Quick recap. We moved to Munich for Shane’s position. The original plan was to be in Munich for about three months, then the lab project would take us to Tena, Ecuador, for about two years. Like most, coronavirus put us in a state of limbo, but not anymore, folks!
The lab got travel approval, and September 13th Shane, Lucie, Meatball, and I are moving to South America!
As such, it’s time for The Shwits Make the Most of Munich: Summer 2021 Edition!
Munich is living it’s best low-infection-rate-50%-vaccinated life, and they’ve finally allowed certain tourist attractions to open again after more than a year. One of those is the tower at the top of the Neues Rathaus, or the New Town Hall.
Fun fact. The New Town Hall is actually pretty new, despite its look. It was built in 1905, but the neo-gothic architecture style was apparently very popular at the time. It’s the centerpiece of the Marienplatz, the main square, and the glockenspiel is worth a watch if you’re there at the right time.
I’m a sucker for a good view. Shane usually approaches these adventures with a little bit of dread because I make him take the stairs, but he lucked out this time. You could only take the elevator. After all of our trips to the Marienplatz, it’s nice to finally get a view from above!
How to get there: Take literally any S-bahn, U-bahn, Tram towards the Marienplatz. They all go there.
Cost: €6. Tickets can be purchased online (which is required right now, as part of the COVID-19 restrictions).
Opening Times: 10:00 to 19:00 daily (until 17:00 on Sundays).
Rating: ✅ Highly Recommended!
If you’re coming to Munich, you’ll definitely go to the Marienplatz. So, go up the tower! It’s worth it.
Ok, kind of. I mean it was on ‘the list’ and we did intentionally bike there, but our original plan was to go swimming in the Isar river. That plan was foiled once we looked at the radar. So instead, we decided to check out Olympia Park, which offered some shelter in case a thunderstorm rolled through. To be honest, there’s a lot more to this park than I expected. Despite the name, it never really clicked that this was where the 1972 Olympics were held. Yes, its a big (and beautiful) park, but it’s also home to all of the old stadiums!
As I mentioned, the park complex itself is quite large, 850,000 m2 to be exact, and the general layout and architecture were inspired by the Bavarian alpine hills – lots of blues, greens, and natural landscaping. The leisure activities seem quite endless. Today, you can tour the stadium complex, take a walk (or bike ride) through the park, sunbathe by the lake, see a movie outdoors, or drink a beer in one of the beer gardens, to name a few. Here were our highlights.
The Olympic Tower
I would venture to guess that the most noticeable feature of this park is the Olympic Tower, which was built in 1968. Yes, you can go up! No, we didn’t – thanks to the coronavirus most tourist attractions with small spaces are still closed. It’s still nice to enjoy, even without going up, and can act as a homing-device while you wander as it’s centrally located.
The Olympic Stadium
We didn’t realize that you could tour the old Olympic stadium. Actually, we were on our way home – we had biked a full circle around the park when Shane suggested to at least go look through the gate. As we were gawking from the outside, I noticed that a couple was walking INSIDE. If we had taken ~30 sec to look around instead of straight ahead we would have noticed the entrance. Regardless, we got in and it was great! You can do a self-guided tour (with free audio guide) or a guided tour. We opted for the self-guided tour and the whole stadium essentially to ourselves.
Interesting fact: the Olympiaberg (Olympic mountain) is man-made. It’s actually built from the rubble created from the bombings during World War II. Now, at 56m (183ft) tall, it’s one of the highest points in Munich. 56m doesn’t sound that bad until you bike it, which we did. The view was worth it, though.
Don’t miss out on the park itself! There are tons of well-maintained paths for pedestrians, bikes, scooters – you name it! After you’ve conquered the “mountain”, take a left as you come down the path. The fields there have a great view of Munich and you’ll run smack-dab into a beer garden! After admiring the view (and refueling on beer & curryworst), you can follow the paths to the other side of the park and look at the old Olympic Village. I suggest looking from a distance though, because the old village is now used as student housing!
Tip: Walk the lake path.
We didn’t, and should have because Munich’s Walk of Fame is there (similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame). It started in 2003, and now has over 100 hand-prints and signatures from German and worldwide celebrities.
Olympia-Alm Beer Garden
The Olympia-Alm beer garden started off as a beer kiosk during the Olympics in 1972. Now, it’s the highest beer garden in Munich – a whole 564m (1850ft) above sea level! At max-capacity (during normal times), it can hold up to 200 people, putting it in the ‘small’ beer garden category – the largest can hold 8,000. If this doesn’t suit, then there are others, for instance the Beer Garden at the Coubertinplatz.
