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Did You Know … ?
- Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer fest, attracting more than 6 million visitors annually.
- Pope Benedict VXI was born in Bavaria’s Marktl am Inn in 1927.
- Munich can accommodate about 150,000 at once in its beer gardens.
- Bavaria was the first German state with a written constitution (1818).
- Oktoberfest was born in 1810 when residents were invited to celebrate the wedding of King Ludwig I.
Of beer, opera and a glockenspiel
Munich is a city of culture, and we don’t just mean the culture of beer and breweries. But, yes, it is home to the largest beer festival anywhere, and many tourists time their visits specifically to drink German beer in the country’s most famous beer hall, the Hofbrauhaus, at Oktoberfest time, or at least to observe the famous spectacle.
In addition, the city claims the world’s largest beer gardens, and Bavaria, where Munich is the capital, claims the highest density of breweries in the world. The city’s beer gardens and beer halls generally serve tasty food, but, for a change of pace, Munich promises fine-dining choices, as well.
Munich is noted for other festivities, including its summertime opera festival. For those with different tastes, there is a rich selection of alternatives, including ballet, cabaret, jazz and other performing arts.
The Bavarian capital is an arts center, too. Most notable are the six museums that comprise the city’s art quarter, but the German Museum provides its own rewards. It is described as the world’s largest natural science and technology museum; annexes focusing on airplane, auto and rail technologies are particularly popular. Munich is the center of Germany’s fashion and cinema industries, as well.
Architecturally, the city — once the capital for Bavarian dukes and kings — boasts royal palaces, the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) with its entertaining glockenspiel and several city-center churches of importance.
It is hard to imagine that this vivacious and attractive metropolis was largely destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt in the decades after.
Tourists can very easily devote all their days in the area getting acquainted with Munich, but rural Bavaria entices North Americans — especially the sports minded — with clear lakes, national parks and nature conservation regions. Day trips to the Alps are in this mix of opportunities.
Less active tourists also give favorable ratings to Bavaria because the countryside is picturesque with its traditional villages, palaces, baroque churches and medieval fortresses (not to mention King Ludwig II’s fairytale castles).
Visitors with sufficient time split their itineraries between the city and its surroundings.
Things to do for Venturers
- Imbibe the local beers at the city’s world-renowned Oktoberfest. Or, alternatively, festivities include Fasching, Munich’s Carnival, or a bit later, the Strong Beer Season, a time for — yes — drinking strong beer. The latter is effectively Oktoberfest in March without crowds.
- Sunbathe au naturel at the Englischer Garten (English Garden).
- Cycle around the city using one of Munich’s Call-a-Bikes found standing on many street corners in the city center. Call the number on the bike and provide credit card details for your rental privileges. Guided bike tours are an option, too.
- Make an excursion to Dachau, a few miles out of Munich and the first Nazi concentration camp, for a sobering glimpse of such a place.
- During the summer, participate with other in-line skaters in one of the season’s Monday Blade Nights.
- Put the BMW Museum on your list. Housed in a concrete bowl near the Olympic Village, it displays a classic selection of BMWs. Move on to the futuristic BMW-Welt, the BMW showroom and a very popular attraction indeed.
Things to do for Centrics
- Relax in one — or a series — of the city’s beer gardens. In bad weather, choose a beer hall.
- Bring the 1972 Summer Olympics to mind with a visit to the Olympiapark. Ride to the top of the 890-foot Olympiaturm for broad views of the city and the Alps. If the timing is right, also attend a sports event or concert in the Olympiastadion.
- Take the studio tour at Bavaria Filmstadt, where movies and German TV shows are shot.
- Sample the Bavarian countryside at one or more of the lakes in the Five Lakes Area. At one, Starnbergersee, use a ferry to explore its waters and shore.
- Take a walking tour of Munich. Tours may cover top attractions or focus on themes associated with the city.
- Look for paintings by old masters at Alte Pinakothek museum, and seek out the work of the Impressionists at the Neue Pinakothek.
Things to do for Authentics
- Take the younger set to see the Munich Stadtmuseum’s puppet collection. Also, get tickets to a show at the Muenchener Theater fuer Kinder.
- Head to Marienplatz to hear the glockenspiel which is in the tower of the New Town Hall. Mechanical figures dance to the chimes according a schedule which varies seasonally.
- Take in the Circus Krone, which has been based in Munich since 1919. It is in town from December through March.
- Shop, eat and play at any of three annual fairs featuring markets, carnival rides, food stands and beer. Called the Auer Dult, they occur in April-May, July-August and October.
- Sample the chocolates made by the pasty chefs at any of Munich’s scores of konditoreien (pastry shops).
- Tour local royal palaces, the Residenz and Schloss Nymphenburg. Head out of town to see Neuschwanstein.
For more information, consult the German National Tourist Office at www.germany.travel