to do within the city, you’ve come across the English Gardens. The English Gardens is literally a garden fashioned upon English style gardens, complete with (once upon a time) rogue surfers! It all started in 1789 when Elector Carl Theodor ordered that a public park be established along the Isar River (Muenchen, 2019).
In German this spot is called ‘Eisbach’, and you can view professional surfers enjoying the waves. I must admit this was a rather surreal sight in the heart of the city but pretty cool all the same.
Just between the English Gardens and the Residenz is the Hofgarten. Facing the Hofgarten on the east side is the Bavarian Staatskanzlei (“State Chancellery”), housed in the former Army Museum, with the addition of glass wings left and right of the original building. The repurposed building was completed in 1993, and can be seen in the image below (Wikipedia, 2019).
Honestly walking through the English Gardens and then the Hofgarten, it’s almost like there are constant cultural or historical sights. I would recommend exploring these gardens, they are a popular spot for cyclists and joggers, and extremely pleasant. We cycled through as part of a three hour cycling tour, which was helpful as our guide was extremely knowledgeable.
4. BMW Welt and BMW Museum
Being the ultimate BMW fan girl, I knew it was my destiny to visit the BMW museum and headquarters. When deciding on a holiday destination this was quite literally the deciding factor for me. The passion I have for BMW, almost brought me to tears at the prospect of being able to visit the place where it all started.
I could quite honestly create an entire blog post just on my visit to the BMW world and museum. Perhaps my second favourite excursion after the beauty of Neuschwanstein. Another point of clarification I would like to state, because searching online this wasn’t clear to me at all. BMW Welt is basically the headquarters of BMW, and is mainly a showroom open to the public and a gift store. The BMW museum is ticketed and is where you will explore the history of the brand.
Entry into the BMW museum costs only 10 euros, which I thought was fair considering the amount that there is to see. Once you enter, you will see there is a visual timeline in chronological order descending through every room. Starting with the origins of BMW, through to their motorcycle history and finally the cars as we know them today.
Of course, a BMW museum containing a timeline of their history is not exactly an outstanding concept. In fact it’s probably what you’d expect. However, the ways in which this information is portrayed and delivered is what makes this museum well worth a visit. Every room has unique features and the information is presented in murals, artistic displays, videos and more.
I believe that the interesting visual ways in which the brands history is displayed is important, it means that people who aren’t necessarily overly passionate about cars can enjoy the museum from an artistic and creative perspective.
Maybe my favourite artistic delight was this suspended creation, if you look closely you can see the badges of almost every BMW model displayed.
I think the BMW museum is well worth a visit even if you only have a vague interest in cars, because the brand has become so much more than just that. Innovation, technological advancements and a lifestyle brand.
Honestly if anyone reading this is contemplating visiting Munich I would highly recommend it. It is a beautiful city, with a great sense of tradition and modernity existing in the most amazing ways. There are so many cultural and historical sights to visit, even walking around the city centre you’ll end up unintentionally viewing some of them! It’s also a city that is cheaper than London (although the Euro is now almost the same value as the pound but that’s another issue entirely).
Finally, if you do visit the city enjoy!