Every New Year we like to go away somewhere for a few days. It’s become a bit of a tradition and it’s a lovely way to end the year on a high and welcome in the new year. We’ve been to New York, Krakow, Tallinn, Ljubljana, Salzburg, Budapest, Brussells and Bologna so far and this year we decided to visit Munich. Interestingly we’d never visited Germany until my birthday in February when we visited Berlin, and now we’ve been twice to the country in one year.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria and is famously known for Oktoberfest. It’s located in Southern Germany and ‘Munich’ derives from Munichen, which means “by the monks” as there was a monastery where the Old Town now lies. There is even a monk depicted on the coat of arms. You’ll notice that there are also a lot of churches. Be sure to step inside them as they are absolutely beautiful.
As a city, Munich is rather pretty. The Old Town, or Marienplatz, is full of famous architectural landmarks such as the Neues Rathaus (the New Town Hall, which looks more like a Cathedral), Residenz (the Palace), St Peter’s Church, Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) and Hofbräuhaus, the beer hall dating back to the 16th century – to name a few. We didn’t have a beer at Hofbräuhaus but we did walk in and take a look around. Be sure to look up at the ceiling – it’s a work of art!
The famous Rathaus-Glockenspiel is part of the Neues Rathaus and chimes every day at 11am (also 12 and 5pm in the summer). The chimes tells two stories from the 16th century, consists of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures and lasts for about 15 minutes.
Marienplatz has three City Gates – Karlstor, Isator and Senlinger Tor, which is the oldest and dates back to the 1300s. The Gates certainly add to the medieval feel of the Old Town.
Germans love their markets and Viktualienmarkt is a great, daily market near to the Neues Rathaus where you can choose from traditional dishes such as sausage with mustard (washed down with a beer, of course) as well as many other food stalls serving fresh seafood. There are also deli and fruit and vegetable stalls to buy goods to take home.
And speaking of sausages… Germans love their meat! Katie Linshits-Adaya, founder of Travelfrog, lived in Munich for years and kindly gave me some restaurant recommendations – one of which was Zum Franziskaner. We had lunch there on New Year’s Eve and shared the Schmankerlpfandl, which is Suckling pig, duck, pork knuckle, grilled sausages, potato and white bread dumplings, pickled red cabbage an sauerkraut. It was HUGE.
On New Year’s Eve we enjoyed dinner at Matsuhisa at the Mandarin Oriental, which is a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant. Although there were 7 courses they were rather small, but this was a good thing given how much we ate at lunchtime. After dinner, we went up to the rooftop to enjoy the fireworks display. But more on our New Year’s Eve in another post!
If you fancy a bit of shopping, Munich will not disappoint. A lovely shopping area is Theatinerstraße, which is the street connecting Marienplatz with Odeonsplatz. There are lots of boutique stores as well as luxury stores, such as Prada, Armani and Furla. Along Marienplatz, you will find many high street stores as well as many department stores (Galeria’s). Maximilianstraße is a boulevard that’s lined with luxury retailers and is close to the Residenz.
Speaking of the Residenz, it’s apparently good luck to touch the lions outside the gates.
We stayed at the Sofitel Bayerpost, which is situated close to the Hauptbahnhof. The train station itself can be a bit dodgy (like many main European stations), however it’s a convenient location as there is a train (the S8) to the airport and it’s only a 15 minute walk to Marienplatz. We stayed in a Duplex Suite, which was novel!
We loved Munich and would highly recommend it. I can imagine it would be quite different in the summer when all the outside beer gardens spring to life, but in winter it’s lovely and cosy.