This was the sixth stop on our trip (although only the fifth country… Germany was the only country where we stayed in two different parts of the country). If you haven’t already, check out my posts on our other stops: Scotland, Ireland, Morocco, England, and Berlin!
Munich Timeline: August 13-17th
We arrived by train from Berlin, and upon arriving at the Munich Central Station we had to figure out the public transit system to get to our hotel. It was relatively similar to the system in Berlin, but a little more complicated. I basically figured out that most places we would be traveling were within the “inner” zone and had a set ticket price. We just needed a one way (single) ticket this time since we were headed straight to the hotel and going to stay around there for the evening.
I will say that the transit systems don’t always do announcements in English, or display the next stop on a screen, so having the route on Google maps, counting the stops, and looking out the window at the name of the station on the wall was our method many times. When we did arrive at our stop, there was literally a sign for our hotel in the train station because it was a 2 minute walk from there, which was very convenient!
I was so excited for this hotel, because we were going to be staying at the same place for the entire time in Munich, and it was a hotel room all to ourselves instead of Airbnb! It was a Holiday Inn that we booked for free using IHG points, so it wasn’t like the fancy 5-star hotels we had stayed in previously, but it was a brand new hotel (opened in June, just two months before our stay!) and it was pretty nice overall.
The first night, we wanted to walk around the area of our hotel a little bit and get some dinner. Unfortunately we found out that our hotel was a little ways outside the city center, so there wasn’t a whole lot around to see. We did find a good authentic German (Bavarian) restaurant for dinner, complete with waitresses wearing traditional dirndls! We both tried some new food and were pleasantly surprised that Bavarian style meals are quite large, just like the beers!
We decided to base our day around our transit ticket, ha. We wanted to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, which required an outer zone ticket, so we decided to do a couple things a little outside the city center this day. The concentration camp memorial was an eye-opening and heart-wrenching experience. I’m glad we went, and I definitely recommend visiting if you’re in the area. Entry to the memorial is free, and you can do a self-guided tour around the camp (including seeing the chilling gas chambers and crematorium) or you can pay a small fee to get an audio-guide.
After our experience at the memorial, we walked around the small town of Dachau a little, and we tried some Turkish food (which is quite common in Germany, because as we found out there are a lot of Turkish immigrants). We then took the train back toward the city to OlympiaPark, the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. This was a much more lighthearted experience than the previous excursion. The park is huge and has a lot of beautiful sights. We enjoyed some German beers as we wandered around the rolling hills, taking in the sights, and we even stumbled upon a fair. We called it a night early with a Lidl-dinner at the hotel, because we had a big day ahead the next morning!
We had heard great things about some areas south of Munich in Bavaria, including the castles and palaces from King Ludwig II’s era, and the small towns of Füssen and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Based on some advice from a friend, we decided to rent a car to go explore this area instead of trying to book a tour or take a train, which would’ve given us less flexibility. Jared was wary at first, but in the end he was excited about driving on the Autobahn!
So we got up early and walked to the nearby car rental place. We were able to use Google Maps for navigation during our day excursion, with occasional spotty service, but fortunately everywhere we were going was well marked because they’re big tourist destinations. We drove about an hour and a half south of Munich through the town of Füssen, then fought some traffic to the Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles. We had a busy, fun-filled day planned, so we did not have time to actually tour inside the castles. But we parked and walked around the small village, and did a trek up the hill to the Neuschwanstein castle for some epic views and photo ops!
After our visit to the castles, we hopped back in the car and drove through some incredible, scenic mountain roads to get to Linderhof Palace, another construction from King Ludwig II. We walked all over the grounds surrounding the palace, including some amazing gardens.
Our last stop was the beautiful town of Garmish-Partenkirchen, which is a popular ski town in the winter, and was also the site for the 1936 Winter Olympics. We didn’t make it to the Olympic Park there, though. We had worked up an appetite during our adventures, so our first order of business was finding a good restaurant! We settled on a nice Bavarian meal with some German beers of course. We enjoyed walking around this picturesque small Bavarian town, with no shortage of shops, restaurants and biergartens! After a long, amazing day, we drove back to Munich, turned in our rental car, and made it back to the hotel to crash!
This day, we were finally going to spend more time in Munich itself! First, we checked out the beautiful Nymphenburg Palace and had a picnic in the garden area. Then, we finally made it into the city center to explore the areas of Marienplatz and Viktualienmarkt.
Munich definitely has a different feel than Berlin: more traditional and historic. We later learned that Munich was one of the few cities that restored many of its buildings to their original architecture after being damaged during the many wars that affected Germany.
That evening, we went to the historic Hofbrauhaus beer hall and restaurant for dinner and had some Bavarian food and HUGE German beers! It was a little overpriced and touristy of course, but definitely worth it for the experience! I wish we had longer in Munich to try out some of the other beer halls, because apparently it is just one of many of its kind.
On our last morning we decided to do a Free Walking Tour of the city, because we really enjoyed and got a lot out of the ones we took in Dublin and Berlin. It probably would’ve been better to do it on one of our first days, but better late than never! This one didn’t disappoint, at 3 hours long, packed with interesting tidbits, and with a very enthusiastic guide.
This was the last bit of Munich we got to enjoy before we had to head off to the airport for our overnight flight to Bangkok!
Munich was our last stop in Europe before beginning the next phase of our trip in Southeast Asia. While in Munich, we also hit the one month mark since leaving the US!
Stay tuned for more updates from us on our travels in Southeast Asia.
Next Stop: Bangkok, Thailand!
Insider Tips on Munich:
- Not as many places take credit/debit cards as in other European cities we visited, so we found ourselves using a lot more cash. As I said in my previous post on Berlin, they use the Euro in Germany, so plan to either convert a bunch of cash or withdraw Euros at the ATM.
- They use the standard European Type F outlet plugs at 230 volts.
- Public transportation is the best way to get around in Munich. Their system is a little complicated, so definitely do some reading up on it. Most things you’ll need to see in the city are on the “inner district” ticket, and for the most part we found buying a full day ticket for 6.70 euros was our best bet. If you’ll be there at least 3 consecutive days, the 3-day pass is an even better deal.
- The public transportation is on the “honor system,” and usually your ticket will never be checked. But you should still have a valid ticket, because if you do get checked and don’t have a valid ticket, there are hefty fines.
- U.S. driver’s licenses are valid for stays less than a year in Germany, so you do not need an international driver’s license or German license to drive there. Also they drive on the right side of the road, so you don’t have to worry about that.
- Certain areas of the Autobahn do have speed limits, so watch for speed limit signs that are just a circular sign with a number in it. Then, there will be a sign with diagonal lines crossing out whatever the speed limit was, indicating that the restrictions for that area have ended, and then implying that there is no speed limit thereafter.
- “Schloss” is the German word for castle, so you’ll see that word a lot on signs if you plan to visit the castles.