With its traditional beer gardens and outdoor festivals, Munich is ideal for a summer visit. Add to that a big dose of culture – historic buildings and fascinating museums – and you have the best of city living
Munich’s movers and shakers have spent centuries cultivating its image as a renowned cultural city, hence its reputation as one of Europe’s premier destinations for museums, music and exhibitions. But the Bavarian capital’s invariably warm summers are also perfect for exploring its many vast parks, beer gardens and a multitude of exciting outdoor events.
Munich’s Olympiapark was created for the 1972 Games, and it represents one of the most successful legacies of any Olympics. It regularly hosts some of the city’s most enjoyable events and festivals, including the Theatron summer festival between 30 July and 23 August. Every evening from 7pm, up to four bands put on a free outdoor show, ranging in tastes from indie and rock ’n’ roll to folk and hip hop.
In the Olympiapark at the very same time is Impark, a summer festival featuring wakeboarding, classical concerts, and more – plus firework displays on the 6 and 20 August with the Olympic lake as a backdrop.
A performance at the Theatron summer festival
The English Garden is one of the world’s largest urban parks, bigger than London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park. As well as the famous naturist section, much of this vast expanse is used for walking, lazing in the sun, picnicking and sports. The park is also home to two of Munich’s finest beer gardens: Seehaus, which sits beside a boating lake and is best reached after a wonderful 40-minute stroll through the green landscape; and the Chinese Tower, an Oriental pagoda first built in 1789. There are few better places to relax while enjoying Bavarian food and beer.
The English Garden in summer
Mandarin Oriental, Munich’s China Moon Roof Terrace provides a very different culinary experience – your choice of Asian, Mediterranean or Arabic cuisine, with spectacular 360-degree-views across the city and the Alps beyond.
If you fancy a day out of the sun, Munich is packed with world-class museums. The Munich Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism opened this year, and is the most important museum to be built in many decades. There’s too much to take in over one day, but don’t miss its superb English-language catalogue detailing why Munich became the capital of the Nazi party.
Pop art fans will be eager to check out the Andy Warhol exhibition, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’, at the Brandhorst Museum, while his graffiti and pop art contemporary Keith Haring is showcased at the Kunsthalle.
The view from the rooftop pool at Mandarin Oriental, Munich
As this is Munich, modern life has to be balanced with tradition, so check out the Gärtnerjahrtag on 4 August – a procession of horses, brass bands, Bavarian costumes and flowers at Viktualienmarkt, the outdoor city-centre market. The liveliest festival this month is the hugely popular Hans-Sachs Strassenfest, a gay festival on 15 August in the fashionable Glockenbach quarter of the city.
Inevitably, however, locals and visitors alike know the perfect way to end a summer’s day in Munich: the traditional beer garden. One of the best is the Hirschgarten, in what was once royal hunting grounds, and which now has a small wildlife area that’s home to a herd of deer.