Munich, Germany - My Favorite European City!
History of Munich & Oktoberfest
Willkommen auf meinen Blog! Munich, Germany is one of my favourite cities to visit in Europe! If you love the combination of old and new, this Bavarian city will enthral you with its rich history, art, palaces, and German cultural experiences. Additionally, the city includes the modern luxury of convenient public transportation, so you can easily visit this city without a car. Munich, the capital of the German state of Bavaria, is famous for the annual Oktoberfest celebration which takes place every year at the Theresienwiese (Theresa's Meadow). For about two weeks in late September through the first week of October, millions of people visit this famous festival to have an amazing cultural experience. "Oktoberfest" first began as a royal marriage celebration of King Ludwig and Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen in October of 1810 at the same site, Theresienwiese. The festivities included a parade, which still exists today to showcase the horse teams of the breweries and the bands that perform in the tents. To keep up morale during a bleak time, the town decided to have a celebration every year on the anniversary of the marriage. Each year more booths and tents began to appear and additional people attended. In 2022, 5.7 million visitors attended the Oktoberfest in Munich! The only beer served at Oktoberfest in Munich has to pass the beer purity regulations and has to be brewed within the city of Munich. Therefore, you will only find these beers served at Oktoberfest:
Oktoberfest has been running for over 200 years and only cancelled from time-to-time because of war or disease, with the most recent cancellations in 2020 and 2021 from the coronavirus outbreak.
O'zapft Is! The first words uttered at the Oktoberfest while tapping the first keg of beer, which means "it's tapped!" and signifies that the merriment can begin. At Oktoberfest in Munich there are 17 small tents and 21 large tents, and all are unique in their own way. The large beer producers, such as Paulener and Löwenbraü, in Germany have their own tents and supply their own beer, which is always a Festbier, a strong German golden lager. Oktoberfest in Munich has no admission fee, therefore you are free to just walk in, however, if you would like to sit at a table inside a beer tent, you will only need reservations for a large group. If you plan on going with only a few people, chances are you can find a non-reserved table with a few seats open. Also, there are plenty of seats outside of the beer tent. Just look for an empty space and ask anyone sitting at the table if you can join them. The only area you can order beer is in a tent. No one serves beer outside of the tents! But, just like any other festival, you can get delicious food, beverages, and souvenirs outside the tents. There are so many wonderful foods to try, such as, bratwurst with caramelized onions, rye bread with obatzda, and roasted nuts. In all, at Oktoberfest you will have an amazing cultural experience. You can experience delectable German food, ride thrilling rides, drink cold and tasty beer, and sing along with thousands of rowdy Germans all in one place. Don't forget to wear your dirndl or lederhosen like all of the German's do! Nearly everyone wears German Trachten (native German clothing) at Oktoberfest. You can purchase Trachten online at Amazon or German clothing shops either online or in person, while visiting during Oktoberfest. I personally had a blast purchasing one of my dirndls at a shop in Munich. When shopping in person it is hard to decide what to get because there are so many different styles and colours to choose from. Also, the position of your bow is very important. If the bow is on your right, it means you are spoken for or married. If the bow is on the left, you are single, and if the bow is in the center, you are widowed, waitressing, or a child.
If arriving to Munich by plane, you will arrive at Munich International Airport (MUC). This airport is convenient and easy to navigate. To get to Munich Central from the airport, either take a taxi/Uber for €60 (35 minutes) or the super convenient S-Bahn (my preference at 45 minutes) for €11. Simply exit the airport following the signs directing you to the train station which is only a five minute walk away. You can download the Deutche Bahn app on your phone to buy tickets or purchase tickets at the kiosk located in the station. Simply choose your desired language and it's as easy as withdrawing money from an ATM. There are a few other options you can utilize to get to Munich Central. Follow this link to the Munich International Airport website, which will provide you with all of the travel options available and how to get where you want to be.
If you are arriving by train you will more than likely be arriving at Munich's largest train station, the München Hauptbahnhof Station. Centrally located, you can walk to almost any place you are staying in Munich; it is a 12 minute walk to Thereisenwiese and a 15 minute walk to Marienplatz. I have also arrived here from the airport and the area is very easy to navigate. In addition, the tourist information centre is located one minute from the main train station on Luisenstraße 1, close to the exit Arnulfstraße. At the tourist information centre you can get directions and book tours.
