Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
Get cosy in a famous beer hall or soak up the sunshine in a picturesque biergarten – whatever the weather, the best way to feel like a local in Munich is to kick back with a foaming mug of beer.
Founded in 1589 as the Bavarian royal family’s own brewery, Hofbräuhaus is the best-known and most celebrated beer hall in Bavaria. It can seat more than 2,500 people in the historic beer hall, where a live band plays Bavarian folk music most of the day. You will be mostly in the company of tourists and may need to battle for a seat (Platzl 9; 9am–11.30pm).
The sprawling Augustiner-Grossgaststätte has a less raucous atmosphere and superior food to the usual offerings, including pastries, Bavarian veal sausage, lightly smoked herring, venison goulash in juniper sauce and gâteau. Altogether it’s a much more authentic example of an old-style Munich beer hall, complete with quiet courtyards and hunting trophies (Neuhauser Strasse 27; 9am–12am).
When the weather is fine, head to Braunauer Hof with a pleasant beer garden complete with a mini hedge maze, a bizarre wall mural and a golden bull that’s illuminated at night. Bavarian dishes might include roast chicken and schnitzel, and beer is from the Paulaner brewery, established by friars in the 17th century (Frauenstrasse 42; hot food 11.30am–11pm; closed Sun from Apr–Sept).
In Englischer Garten, one of Europe’s most monumental city parks, you’ll find Chinesischer Turm, a popular institution that borrows its style from a classic Chinese pagoda and provides entertainment with a good-time oompah band in an upper floor of the tower. Tuck into crispy roast pork with caraway jus and potato dumplings (£8) and Hofbräu on tap (Englischer Garten 3; 10am-10pm).
Less well known or crowded is beer garden Hirschau to the north of the Englischer Garten. Hire bikes and pack a picnic – there are cycle stands plus a self-service area for BYO – or snack on the Bavarian specialty obatzda: a cheese spread with caraway that’s eaten on pretzels or bread. Hirschau is a family-friendly option with a huge playground, and at weekends there’s live jazz in the garden (00 49 89 322 1080; Gysslingstrasse 15; 11.30am–10.30pm Mon–Fri, from 11am Sat and Sun).
After a stroll or cycle, grab an outdoor table at Seehaus, idyllically situated in the north of the garden on the shores of Kleinhesseloher See, a little lake where you can rent paddle boats. The beer is Paulaner, and both Mediterranean and Bavarian dishes are on the menu. Specialities on offer range from lobster pasta to fried black pudding slices with roasted onions, red cabbage and mashed potatoes (Kleinhesselohe 3; 10am–1am).
Every year the leafy 5,000-seat Augustiner Keller buzzes with activity from the first hint of spring. It’s a beautiful spot, with chestnut trees grown to cool the ground and prevent the beer in the ice cellar from getting warm. Inside, you can sit on benches under the lagerkeller’s vaults, people watch in the hall or cosy into the bierstüberl (Arnulfstrasse 52; 10am–1am).
The enormous Löwenbräukeller is a local fixture for its regular Bavarian music and heel-slapping dances. During the Starkbierzeit (the springtime ‘strong beer season’), the famous stone-lifting contests are held here. The complex includes an elegant restaurant and roof terraces ideal for nosing over the rambling beer garden (Nymphenburgerstrasse 2; 10am–12am).
Locals and savvy visitors flock to the Hirschgarten, just south of Nymphenburg. It’s the largest beer garden in Bavaria, seating 8,000 people, and has five bars serving Augustiner beer from wooden kegs. The self-service area has Bavarian cakes and ice creams – which can all be enjoyed while watching deer wandering in the nearby meadows (Hirschgarten 1; 11am–12am).
BA, easyJet, Lufthansa and Monarch fly to Munich’s international airport from numerous UK airports (from £90 from London Gatwick with easyJet). Trains run from the Flughafen (airport) to central Munich every 10 minutes and take 40 minutes, while numerous bus companies link the airport and city. Central Munich is compact enough for exploring on foot, but if you want to reach the suburbs, the excellent public transport system makes it a cinch.