When Emily Rasch fell in love with a German exchange student in the U.S., she knew she couldn’t give him up. So, after two years of dating an ocean apart, they decided to move to Munich. In the six years she’s lived there, the city has become a second love, and one she writes about for Spotted by Locals — a series of blogs, guides and smartphone apps for 44 cities in Europe.
Here are a few of Emily’s favorite things about Munich. Let us know what you’d add to the list by leaving a comment.
Munich is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is on a walk through the English Garden, stopping to see the Eisbach surfers and for a beer at the Chinese Tower biergarten. This short walk entails a glimpse into the charm of the city, while combining tradition, and nature with a bit of the unexpected. It’s no surprise that Munich is consistently ranked as having one of the best qualities of life worldwide.
My city’s best museum is difficult to choose because we have so many great options, however the Deutsches Museum is the largest science museum in the world, so it’s certainly in a league of its own.
Servus Heimat or Obacht are the places to buy authentic, local souvenirs. As for tracht (traditional dirndls and lederhosen), I would recommend Angermaier. Locals appreciate when others take an interest in Bavarian culture and customs.
You can see my city best from the top of the Alter Peter Church. Alternatively there is an incredible view from the top of the Olympic Tower. On a particularly clear day you may also hear locals mention the word “Föhn,” a weather phenomenon that brings warm weather, cloudless skies, and an even better view.
Locals know to skip Höfbräuhaus and check out Augustiner instead. It is the oldest brewery in Munich and they take their craft very seriously, using their own maltery, water well, and energy-efficient natural gas. The brewery has even been designated a historical monument. Sometimes you can even smell the hops wafting through the air. You’ll likely have to visit if you want to try it straight from the wooden barrels.
Late September is the best time to visit my city because the trees are changing colors, the weather is perfect for a cookout along the banks of the Isar, biergartens are still open, and the excitement of Oktoberfest is beginning to fill the city.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is along the Isar River.
My city really knows how to celebrate life and community, because there is a constant line up of organized events, festivals, and street fairs. People enjoy taking time out to catch up with friends, family, and neighbors by gathering together — whether it’s at the river, in the park, or at a biergarten. “Gemütlichkeit” is a German word meaning cheerful, cozy, and unhurried mixed with a feeling of belonging, which sums up the feeling quite nicely.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they refer to Oktoberfest as the Wiesn.
For a fancy night out, I go out to dinner followed by a cocktail or two at Negroni.
My city is known for being conservative, but it’s really the collection of small traditions which shape the city’s culture and make it feel like a big village.
The corner bakery is my favorite place to grab a pretzel for breakfast, and Bergwolf at Fraunhoferstr. 17 is the spot for late-night eats.
My city’s biggest sports event is football (soccer). Watch it at Allianz Arena.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I pack a picnic and head to the park to people watch.
To escape the crowds, I visit the Müller’sches Volksbad, which is an art nouveau pool unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It feels like you’re swimming in a museum.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Franz Beckenbauer because like him it’s evolved, post war, into something great. It’s debonaire, elegant, and confident without being haughty.
The dish that represents my city best is a brotzeitplatte (a little bit of everything, including meats, cheeses, breads, and spreads, but very predictable and organized), and locally brewed beer is my city’s signature drink.
Fünf Höfe is my favorite building in town because it is not only aesthetically beautiful, but it has hidden courtyards, art, and foods.
The most random thing about my city is that the English Garden is larger than New York City’s Central Park. Another good one is that the original Willy Wonka movie was filmed here and the factory gates can still be seen at Emmy-Noether-Str. 10.
Oktoberfest could only happen in my city. It’s been going on since 1810 and, since it is the continuation of a royal wedding celebration, people wear their Bavarian formalwear (dirndls and lederhosen). Coming in a costume is frowned upon and many tents will deny entry to those who seem out to make a mockery of the event.
In the summer you should grill out at the Isar, visit as many biergartens as possible, take a bike ride through the English Garden (you can sunbathe nude in designated areas if you dare), and last, but not least, watch a movie under the stars.
In the fall you should go to the Street Life Festival and Oktoberfest.
In the winter you should visit the Christmas markets and take a day trip down to the Alps to go sledding or skiing.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the flying-fox zip line at the Olympic Park.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that it’s very well connected with trams, buses, and two subway systems that all function on the same ticket. The MVV München Companion app will help you navigate the city with ease.
The best book about my city is Munich: From Monks to Modernity by Paul Wheatley.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because we have world-class art, culture, nature, public transport + great beer in a village-like atmosphere.