Updated: Jan 16
This photo was taken in Fünf Höfe, one of the more popular shopping centers in Munich.
For this week's blog post, I wanted to talk about perhaps a slightly less popular European city: Munich, Germany.
My favorite part about Munich, which is known for Oktoberfest every fall, is its people. When I visited Munich two summers ago, I visited several of my German friends there. While two were distant relatives of mine, I also had the opportunity to meet with my friend Simon, a German student I met through my high school orchestra's German exchange program.
A photo of my German friend Simon and I in Marienplatz—the city's landmark. Fun fact: Passenger played an impromptu performance here ten minutes after we left the square—I was so bummed we missed it!
As of now, I've been to Germany three times and I've never been disappointed. Although the country's cities may not have as many tourist attractions or eclectic activities to do as compared to cities such as Paris or London, I've always had a great time.
When you first land in Germany, probably one of the first things you will notice is the German hospitality. Whether you are talking with a German flight attendant or asking a local directions to your hotel, everyone is more than welcoming and accommodating.
A photo of a concierge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Munich and I after talking to her about German life and Munich for about an hour; it's not hard to make friends with strangers in Germany.
In Munich, I actually stayed at two different hotels. This was because Munich was the start and end point for my European "road trip" I took with my dad the summer before I started college.
My favorite hotel that we stayed at was called Hotel Schlicker. Although it was quaint and small, my favorite part about it was its location right in the heart of Munich and the lovely garden the hotel had in the back of the lobby.
A photo of my German distant relatives, my father and I toasting to our first night in Munich. We enjoyed watching the sunset and catching up over some quality German beers.
However, if you are willing to splurge a little bit, I had a chance to visit the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Munich and LET ME TELL YOU; the panoramic view of the city from it's rooftop bar (and pool deck) will win you over. Even though we weren't staying there, the staff was willing to give us a tour of the hotel and the bar. All I can say is, if you are willing to splurge, 10/10 recommend!
Views of Munich from the rooftop bar and pool deck of the Mandarin Oriental.
Near the hotel, there are also a lot of great places to grab quality beer, brats and wienerschnitzel. Just a walking distance from the Mandarin, you can find the Hofbräuhaus, which is perhaps the city's most famous beer hall. My only recommendation is to go off-hours if you can; because the beer hall is so popular, it tends to get crowded pretty quickly—especially on the weekends.
For a quieter and more casual authentic dining experience, I would recommend Zum Dürnbräu—also walking distance from the Mandarin. This restaurant was so good, we actually visited it twice during our stay!
Another popular tourist destination, which I would also say is definitely worth seeing, is the Englischer Garten, otherwise known as the English Garden. If it's a nice and sunny day out, plan a few hours out of your day to walk through the park's shady trails; not only is it a great picnic location, but also a great place to go surfing!
Wait, Caroline—did you say surfing? In Germany?
Why yes, I did! Tucked away near one of the exits of the garden is an incredible man-made wave pool called the Eisbach Wave; surfers from all over the world visit the pool to see what it's all about. I think my dad and I spent a good hour watching the variety of surfers jump in and test their skill; this is by far a must-see location in Munich!
This is a video I took when I was watching the surfers (I apologize for the poor quality).
The park was by far my favorite part of Munich. One of my fondest memories of the park was when my dad and I were trying to get to the other end of the park, but realized we were short on time. Naturally, we decided to take one of the many rickshaws that were lined up near our end of the park. That decision ended up being probably one of our best on the trip. Not only did we have a merry, chatty German as our "driver," but he also drove like a maniac!
We were weaving in and out of crowds as a boombox was blasting German music from behind our seats. I tried to stifle my laughter as my father was gripping the seat as hard as he could. We also decided to get ice cream before the ride, so as we were dodging tourists left and right, we were licking our ice cream as fast as we could so it wouldn't spill out of our cones on the bumpy ride. I felt an adrenaline rush for probably the entire ten minutes it took us to get to the other side of the park—half of the time I felt so alive, and the other half I was fearing for my life!
Next on the list of recommendations: shopping locations. Of course I can't write a review of a city without discussing its shops. I will say, Munich does not have a great variety of stores to shop in. Besides the popular European brands that you can find in most large European cities (Desigual, Zara, etc,), there weren't many unique stores that caught my eye. However, if I did have to recommend one place in the city to shop, I would tell you to go to the Fünf Höfe, which is a collection of more luxury retail stores in the city. For me, I did a lot of window shopping there; but between the cool architecture of the center (see first photo of the blog post) to seeing my first ever Armani Caffè (talk about bougie!), Fünf Höfe managed to keep me entertained during a two hour rainstorm.
Fünf Höfe hosts an eclectic collection of luxury stores and trendy restaurants.
And that about sums it up for my trip to Munich! Overall, I think it's a great city to visit, but I don't think I would fly overseas to see Munich alone. My dad and I pretty much saw everything we wanted to see in Munich after about four days; so, if you were to go to Germany, I would also definitely hit up some of the other popular cities—such as Berlin or Hamburg—if possible.
Regardless, I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to visit the city and to have made such incredible memories there. Below, I'll post a list of some other popular Munich bucket list ideas if you are planning on taking a trip to Munich in the near future:
Watch the clock at Marienplatz; once every hour, the Rathaus-Glockenspiel will chime, and tourists will flock the square to watch the display.
If you are visiting during the Euro Cup (or anytime Germany/a German team is playing soccer), definitely go to a a nearby bar and people watch. It's so much fun.
Climb to the top of the Cathedral Church of Our Lady to get a panoramic view of Marienplatz and the City. Warning: definitely do not recommend doing while jetlagged or while wearing uncomfortable shoes. Climbing to the top is a feat!
For an awesome, unique ice cream cone visit Der verrückte Eismacher. It's Alice in Wonderland themed and hosts a variety of crazy, Mad-Hatter- inspired flavors, from beer-flavored ice cream to even asparagus-flavored ice cream!
Do you have any other recommendations for places to go in Munich? Any stories? I'd love to hear them! Thank you again for taking the time to read my blog.