Explore Bavaria’s laidback capital, and you’ll discover that there’s a lot more to Munich than oom-pah bands, Lederhosen… and a certain football team.
Those in the know describe Munich as Italy’s northernmost city. If you come here expecting Teutonic bustle, you’re in for a surprise. The pace of life is easy here – one of the reasons why Monocle magazine keeps voting it the ‘most liveable city in the world’. Chilled out, safe and bike-friendly, it’s an easy city to love, and a hard one to leave.
For starters, Munich has the Englischer Garten, a beautifully landscaped city park so vast it puts New York’s Central Park in the shade. And just like Big Apple, the Bavarian capital has its hipster neighbourhoods. Foremost among them is Gärtnerplatz, which lies just south of the city centre and to the west of the Isar River that splits the city in two. The former gay quarter is now the epicentre of the city’s fashion, art and music scene. Locals start the night with a beer on the steps of the state theatre, before moving on to the clothes swaps and eclectic gigs hosted by the übercool Glockenbach Werkstatt.
Most tourists visit the lovely churches and Viktualienmarkt in the Alt Stadt, but exploring further afield also pays dividends. Particularly gorgeous are the fairytale homes of the Haidhausen district. Here you’ll also find Muffatwerk, the former power station that now houses the city’s most post-modern beergarden. For something more traditional, brave the Oktoberfest crowds and head to the St Paul quarter, where the drinking starts early and finishes… well, no one can quite remember.
And finally, there’s the little matter of the biggest football club in Germany, FC Bayern Munich. Even if you don’t catch a home game at the Allianz Arena, you may well find yourself surrounded by a crowd of vocal supporters, either in the streets or the dark, welcoming neighbourhood bars. Even if you’re not a sports fan, the passionate interest is hard to resist – especially after the first couple of Pilsners.