From carnivals and street parties to light festivals and even a dash of Glühwein, there’s an awful lot going on in Germany this autumn. So if you’ve decided to give Oktoberfest a miss this year, why not check out a few alternative ways to enjoy the cooler months?
Bavaria’s capital is a mix of well-known sights, abundant Baroque churches and museums of the highest order. Munich’s Kunstareal is a cluster of art museums with so many masterpieces, that it’s literally difficult to know where to begin. A week would never be enough to see all of them, and these invaluable collections were assembled by the Wittelsbach monarchs who ruled Bavaria up to the 20th century.
Their palaces in the city are two of the many glorious monuments that should definitely be in your must-see list, and you’ll catch sight of Alps from the top of the Rathaus and St. Peter’s Church. Munich is also the city of some world-famous German exports like BMW, whose models you can find in BMW Museum or BMW World, or FC Bayern and the famous Allianz Arena.
With autumn kicking off the next Friday along with cooler temperatures and the leaves changing colour, it’s the best time of year to do some sightseeing – because autumn makes everything look better, nietwaar?
It’s difficult to say which view is the most beautiful in autumn: The Nymphenburg palace park, the Englischer Garten, the Hirschgarten with its animal enclosures or the magnificent view from the hills in Luitpoldpark.
Scanning a map of the city, you’ll be struck by the size of the Englischer Garten. Created in the 18th century, the park begins on the left bank of the Isar in the north behind the Residenz and just seems to go on and on. At 370 hectares this expanse of lawns, tree groves, pasture, waterways and a lake is one of the world’s largest urban parks, even bigger than New York’s Central Park.
There are some neat little sights to take in, like a Japanese teahouse added for the Olympics in 1972 and the Chinese Tower based on Kew Gardens’ pagoda and first erected in 1790. But something you may not have expected to come across is surfing. Despite town’s landlocked location hundreds of miles from any coastline, Munich offers prime surf opportunities anyway.
Müncheners love being outdoors, especially at mealtimes. As soon as a few rays of sun hit the city, people dust off their grills and head to the Isar. Avoid the crowds by heading to one of the parks with a designated BBQ area, like West Park in southwest Munich, about 10 minutes on the U-Bahn from Marienplatz. West Park also has a Japanese garden, a Thai temple, and even an outdoor cinema until October.
And there are other places besides the parks: A walk along the banks of the Isar to the Friedensengel (Angel of Peace), where the warm glow of the trees competes with the gold plating of the statue, is also a great idea.
A postcard favourite, Munich’s Rathaus (town hall) on Marienplatz is a Gothic Revival wonder, a monument worthy of the city. The facade is festooned with pinnacles, niches with little trefoil arches and statues of the first four Bavarian kings on the bay of the tower. Munich’s population doubled in less than 20 years between 1880 and 1900, and the Neues Rathaus, which was originally completed in 1874 had to be expanded barely 20 years after it was finished. That facade is 100 metres long and the building was extended to 400 rooms, and you can go in to scale the 85-metre from where you can see those Alps peaks on cloudless days. Since 1908 the Glockenspiel has chimed each day at 11:00 and 12:00, and then 17:00 (from March to October), with automatons acting out episodes from the 1600s.
After you spend time in Marienplatz, walk over to Viktualienmarkt, a daily farmer’s market where you’ll find a massive variety of fresh and regional food. More than 140 colorful booths fill the area with unique flavor, as well as products from local florists, bakeries, and restaurants. The market is open Monday- Saturday from 8am till 8pm, but most stalls unofficially close around 6pm.
Do you to discover the cheapest draft beer in the city? Despite being next to one of the main tourist attractions in Munich, Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom takes some finding: Ignore the main restaurant, and walk around the left of the building into an alley to an innocuous door; inside is a vestibule that holds about eight people. Crouch a little to a frosted glass window with a rope next to it; pull the rope and hear a bell ring followed by a gruff ‘Yaw wos?’ – brusque Bavarian for ‘Good evening, how may I help?’. Order a beer from the selection on the board, and get to know the regulars in the vestibule.
Another brewery, a beer garden to be more particular, that’s also a bit off the beaten path is one of the best ways to see Munich at its biggest charm. At Waldwirtschaft in the south Munich suburbs you can grab a beer and some snacks from the traditional food stalls, and sit back and listen to the live jazz bands on the weekend. If the weather’s not good, try Augustiner Bräustuben for great value food and drinks in a traditional beer hall atmosphere.
Later on you should burn those beer calories by climbing up the 299 steps of Munich’s oldest church, Alter Peter (St. Peter’s), and bring your camera – the summit holds some of the most memorable views of the city. It was first built at the end of the 1100s but destroyed by fire in 1347. The reconstruction was in the Gothic style and down the years there have been many extensions, leaving the St Peter’s with Renaissance and Baroque elements. Once inside, the aesthetics continue with five Gothic paintings by Jan Polack, alters by Ignaz Gunther and a ceiling fresco by Johann Baptist Zimmermann. If you look closer, you’ll spot the high altar, which has a figure of St. Peter sculpted by Erasmus Grasser at the turn of the 16th century.
The big folk festival season in Munich traditionally comes to end with the Kirchweihdult – ‘Dult’ – in October; however, that’s not the only reason it has so many fans. When the sun shows its face one more time and the leaves glimmer in gold, it puts simply everyone in a great mood – from the visitors to the stallholders.
The range of saunas in Munich is diverse, but there is one thing they all have in common: Not only is it wonderfully relaxing to spend time there – all that sweating is also really good for your health. You can experience a sauna in style in the Roman-Irish sweat bath in the Müller’schen Volksbad. There is also a Finnish sauna with coloured light effects and a variety of herbal infusions.
Karl Schwanzer, the man who designed the famous BMW Headquarters also drew up the plans for the futuristic museum building in front, often described as the “salad bowl”. The building was completed in 1973 and its galleries are on a Guggenheim-esque spiral. The showrooms are roomy and effortlessly cool, as you go on a journey through the brand’s technological development.
There are vintage cars, aircraft, motorcycles, turbines, engines as well as outlandish concept vehicles from the last two decades, all accompanied with information via multimedia. Also, did you know Elvis Presley owned a BMW? Well he did and it’s on show here.
A little question for you: which city is your favourite during the autumn time? For me it’s definitely Amsterdam…Why to visit Amsterdam in autumn. Well, I actually like A’dam throughout the whole year but you know….as I’ve already stated, autumn makes everything look better; and Munich is another great example!
Have a great day!