We might have missed Oktoberfest (intentionally), but that didn’t take away from our enjoyment of Monaco di Baviera (as the Italians refer to it). We loved all of the delicious food and drink, world-class museums and beautiful green spaces, and came to really appreciate this self-proclaimed "northernmost Italian city". Our favorite part was just walking through all the parks and breathing in the scent of Autumn’s arrival in Bavaria; the beer and pretzels are a close second. Munich was the perfect relaxing end to our trip.
Museums and Sights
This large public park (larger than New York’s Central park) is 910 acres of beauty and relaxation. You can go there for cold drinks, hot food, live music (oompah), leisurely strolls, lovely bike rides, competitive pickup soccer and beautiful views. This park really is the best way to spend a sunny Saturday. If traveling to Munich again, we would set aside an entire day to just enjoy this park and all that it has to offer.
The Viktualienmarkt is a daily food market and a square in the center of the city that includes 140 stalls and shops. It is packed full of energy and delicious food and drink. For people that are slightly obsessed with food (while eating breakfast we talk of lunch, at lunch we discuss dinner, etc.), this is a paradise. I can still smell the deliciously stinky cheese and robust espresso. Oh and it has a a genuine May Pole!
This museum is used to showcase temporary and traveling exhibitions, and has a complex and controversial past. Originally built as the Third Reich's first monumental structure of Nazi architecture, it was intended to house art they deemed Germany’s finest. It now contains artwork Hitler would have condemned and viewed as "degenerate". Due to lucky timing, we were able to see a very interesting exhibit that examined this complex history and the building’s ideological uses called Histories in Conflict. The other current exhibit, Ends of the Earth, presented a comprehensive historical overview of land art from its beginnings to 1974. Both shows were extremely well conceived and presented.
Learn more about the exhibit Histories in Conflict
Learn more about the exhibit Ends of the Earth
This park was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics, and now serves as a venue for cultural and social events. On a beautiful fall day at the end of the Munich marathon it was packed full of people, and we loved just walking around and seeing all the interesting architecture. We were in the mood for a bit of a workout and hiked up the hill in the middle of the park. Our worthwhile reward was a stunning 360-degree view of Munich and the surrounding area.
This palace was founded as a summer residence for the rulers of Bavaria. Arriving too late in the day to go into the palace itself, we spent hours enjoying the beautiful and relaxing park. We felt like we escaped the bustle of the city walking along lovely canals and lakes, surrounded by trees on tiny pathways, and not hearing a sound besides the crunching leaves beneath our feet.
The Neue Pinakothek focuses on European Art of the 18th and 19th century. The extensive collection is presented in a very thoughtful manner, and we really appreciated the informative audio guide.
The Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest galleries in the world and houses a famous collection of Old Master paintings. We were actually lucky enough to attend a concert in the Rubens gallery, and during intermission walk through more galleries to view additional impressive works. Stunning music and artwork, it was a brilliant last evening in Munich.
Food and Drink
We love Lebanese food and were lucky enough to find Ksara (thanks Qype). Everything was spiced perfectly and very fresh. From the falafels to hummus to fattoush to batata harra, everything was delcious. The only thing we would change is how quickly we ate everything...don’t get between us and our hummus!
This biergarten and hall serves up big beers and giant plates of tasty food. The place was buzzing with hungry and energetic people, giving us a glimpse of the energy that must be in abundance during Oktoberfest. They place an emphasis on locally sourced items, which made us happy, and the späztle, sausages and beer were very very good. Just keep your elbows down or you might get bumped by one of the zippy beermaids.
This had to be the restaurant with the coolest interior on our trip. They placed tree trunks throughout the restaurant making it feel like you are sitting in the middle of the woods from a Brothers Grimm story. The burgers were yummy, the crowd was young and fun, and our server was delightful. Did we mention they made the best BBQ sauce outside of the US?
We tried to go to this restaurant twice, the first time there was no room and the second time our only option was to sit outside in the cold, with a heat lamp. We figured if it was that crowded on the inside it must be good, and it was. In addition to the heat from the lamp, we were warmed by hearty German dishes and wine. This would definitely be a place we would keep going back to if we lived in Munich.
In need of a brezel (pretzel), weisswurst and mustard experience we went to Wirtshaus Zur Brez’n. Everything we had there was very tasty and Stephanie (the pretzel hater) was won over by this Munich tradition. It turns out all she needed was really yummy mustard to go along with her pretzel. Who knew?
We always find ourselves searching out good Italian food wherever we go, and we were able to find Seerose based on a local’s recommendation. It was perfect. We had breakfast and lunch here, and Bryan was able to practice his Italian (nothing makes him happier). A cornetto with marmellata and a stunning cappuccino took us back to Sicily...bravo Seerose!
While in the market we were needing some caffeine to keep going, and the most delicious smell pulled us into this small stand. The coffee was brilliant and exactly what we needed to be reenergized. Great espresso blend and a perfectly pulled shot!
This was probably our food/drink highlight in Munich. Everything was perfect. The staff was delightful, the coffee was delicious, the pastries were spectacular, the interior was beautiful and the crowd was really pleasant. The only thing we would change is the location...is it possible to move an entire cafe from Munich to Oakland?