MUNICH

Munich was my first “solo” travel experience in Europe, although I wasn’t completely solo. I traveled and navigated the city by myself during the day, but I met some Serbian friends every night so we could stroll through the Christmas markets together. I also had a visitor from home surprise me by showing up (I’m writing it casually but I was over-the-top ecstatic about it at the time). As usual, my traveling days were Thursday and Sunday, so I had two fulls days (Friday, Saturday) and three nights in Munich. I went in the beginning of December because I was primarily going to see the Christmas markets, so that’s where I spent all of my evenings.

As with all of my three-day trips, my budget was roughly 300 euros, and I ended up spending exactly that, as I splurged on shopping and accommodation this trip. My itinerary was also a little more lax this time around because I was mainly going to enjoy the Christmas markets at night instead of wearing myself out by running around all day. While the city sees most of its visitors during Oktoberfest, there’s still plenty to see and do during the rest of the year.

ITINERARY SUGGESTIONS

Marienplatz

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This area is what I would consider the main hub of Munich. The square is always bustling with people and business. You can walk up and down the area and finding plenty of shopping and restaurants (after not being able to afford 95% of the clothing in Milan, I went a little crazy in the college-friendly Forever 21, H&M, and Urban Outfitters). Both the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn trains have a Marienplatz stop so it’s easily accessible, and from there you can walk to most other attractions. Make sure you’re in the square at least one day at 11am, 12pm noon, or 5pm to watch the famous Glockenspeil in New Town Hall, which is made up of 43 bells and 32 animated, historically-dressed figures. While you’re in the area, head on over to the Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady (Fraunkirche), whose onion-shaped domes dominate Munich’s skyline along with the town hall. They hold regular Catholic masses and doors are open to visitors during regular daylight hours.

Hofbrauhaus

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You can’t do Munich properly without stopping in a beer house, and Hofbrauhaus is definitely the most famous one in the city. It’s almost always crowded, especially around meal times, so expect to walk around the beer hall for a while until you can find enough seating for you or your group. There were four of us so it took about twenty minutes of walking in circles and quickly claiming spots as soon as people left their table. That being said, it was well worth it. I ordered a tall, strong beer and a giant pretzel for eight euros. Their menu is actually more expansive than I was expecting and watching the beer maidens running around was a sight in itself. There was a live band playing traditional Bavarian music in the center of the hall which also added a nice ambiance to the atmosphere.

 

Dachau Concentration Camp

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Visiting Dachau Concentration Camp deserves an entire day because it’s free and there is so much to see and read. It’s open daily from 9am to 5pm, and we left our flat in Munich’s city center around 10am. The camp’s website gives simple directions to get there from the city center. It’s incredibly easy, just make sure you buy a Munich XXL day pass (8.3 euros) because the train travels outside of the city center. You’ll take the S-Bahn S2 train towards Dachau/Petershausen, and get off at the Dachau station. From there, you will walk out of the train station, and there will be a bus station directly in front of you. You’ll then take the 726 bus directly to the concentration camp. Because Dachau falls under Munich public transportation, you do NOT need to buy an additional ticket to ride the bus from the Dachau train station to the camp, nor will you need to purchase any returning tickets since you bought a day ticket.

We packed a lunch after running by a local grocery market that morning and ate in the cafeteria at the camp. They offer group tours, but we each bought an individual audio tour at a reduced student rate (they are 3.50 euros regularly, 2.50 for students) so we could split up and absorb everything at our own pace. Don’t forget to bring your student ID or a copy of your student visa so you can save a euro.

I visited Dachau after I had been to Auschwitz, and I will say that it’s worth going to both because they are completely different experiences, and anyone interested in WWII and The Holocaust are able to see and read about the Third Reich’s power, intricacies, and expansiveness in great detail. The camp has a museum with rooms dedicated to explaining the rise and power of the Third Reich and how the camp was operated. There is a small cinema so you can view a documentary about the camp, as well as many buildings and memorials to view throughout the campus. The most interesting part, in my opinion, was viewing the crematorium area as well as a path running through the woods leading to different grave markings. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend taking your children here out of personal interest or because they’ve had a history lesson in the subject. The pictures and the information in the museum aren’t censored or edited in any way (nor should they be), and you walk by areas marked as pistol ranges and blood ditches. It is a very sobering, somber place and children under 12 or 13 would probably have difficulty grasping the concept or swallowing what they are actually seeing.