Tip: Order at the counter and it’s cash only.
1972 Massacre Memorial
During the Olympics, a Palestinian terrorist group attacked the Israeli team. They took 11 athletes as hostages. All the athletes and one West German police officer were killed. The end goal was to secure the release of 234 Palestine prisoners being kept in Israeli jails. Today, there is a memorial to the massacre, and it’s worth the quick stop to hear the story and learn about the victims.
How to get there: From Munich Hbf, take the U2 to Hohenzollernplatz. From there it’s a ~15 min walk, or catch Bus 59 to Ackermannbogen then a 5 min walk into the park.
Cost: Visiting the park/Olympiaberg is FREE! Of course, some of the attractions have costs: the tower (€9), the stadium (€3.50), Olympia-alm beer (€3.20 / 0.5L).
Opening Times: The park itself is always available. Attractions closing times vary: the tower (23:00), the stadium (16:00), Olympia-alm (22:00).
Rating: ✅ Highly Recommended!
Olympia Park is huge, and we really only scratched the surface. Nearby, are the BMW Welt (showroom) and BMW Museum. Between those two attractions and the park, it would be easy to spend an entire day in this area of Munich. Did I mention there is a Rock Museum and an aquarium out there too? Something for everyone!
We take a lot of walks these days. Well, honestly, we’ve taken a lot of walks since March when the coronavirus restrictions started. Shane is still unable to work due to coronavirus delays, so we’re still walking! Lucky for us, we have a new neighborhood to explore, and Schloss Blutenburg happens to be within walking distance!
Duke Albrecht III, the Duke of Bavaria-Munich, built Blutenburg as a hunting lodge in the west of Munich. The castle, located between two arms of the River Würm (which runs through Pasing, our town) dates back to 1432. He also built it to house his secret wife, a commoner named Agnes Bernauer. Unfortunately, their marriage was discovered by the Duke’s father, who declared Agnes a witch and had her murdered – thrown off a bridge into the Danube River, to be exact – in 1435.
Over the years the castle has been in the hands of many (the Duke’s second oldest son and some private leases), but eventually fell into dis-repair. In the 1970’s, an association was formed to restore the castle, and it’s now open to view, with a small museum, a cafe, and most famously, the International Youth Library which houses over 500,000 children’s books in 130 languages.
How to get there: from Munich hbf, catch one of the many S-bahn trains to Obermenzing bf. From there, you can take a bus (#143) to the Blutenburg stop, or walk ~20 min. If you’re in the Pasing area, I recommend walking. The walk follows the river and there are signs to guide you.
Cost: Free! €3 to visit the museum.
Opening Times: Daily, until 6pm. The chapel closes at 5pm (summer months) and 4pm (winter months).
Rating: 🧡 (if there’s time)
If you’re in the Pasing area, it’s certainly worth the walk. If you’re looking for something a little ‘off the beaten path’ then this is also for you.
I don’t know about you guys, but I need a mental break from the coronavirus news. We’re not on full lockdown here in the Netherlands, but bars, restaurants, and gyms are closed, public transportation has been reduced, and people are encouraged to work from home. Long story short, it’s all anyone can talk about.
So, for a little mental re-charge, I want to talk about our trip to Munich!
I dropped off my honey at his interview (literally, I walked him there) and headed out for a day on my own –
aka: Strong Independent Woman Day!
Tip: Use the public transportation – it’s cheap!
The LMU campus is about 20 minutes by subway (U-bahn) outside of the city center, near the suburb of Martinsreid. I bought an unlimited day ticket (buses, tram, U-bahn (subway), and S-bahn (above ground train)) for €7.80 – a single trip ticket is €3.30, so this quickly pays off.
If you’re part of a group it’s even cheaper. An unlimited group day ticket for 2 – 5 people is €14.80 TOTAL. It’s a steal!
Cost: €14 (combo ticket)
Tip: If you arrive from the Odeonsplatz U-bahn station, walk up the stairs, go straight, then take a left to find the entrance.
If you get distracted by statues and a garden and happen to walk up the stairs and take a right then you’ll find yourself in the Hofgarten and walk a very long perimeter to eventually get back to the entrance. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
The Residenz is the former royal palace for the Bavarian monarchs, and it is split into two sections: the residence (with the royal apartments) and the treasury (with the crown jewels). You’ll need to buy the combo ticket if you want to see both. If you’re just going for that Instagram-able shot, then you only need to visit the residence side, as it has the the Antiquarium – the oldest and most impressive room (built in 1568).
