When encountering the name Munich, one of a handful of images might spring to mind. A pigtailed beer girl wearing a dirndl, serving up one-litre tumblers at a crowded Oktoberfest. Pretzels, schnitzel and weisswurst served on every street corner. Mustachioed men in lederhosen walking through cobblestoned streets against a backdrop of stunning baroque architecture.
None of these are completely off the mark – you may easily come across the occasional traditional Bavarian get-up, the beer is especially delicious and there’s definitely no shortage of pretzels. But there’s plenty more to the city than the boozy 16-day festival – Munich has boasted an unshakable reputation as a mecca for art, culture and beautiful architecture since the 19th century, and was voted the most liveable city in the world twice by Monocle, in part due to its safety and large amounts of greenery.
If a visit to Munich is in the cards, here’s our shortlist of spots that should definitely make it onto your agenda.
Soak up some art
Lenbachhaus, a museum dedicated to German expressionism, shouldn’t be missed if just for the stunning building itself (a former villa of Munich aristocracy) and its gardens. The museum houses a comprehensive collection of works by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, who called Munich home in the 1900s with his artistic group the Blue Rider.
…and some sun
East of the museum district is the southern part of the Englischer Garten, a sprawling park larger than New York City’s Central Park, where locals sunbathe in the summer and daring river surfers brave the rapids on the Isar river.
Quaff a brew
There’s always Hofbräuhaus, the city’s most famous brewery and beer hall that’s full of revellers and band music every night of the week. But consider paying a visit to Augustiner Schwalbe instead – it’s a beer garden with a more relaxed atmosphere where you can enjoy your beer in a verdant courtyard or play ninepin kegel bowling alongside the locals.
Don’t have a beer
Bergwein is a wine boutique that specialises in wines from the northern alpine region of Italy and holds frequent tasting events, if you actually find yourself getting fed up with beer.
Sample some snacks
The Viktualienmarkt, an open-air farmer’s market, is also worth a visit – there are plenty of stalls selling meats, cheeses and fresh produce, but also preserves, wine, snacks and flowers. Buy a bag of chestnuts and top it off with a mug of mulled wine from one of many nearby street sellers during the winter months.
Shop, shop, shop
If it’s homewares you’re after, Kustermann is a family-owned, multi-floor store that offers everything from copper cookware to delicate ceramics.
Or, pay a visit to Ladoug, which is the perfect spot for furnishings, home accessories and textiles. You’ll also find local fashion favourites, handmade leather shoes and other cabinets of curiosities.
Put your feet up
Located directly across from Viktualienmarkt and a short stroll away from Marienplatz is the Louis Hotel, a 72-room boutique hotel that counts itself among the discerning Design Hotels portfolio of properties and that makes an excellent base for a visit. The 100-year-old building was revamped by Munich-based architecture firm Hild und K into a modern style, complete with French balconies.