Much Ado about Munich
With its intricate architecture, rich history and the rowdy, infamous Oktoberfest, Munich can be a sedate or stimulating trip for the backpacker – it all depends what you make of it. The cultural delights of palaces, churches and museums may be high on the agenda, but there is also peaceful parkland in which to stroll, the Allianz Arena (home of Bayern Munich and 1860 Munich) for the football fans and river-surfing on the edge of the Englischer Garten for those in pursuit of something a little different.
If you are looking into Munich city breaks, the third largest city in Germany (behind Berlin and Hamburg) is easy, cheap and safe to navigate, with the U-Bahn, trams, buses and 200km of bike trails. Due to its especially high standards of living, there’s also very little danger for visitors. There are a number of day-trips out of the city for those with itchy feet. Head out to the holy mountain of Andechs with its huge brewery, visit the harrowing former concentration camp of Dachau, or visit the clear green waters of Lake Königssee for a day’s boating.
Bavaria’s capital city has history etched into the facades of its Gothic, Baroque and Rococo buildings, and its heart is made up of four royal avenues; Brienner Strasse, Ludwig Strasse, Maximillian Strasse and Prinzregent Strasse. You’ve not seen a castle until you’ve seen a Bavarian castle, in particular Neuschwanstein in nearby Fussen. The white, turreted edifice which looks like a storybook stronghold was built by the reclusive King Ludwig II in order that he could hide from the outside world, so it’s earned the name ‘the castle of the fairy-tale king’. If this isn’t dazzling enough, there’s the Schloss Nymphenburg, West Munich’s summer palace surrounded by decadent gardens which can be reached by cab, tube or horse, depending on your budget, and the Residenz, a large palace complex which dates back to 1385.
Autumn is a great season for Munich city breaks as Oktoberfest, the legendary global celebration of beer, consumes the city. The festival kicks off in the last two weeks of September, and it was attended by more than 6.4 million visitors in 2013. As well as the 14 beer tents, and five million litres of beer to keep you occupied, there’s a crossbow competition, delicious local cuisine like Bratwurst and Oxen, and the Lowenbrau tent, upon which a 4.5 metre lion snarls at guests who dare enter! There’s no need to feel despondent if you’re not in the city for the event as the city’s beer gardens offer a deluge of glorious beer year-round to thirsty adventurers.