So you’re landing from a transatlantic flight, and if it’s not London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Rome Fiumicino or Frankfurt, odds are you’re coming to the Munich Airport.
Whether you’ve got a four-hour layover in Munich or have the benefit of an overnight stay, these are the activities you ought to know when visiting the heart of Bavaria.
Four hours transiting through the Munich Airport
Once clearing passport control, you have no shortage of options to spend your time in-terminal before your onward flight. You might try,
- Catching up on sleep with a two-hour snooze in a Napcab (starting from €20)
- Connect to the Munich airport WiFi on the “Telekom” network
- Drink in the white beer at Airbräu, Europe’s only airport brewery (in the Public Area, after security)
- Go for a dip or decompress in the sauna at the Hilton Munich Airport‘s Fit & Fly Spa (two-hour pass for €22)
24 hours in Munich
Check-in: Flushing Meadows Hotel
Hidden behind a non-descript street entrance, this boutique hotel beckons curious passerby with soft house music playing in the foyer. You’ll likely be arriving in the A.M. so leave it to the reception-cum-bar staff at the Flushing Meadows Hotel to store your luggage while you take on the city. With an early arrival, you may want to stake a claim to one of two free rental bikes available if the weather suits.Check availability >>
Sneak a peek of the hotel lounge’s rooftop bar and patio. If it’s a clear day, you can’t pass up the continental breakfast (complete with green smoothies) overlooking the clock towers of St. Maximilian Church and the snow-capped Alps.
If you’re looking for a more substantial fare, Café Maria down below on Klenzestraße hooks you up with warm mains from Germany and the Near East. Scrambled eggs spiced with ras el-hanout and goat’s cheese ought to sober the jetlag out of you. Or stick to the Jordanian maqlouba where fried zucchini, eggplant, and tomato get tucked into a mound of rice pilaf. Pair it all with a shot of cardamom Arabic coffee and your internal clock will adjust to German punctuality in no time.
Check off the Essentials
Folks coming to Munich are amazed time and again by the pomp of the city. As one of the better-preserved Altstädte (old towns) in Germany, nobody will blame you if you’re simply overcome by the grandiosity of the city hall over Marienplatz, the floral bounty at the Viktualienmarkt or the fine details of the onion-domed Frauenkirche.
When the sun shines in Munich, locals can’t resist the green expanses of the English Garden whose five kilometres of parkland may make the “Garden” name a misnomer.
Hanging ten in landlocked Bavaria? Believe it or not, queueing legions of Munich’s most dedicated river surfers slap on their wetsuits and maneuver on the Eisbach river, not far from the Old Town. Catch Munich’s best surfer babettes and babes at the Eisbachwelle beside the Haus der Kunst gallery or at the smaller breaks by E2 Kleine Eisbachwelle (a short walk deeper into the English Garden).
Take a Break
Sidestep the Oktoberfest crowds and get the conviviality of drinking with Germans year-round at one of the city’s beer gardens. While in the English Garden, clink your one-litre mass of beer at the Chinesischer Turm with live oompah music playing from the platform of the namesake pagoda. As an alternative, the Augustiner Keller, a short stroll from the city’s Hauptbahnhof (main station), treats revellers to their crisp lager beer under the canopy of century-old trees.
Finally, if the weather doesn’t impress, you can count on the castle-like Hofbräuhaus. The temptation to cave in early for their Käsespatzle where cheesy filaments coat and lock every handmade piece of pasta before being showered in flash-fried onions, is simply insurmountable.
Not the one to drink the afternoon away? Cool off (with the cool kids) at Ballabeni across from the Museum Brandhorst, devouring a scoop of rich coconut ice cream or a serving of lemon-basil sorbet.
By now, your room will be ready with thick linens tucked in and ready to catch your exhausted body in a trust fall. But hold up, for the sake of your Instagram followers (or Mom back home), take in the décor of your room, each conceived by a different artist. Be it an in-room hammock designed by Eisbach surfer Quirin Rohleder or the easygoing glamour of actress Birgit Minichmayr’s room, no two stays at the Flushing Meadows promises to be the same.
A Night in the Neighbourhood
Kick off your evening with a sunset apéritif as the hotel’s café transitions into its nocturnal “bar space” alter ego. The cocktail menu on the blackboard include concoctions blended from the hotel’s own infused gins.
If the weather permits, you may instead opt for a grassy patch along the River Isar just two streets over from the hotel. The Frühlingsanlagen is a popular spot for locals who bring their picnics and beverages aplenty during the summer.
Around the corner from the hotel, Trachtenvogl is an easy-going conclusion to the day. With unfussy German dishes and vegetarian options, and an ambiance that feels more mid-century living room than a restaurant, there’s little doubt as to why this is a favourite date night spot. Meats are sourced from a local organic butcher while their coffee roaster works directly with the growers to lend support to social and health projects on the ground.
Extend your Stay
Unfortunately, there’s no separating Munich with the country’s heart-wrenching 20th-century history. While it can be fun to throw down litres of beer and plates of sausage all day long, a visit to Munich is not complete without learning of the atrocities that happened nearby.
Take your time at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site on the outskirts of the city. A self-guided tour through the grounds emphasizes the individual lives of victims who were interned at the camp. Germans themselves will appreciate your taking this history seriously. After all, it’s a shared responsibility to learn from lessons of the past to stop such large-scale hurt from happening once again.
For a different pace of travel, extend your 48-hour layover to Munich with a price-savvy day trip by train to neighbouring Salzburg, Austria for all things Baroque and “The Sound of Music”. A Bayern Ticket starting at €25 will send you off humming your own list of Favorite Things all-day long.