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As soon as things warm up in Munich, locals head to lakes and lidos, chestnut-shaded beer gardens and roof terraces with uplifting views of the not-so-distant Alps. But steer off the beaten track and you’ll discover much to love about the Bavarian capital this summer.
Want to escape the buzz? No problem: Munich just happens to be one of Germany’s greenest cities, with plenty of gardens for a picnic or stroll. Just north of the Altstadt – Munich’s medieval Old Town, the Englischer Garten is no secret, but its vast size (this is one of the world’s largest urban public parks) means you can nearly always find a new tranquil corner. In summer, its woods and meadows hum with walkers, cyclists, joggers, beer-guzzlers, nude sunbathers, and surfers who ride waves on the Eisbach river.
For something quieter, take the U6 line of the U-Bahn to Westpark, a few miles west of town. This landscaped park is a delight with a lake, barbecue areas, Chinese- and Japanese-style gardens and a beer garden, not to mention a huge rose garden that’s at its fragrant best during the summer months.
Elsewhere, Luitpoldpark in the bohemian Schwabing-West area is a relaxed, un-touristy park, with a hedge maze, lime-tree grove and the Luitpoldhügel, an artificial hill made from WWII rubble, which offers incredible views over the skyline to the Alps on cloudless days.
Should the sun’s rays inspire you to get active, head out on one of the city’s excellent outdoor tours to experience Munich from a different perspective. A local favourite is Run Munich, which offers sporty types the opportunity to whiz past the sights on a 6km, 10km or 21km guided run. With a savvy, energetic guide in tow, you’ll jog through Munich’s parks, squares and markets. Tours kick off at 9am and 5pm in summer from the Deutsches Museum.
If bikes are how you roll, check out Lenny’s Bike Tours, which offers two daily outings in the summer to discover the city’s sights on two wheels. Or rent a bike from Radius Tours to trundle along the tree-lined Isar River, and stop to cool off at a pebble beach. If it’s way too hot to pedal, then a Vespa tour is sure to hit the spot.
Munich also has some terrific local spots for lazing on a lounger and surveying the cityscape. Head to The Terrace, perched on top of the posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel. You’ll find a chic vibe, Asian bites and budget-blowing cocktails. Or swing by the hip Flushing Meadows, an industrial-cool hotel in the hip Glockenbach neighbourhood. The top-floor terrace is small and usually rammed, but the fresh-fruit cocktails are brilliant thirst-quenchers worth queuing for. Less fancy – but just as worthwhile – is the Vorhoelzer Forum café atop Munich’s Technical University, which offers mellow beats and stirring city views.
When Munich sizzles, locals love nothing better than stripping off and making for the nearest freibad (lido), of which there are plenty. A 20-minute U-Bahn ride northwest of the centre brings you to the Dantebad in Neuhausen-Nymphenburg. You’ll discover a heated Olympic-sized pool surrounded by tree-shaded lawns for sunbathing, a spa pool with hydro-massage and rapids, and – in case the weather doesn’t play ball – sauna facilities. In the Ostpark, the Michaeli-Freibad has a 50m pool for swimming proper laps, an adventure pool with a slide and water jets for families, a diving pool, beach volleyball courts and a naturist area. Near the Tierpark, in a green swathe of the city, the peaceful Naturbad Maria Einsiedel is home to a natural, chemical-free pool in a lovely location on the river flats.
Nowhere does a biergarten quite like Munich, which spends all summer working itself up for the oompah-fuelled antics of Oktoberfest. Central picks include Wirtshaus im Braunauer Hof, with Paulaner beer and good-value lunch specials. Then there’s the massive Augustiner-Keller which has been packing thirsty locals into its 5,000-seat beer garden since 1812. Come for the Augustiner brews, folk music, a traditional weisswurst (white veal sausage) and a pretzel as big as your head.
On the banks of the Isar River, easy-going Biergarten am Muffatwerk attracts a lively crowd with its organic beer, grilled snacks and location next to a listed industrial building, Muffatwerk, which hosts regular gigs.
Munich locals are crazy about eating outdoors when the sun’s out, and many restaurants and cafés have courtyards or terraces. For a fun atmosphere, The Potting Shed in Schwabing-West is a winner. It serves tapas, gourmet burgers and creative cocktails – try the signature cocktail, a blend of gin, lemon juice, fresh pomegranate, mint and ginger beer. Or for a barista-made coffee, cakes and paninis, snag a sidewalk table at central café Black Bean. Another fine al fresco choice is Cotidiano on Gärtnerplatz, which has everything from all-day brunches to evening sharing platters.
If you’re in the mood to splurge, book a table at Michelin-starred Les Deux, where artistically presented, French-Japanese cuisine is served on a smart terrace. Broeding, on the other hand, is more traditionally elegant. Here the inspired, market-fresh menu changes daily, and the ivy-swathed walled garden is one of Munich’s most romantic.
Of course, it wouldn’t be summer without an ice cream. Top billing here goes to True & 12, which scoops artisanal, handmade ice cream – try the lavender with a blackberry swirl.
Munich locals often rave about summer in their own city – and for good reason. So no matter what you choose to do, you’ll definitely have a blast.
Ready to go exploring? Visit lh.com to find the best flights with Lufthansa and discover everything Munich has to offer.
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