The capital of Bavaria is known for being the home of Oktoberfest, but for those that call Munich home, its green parks and beautiful lakes are some of the main reasons they love the city. In fact, Müncheners will take any opportunity to get outdoors, eating at terrace cafés come snow or shine and sunbathing in the many parks. Here are the best spots to while away a sunny afternoon.
Smaller than its famous cousin, the Englischer Garten (see below), you’ll find this park in the southwest of the city, about ten minutes on the U-Bahn from Marienplatz. Often overlooked by tourists, it has so much to offer. In addition to a BBQ area by the lake, you’ll find a Japanese garden, a Thai temple, and even an outdoor cinema in summer. Many families and friends bring picnics or have a BBQ, but there’s also a beer garden and a tiny wooden hut selling spit-roasted fish – steckerlfisch – if you don’t fancy cleaning the BBQ!
On the opposite side of the city in Berg am Laim you’ll find Ost Park. Once farmland, its conversion to become one of Munich’s main parks started in the ’60s; it now covers a whole 56 hectares, 3.5 of which are pretty lakes. In winter, the lakes are home to many skating rinks, but the park also has plenty going on in summer: the city’s “Spielnachmittage” initiative encourages young children to get outdoors and play on Sundays; if you’re too old for toys, there’s a BBQ area in the northwest part of the park, as well cultural events in the park’s “Theatron.”
The Englischer Garten
This 900-acre park stretches almost from the city center to the edge of Munich. Far more than just a green space, there are many hidden corners of the park to discover. To get a great view of the city, head to the Monopteros on the hill. Thirsty? There’s also a Japanese teahouse at the southern end of the park that’s been performing tea ceremonies since 1972. One of the two beer gardens is at the 25-meter-high Chinese tower, and the English Garden is also home to one of the city’s six designated “Urban Naked Zones”!
Many tourists get as far as the Englischer Garten and stop, but there’s a beautiful stretch of park land that joins the garden to the Isar River. Often much quieter, the park actually covers 30 acres and winds through the Bogenhausen and Haidhausen districts alongside the river. Near the center, set upon an ornate stone base, you’ll find the 38-foot statue of peace. Modeled on the Greek goddess of victory, it was erected in 1871 to mark 25 years of peace.
If your priority is getting some pretty snaps over stretching your legs, this little park is the place to go. On the edge of the Nymphenburg Palace grounds, it’s at the end of the canal that leads up to the palace’s grand entrance. There’s a pretty rotunda called the Hubertusbrunnen that was given to Prince Regent Luitpold as a birthday present, and inside is a beautiful statue of a deer that was added later. After you’ve admired the statues, you can follow the canal path right the way to the palace grounds.
Though there’s an admission fee for the palace rooms, it’s free to wander around the beautiful gardens. Interested in nature? There’s even a dedicated app that uses augmented reality to help you learn more about the many plants and fountains you’ll see in the park’s 180 acres. It’s steeped in history – even the fountains hold the record for being the oldest machine in Europe that’s been continuously working since it was built! In summer, you can even play the princess and take a gondola ride on the central canal.
Though this park is best known as the place to go tobogganing in Munich in winter, it also offers great views of the city from its hill made from World War II rubble. On a clear day, you can even see the Alps in the background! Unusually, rather than a traditional beer garden, it has a spicy Mexican cantina at its heart. If you’re ready to work off those tacos, join one of the free “Fit im Park” sessions run by the city, or just get lost in the hedge maze.