Exploring Munich Germany in Three Days
While living in Munich this past year, I convinced my older brother Max to take a trip and spend some time with me. While Max had detailed plans for the rest of his itinerary in Berlin and Copenhagen, he left his 3 days in Munich up to my local expertise. Put two siblings together in Europe, and the best Munich weekend will unfold.
Here is my 3 day guide to enjoying the best that Munich has to offer.
Day One – Friday
Max arrived early Friday morning and I met him at the airport by taking the S8 train from Marienplatz. A day ticket for the entire transportation network costs €12.40 and is cheaper than buying a one way ticket, go to a booth at a main station for assistance if the machines are too confusing, and they will be!
We then set out for the Viktualienmarkt - a Munich hot spot where locals can buy fresh produce, fish, and bread or where tourists can peruse crafts and get a mean cup of coffee. There is also a beer garden open when the weather permits.
Around the corner from the market is St. Peter’s Church and outside of that is a small entrance to climb St.Peter’s Altar. For a few euros you can climb to the top and get a 360 degree lookout around the city, seeing the Alps on a clear day. Pro tip: Long line on a hot day? While it only takes 20 minutes, the stairs can get intimate and uncomfortable fast.
We then satisfied our hunger with pretzel sandwiches from Brezelina. We took the food with us on the U-Bahn to Universität and headed for the English Garden. You wouldn't go to NYC without stopping in Central Park, and you shouldn't visit Munich without seeing the English Garden. We headed to the the Chinese Tower Beer Garden where we got some beers and sat down to enjoy our food.
Travel Tip: The Chinese Tower is great for beer, but expensive for food. Bring your own snacks or just enjoy a beer! When in doubt, opt for a Helles and remember to return your beer glass with the token to get your deposit back or keep the glass as a souvenir!
Next up we took the S2 train to Dachau. It’s about a 45 minute ride to the stop, then a short bus ride to the entrance of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. When you get off the train, get on the 726 bus and ride for several stops.
Travel Tip: We did not need new tickets because we already had a full network day pass (covering rings 1-16) that got us from the airport. For most tourist needs, you would only need access to the inner rings 1-4, which is €6.40 for a day pass. But, since Dachau is a neighborhood on the edge of the transportation network, you need access to rings 1-16 to get there. Already have an inner ring day pass and want to go to Dachau? You can supplement your ticket by buying the Muncher XXL day pass.
This was my first visit to a concentration camp memorial site. We got the audio guide at the entrance and silently walked through the camp. While learning more of the historical details was saddening to say the least, I surprisingly didn't leave with an air of depression. I say this only to encourage more visitors who might skip this on for fear that it would dampen their spirits. I left remembering to learn from history's mistakes and to be kind to all people, despite our differences.
After some rest, we hit up Bar Centrale and enjoyed Aperol Spritz’s. We then dined at the Bachmaier Hofbräu (near Giselastraße) for some traditional German food.
Travel Tip: reservations mean something in Germany! You will have the table for as long as you like; don’t expect the waiter to drop the check when you're done eating. Tipping is not necessary and a 10% tip is very generous, since the wait staff in Germany make a normal hourly wage. If paying with a card (not all places accept them), you will have to tell the waiter how much to charge in advance.
Day Two – Saturday
We started the day before the sun with a 14 mile trail. The English Garden does not have any lights along the paths and was still pitch black. We saw a few other headlamp lights on our trails.
After an espresso at Bar Centrale, we headed to the Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. A mouthful of a name, the museum details how the Nazi party was able to grow and flourish in Munich. The museum is in a modern 4 story building, each floor corresponding to a certain time period. At the end of our visit, we all agreed that the fourth floor/pre WWII time period was the most captivating.
After our history lesson, we walked down to Königsplatz and then went to my all time favorite lunch spot, Lezizel Manti. They have meat or vegetarian Turkish dumplings, which you can add a variety of toppings (I always got sunflower seeds!). Snap an Instagram-worthy photo!
After a nap, we went for a short walk to the Hofgarten. From there we exited onto Odeonsplatz, known for it's lion statues, large arches, and proximity to the “Evaders” Alley - a back alley that many people would take to avoid having to pass a guarded memorial for a group of Nazis killed during a rebellion. Every person passing the memorial was required to hail Hitler, so the evaders would take the back alley.
We then dined at Gratitude, a vegetarian restaurant in a hip part of town. Great cocktails, healthy food, and friendly service!
Day Three - Sunday
We set out mid morning for Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which is a 90 minute train ride from Munich and located along Germany’s southern border with Austria. It’s your “typical” Bavarian Ski Resort and Alpine hiking town, if such a thing exists. The town is well known for it’s proximity to Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak. For those with euros to burn, you can take a cable car to the top of the peak for €53 a person. Or if you want to save some of that money for some German cuisine and beers on top of the mountain, you can follow a few different trails to some restaurants with a view.
Travel Tip: One of the big selling points for making this day trip was that we knew we could travel using a Bavarian ticket. These tickets encourage travelers to…well…travel Bavaria because the ticket is cheap (€23 plus €5/person for up to four additional people) and covers all public transport for the day going anywhere in the state (and also Salzburg). For the three of us to get to Garmisch and have a full days use of all city transportations, it cost €33. For comparison, my one way train ticket coming home from Berlin was around €110. Travel Bavaria!
There is a tourist information center where you can get a map and directions for some day hikes. We decided the trail to the St. Martins restaurant. It wasn’t more than two miles, but it was very steep. Make sure to pack water.
Travel Tip: All grocery stores/shops/pharmacies etc. are typically closed on Sundays, with the exception of restaurants. While this is annoying when you have errands to run, it also forces you to enjoy your Sunday with family and friends. How inconvenient!
We caught the train home and rested while looking out on the German countryside. We ended the evening at our favorite Indian restaurant - Bombay Tandoori near Rosenheimer Platz. It’s a small hole in the wall and I’m in love with their Dal Mahkni curry and Butter Naan. They bring diners a mango flavored digestive to wash it all down.