48 Hours in Munich

In the more than two years that we have called Munich home, we have learned a great deal about the local culture, found some favorite haunts that we keep coming back to, and were often called upon to give visiting friends and family an authentic taste of Bavaria. Today, our last day in the city, we’re sharing our best tips with you. In the spirit of the New York Times 36 hours series, here’s our guide to experiencing traditional, Bavarian Munich in 48 hours.

Let’s begin with assuming that you’re here in the summer. To make up for the truly miserable, soul-sucking winters we have to survive here, Mother Nature is kind enough to give us some of the most absolutely gorgeous summers. The best time to visit is between June and August. If you absolutely must visit in the winter though, come in December when the Christmas markets are on and the weather is not yet too cold to sustain life.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

Friday

4pm—Augustiner Keller Biergarten
Admit it, you’re here for the beer aren’t you? Your first order of business after you get off the train is to head straight to the Augustiner Biergarten. Grab a Maß of Munich’s best beer and relax in the shade of the giant chestnut trees that have been there since the 1800s.

5.30pm—Bavaria Statue
Take a wander across the Hackerbrücke to the Theresienwiese, the scene of Oktoberfest. Halfway down you’ll spot the colossal statue of Bavaria. In the summer, between the hours of 9am and 6pm, you can climb the inside of the statue and enjoy views over the city while seated on a plush sofa made of cast bronze.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

7pm—Haxnbauer
It’s only appropriate that on your first night in Munich you’re gnawing on a huge hunk of pork. Pork knuckle—basically it’s your own personal pork roast in miniature, complete with crackling—is the signature Munich dish. You can get it pretty much anywhere in the city, but the best is at Haxnbauer. As you walk past the window, you can watch the Hax’n roasting in front of a charcoal grill. Make your way inside and find a seat. Demolishing an entire Schweinshaxe single-handed is a herculean task, but luckily the standard order is for half of one. Make sure to order a side of mashed potatoes and to switch out the included {cold} Krautsalat for the excellent {warm} Sauerkraut or the out-of-this-world-amazing Apfel Blaukraut. Alternatively, the sliced pork knuckle {my go-to order} comes with mashed potatoes and Sauerkraut already and saves you the trouble of sawing it off the bone if learning primitive surgery in public is not your idea of a good time. Most of the beers here are from outside Munich and are pretty ordinary representatives of their types, but the Franziskaner Weißbier is a notable exception.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

9pm—Hofbraühaus
Take a wander over to the Hofbräuhaus which is just around the corner. While I can’t recommend the beer or the food, just seeing the Hofbräuhaus is a Munich must. Have a look at the regulars’ Steins that have been passed down from generation to generation which are kept under lock and key to your left as you walk in the main entrance. Walk through the hall and enjoy Bavarian classics like Sweet Home Alabama being played by the Oompah band while seeing the waitresses carry upwards of 10 maß’n at a time.

Saturday

Breakfast at a Bakery
Get to Marienplatz a little early and stop by Rischart for a quick breakfast. Load up for breakfast and morning tea. Their chocolate croissants are seriously the best I’ve ever had.

10am—Sandemann’s NewEurope Free Walking Tour
Meet in front of the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz for the free walking tour {the guides work for tips}. Usually led by english-speaking university students, this is a informative and funny tour where you get a feel for the layout of the city and learn something new every time. The tour takes about 3 hours and ends at the Viktualienmarkt. Take a wander through, have a look at the different food stalls, and maybe grab some dried fruit or some nice cheese from the cheesemonger.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

3pm—Hirschgarten
Hop on the S-Bahn and head out to the Hirschgarten, a former royal hunting ground, for a late lunch. Though it’s off the tourist trail, it is actually the largest Biergarten in Bavaria with over 8000 seats. Munich Biergärten are all self-service, but Hirschgarten is the last to maintain the tradition of patrons selecting and washing their own glasses. So grab yourself a Maß, have it filled with Augustiner and collect a plate of Obatzda {a delicious slurry of cheeses} and a große Wies’n-Breze {a giant pretzel bigger than your head}. Then it’s time to sample Munich’s most primal delicacy. The recipe for Steckerlfisch is simple: take one fish—gutted but otherwise intact {skin and head on}—shove it on a stick, rub liberally with salt and grill over an open charcoal fire before serving rolled up in a piece of paper. Head over to the Steckerlfisch stand and pick up a Mackrele. Settle yourself down at a table near where the deer still browse and enjoy a nice quiet lunch.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

5pm—Schloss Nymphenburg
The former royal hunting grounds are, unsurprisingly, located not far from a magnificent royal palace. From Hirschgarten, take a short walk to Romanplatz and jump on Tram 12 to make your way to Schloss Nymphenburg. If you’re only in Bavaria for a couple of days and don’t have time to visit the famed Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles {or the lesser-known Herrenchiemsee}, Nymphenburg is a great consolation prize. My advice, though, is to just focus on the gardens. They are massive, gorgeous and, best of all, free! Take a stroll through the paths, watch the swans, maybe check out the botanical garden, and definitely wander down the canal.

