Munich Travel Guide
Munich, München in German, is the home of beer. It is most famous for its Oktoberfest, the biggest beer bash on the planet, which draws over 5 million people each year. For more than 200 years, beginning in 1810, beer drinkers have gathered here to toast the ale, accompanied by oompah bands and an assortment of beer foods – Weisswürst (white sausage), pretzels, potato pancakes, Stekerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick). In fact, in Munich, beer is more than just a buzz word: here it's part of the culture, drunk in one-liter steins known as Maßkrüge, with more than 7 million liters of it consumed during Oktoberfest alone – and that's only 16 days! – and with the city offering up one of the greatest concentrations of beer halls and beer gardens in the world. As for Munich itself, it is at once a provincial city, profoundly German, and a worldly one, a city of tradition and technology, a city with a supremely impressive ensemble of Baroque and Rococo architecture, yet with a terrific profusion of high-powered industry and high-profile high-tech firms, a city, indeed, of lederhosen and laptops. Munich is also, at least for Germans, the most desirable German city to live in.
Munich is the capital of Bavaria, Bayern in German, Germany's largest state. It is situated less than an hour's drive north of the Bavarian Alps on the River Isar in southern Germany.
Munich's top draws, architecturally speaking, include its fabulous palaces, the likes of Schloss Nymphenberg, Schloss Schleißheim and the Residenz, which rank among Europe's most splendid Baroque palaces; and, in sharp contrast, the iconic headquarters building of BMW – Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works) – which rises in gigantic, silver, cylindrical piston-like towers, and is among the highlights of any tour of the city. As for Munich's world-class museums, the pick of the bunch are the Deutsches Museum, which is the largest science and technology museum in the world, and the three Pinakotheken galleries which together offer up one of the largest collections of art in Europe. The landmark twin-towered Frauenkirche and the 1972 Olympic arena with its tent-like glass roof are worth seeing, too; while the Englischer Garten (English Garden), which has the distinction of being Europe’s largest city park, continues to be the city's hub of recreational activity, with a Chinese pagoda, a popular 6,000-seat beer garden, and nude sunbathing in several parts of the park drawing Müncheners and visitors alike. And for serious beer drinkers, other than Oktoberfest, the Hofbräuhaus, though unabashedly touristy, is still a place almost of pilgrimage. Oh, and did we mention shopping in Munich? Well, Munich has one of the busiest shopping strips in Germany, the Kaufingerstraße, well worth a visit.
In Munich, for a night out on the town, head to Haidhausen, just to the south of the city center, where you'll find the neighborhood of Kultfabrik, once known as Kunstpark Ost, in the district around Ostbahnhof – or Eastern Station. This is the city's premier clubbing area, packed with dozens of nightclubs and discos, the top establishments being Kangwelt on Landsbergerstraße, which has three dance floors, and Nerodom on Ganghoferstraße, where Black Metal, Goth and Wave are the order of the day. As a bonus, Optimolwerke, the pocket adjacent to Kultfabrik, is brimming with bars and restaurants, adding to the nightlife options.
Munich is the third-largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg. Its best-known food is Weißwurst, a white sausage, served with a coarse, sweet, brown mustard and traditionally accompanied by Weissbier, or "white beer." Schweinsbraten, or roasted pork, is another Munich favorite.
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