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Munich's Bavarian Culture Worth Exploring

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Caitriana Nicholson/Flickr
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The massive Frauenkirche is one of Munich's best-known symbols.

Bavaria, in the German south, is known for beer, music and its proximity to the Alps. It’s also a good home base for exploring central Europe, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

In Munich

The city’s biggest claim to tourism is likely Oktoberfest, an enormous beer-heavy festival that takes place in late September and early October. Huge crowds descend on the city for beer, wurst and music. Time your visit accordingly (to attend or, if you hate crowds, avoid).

There are plenty of things to do, but Brumley says his favorite activity in Munich isn’t nearly so organized.

“People-watch,” he said. “Absorb the beauty of this place, and the culture.”

A good place to do that is along the Maximilianstrasse, named for King Maximilian II of Bavaria. This is the high-rent district.

“It’s a tremendously wealthy city,” and considered one of the best in Europe to live in, Brumley says.

Luckily, it’s free to view the neo-Gothic architecture along the avenue. The state parliament building is here and, along the western portion of the avenue, you’ll find a tony shopping district with the famed Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.

In Marienplatz, a square in the center of Old Town, you’ll find Munich’s famous Glockenspiel. 

Steps away is the astonishing Frauenkirche, the cathedral of the Catholic Archdiocese. Translated, the full name of the church means “Cathedral of Our Dear Lady.” A beautiful symbol of the city, and a feast for your eyes.

And the Duestches Museum is worth a look, too. It pays tribute to science and technology. 

Nearby

Brumley says you’ll want a week if you’d really like to explore Munich. But if you don’t have that much time, the city is “a great home base, even for three or four nights.”

From here you can explore central Europe.

“An hour and a half south of here, and you’re in Austria,” Brumley said. “Within four or five hours you’re in Italy, in the Dolomites.”

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Credit Gerdragon/Flickr
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Neuschwanstein castle is about two hours by car from the center of Munich.

It’s also easy to get to Switzerland and France, head into the Alps, or visit castles like Linderhof and Neuschwanstein. Word to the wise: Buy your tickets before you head to the Neuschwanstein itself. You can only find tickets in the village of Hohenschwangau, below the castle.

These are highlights, and there's definitely more to see in Munich. If you've been, what are your favorite places?

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Matthew Brumley is the founder of Earthbound Expeditions, which organizes group travel to destinations around the world for various clients, including KPLU. "Going Places" is our new travel segment exploring all aspects of getting from Point A to Point B. Have a travel hangup or a tip? Let us know in the comments.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.
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