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

8pm—Tollwood
Munich knows how to put on a good festival. While Oktoberfest is certainly the most famous, if you’re here between late June and early August, you’ve lucked out. The Tollwood summer festival is on and it is one of the best, with food from all over the world, music and a general hippy vibe. Hop back on Tram 12 and make your way to Olympiapark to pay it a visit. {Infanteriestrasse is the tram stop. From there just follow the crowds.} Be sure to check out the Marrakech tent to see the craft they’re demonstrating and to see some traditional performances. If you’re in the mood for another beer, head to the Andechs tent where you can sample a bit of the monks’ brew.

{If you have an extra day in Munich, I highly recommend taking a trip out to Andechs which is just south of Munich and reachable from the S-Bahn. The monastery is perched high on a hill and, after a bit of a hike, you can cool down with one of their nice, cold brews. They also have some great pork knuckle.}

Amid a stand of trees in the middle of Tollwood {just behind the Marrakech tent} lies one of Munich’s hidden gems, the Ost-West Friedenskirche. It’s a church built by a refugee Russian priest from found materials, beginning in the 1940s, and still maintained as a museum after his death at the age of 110 in 2004. During the festival it’s open well into the evening.

Sunday

9am—Weißwurst Frühstück at the Weißes Bräuhaus
Weißwurst Frühstück is about as Bavarian as you get. In fact, I was staying with a Bavarian family for my first Christmas here in Munich and this is what we had for Christmas breakfast. Weißwürste, meaning white sausages, are made of veal but without any of the preservatives that you usually find in sausages. As a result, they are traditionally eaten only before noon on the day that they are made. The Weißes Bräuhaus is famous for maintaining this tradition, as well as for being the HQ for Schneider Weiss and hence home of the world’s best Weißbier, and for offering a chance at experiencing the traditional Bavarian attitude of the wait staff {though, disappointingly, our waitresses have almost always been extremely nice}. It’s a Munich institution.

Ordering before noon, though, is only the first piece of Weißwurst protocol that must be observed to successfully navigate the minefield of potential Weißwurst faux pas. It is also critical that you do not eat the skin, and there are three culturally-approved methods to effect its removal. The first, and easiest for beginners, is to begin by cutting the sausage in half. Stick your fork in the cut end and then slit the skin down the length of the sausage. Slip your knife under the skin along one side of the cut to get an edge loose and peel from there. Extra difficulty points can be earner by doing essentially the same thing but without cutting it in half at the beginning. Finally, the most advanced technique is known as the ‘auszuzeln’ method (most likely for its onomatopoeic qualities), and simply entails sucking the sausage out. Use your best discretion.

Weißwürste and the accompanying pretzels {serve yourself from the big basket on the table} should both be eaten dipped in the sweet mustard that Bavaria is famous for, and washed down with a Schneider Weißbier. There are about ten beers to choose from, ranging from the Original to my favorite, the spring-y Mein Grünes to the Aventinus which is a dark, doppelbock and the Kiwi’s particular favorite. For a special treat try the Aventinus Eisbock, which looks similar to the regular Aventinus but adds even more amazing, complex flavours into the mix—and weighs in at a hefty 12% alcohol, though in a mercifully smaller serving size. Feel weird drinking with the sun still below the yardarm? Don’t. Everyone else will be too. When in Munich, right?

Kiwi and Peach's 48 Hours in Munich Guide

11am—Museum Brandhorst
Now that you’re sufficiently boozed up, it’s seems like a good time to head to a museum. The museum quarter boasts four art museums, each dedicated to a different era, and they all cost only €1 apiece on Sundays. You can choose between the old masters {Alte Pinakothek}, 19th Century {Neue Pinakothek} or modern {Pinakothek der Moderne}, but for us Museum Brandhorst is the one you can’t miss. Seeded by the private collection of Udo and Annett Brandhorst, this museum holds impressive works of contemporary and pop art from the likes of Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke, and, my personal favorite, Cy Twombly. Seriously, there is a whole floor of Twomblys, including a room specially designed to display the epic series Lepanto. An entire floor, folks. I’m pretty sure heaven is a bit like that.

1pm—Englischer Garten and Seehaus
Join the masses of Münchners and take a walk through the Englisher Garten {so-called because of its informal layout, in contrast to a formal French garden}. Stroll past the Prinzregentenstraße bridge and see the surfers, then head into the garden. Take a walk past the Chinesischer Turm Biergarten to see the tower, but keep on going north. A better Biergarten awaits. You will eventually happen upon a lake and on the far side of said lake lies your destination, Seehaus. It’s the perfect place to relax, have a nice, cold beer {they serve Paulaner}, admire the swans and watch folks row their boats on the lake. When you finish that beer you might even take a boat out yourself.

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6 thoughts on “48 Hours in Munich

  1. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend 48 hours in this city…. I also can’t believe it’s your last days. Good luck, keep in touch, and I hope your next adventure is equally brilliant! Emma 🙂

    • You know, I was never really that keen on the Residenz, but the Kiwi liked the bit he saw. It does take a while, so we figured that if you were on a whirlwind trip through Munich it might be a miss. Good suggestion though.

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