On August 30th my parents and I embarked on a two week trip across Europe. Our cross-continental jaunt spanned from Bavaria (Munich, Germany and Salzburg, Austria), to the picturesque region of Alsace (Strasbourg, France), and wrapped up in Paris. There are many memorable moments from our travels—witnessing my dad’s first glimpse of the Eiffel tower, tasting terroir-driven Rieslings with my mom in a small village near Colmar—and those moments were accentuated by the hours of research that went into the trip before takeoff.
Traveling to a new place can be daunting, but I’m hoping my posts over the next few weeks will assist you if you’re planning a similar Bavarian adventure of your own.
First up: Munich.
A city steeped in history, Munich can satisfy almost any sort of traveler. You’re interested in art? Munich has 10+ noteworthy art museums. Looking into the relics of WWII? You’ll see something around every corner. The food? You’ve brat yourself to a city with culinary traditions that hold strong. While we only just dipped our toes into the second biggest city in Germany, I’ve got lots of advice for how to do it right.
Where to stay:
If you like staying in a location that’s walking distance from a lot of major attractions, top-notch restaurants, and bustling beer halls, then you’ll love choosing a hotel or AirBNB near Munich’s main train station, München Hauptbahnhof. This part of town is about a ~15 minute walk from Marienplatz aka the place to be for all your Instagram dreams to come true.
How will you get around? Walk (download offline Google maps); use the metro; and/or use Uber to make it to your dinner reservation after you lost track of time at the beer hall.
What to eat:
The food scene in Munich is heavily rooted in traditional Bavarian and Germanic cuisine, and it’s also rooted in ITALIAN cuisine. Why? Because it’s v close to the border. The Italian influence can be sensed in the relaxed vibes of the city and in the architecture as well. Below are a few restaurant recommendations (I’ve got a million more if you’re curious), as well as some options for drinking, exploring, and researching for yourself.
Xaver’s– A modern take on Bavarian traditional Bavarian dishes. My favorite place we ate while in Munich.
Tantris– for a Michelin/tasting experience (Didn’t get to go, want to go)
Mr. Pancake– American breakfast (I CAN’T STOP THE PANCAKE CRAVINGS)
Landersdorfer & Innerhofer Feine Kost– a good friend recommended this place! Would love to go next time.
Le Hank– Another place I’d love to hit next time
Boulangerie Dompierre– YES pastries!!!
L’Osteria– I couldn’t leave Italian food out, could I?
Markets – Viktualienmarkt
Shop – Allois Dallmayr
And for drinking:
Beer Halls – Augustiner Bräustuben, Hofbräukeller am Wiener Platz
Wine Bars – M Belleville, Walter & Benjamin, Vinothek by Geisel
Cocktails – Zephr Bar, Drunken Dragon Bar, x
Coffee – Man Versus Machine (I hear exploring this more hipster part of town is a delight), Cafe Bla
Dare to take yourself on a food tour? Here’s a few things to look for:
- Sauerkraut (trust)
- Spatzel and schnitzel
- Pork Knuckle
- Brautwurst and/or Curry Wurst
- CAKE. Just find cake.
- Wine from Mosel
***GENERAL TIP FOR RESTAURANT SEARCHING WHILE TRAVELING: Avoid sites like Trip Advisor for restaurant recommendations and instead utilize local news sites, food blogs, and Instagram accounts. Trip Advisor and Yelp will steer you towards comfortable spots as an American traveler, but usually likely not the highest quality spots or most memorable experiences.
Sources for research:
How to spend your time:
Hot tips for exploring old town:
- DO climb the tower at St. Peters. It’s like three euro and the view from the top is *chef kiss*
- There are * a lot * of museums. I’d recommend picking one or two to see on your visit, but keeping ample time in your schedule to wander around the city. It’s such a charming place and the vibe is a big part of it.
- Skip the joust at Marienplatz, ya’ll. I know all the tourist books describe it as being “VERY COOL” and “unmissable”, but I’d disagree.
- The amount of different styles of churches in Munich is nuts. From St. Peters (A Romanesque/Gothic combo) to Asamkirche (Baroque AF)—just do as we did and take a detour into the churches you pass by. Whether you spend 5 mins or 50 you probably won’t regret it.
Other things to do:
- Go see the river surfers. Take a slo-mo video on your iPhone. Live your best life.
- Take some time and explore the English Gardens. They’re beautiful, and you’ve just given yourself an opportunity for beers and snacks and the sun (there are also biergartens IN the English Garden, so you could always make that your destination).
Salzburg – One of my FAVORITE parts of our entire two-week trip. Separate Salzburg post coming soon!
DaChau Concentration Camp site– This tour was sobering. While going alone is possible, I’d definitely recommend researching guided tours. If we would’ve gone alone we would’ve been doing a lot of reading—which I think can impede the direct impact of this memorial. By having a guide we were able to hear the expertise of someone who knew the history well, ask questions, and still have ample time for reflection. It was heartbreaking, but it was a necessary experience. We booked our tour on Viateur.
Eagle’s Nest – While we didn’t make it to this site, it would be a heavy hitter for history buffs (and I hear the views are remarkable)
Helpful travel resources:
Rick Steves pocket guide(Munich and Salzburg — SO helpful for familiarizing ourselves with the history of Munich. We even took ourselves on a walking tour of the city).
Next up: Salzburg!
Look out for that in the next few days.