Munich, not exactly a place I’ve been dying to visit. But this ignorant heel-wearing girl is fully prepared to eat her words (and some schnitzel).
It’s was late September when my boyfriend told me he had some work to carry out in Munich (I realise this makes him sound like some kind of drug dealer – not too far from the truth, as he works in pharmaceuticals). ‘Why don’t you come with me?’ he said, but ‘nah’ was my immediate response. I had a mani booked and an appt with a bestie and some wine which I couldn’t miss. So off he went without me.
Fast forward two weeks to Oktoberfest time and Mr Styledit popped the question again. ‘I’m going back to Munich. Do you fancy coming?’ Hhhhhmmm I thought. What would I do when he’s on the office?! I got straight onto Google and starting looking up things to do in Munich.
Now the pictures looked cool, and I had heard Oktoberfest was fun, so I messaged my German friend @thesearchofhappiness for more info. She had been before and told me it’s a whole heap of fun, she also mentioned we’d be lucky to get a flight/hotel at such short notice. This weirdly made it seem 10x more desirable. You know, like when your sibling is playing with a toy as a kid so of course you want it too.
I booked my expensive ticket and thought ‘WHY THE HELL NOT?!?’. Turns out, this was one of the best decisions I made all year. Here’s some of my top finds…
Ahhhhh beautiful Munich, where do I start. On Day One I had a day-long date with the city. My boyfriend went straight to the office and I dropped my stuff off at the hotel and decided to walk into town. Personally, I think walking is best way to get to grips with a new city. I started on Prinzregentenstrasse near Prinzregentenplatz subway and made my way west into town. I had been told of a really pretty food shop named KÄFER near my hotel and it did not dissapoint.
It’s like walking back in time and has all the charm and splendour of Fortnum and Mason without a hint of the stuffiness (or maybe I just couldn’t detect it because of the language barrier). The higgledy-piggledy lay out just adds to the beauty and charm of the shop. The pastries are just delicious and it’s a good spot for your morning caffeine fix if you’re staying nearby.
2) ANGEL OF PEACE
I continued into town past the ‘Angel of Peace’ monument and fountains – well worth a look if you’re in Munich. As the Bronze Angel towers over you there is something very calming about the fountains right next to her. Take a book and relax on one of the steps or walls at the top. Its worth a mention that the road crossings are few and far between so be careful as you go (especially if you’re in heels).
As I mentioned Prinzregentenstrasse is a fantastic road to choose to walk into the city. It happens to have many beautiful buildings along the way, and I was blessed with some fine weather during my visit which just makes strolling all the more fun.
3) EISBACH WAVE
Towards the end of this road is the Eisbach Wave – a sort of fountain of continuous waves in which guys and girls seamlessly surf across with ease. I honestly could have stood here for an hour – in fact I suggest taking a snack with you. The surfers are brave, talented and don’t seem to be put off by the hundreds of tourists assessing their skills. Wait till one falls and you here the wipeout-esque ‘ooooooooooooo’ coming from the spectators.
I pressed on as I wanted to find my dirndl for Oktoberfest. I had a tip off from @thesearchofhappiness that going to Oktoberfest without taking part and donning the traditional wear is seen as bad form to the locals. I’d also been advised C&A was a good shout for an affordable authentic one (funny, I thought C&A had closed down in the 90’s but appaz it’s still going strong for our German cousins).
4) NEW TOWN HALL
C&A and most of the Dirndl shops are located in Marienplatz which is the main square in Munich. And what a breathtakingly beautiful square it is. Okay so it’s crowded and busy, but the first thing that strikes you is the insanely gorgeous Gothic-esque architecture of Munich New Town Hall. With sharp spikes and detailed carvings, it is just too pretty not to take your breath away. It was built in the early 20th century but it feels and looks much older than its years.
I popped my jaw back in place continued about my quest for my traditional Bavarian attire. I’ll be honest, this is where I lucked out – C&A totally came up trumps. I headed upstairs to the first floor where every single dirndl and lederhosen was half price. Yep you read correctly: 50% off. I began to speed-browse for my size in the panicked fashion you do when you need something and it’s reduced. Sizes are a little crazy, but after three attempts I soon figured out a 36 is like a UK8 and a US4. Shame, because the bright red one only had a size 40 😦 boo hoo.
Now to the lederhosen stand. Probably the most stressful shopping experience I’ve ever had. A) because I couldn’t remember my boyfriends size in the UK and B) because it doesn’t actually make a blind bit of difference when I did find out the info as the German sizes are mental!!! But being the clothes-obsessed hawk I am, I managed to pull it out of the bag.
This Bavarian beer swigging festival runs from late September until early October. We’ve all heard of it, but unless you’ve been it’s pretty likely you won’t know what this German knees-up entails.
I for one had zero idea of what to expect. So I did what any millennial would do, and ‘trip-advisored’ it. It mentioned that tents get mega full and you are a special kind of lucky if you manage to find a seat in one.
Turns out, seating doesn’t actually matter one bit! The set up is like Winter Wonderland’s cousin on steroids with more beer. There you will find an abundance of rides, games and market stalls as well as traditional German food, beer and more beer.
We arrived in the evening and milled around. I started with a G&T, because you know, I’m set in my ways. We ordered a currywurst and bratwurst from questionable looking stalls (all part of the fun) to line our tummies.
We then headed to the wine tent. Yep, there’s a WINE TENT. It happens to be the busiest and most exclusive, but I was prepared to chance it given my unreasonable addiction to Reisling. And with no seat for most of the night on a cold october evening we had THE MOST INCREDIBLE TIME. As a Brit it goes totally against my culture but if there is one thing I can recommend you do it is TIP, TIP, TIP. It’s the only way to not be ignored. The staff run around endlessly carrying full litre vases filled with beer (usually at least 5 at a time!) so don’t expect them to stop and take your pesky order if you’re not nice to them.
