Languages spoken: German though English is typically spoken by anyone serving tourists and by young people.
Janice's Reasons to Visit Munich
Munich is a very traditional German city – think lederhosen, sausages and beer, opera, a royal residence, and the marienplatz glockenspiel. It's also a hub of technology and is the home to the BMW museum and the Deutsches Museum which is famed for being the largest science and technology museum in the world. The city has range!
Here are my top recommendations for a few days in Munich.
- Marienplatz. This is where everyone starts and rightly so. It's the square in the center of town with the glockenspiel which performs at 11:00 am, noon, and 5:00 pm. Even if there are no special events in the square it's a must. When I visited, a Christmas market was set up there.
- Enjoy the outdoor culture. Even in the cool weather of December people were sitting outside at the cafes and beer gardens. For locals, the main purpose for the Christmas markets is to meet people outside. Munich is truly an outdoor culture.
- The English Garden is a massive park within a 20 minute walk of Marienplatz. Created in 1789, it covers almost 1,000 acres and though it's called the English Garden it includes a variety of unique spaces including the Chinese Tower, the Japanese Teahouse, and a 7,000 seat beer garden.
- Viktualienmarkt is just a few minutes walk from Marienplatz and a place to have lunch amongst locals. There are communal tables to sit at. It's great for people watching and you'll often find men having beer there at any time of day.
- Staatsoper. Whether you simply take a tour of the opera house or actually go to the opera, this is a site that I would not want to miss. Tickets to the opera in Munich are surprisingly affordable.
- Manu Factum. Pop into Manu Factum, which is around the corner from the Staatsoper and a few minutes from Marienplatz. It has the very best quality of very ordinary things. I'm not a shopper but I found this to be a fascinating retail curiosity. A pencil sharpener I saw cost over 100 Euros. As my mother would have said, it's not the best use of 100 Euros. But there are also items that are not too expensive yet quite special. Looking is free.
- Take in a neighborhood. Get out of the city center where all tourists go and get into a neighborhood. I'd recommend Schwabing which isn't all that far away. Should you walk all the way to the north end of the English Garden you'll get there. In the past it was Munich's bohemian quarter. It's been gentrified and is now a destination for shopping and restaurants and clubs in the evening.
- Go to Ingo Maurer's Showroom. While in Schwabing, go to Ingo Maurer's showroom. It's spectacular! I loved it–so much so that I will write an entire post about it very soon.
- Go to one of many museums. From art to beer, there is a museum covering almost every subject in Munich. I went to the National Socialism Museum which opened just a couple of years ago. It's an amazing study of the rise of the Nazis and of populist politics in general. There are many lessons to be learned there.
- Check for festivals. Munich is famous for Oktoberfest which takes place in the Theresienwiese fairgrounds. But that's not all that happens there or throughout the city. Check the Munich event listings before you go. I went to Tollwood when I was there, which is a festival that happens twice a year. It was great fun.
- Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. I visited this memorial about 15 years ago. It's heavy stuff but I think very worthwhile. It's located just outside of Munich and can be accessed by Munich transit.
- Bus tour. At some point in my visit to a major city I usually take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to get an overview of the city. If I've traveled overnight I usually do this on the first day when I'm tired.
For more solo travel to Munich read on for Jody's recommendations.
Jody's Reasons to Visit Munich
I loved the old town area – very ‘old world' with the Rathaus and Glockenspiel – and the Viktualienmarkt, a massive outdoor market with all types of food, beverages, flowers, crafts, etc.
The English Gardens are a beautiful adventure. I saw people surfing, playing cricket, biking, everything. And the beer garden at the Chinese Pavilion was scrumptious!
There's also Schloss Nymphemberg. The gardens are beautiful and beside the main palace, there are a handful of other beautiful smaller ‘cottages' scattered about the grounds. It was enchanting.
Getting around is so easy everywhere in Germany. You can walk most places or take the trams which are very easy to figure out. There's always a schedule at each tram stop plus an electric sign that tells you when the next tram will arrive (usually just a few minutes). I come from a small town with no public transportation but I figured it out in no time.
There are also opportunities for day trips. I took one to Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps — unbelievable!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)
Where to Stay in Munich
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Hotels Recommended by Solo Travelers
Wombats Hostel Munich
The Wombats Hostel is within walking distance of the Munich Hauptbahnhof (the main train station) and also within walking distance of the Hofbrauhaus (the beer hall). There are a lot of reasons to love this hostel. Here are a few: free linen (they ask you not to use your own sleeping bag to prevent bed bugs), your access key also opens your locker (no need for locks), the on-site bar (you’ll get a free drink voucher on check in), en suite bathrooms and the cheap all-you-can eat basic breakfast. In addition, the rooms, bathrooms and corridors are clean. The rooms themselves are comfortable (big enough considering I opted for the 6 sleeper). And the staff are friendly and willing to help. Power outlets are located conveniently on a little ledge next to each bed. And the rooms are all non-smoking. One small negative note – lockers are a bit on the small side. I couldn’t get my big suitcase into it.
Hotel Deutsche Eiche
The location of this small hotel is fantastic. It's in a community just a few blocks from the very center of Munich. They have smoking floors so if you don't want that it's important to specify non-smoking floor. They have single rooms. This hotel is popular with LGBQT travelers.