Munich is a vibrant city in Germany that really took me quite by surprise. I had no exact expectations coming here as mostly people rant and rave about and veer towards Berlin for its wonderful architecture and lively party scene. But what i found in Munich was a city full of wonder, from beer filled gardens, cute cafes, locals wearing the strangest outfits, beautiful architecture and young lads(and one lady) surfing in the park(yes Surfing). All this could see people make a push away from Berlin and come to realise that there is much more to this Bavarian capital than beer bashing 2L jugs at Oktoberfest(although i wouldn’t say no to experiencing this traditional drinking festival when it comes round).
After landing in Munich after a long haul flight from Thailand(finally left), arriving bright and(not so breezy) at 7am, i got cracking on exploring the ins and outs of what Munich offers. So i thought i would let you in on how i spent 48 hours in Munich and and what you can get up to here despite only a short amount of time to spend.
Day 1- Exploring Munich itself-
Start the day off with a massive and rather salty pretzel. Choose to have it plain or filled with ham and cheese and sit and enjoy people watching right in the center of the city(preferably in the glorious sunshine).Once the belly is full, head to Marienplatz(city center) and take it in in all its glory. Proving a vast area of shopping options and historic structures, you could easily kill a whole morning here taking it all in. If you are lucky enough to be around Marienplatz at 11am, Noon or 5pm you will witness the famous animated dancing puppets high on the Glockenspeil and hear the bells chiming into the distance.
For an even better view of the Center and the puppets bopping about, head up the tower at St Alter Peter(Munich’s oldest church) for only two euros and 306 steps later, you will be greeted with sky high worthy views of magical Munich. It really is worth each step and the 14 flights of stairs to look down upon the mass of century old red roofed buildings and see views of the Alps in the distance.
After taking in the spectacular views from above, make your way to the Englischer Gartens. This large public park area will take you on lengthy walks lined with hanging trees and sounds of trickling waterfalls. Not only that, this particular park is one of the worlds largest parks, even claiming to be larger than New York’s Central Park. If the sun is out, this is the place to be. Sit back and relax with a picnic and take in the sights of horse drawn carriages making their way round the park. A little further up the path you will find the intriguing Surf river where as i mentioned above locals are casually getting their surf on in the man made wave. So cool to watch them and they really are pros, taking turns one after the other to bash out the waves, its like standing watching some talent in Australia. Yes i would never have thought it but Munich is a very diverse city and offers an abundance of attractions to all ages.
They even have a Nudist beach located just outside the grounds of the park, and i realised after speaking to a local about this area that the Germans are pretty free and easy(maybe easy is not the correct term to use here) when it comes to letting it all hang out and strolling round in Public in the nip( i like their style). Its strange to imagine it( i didn’t get to witness it firsthand which i was pretty gutted about, but obviously i dont think too many would have been bearing the bods during the month of March, not too sensible really). German people appear to be very reserved to me, i could count one one hand the amount of people i seen smile which for me is really strange, so i can almost picture them rocking round in the birthday suits with stern faces. Cracking a smile every once in a while wouldn’t go a miss in Germany. Cross faces aside, i love this city.
If you are feeling peckish, head to the Viktualienmarkt Food market, where they have the dainty little food stores with ham and salami overkill. The salami was to die for, with such intense flavors i couldn’t refuse the free samples coming my way from the lovely lady pictured below(such a sweetie). There is the potential to eat your way round this market for almost free or at least cheaply. Apparently the salami tastes even better with age and the lady from the shop told me that it can be kept unrefrigerated for years….so that’s a plus for anyone on long term travels wanting to carry round a batch of salami to snack off. In the evening this market area comes alive with beer drinking, so this could be the ideal way to fill the hours till the early morning in Munich.
Day 2- Neuschwanstein Castle–
Behold the castle that dreams are made of and this particular one was the inspiration for none other than the fairy-tale classic Sleeping Beauty. This castle also features in the film,The Chity Chittty bang bang. Its requires an early morning start to get to the grounds of the castle as it is the guts of a two hour train ride journey from central Munich. Its 15 euros return day trip and you take the train from Munchen HBF(central station) to station Fussen in southwest Bavaria. These trains leave every hour and does not require a reservation, just hop on and enjoy the views from the window along the way. When you arrive at Fussen station there will be a connecting bus to take you to the castle which will be included in the price of your ticket.. There is also the option to visit the castle with a tour group taking you from Munich, i decided against this way as tours are always more expensive and quite frankly guided tours are one of my pet hates(i prefer no hand holding thanks).
Once at the grounds of the castle you can choose to just visit Neushwanstein or combine with the castles in the surrounding area. You can take the easy but rather smelly option of being carted up the hill to Neushwanstein by horse and cart for 3 euros per person. You have to wait and fill a cart with a group if you do not have enough people. I choose to walk up(you always appreciate a view more when you have worked for it) and people had said it would takes about 40 minutes to reach the top of the hill, but personally i found that to be inaccurate. It took no longer than 15-20 minutes to get up it unless my timing was off or maybe i have my long legs sprinting up to thank for.
Once at the top you will be highly impressed. The castle stands tall and delicate in design and structure on the hilltop enclosed by mountains. In the backdrop you will see and hear a waterfall descending down the hill drop. 1.3 million tourists and locals visit this castle annually and once you witness it for yourself you will understand its popularity. I have never really seen many castles before despite growing up in Ireland, so to see this world renowned one firsthand, i was completely blown away by it. Originally built as a place of personal refuge for the king but soon after his death, it opened up to the public eye. This castle immerses you into Disney state of mind and is a true romantic and storybook reality. Adding to the fairy-tale and mystical feel was the surrounding fog that intensified the surreal look and feeling of the palace. We did not see the interior of the castle as the queue for tickets for the castle down in the village of Hohenschwanga was quite large. You cannot buy tickets at the entrance of the castle, so dont forget to purchase them before going up. Instead what we did do, was find our own venture on the grounds of the castle. You will see signs saying “Off the beaten path, danger for your life” and once you spot that your on a winner. This beaten path will take you to the most outstanding and terrifying scary backdrop view of the castle in the distance. Its terrifying because if you were unfortunate enough to slip off the edge, well you sadly would be made smithereens of. So if you like to take risks this is the place where you will get that shot away from all the rest of the tourists. We spent about 4 hours in total at the castle and then 4 for the commuting time so a trip here does require you to have a whole day. If your tripping to Munich do not miss this utterly fascinating castle. Its one for sure for a princess(or a prince) bucket list.
Have you been to Munich or spent a day at Neushwanstein Castle? Was it everything you imagined and more?
Currently i am at home in Ireland where to put it mildly the weather is miserable and i am freezing beyond belief. Also planning my next European getaway for next month for my 26th birthday, so il keep you updated on where i shall be!