Munich is one of my favorite European cities and one I return to again and again. Whether your visit is timed to attend the famous Oktoberfest or you are just passing through Bavaria’s capital city on your way to mountain hikes or skiing, invariably Munich’s clear blue sky, its quintessential biergartens and it’s history and remarkable buildings provide a wonderful place to explore.
Munich was bombed heavily in WWII but – thanks to the methodical photographing of the historic buildings – after the war Germany was able to reconstruct the beautiful old city. Now you can visit the stunning Marienplatz, the heart of the city, and watch the famous glockenspiel in the city hall, wander the halls of the former palace of the Bavarian monarchs and spend hours in the phenomenal museums the city has to offer.
Of course, there is also time spent in local biergartens to look forward to.
I have done these things multiple times. So this visit, I tried to find some new favorite spots and focused my attention on the area south-west of Karlsplatz.
Munich has some fantastic shopping malls, such as the Fünf Höfe, and pedestrianized streets such as Neuhauserstrasse and, of course, has the street of fashionista dreams, Maximilianstrasse, which is lined with high-end designer stores.
This visit I wandered along Sendlingerstrasse (pedestrianized) which was quieter than the main street and had some great stores and spots to relax. It starts at Sendlinger Tor, both a tram-stop and a UBahn stop. The Tor, or tower, is one of the original city gates from the 12th century and gives you an impression of entering the original city, much as visitors must have felt in the past.
• KONEN, a super clothing department store, filled with floors to browse.
• More & More, a German High Street chain store with super customer service.
• Vintage Fabriek might become your favorite new place to shop if you are looking for something more eclectic!
• Höfstatt shopping mall at the further end of the street has well-known brand stores.
• Radspieler on Hackenstrasse, is a wonderful find if you like to browse furniture and housewares and, if you are limited to carryon size luggage, you’ll just have to admire the brilliantly colorful range of fabrics. It also has a small range of tasteful clothes. It is worth a visit just to wander around its courtyard garden.
• Asamkirche is a delight to the eye and a surprise for the senses. Smack dab on the busy commercial street of Sendlingerstrasse is this tiny 18th century Baroque private church built by the two Asam brothers, one a sculptor and the other a painter.
It is jammed packed with stucco decorations, gold frills
and flounces and is well worth a visit to gaze upon the extravagant usage of their skills.
• MUCA, or Museum of Urban & Contemporary Art. This is Germany’s first urban art museum and exhibition space and is a fascinating glimpse of urban art icons such as Banksy and Richard Hambleton.
It’s worth visiting just for the paintings on the doors of the restrooms alone.
A Spot to Relax
• SantoLoco Surf Café, on Eisenmannstrasse, is a cool little café attached to a surf and skate store, where you can chat with the local surfers who had impressed me, along with hundreds of others, with their skills on the Eisbachwelle, in the Englischergarten, a local river with constant waves that has been surfed on for 40 years.
• Mary’s Coffee Club, on Sendlingerstrasse, is a great spot for really good coffee, all-day breakfasts and an eco-outlook. Here you can enjoy a coconut milk iced latte and just chill.
• French Touch Patisserie, on Brunnstrasse, the name says it all! A wonderful spot for breakfast or if you just need a delectable pastry, or a colorful macaron and a coffee to round off the day.
• Prinz Myshkin, Hackenstrasse, is one of my favorite up-scale veggie restaurants and it never disappoints. From delicious vegan or veggie curries, tofu stroganoffs, pasta and pizzas to scrumptious desserts this place calls my name every visit.
• La Vida, in Asam Höfe, just off Sendlingerstrasse, offers a tranquil spot, just feet away from the shopping crowds, in a courtyard. Here you can relax with a coffee and pastel de nata or treat yourself to the delicious selection of tapas for lunch.
Things to do
The Isar River runs north to south through Munich and during the summer provides the city’s beach fun. The sand bars, such as Flaucher, provide spots on which to picnic or party and the riverbanks are a great spot to walk or cycle.
Froh + Bunter is a ceramic store, on Sebastiansplatz, where, if you are in Munich for more than a week, you can paint your own ceramic items and collect them in seven days. Such a nice idea for an original piece of travel memorabilia.
My final suggestion, although not in the area I explored, is the Hackerbrücke (Hacker Bridge) which is not far from the central station (Hbf) and the Augustiner-Keller biergarten. This bridge has become synonymous with summer sunset gazing. The bridge has planks of wood placed high up in- between the metal supports, just so the locals can bring their wine, beer and snacks and enjoy the best sunset views over the city.
Be prepared to clamber and maybe work on your upper body strength beforehand.
Munich continues to enchant me!
You can read more about Munich here in Dispatches’ archives.
Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.
Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.
Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.
She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.
She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.