Munich is the capital and warm “heart” of Bavaria. This cosmopolitan city has been called one of the most livable cities in Europe with reason. It is friendly and sophisticated, traditional and trendy, historic and modern, and holds one of the largest parties in the world, the famous Oktoberfest beer festival.
Tourists as well as locals gravitate to the Altstadt, the old town and gather in the pedestrian only Marienplatz with the imposing Neues Rathaus, the new town hall dominating its center. People love to gaze up and watch the Glockenspiel with its mechanical, almost life size figures and listen to the 43 bell carillon. From the square, you can see the twin copper clad onion domes of the famous Frauenkirche, the Cathedral of Our Lady which is the symbol of Munich.
At one end of the square is the Altes Rathaus, the old town hall with its colorful turrets. There is an interesting antique toy museum in the tower.
Within a few minutes walking distance from the Marienplatz, is the famous Hofbrauhaus beer hall that everyone enjoys stopping at for at least one mug of beer. You can sit in one the large interior rooms or when the weather is nice enjoy the outdoor beer garden.
In the same pretty square as the Hofbrauhaus, there are colorful and beautifully decorated buildings with outside cafes where you can linger in nice weather.
Celebrity TV chef Alfonso Schuhbeck has his Michelin star restaurant on the square and it is excellent. He also a more casual restaurant and terrace at the historic Orlando Haus which my husband and I had not tried until this visit. We enjoyed sitting outside for a light lunch of inventive salads accompanied by glasses of beer and wine.
Because the Altstadt is where everyone likes to be, it is nice to stay in a hotel nearby. One block away on the fashionable Maximillianstrasse is one of my favorite hotels in Europe, the Kempinski Vier Jahreszeiten, which means Four Seasons. The hotel was built in 1858 as a showcase hotel to accommodate visitors to the city as well as royalty and guests of King Maximilian.
Walk into the lobby and you will see why it is called the living room of Munich. I love to sit there and enjoy a cup of tea, cappuccino or glass of Champagne and watch all the comings and goings. There is also a wonderful piano bar off the lobby with so much atmosphere that you can’t resist sitting in one of the red leather chairs under the fringed brass lamps, listening to the piano music while having a pre dinner apéritif or cocktail.
Having dinner in the hotel’s restaurant Vue Maximilian is always a lovely experience. The menu has regional specialties as well as innovative new dishes, most using local produce.
After a full day of sightseeing, it feels good to go to your room for a good night’s sleep. The rooms in this tradition hotel are all decorated differently and in very good taste. I especially loved the warm and inviting colors of our beautiful room.
After breakfast from the extensive buffet, we got an early start on a day of sightseeing. A favorite stop is always the Viktualienmarkt which is just a three minute walk from the Marienplatz. Just look for the tall Maypole which can easily be seen from a distance.
If you are a foodie, this wonderful 200 year old open air market should be high on your list of places to visit. Fresh meats and sausages, seafood, fruits and vegetable stalls are just part of your choices. Beautiful flower stalls where flowers are organized by colors are also prevalent. There are also stalls that sell deli items and cooked meals. Buy something to eat and take it to the markets’ popular beer garden. By a beer and sit shoulder to shoulder with thousands of others at picnic tables under the canopy of old chestnut trees.
I love that Munich is all about saving the old, but still looking to the future in all ways.
You can find every famous designer clothing boutique on the Maximillianstrasse but still find stores that sell the must exquisitely made traditional clothing that you see people wearing anytime during the week…holiday or not.
In one of the towns on the outskirts of Munich, we enjoyed a local festival where many of the people were dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing. I think the whole town turned out for the music, traditional dances and a market that was being held.
One of the reasons I enjoy Bavaria is the strong ties that the people have to their traditions, rich culture and their joy of life. At its heart and soul is the lovely city of Munich.
To learn more about what you should see when visiting Munich, you might be interested in my previous articles.
Munich is an alive and friendly European city that has stolen my heart. I’m sure that if you get a chance to visit, you will feel the same way.