Royal palaces make me hungry (ok, fine – everything makes me hungry), so
Take a people-watching snack break in the Max-Joseph-Platz
Just outside the entrance to the Residenz is the Max-Joseph-Platz. It was sunny that day, a rarity in February (especially in the Netherlands), so I grabbed a snack and did as the locals do – sat in the sun!
Tip: For a quick snack head to the nearby supermarket, Rewe.
Or, if you want a fancy looking pastry, I drooled over (and later regretted not purchasing) the pastries in the window at Maelu.
Recharged, I headed on to my next destination.
Cost: €14.50 (adults)
Let me just say: I LOVE me a good observation wheel. You know what’s even better? When you get the entire gondola to yourself. Dreams do come true!
Did I set up my Go-pro and take a million shameless selfies? You betcha!
Shane HATES. H.A.T.E.S. observation/ferris wheels. He was more than happy for me to take full advantage of my strong independent woman day and tick this off my Munich list. Which, I did, and had a grand ‘ole time with beautiful views of the city from one side and the mountains from the other.
Cost: Free to visit, €4.50 1/2L beer, snacks vary.
Located just around the corner from the Marienplatz is the Viktualienmarkt – a 200 year old farmer’s market smack in the city center! Today, you can find flowers, herbs, cheeses, veggies, SO MUCH FOOD and beer. A hungry tourists dream!
After the observation wheel, I headed back to city center to wander for food and genuinely stumbled on this market by accident… and then didn’t leave.
Tip: Take enough selfies and a kind stranger will offer to take your picture for you! 😆
Strong Independent Woman Day was grrrreat!, but it was nice to have my travel partner back the next day. Especially, since he spent the entire previous day interviewing – it was time to enjoy the city!
We intended to do a walking tour, but we got a later start than anticipated so missed the 10am start time. Instead, we started at the history museum.
If you’re into learning about the city’s history, then start here! Not only will you discover what’s “Typical Munich”, but there is an excellent exibihit on the rise of National Socialism and Munich’s role in the rise of Hitler.
Cost: €9.20 L beer, meals vary.
Ok, lets face it. After 2 hours of history and Nazi history at that, it was time for a drink! And you don’t got to Munich and not visit the most famous beer hall!
I will say I was underwhelmed by the facade. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t that. The inside made up for it though.
Tip: Don’t be shy – just walk in and find an empty spot!
We had a great time here! There was such a festive feeling, even for the middle of the day on a Friday in February – February 14th to be exact! ❤️ It was a little pricey compared to some of the other beer halls, but you’re also paying for the experience.
The hall was originally built in the late 1500s, and opened to the public in the 1820s. It was here (as we learned in the Stadtmuseum) in 1920 that the National Socialist Party held a huge public meeting and Hitler gave his first address. Most of the hall was destroyed during WWII and has since been restored, but the main hall survived.
Ok so I won’t lie. The rest of our day was visiting beer halls. I’m not sorry about it either!
Cost: €7.80 L beer, meals vary.
The Löwenbräukeller (bräukeller, meaning brewery) first opened it’s doors in 1883’s with an architecturally (for the time) impressive building. Shortly thereafter, it became the first brewery in Munich to provide tablecloths and napkins, and patrons didn’t have to rinse out their own beer glass!
In my opinion, the atmosphere here was ‘fancier’ than the Hofbräuhaus, but still relaxed. There was also a huge outdoor area, which would be nice in the warmer months.
It was slightly further from the Marienplatz, which was reflected in the beer prices, and they had delicious red cabbage & potato dumplings so you really can’t ask for much more.
Cost: €7.90 L beer, meals vary.
I’m just going to come out and say it. This one was my favorite.
First – The beer hall reminded me of Game of Thrones.
Second – Pretzel baskets lived on the table. You pay at the end for what you eat. Dangerous? Yes. Delicious? Also yes.
Third – We found out that Shane got the job AT THIS VERY SPOT!
It’s cozy, it’s festive, it has a huge beer hall and garden, and easy to find (near the hauptbahnhof). A perfect way to cap off the night.
And that is how we spent 48 hours in Munich! Obviously, there is a ton we didn’t see. If we had another day, I would suggest taking a walk through the English Gardens or the Deutsches Museum (science and technology).