The capital of Bavaria may be best 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. Here are the best spots to sunbathe, picnic, cycle and enjoy a beer on a sunny afternoon.
This is possibly Munich‘s most famous park, and if you only have time to visit one, head to this 364-hectare (900-acre) stretch of land. 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 Greek-style Monopteros temple on the hill. Visit the Japanese teahouse at the southern end of the park for a traditional tea ceremony, which they’ve been performing here since 1972 – if you’re craving something stronger, the park has two beer gardens as well. The English Garden is also home to one of the city’s six designated ‘Urban Naked Zones’, so if you want to sunbathe in true German style, this is the place to do so.
Once farmland, Ostpark’s conversion to become one of Munich’s main parks started in the 1960s; today, it covers over 50 hectares (124 acres), with the scenery including some spectacular lakes. In winter you can head to the many skating rinks that spring up on the water, but the park also has plenty going on in summer. The city’s ‘Spielnachmittage’ initiative encourages young children to play outdoors and enjoy the fresh air on Sundays, so take a leaf out of their book and go for a ramble. If you’re planning a picnic, there’s a BBQ area in the northwest part of the park, and you can catch a range of cultural events in the park’s Theatron.
You’ll find this park in the southwest of the city, about 10 minutes on the U-Bahn from Marienplatz. Though small and often overlooked by tourists, it has so much to offer. In addition to the greenery and pretty paths, there’s a Japanese garden, a Thai temple and even an outdoor cinema in summer. Many families and friends bring picnics or cook for themselves in the BBQ area, but there’s also a beer garden and a tiny wooden hut selling spit-roasted fish – steckerlfisch – if you’ve forgotten your picnic basket.
Many tourists get as far as the Englischer Garten and stop, but going just a bit further brings vast rewards. Adjoining the garden is a beautiful stretch of park land leading down to the Isar River. Often much quieter than the main gardens, this park covers 12 hectares (30 acres) and winds through the Bogenhausen and Haidhausen districts alongside the river. One of the main attractions of this park is the towering statue of peace near the centre; modelled on the Greek goddess of victory, it was erected in 1871 to mark 25 years of peace.
If it’s a jaw-dropping background for holiday snaps you’re looking for, this little park is the place to go. You’ll find this picture-perfect paradise at the end of the canal that leads up to the grand entrance of the Nymphenburg Palace grounds. Admire the Hubertusbrunnen rotunda, which was designed at the start of the 20th century – venture inside to discover a beautiful deer statue that was added later, and then follow the canal path all the way to the palace grounds.
Though there’s an admission fee for the palace rooms, wandering around the beautiful gardens is absolutely free. There’s even a dedicated app that uses augmented reality to help you learn more about the many plants and historic fountains you’ll see in the park’s 73 hectares (180 acres) – these same 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 scenic boat ride on the central canal.
Though this park is best known in Munich as the best place to go tobogganing once the snow starts to fall, it also offers great views of the city from its hill, which is 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. Once you’ve eaten your fill of tacos, venture into the hedge maze; just don’t get too lost!