After a nice time in Stuttgart, we drove to Munich. We spent half a week there and enjoyed time in the city center, as well as outside of the city.
What We Did
We visited the Marienplatz, Munich’s main central square. We passed through there a few times and made a point to be there at 11:00 one day to watch the “dance” of the Glockenspiel on the New Town Hall. (It also takes place at noon and at 5:00pm/17:00 during the summer).
As this Atlas Obscura article explains, the clock’s show depicts scenes from German history, such as the ending of the plague, and perhaps most notably, a recreation of a jousting match where Bavaria defeats Lothingren during Bavarian Duke Wilhelm V’s lavish wedding in 1568.
We walked around the city center, enjoying the sights of beautiful old buildings and plenty of window shopping opportunities. We visited the Roman Catholic St. Peter’s Church, the oldest church in Munich. It was beautifully ornate, as you might expect.
We randomly saw a Communist Party parade passing through town one afternoon. I’ve become so used to seeing parades in Belgium which recreate historical periods and events, I wasn’t sure if this was doing the same, given some of the marchers’ attire. But ultimately, we concluded it was not a reenactment.
We enjoyed the Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s large open-air market not far from the Marienplatz. We passed through here a couple times. On the day we arrived, a football match was scheduled between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. The biergarten of the Viktualienmarkt was packed with football fans getting ready to watch the match. It created a lively (though somewhat drunken) atmosphere that felt appropriate for the location. With our 7-year-old in tow, we headed back to our hotel room to watch the match in a family-friendly environment.
We spent one afternoon in the Hofbräuhaus. This old brewery and meeting house is over 500 years old and once only brewed for German royalty. An inn was opened on site in the early 19th century. It is now open to the public and warmly welcomes both locals and tourists.
The Hofbräuhaus website provides a nice overview of its history and current business. We ate in the Schwemme room, the large, main room where the brewing used to take place. All the beer is now brewed off site. There are other rooms and areas available for reservation.
Having visited several faux Bavarian biergartens and beer halls in my life, it was fun to get to the real deal, even if it was with a lot of other tourists. The Hofbräuhaus says it still serves local regulars daily. The beer was good and so was the food. They had these rolls covered in rye seed and salt that reminded me of rolls my family always used to get from a local bakery in my childhood. I hadn’t thought about those rolls in years, but man did I love them. Of course, I also loved the giant soft pretzels. And spätzle. And sauerkraut. I loved it all.
An attraction much more interesting to my husband and son than to me was BMW-Welt and Museum. We spent most of our time in the museum. I will give BMW this, they know how to create a clean, sleek, modern, luxury brand and that carried throughout the museum.
Day Trips From Munich
We enjoyed our time in the city, but we also enjoyed the opportunity to drive out of the city and explore the Bavarian countryside. We traveled on both the Deutsche Alpenstrasse (German Alpine Road) where the Bavarian Alps border Germany and Austria, and the Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road) which is also along the German border with Austria. The views were quintessentially Bavarian. I’ve never been a fan of The Sound of Music, but I couldn’t help but think of it when we were in this area.
We stopped for an afternoon in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a popular ski resort town and site of the 1936 Olympic Winter Games. We had lunch there at Kaffeehaus Kronner. We got some ice cream and walked around the shopping area there before heading to see Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.
We wanted to go up Mount Zugspitze using the Eibsee Cable Car. Unfortunately, our poor timing got us there just a bit too late to catch the last trip of the day. Had we made it, we could have enjoyed a 360-degree view of 400 alpine peaks in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. Instead, we just enjoyed the views at the base.
I am always impressed by the cyclists we see in these mountain areas. We saw them here, Switzerland, and France. I am impressed by their fit physical condition and ambition, but equally afraid for them (and for us) when we are sharing these crazy mountain roads with them. We saw a cyclist who had crashed going downhill at the base of Zugspitze. It looked scary, but he was being well tended to. I love riding my bike, but I will never love it that much!
On another route, we passed Neuschwanstein Castle and Hohenschwangau Castle in Hohenschwangau village, near Füssen. I’ve read that Neuschwanstein inspired Disney’s castles for Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. We stopped for pictures but didn’t tour the castles. We passed through Füssen for a quick fast-food stop and continued our driving.
We stopped in the municipality of Herrsching am Ammersee. A friend of ours who is originally from this region recommended that we take a boat tour on Lake Ammersee, but unfortunately, we didn’t have time.
Our friend also recommended a visit to Kloster Andechs. This monastery has a brewery, distillery, and organic farm. It also has a huge beer hall/biergarten. The monastery’s profits support Munich’s St. Boniface’s Benedictine Abbey. The Benedictine monks of Saint Boniface in Munich and Andechs have been brewing since 1455.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time there, especially the great meal in the beer hall. We had beer and sparking juice, cured meats, sausages, and of course, giant hot pretzels. We dipped our pretzels in their Obatzda, a traditional Bavarian beer hall spread of cheese, butter, and seasonings. It was so good. We still talk about it.
Where We Ate
We ate most of our breakfasts at our hotel but did enjoy one at Vinzenzmurr, a nearby bakery, butcher, and market.
I’ve already mentioned above some places we had meals (in Garmisch-Partenkirchen at Kaffeehaus Kronner, in Munich at the Hofbräuhaus, and in Andechs at Kloster Andechs).
I also mentioned that we visited the Viktualienmarkt. We had ice cream and food there from market stalls.
The only meal I haven’t mentioned yet is Italian we had one night at City Lounge. Even when you don’t get it all the time, one can only eat traditional German food so many times in one week. We needed a pizza break!
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Asam Hotel Munchen. We had a very spacious two-bedroom suite. The bathrooms were the nicest part of the room because they seemed newly renovated. The room décor was a bit old and dated, but other than that, it was fine. It didn’t have air conditioning, which is not uncommon in Europe. Luckily it wasn’t too hot, but we did have the windows open most of the time.
Having never lived in the center of a city, I always find it charming to stay in a place like this and have the windows open. I enjoy hearing the sounds of the city street below. In the morning we heard church bells ringing. In the day, we’d hear cars and people passing. It was charming, of course, until we were trying to sleep, and we could still hear cars and people passing at all hours. The charm wears off when it is too stuffy to sleep with the windows closed, but too loud to have them open.
The location was great and within walking distance to many of the city’s central attractions. The most unique thing about the hotel for us was its car elevator. Since we had our car, we reserved a parking spot in their garage which was underground, under the hotel. The only access to it was via a car elevator. Something I have never been in before! It was a tight fit, as were the parking spots, but we did it!
Things We Missed
The highlights of this trip for me were the incredible views of the Bavarian countryside and the delicious regional food.
As I mentioned above, there were a few things we ran out of time for, namely the boat tour of Lake Ammersee and the cable car ride to the Zugspitze summit. I am sad we missed those opportunities because the scenery would have been gorgeous at both.
The other thing I am mad at myself about not doing in Munich is a visit to the Bavaria Filmstadt (Bavaria Studios, like Universal Studios theme park in America). I had seen this article about seeing props and set pieces from The Neverending Story there. I loved that movie as a kid and would’ve loved to have seen them, but I forgot about it until after the trip.
I don’t know if we’ll make it back to Munich. There are other parts of Germany we’d like to see first before making a repeat trip, but if we do, I know the first few things for my to-do list!