What to do in Munich
May 18, 2017 1:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to Munich for work at the end of the month. I'll have a few days to myself after. What should I do?

Work is sending me to Munich. If everything goes as expected, I'll have Saturday June 3 to Monday June 5 all to myself. My flight home is 4pm Tuesday, so I'm not expecting to do a lot. I've got a hotel in Maxvorstadt booked until Sunday, June 4, so I'll need to figure out lodging for Sunday and Monday nights.

I've never been to Europe (or abroad as an adult in general) and I will likely be completely on my own during this time (which is scary, but totally ok and exciting!) I know very little German, but can kind of muddle my way through reading things. And anything I may possibly understand will likely get a "wie, bitte?" from me anyway, because I'm somewhat deaf. But figuring things out is going to be half the fun, I think. I know that English is widely spoken, but I want to do my best to not ask a native to switch to English; it feels rude to not try to communicate with them, at least.

I'm hoping to get around the city via bicycle mostly, and public transportation when necessary.

The only definitive plan I have is a pilgrimage to Dachau concentration camp. I'm not sure if I should plan anything else for that day, as I'm assuming that I'll be a mess.

I've toyed around with the idea of renting a car (or taking a train?) to something with beautiful views (near the Alps? Is there any place with some light hikes that would be safe to do solo?). I'm open to spending a night or two outside of the city.

I really have no idea how to spend my time, and I'm afraid I'm going to waste this opportunity!

Bonus question: any recommendations for vegan or vegetarian eats in Munich? I'm vegetarian, but make an effort to eat vegan.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts to Travel & Transportation around Munich, Germany (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Day trip to Neuschwanstein.
posted by fairmettle at 1:13 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]

We very much enjoyed walking in the English Garden. Schweinshaxe at Haxnbauer im Scholastikahaus
posted by humboldt32 at 1:34 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]

You're smart to plan a lot of time for Dachau. It takes time to get out there and beyond that, is emotionally demanding. I wouldn't want to do a second complex tourist excursion on the same day.

With just two days and a trip to Dachau already planned, I'd spend the rest of the time in Munich itself. It's a fun city! And there's a lot to see and do, museums and cathedrals and the like. The canonical thing to do is spend an afternoon drinking beer with friends in a biergarten. That is a fun way to spend time but not so much on your own.

If you really want to go to another city I'd look to where you can get in < 2 hours by train. Salzburg and Innsbruck come to mind, maybe Ulm.
posted by Nelson at 1:52 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

Ooh, a trip up the tower of the Neues Rathaus. It's only a few Euro and right in the centre of town on Marienplatz. The interior of the Rathaus is weird and lovely - it's like being in an Escher picture. The view from the top is great.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:48 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]

Munich has terrific art galleries and museums. Just to mention three, the Alte and Neue Pinakothek are really not to be missed if you like art, and the Deutsches Museum is a great science/tech museum (on the banks of the Isar - which were 'renaturalised' a few years ago and are now pleasant to stroll along.

Have a currywurst in an imbiss. I'm not saying it's a great foodie experience, but it's a thing.
posted by Segundus at 2:59 AM on May 18

Sorry, I forgot you said vegetarian...
posted by Segundus at 3:07 AM on May 18

BMW Museum
posted by Homer42 at 3:58 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

Have a look at the official city website. It speaks English and you can search for categories of sights.

In addition to the museums already mentioned there are some really beautiful churches. For a good view it's also worth walking up the Alte Peter.

You'll find that the S-Bahn Network covers quite an area well outside the city including very picturesque parts. For an easy daytrip I'd recommend going to Herrsching on the S-Bahn and hiking up to Kloster Andechs. There's a beautiful church and museum bit but its main attraction is the beer. Most monasteries in Bavaria were brewing beer at one point and they still do. It's more an uphill walk than a hike and it's fairly popular. And you're right by Ammer See which is really pretty lake. Another option for such a trip is Starnberger See right next to it on the transit map.

You'll find that you have vegetarian options just about everywhere but that traditional Bavarian cuisine is heavily reliant on animal and flour based products.

You'll also find that most younger people speak some to very good English, older people less so. If the first person you approach doesn't speak English the next will.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:40 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]

Seconding the art museums if you love art. They are world class! Transportation will be a cinch. Get a multiride ticket for the public transport system and you are good to go. I think you will be fine since you can read a bit of German, and frankly people love to practice their English on you, usually!

Here's a link to some highly-rated vegetarian restaurants there.