If arriving by car, simply plug in your destination on your GPS and arrive. I will be visiting Munich again this coming fall and my husband and myself will be renting a car in Germany and drive to Munich. Once in Munich, we will be returning the rental car. Munich's public transportation is so easy to use, that a car is not needed, unless you will be taking day trips from the city. However, you can still take a train, bus or tour company to get to those locations.
München - Munich / the City
I have also visited Munich when Oktoberfest was not happening, and I have to say that this city is a wonderful place to visit. There are many attractions to explore, great food to eat and exceptional character to admire.
In the heart of Munich lies the magnificent New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) with its massive Glockenspiel and tall spires. At the very top is a statue of a child wearing a monk's clothes with a book in its hand, named the Münchner Kindl, which is the symbol of Munich. Munich gets its name from the monks (München) because they were the first settlers in this area. We dined at a restaurant in the New Town Hall called Rathaus München. The architecture in this restaurant was exquisite and inviting, and they serve delectable German fare. I highly recommend you visit this restaurant. I did make reservations on the link above, which I recommend.
St. Peter's Church
Next to Marienplatz heading towards the Viktualienmarkt (outdoor food market) are two churches within a few blocks of each other. The first church we visited is the famous St. Peters Catholic Church, which is the oldest church in the town, dating back to 1158 A.D. This church is the heart of Munich to the locals. It is free to enter the church, however, there is a fee to climb the 300 step tower that has magnificent panoramas of the town.
Heiliggeistkirche (Holy Spirit Church)
Just a bit further is the Heiliggeistkirche or Holy Spirit Church. This elaborately vaulted church is also one of the oldest churches in Munich and is worth visiting. Initially this church was built in 1271 as a parish hospital and then later became a parish church in 1844. Heiliggeistkirche houses many amazing frescos and bronze statues that will leave you in awe.
After perusing these churches, walk a short distance to the Viktualienmarkt, or outdoor food market. This lively market (closed on Sundays) is a great place to browse or enjoy a snack or lunch under nearby chestnut trees. Locals come here to buy their fruit, vegetables, pastries, meats and cheese from outdoor stalls. In addition, there are food stalls that sell cooked sausages or pretzels for a delicious morning snack. In the heart of the Viktualienmarkt you will find a patch of chestnut trees, where you can discover rows of picnic tables to eat your scrumptious snacks or partake in a refreshing beer. In Munich (München, named after monks) monks brewed a vast quantity of beer to sell, and in order to keep the beer cold, the monks would store the beer in underground cellars under the shade of chestnut trees. In addition, the shade of the trees made a great area to eat and drink under. You can also find cafes, shops, flowers and much more at the Viktualienmarkt making this area a nice stop for any tourist.
Der Maibaum - The Maypole
You can't miss the elaborate and sky-high maypole in the Viktualienmarkt. Maypoles can be found all over Bavaria and each town's maypole is decorated to signify their town. As you can see the Munich maypole is decorated in blue and white, which are the regional colours of Bavaria. Maypoles date back to the 16th century and are a sign that spring is here. The pictorial displays are replaced annually on the first of May. Maypoles have been known to be stolen by local rivalries, therefore, the town has volunteer guards to make sure the pole is not taken. Apparently, stealing the pole is highly likely and there are certain rules one needs to abide by to do so, and when ransom is paid it is sometimes with gobs of beer.
Hofbräuhaus Beer Hall
Just a short six minute walk from the Viktualienmarkt is the famous beerhall, the Hofbräuhaus München. The Hofbräuhaus is a 5,000 seat restaurant and beer hall, which was built in the 16th century by Bavarian Duke Maximillian I. The word Hof (court) comes from the brewery's history as a royal brewery. In 1828 King Ludwig allowed the general public to enter the brewery. In addition, many well-known people frequented the Hofbräuhaus. Mozart is said to have lived just a few blocks away from the well known beer hall and had frequently visited the establishment. Also, Adolf Hitler held the initial meeting with the National Socialists German Worker's Party on the third floor of the Hofbräuhaus. This meeting is known as the Beer Hall Putsch. Munich was heavily bombed during World War II and the Hofbräuhaus suffered greatly, however, it was one of the first buildings to be rebuilt after the war.
