Munich is one of Germany’s most visited cities. And if you ask any traveler to Munich what they’re anxious to see, they’ll tell you Oktoberfest, Marienplatz, Englischer Garten and so on. But there’s so much to explore and experience in this cosmopolitan city that feels like a village. From lesser known museums to meals and shopping, here are ten fun (and unique!) things to do in Munich off the beaten path.
Known for Oktoberfest and festive Biergartens, you might not think of visiting Munich, Germany in winter. But with airfares and hotels offering cheaper off-season rates and smaller crowds, you may want to consider a wintertime visit. On my latest Munich adventure in late March, I didn’t know what exactly would be awaiting me. Here’s an overview of what you can expect (and not expect) when visiting Munich in winter.
Munich‘s churches and cathedrals are a popular spot and not just for the pious. Tourists flock to the city’s houses of worship to admire the architecture, the art, the history and maybe to reflect for a few solemn moments. Munich’s churches range from the massive and iconic to the small and hidden away. Some are modest and others are spectacularly indulgent. Even if you’re only in the city for a short time, some of Munich’s churches should be apart of your itinerary. I’ve put together a guide for visiting six of Munich’s most notable churches in the downtown area.
This year for my birthday the plan was to take a day trip to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, for a relaxing ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. The mountain town was once dubbed the “Switzerland of America” and it is an easy drive from Philadelphia or New York. It attracts visitors for the historic train, outdoor adventures or simply exploring the small downtown area. But it’s also extremely family friendly — and that includes your furry four-legged family members!
Part of Munich‘s charm and beauty is its skyline and from an observation deck in the Neues Rathaus (the new city hall) you can get an incredible view right in the heart of Marienplatz. The observation deck is not widely advertised, especially in English. Because of this most people aren’t even aware of its existence. From several open air balconies at the top of the Neues Rathaus you can take in views from the Frauenkirche, Alter Peter and, if the weather is good, the Alps will highlight the background. You could even pretend you’re part of FC Bayern celebrating your victories. It’s a quick visit that offers stunning views and worth the stop on your visit to Munich.
Thanks to the Mobile Passport app I was asleep in the final hours of my flight from Reykjavik, Iceland to Newark, New Jersey, while my fellow passengers were filling out customs forms. I had seen the app advertised online before leaving home and had convinced my husband that we should give it a try. It promised a quick trip through U.S. Customs and Border Protection on arrival back in the good ol’ USA from abroad. It seemed too good to be true, I thought. But it was worth a try. The Mobile Passport app didn’t disappoint!
No doubt you’re familiar with Oktoberfest, but what about Starkbierfest? Across Munich, Germany in February and March the breweries hold Starkbierfest, or strong beer festivals, that resemble Oktoberfest. But unlike Oktoberfest they are on a smaller scale and with fewer tourists. The German beer festival is Oktoberfest’s little brother and features beers special to the Starkbier season. I went to Paulaner’s Nockherberg for the brewery’s Starkbierfest and it was a blast!
Austria‘s Kufstein Fortress (or Festung Kufstein) in the country’s western state of Tyrol stands mightily on a hill overlooking the surrounding valley. Only about an hour south of Munich and just over the border into Austria, Kufstein is home to an historic fortress worth touring that houses a museum, prison and the world’s largest free-standing organ — that you can hear daily! What’s more, the town it calls home has a charming old city that will steal the heart of any tourist with its colorful buildings and narrow cobblestone streets.