Have a great time!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 5:18 AM on May 18

Rent a bike (top three entries) in the city and bike along the Isar to the Waldwirtschaft Biergarten Great sunny day activity, beautiful ride on flat bike ways (until the very end where you most likely have to push up a short, steep incline), you almost cannot get lost, Waldwirtschaft ist a classic among Munich people but not so much tourists. Sundays will be packed, so decided whether you want it a bit more calm on another day or with the full-on local weekend experience. Have fun! :)
posted by Fallbala at 6:29 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

If the weather is nice, check out the Viktualienmarkt, a giant outdoor market.

Some vegetarian (sadly, not vegan) dishes to try:
- A giant pretzel with obatzda (a cheese spread)
- It should still be asparagus season, so there will be asparagus dishes (soup, with sauce, etc.) in basically every restaurant
- Knödel, or dumplings, are common too
- Spätzle, basically a German handmade pasta dumpling
- Kaiserschmarrn

Hopefully you'll be able to find some vegetarian food without trying too hard. Even the historical Ratskeller guarantees 8 vegetarian / vegan dishes on the menu at any time, they are marked in green on this menu.
posted by beyond_pink at 7:42 AM on May 18

Yes, the museums are amazing if you have any interest in art.

Agree with everyone that Dachau should have its own day. That's not something you want to try to "cram in."

Getting around in Germany with even minimal German is straightforward. The only thing is that if you fail to spot some regulation on a placard somewhere some old lady may scold you briskly for your scofflaw nature, and you may not be able to follow it all.
posted by praemunire at 8:15 AM on May 18

Normally I would enthusiastically recommend the Deutches Museum, one of the finest science and technology museums in the world, but they're undergoing a massive multi-year renovation with about half of the exhibits closed on a rotating basis. Still neat, but not quite the tour de force that it is at full-strength.

I've never been even slightly scorned by opening a conversation with "Sprechen sie Englisch?" It's always been followed up with a smile, a self-deprecating "A little", followed by a conversation in perfect English. YMMV, though, but Munich is one of the friendliest cities I've ever seen.
posted by hwyengr at 9:17 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

munich is extremely friendly in my limited experience! i went speaking basically no german other than a few simple duolingo lessons' worth. definitely get some asparagus whenever you can since it's Spargelzeit right now and everyone is stooooked on it. the deutches museum was excellent (although it sounds like it's under construction right now?). my biggest recommendation is probably just walking around Englischer Garten - especially the surfing area and the japanese garden. it's really pretty and huge and there's lots to see and drink in it
posted by burgerrr at 9:38 AM on May 18

Every time my band tours Europe we set aside an extra day to go to the best water park in the dang world - GALAXY ERDING!

It's got tons of water slides, plus all kinds of spa-type stuff in an adults-only area, mineral baths, hot springs, all that stuff. It's super fun, and exciting, and relaxing.

Almost everyone speaks English and you shouldn't have too hard of a time finding your way around.

It's not far from the Munich airport, and I'm pretty sure you can get there by bus. Seriously it's insanely fun - I even know someone who has a tattoo of one of the water slides there because it's his favorite water slide in the world. There is nothing like it in the US and I highly recommend it.
posted by capnsue at 10:59 AM on May 18

Thanks for so many great suggestions! I wish I had more time so that I can explore all of them. I don't think I should miss Neuschwanstein as it looks incredible.

I may have some time to do some exploring on my work days (the days should end by 6pm.

Also, just found out that Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel(!!) are playing in Munich on June 1. It's so tempting!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:24 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]

If you like to swim and/or spa naked, Mullersches Volksbad is beautiful and fun.
posted by dame at 11:29 AM on May 18

Swimming and spa-ing naked sounds wonderful, but, uh, I'm a supersized American with years of body shame stuffed in my baggage :)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:57 AM on May 18

Check out Prinz Myshkin - vegan and vegetarian cuisine in a cool space. Have fun in my hometown :)
posted by The Toad at 12:52 PM on May 18

Thanks for all the suggestions. I had an amazing trip! Here's what I did:

- Saw Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel play at the Munchen Kunsthalle.
- Had amazing food just about everywhere I went. Fresh pretzel w/ obazda. OMFGYUM.
- Went to Burghausen Castle (amazingly cool)
- Walked to Austria from Burghausen because I could
- Actually figured out enough German to get by on the trip to Burghausen (I refused to speak english. It was fun!)
- Met some of the friendliest people ever
- For the first time in my life, found out that there is beer that actually tastes good.

What a wonderful experience. I really hope to go back at some point to explore more (and hang out with my coworkers/new-found friends at a biergarten again :)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:52 PM on July 18

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