Walk in and find one of the many seats available to enjoy the delightful oompah music, huge beers and delectable food. However, do not sit at a table with a sign that says "Stammtisch," this means that the table is reserved. We enjoyed a large pretzel with my favourite cheese, Obatzda. Obatzda is a Bavarian cheese spread made with Camembert cheese, butter, paprika, salt and pepper and a little bit of beer. This little delicious cheese pairs perfectly with a giant pretzel and "Ein Mass" (mahs) bier, which is a liter.
Feldherrnhalle, which is an 8 minute walk from the Hofbräuhaus, is a monument commemorating the Bavarian Army. The outdoor loggia was commissioned by King Ludwig I in 1841 to honour military leaders, Johann Tilly and Karl Philipp von Wrede. Johann Tilly was a victorious leader in the Thirty Years War and Karl Philipp von Wrede was an important commander in the battle against Napoleon.
Marienhof is a square located behind the New Town Hall. Left as a green space after the 1945 bombings, this quiet place is a great area to rest on a park bench and people watch.
Places to Stay
On our first trip to Munich we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Uhland, which is just a short walk from Thereisenwiese. This hotel provides a delicious breakfast for an additional fee. This is a perfect location to stay at if you are planning on attending the Oktoberfest.
When we visited Munich for Oktoberfest 2019 we stayed at Hotel Altmünchen near Sendlinger Tor. Finding accommodation that was not too far away from Thereisenwiese was essential when visiting the Oktoberfest. This hotel was about an 18 minute walk from the festival, which was a nice stroll after a long day of food, fun and beer. This hotel was very nice and offered a breakfast to go if needed.
Hotel Am Markt
Literally a stone's throw away from the Viktualienmarkt, Hotel Am Markt is in the center of old town Munich. Also, only a one minute walk to Marienplatz this beautiful and historic hotel was a pleasure to stay at. With modern conveniences, such as a lift (elevator) and within walking distance to many eateries and famous sites, you will enjoy this hotel immensely. We stayed at this hotel on our most recent 2023 trip where we visited the Oktoberfest as well. A quick 10 minute train ride will take you from Marienplatz to Theresienwiese.
Sedlinger Tor is a 14th century historic city gate located on the southside of Munich and was once part of the old town Munich.
Eating In Munich
The Ratskeller München is located at the New Town Hall and offers an expansive menu from Bavarian food to steaks and fries. The food was mouth watering and the ambience was old time Bavarian. I would highly recommend visiting this conveniently located restaurant. They do take reservations and are open seven days a week.
Augustiner Brauhaus is another delicious Bavarian restaurant and brewery that I highly recommend. Augustiner Brau is the oldest independent brewery in Munich that was established in 1328. Bread baskets are brought to your table loaded with Brezn (pretzels), who wouldn't love that? Their menu consists of Bavarian food, such as sausage, schnitzel and roasted pork. For vegetarian lovers, they have tasty cheese Spätzel or salad. Reservations are recommended. Locals love to visit this inviting Brauhaus.
In addition, the Hofbräuhaus has delicious Bavarian food along with the Viktualienmarkt that I have mentioned above. If visiting during Oktoberfest I recommend you eat at one of the many tents or any of the food stalls in the Thereisenwiese.
I am excited to say that I will be visiting Munich this fall (2023) for their annual Oktoberfest celebration. I had such an amazing time that I couldn't wait to get back and enjoy the festivities and visit a few of the many places in Munich that I haven't been able to see yet. This cultural city center is timeless, fun, exciting, and enjoyable. If you visit, I hope you will love Munich as much as I do. Prost!!!!
On our first visit to Munich we took a day trip to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. Built in the 19th century, this beautiful and historic palace sits on a hill above the village, Hohenschwangau,
in SouthWest Bavaria and only a 1 1/2 hours drive from Munich. Visit my blog post about our visit to Neuschwanstein Castle here.
The form of currency in Germany is the euro. When I fly to Europe I only bring about $200 U.S. with me. Once I arrive in Europe, I will go to the ATM at the airport or train station and withdraw euro's from the machine; by doing this I avoid hefty fees. It also helps to research your credit card company's transaction fee policy for international travel. Some companies, such as Capital One, does not charge fees for international usage or to withdrawal money from ATMs in other countries, however some do.
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