Germany’s third city and the capital of Bavaria, Munich delivers so much more than the annual Oktoberfest beer frenzy and adorable Christmas markets. A bewitching blend of historic architecture, green parks, and contemporary arts and style, Munich belies its staid reputation. Here’s how to get a decent taste of the city in just one day.
Start the day by orienting yourself in the city, perhaps on a Segway tour, a hop-on hop-off bus tour, or a bike tour. Check out historic architecture such as the Munich Residence palace, the Old Town Hall, and the Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady (Frauenkirche); amble scenic squares such as Marienplatz and Odeonsplatz; and soak up the fresh air in the vast English Garden (Englischer Garten) park. Along the way, be sure to stop for a Munich ritual: coffee and cake (kaffee und kuchen). Don’t miss indulgent treats such as Bavaria’s favorite Prinzregententorte sponge, with chocolate buttercream and apricot jam.
Munich played a central role in Hitler’s rise to power. It was here that he first attempted to take control of Germany, during the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923, and many Nazi-era landmarks survived the bombing during World War II. A walking tour of Third Reich Munich is a fascinating journey into the city’s—and Germany’s—dark past. Alternatively, travel a little way out of the city to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, where the Nazis opened their first concentration camp in 1933. Tens of thousands died here, while many more were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz.
Even if you miss Oktoberfest (which, despite the name, runs from mid-September to early October), an encounter with Bavaria’s No. 1 export—beer—is a must. A trip to a classic beer hall, perhaps the 16th-century Hofbräuhaus, is essential. Soak up the atmosphere as dirndl-clad waitresses and lederhosen-sporting waiters bear foaming steins, an oompah band plays, and hearty Bavarian faves from pork knuckle to sausage steam up the kitchen. In summer, don’t miss the city’s vast beer gardens. If time permits, check out Munich’s burgeoning craft beer scene, with contemporary beer joints as stylish as anything you’ll see in Berlin or Austin.