Christmas Markets

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As previously stated, the Christmas markets were my primary reason for coming to Munich. I’d heard so much about the amazing German Christmas markets and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check them out since Christmas is my favorite time of the year. There are SO many in Munich, and we even spent one evening at the small market in Dachau. It’s clear that Germans also love the markets, because there were many families and friend groups walking around or enjoying drinks together. Most people buy a cup of mulled wine (hot red wine), called Glühwein, and stand around the tables together. I went for the kinderpunsch in a holiday mug, which is a non-alcoholic hot punch that tastes similar to a very sweet cider. I bought many small Christmas gifts for my family at the market, and ate the delicious street food for dinner (the brats, potatoes, and saurkraut are amazing). I finished my final night with a candied apple and left Munich feeling delightfully and blissfully full.

Travel Tips, Accommodation, Transportation, Etc.

Other attractions. Seeing as I spent a day in Dachau and the other day roaming around near Marienplatz, I didn’t take day trips to see the Würzburg Residenz Palace & Gardens or Neuschwanstein Castle. Both are places I would have loved to see, but I opted out due to budgeting and time constraints. Other options were the Olympic Stadium, constructed for the 1972 summer olympics, and the Englischer Garten, a giant public park with beautiful scenery.

Getting the Munich. While flights are available to Munich from most major cities in Europe, there are also several trains and buses. Flying would have been the most expensive option from Milan. I took an eight-hour bus ride from Milan to Munich via Meinfernbus, although this particular German couch company has many other routes throughout both Germany and Europe (fairly certain it partners with FlixBus). I heard of this option through a friend, and when I google “bus from Milan to Munich,” it was all the way on the third page. It was 25 euros each way, so I only spent 50 euros on a round trip from Milan to Munich and back. The bus is very clean and spacious with a clean bathroom and working WiFi. The best part was driving through the Swiss and Austrian Alps, probably the most beautiful area I’ve ever seen in my life. The driver stops at really nice travel stops once per trip. We stopped in Austria on the way there and Switzerland on the way back.

Accommodation. Since I was paying for accommodation by myself, it was a bit more expensive than what I usually pay during a three-day trip with friends. Also, Munich generally runs a little pricier in this area. Nice, reliable, safe hostels can be anywhere from 20 to 100 euros a night. I found a wonderful flat in the city center on Airbnb. The host, Christine, and her son made sure I had everything I needed plus more: WiFi, single room with a locking door, towels and toiletries, breads, jams, pickles, soups, noodles, cups and water, kitchen supplies, etc. She was very motherly and since I was a young female, she always wanted to make sure I felt okay. She uses that apartment strictly for Airbnb travelers and as an office space, so there are three separate bedrooms to rent and a shared kitchen and bathroom. I had the privilege of meeting a traveling professional opera singer that was in town for a gig, and a former NFL player that traveled to Munich to buy a new BMW. Both the football player and I enjoyed listening to the opera singer practice, and she tried on all of her beautiful opera gowns for us. The flat is a three minute walk from the nearest S-bahn station, and is two or three stops away from Marienplatz. There is also a market down the street as well as a McDonalds and a Subway sandwich shop. It’s a very safe and quiet area in the city.

Public Transportation. I found the best option for my three days was to buy a three-day city center pass for myself, which was 15.50 euros and lasted a full 72 hours. I never had to purchase a single ticket then validate it at a ticket box at a station (the printed pass didn’t even fit the in validation stamp boxes) because I could use it an unlimited amount of times in my 72-hour window. If you want to travel outside of the city center, you will need to buy a Munich XXL ticket, like I did for Dachau. Those are available as either a single ticket and as a day pass. It’s important to remember that ticket officers ride the S-Bahn (above ground train) and the U-Bahn (underground trains) often in Munich, sometimes dressed in plain-day clothing (with badges) and asking to see your validated ticket. So even though you realistically could board a train without purchasing a ticket or validating it, it’s not worth the risk. I was asked to show my ticket three times in three days. Luckily, the public transportation is very easy to figure out because most S-bahn and U-bahn trains make the same eight stops within the city center. You can read more about it here.

Hope you find this helpful! I really enjoyed my short time in Munich and I’m sure you will as well. Please comment if you have any questions or feedback. I’d love to hear from you.

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