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).
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).
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
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).
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
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).
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).
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.
Where to stay
For retro design, head to Cocoon, where things kick off in reception with faux ’70s veneer and suspended ’60s ball chairs. The 46 rooms have large showers, LCD TVs, iPod docks, laptop ‘cabins’ and the hotel name above the bed in ’80s robotic lettering (Lindwurmstrasse 35; from £100).
Cortiina is an elegant hotel that’s been minimally decorated without compromising comfort. The bedrooms are oak panelled, have parquet floors and glass-encased bathrooms lined with stone (Ledererstrasse 8; from £165).
Bayerischer Hof has a super central location, a pool and a jazz club. Marble, antiques and oil paintings abound, rooms are individually decorated and you can enjoy a Michelin-starred meal at its restaurant (Promenadeplatz 2–6; from £295).
The article 'Mini guide to Munich’s beer halls' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.