The atmosphere is fun and infectious, as everyone is out to have a good time. Do expect to dance on the tables and basically just DON’T MISS IT. Also, order the cone-like dessert thing on your way out at the end of the night. It’s filled with Nutella and sprinkles of hazelnuts and is out of this world!! I’m contemplating booking my ticket back next year just so I can eat that dream again!
6) CHURCH OF ST PETER
October 3rd is a national holiday in Munich meaning a lot of shops are closed, but fear not, restaurants do not seem to be affected. The plus side for me was that I had a co-explorer. We got the subway into town to Isartor. I’d heard nice things about a restaurant so we had some lunch and then explored our way back to Marienplatz.
Just behind Marienplatz is a beautiful church called St Peter’s. It looks kind of cute from the outside, but the real beauty of this spot lies in the roof top view. This is a must see when in Munich. With panoramic views across the city and entry for €3 you really can’t go wrong!! I was actually a little surprised by how quiet it was (perhaps the holiday played a part in this). The stairs are challenging (I work out too ha ha) so perhaps it’s not one for the families/silver stair climbers.
The steps are also crazily arranged so maybe tick this one off before all the beers if you’re ‘festing too. But it truly is an absolute must and you will not regret the climb once you poke your head out at the top to see beautiful building tops and the dreamiest skyline.
TOP TIP: Time it with sunset if you can and let mother nature add some colour to the already breathtaking scene.
After you’ve been blown away by the view in St Peters, walk down the adjacent hill and you will find a bustling food market that is open daily (except for bank holidays). The cute cookies that you see all over Munich are available in the bakeries here (at a fraction of the price to the ones on Oktoberfest. You’ll find traditional German meat and lots of interesting food.
8) THEATINE CHURCH
Along from Marienplatz is a series of beautiful arches that lead you to the beautiful bright and yellow Theatre Church. There are a selection of incredibly pretty cafes and bars which you can sit and and enjoy the atmosphere.
The arches that lead to Marienplatz from the church contain gift shops and cute florists etc. They are worth popping into, and sell the kind of trinkets and souvenirs that you may want to buy (I bought a magnet for my fridge).
I could not come to Munich without checking out the shops. My favourite area to shop in was Gartnerplatz. Just a short walk away from the Viktualienmarkt, it housed cute boutique stores and vintage clothing shops.
I found some incredible unique pieces, there are also some health food and coffee shops in this area which are worth a visit.
WHERE TO EAT
When I travel I generally like to stick to local cuisine as much as possible. If you are travelling during Oktoberfest I would recommend the food stalls in the park. They are not glamorous, but the food sure is tasty. If you want to have a more snazzy dining experience I strongly advise you check out the following…
Here we enjoyed a truly hearty meal, with lots of delicious meat and very friendly service.
The warm pretzels are a delicious way to start the meal, and the decor inside is special yet relaxing. The restaurant is part of a really swanky hotel on the most expensive street in the city (think the Rodeo Drive of Munich) but the meal we had was actually pretty good value for money.
TOP TIP: Have a drink in the hotel bar next door where you’ll be serenaded by a live pianist whilst you drink your pre-dinner cocktail.
Hands down the best ribs I’ve ever eaten – I’m still thinking about them now. This restaurant is small but oh so German. It’s extremely cosy and crowded, but we were lucky enough to get a seat at the countertop, which was a cute way to eat in an informal setting. We hadn’t booked ahead so didn’t have much space but it didn’t put me off.
The staff have come under criticism on Trip Advisor but I honestly can’t see why. It’s a nice atmosphere with delicious food and plenty of good wine. We had good service and would definitely go back!!!
TOP TIP: Order one portion of ribs to share as they are the size of a semi-detached house!!!
Filling and hearty, this is a fab place to stop off for some lunchtime fuel (especially if you’re walking around the city all day).
The schnitzel is really tasty and I was surprised by the quality of the fresh salad option (leaves can be pretty sparse in Bavaria). As we found in a lot of places in Munich, the local wine is both drinkable and really cheap – starting at around €3 a glass.
TOP TIP: Wash it all down with some of the yummiest Rose wine i’ve had in a while.
WHERE TO DRINK
The most ‘un-Munich-y’ spot, but you have to check it out anyway. This newly-opened cocktail bar in the Mandarin Oriental hotel just oozes decadence from the moment you walk in. After a complimentary welcome drink, I definitely recommend you order yourself an amazing Espresso Martini and just bask in the sexy vibes for the perfect post dinner aphrodisiac.
TOP TIP: Order a cocktail, they’re mega good at them!
Back to a more German joint. This bar also serves extremely yummy looking food, but since we already had reservations elsewhere they were kind enough to let us cop a squat and sip some wine.
Situated near Marienplatz this is a coffee shop with a really decent blend. I’ll be honest, as Germany isn’t so famous for its coffee I wasn’t expecting much, but their brew was delicious and their pastries went down a treat too.
I went back a couple of times as the staff were so friendly to me when I was looking lost on my first day in Munich.
Ideal for people watching and listening to German conversations whilst sipping your cuppa Joe (NB I don’t speak a word of German). This coffee spot is very close to the Viktualienmarkt.
TOP TIP: Borrow one of their glossy German mags and catch up on the latest German fashion trends.
Note: I was going to call this 72 hours in Munich but due to an EASYJET cancellation I got an extra day to enjoy this wonderful city.