From the ultra modern curves of the BMW Welt to the historic turrets of the Neues Rathaus, Munich is refreshingly contemporary yet steeped in culture and heritage. What's more is that the city cultivates an undeniable charm that changes with the seasons. Whether it's autumn, winter, spring or summer, Munich rewards visitors with a satisfyingly diverse selection of fun throughout the year.
Arguably the most popular time to visit Munich is the autumn. The leaves are turning, there's an invigorating crispness in the air and Oktoberfest is in full swing. This festival that calls to beer lovers around the globe runs for 16 days in late September to early October.
Though beer plays a large role in the celebrations, with approximately 7 million litres served over the course of the event, the fun goes beyond the suds. There are amusement rides, side stalls, games and food! Glorious food! Sample the spoils of traditional Oktoberfest fare by tucking into everything from Schweinebraten (roast pork) to Obatzda (spiced cheese-butter bread).
Should you feel you the need to escape the city's festivities, there are plenty of excursions that allow you to sample the serenity of the surrounding landscape. A Neuschwanstein Castle day trip is definitely an autumn delight. Consistently named Germany's most beautiful castle, Neuschwanstein sits at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, approximately an hour and 40 minutes by car from Munich. Admire the stunning architecture of this 'fairy tale' castle as the surrounding foliage burns bright in shades of fiery yellow, orange and red.
A far cry from the sun drenched beaches and BBQ lunches of the Aussie Christmas, Munich transforms into a snow-capped picture of the quintessential holiday season. While there is a certain chill in the air, it's well worth bundling up and getting to the city for the historic Munich Christmas Markets held from the end of November to Christmas Eve.
By day, the Gothic architecture of the Marienplatz lends a certain air of old world charm. By night, the markets twinkle with fairy lights and a towering Christmas tree. Imagine sipping mulled wine as you browse the many stalls that make up this impressive market. Traditional Bavarian gifts are easily found with wood carvings, gingerbread and exquisite glassware from the Bavarian forest among some of the most popular.
After an afternoon of exploring the markets, head indoors for a Christmas concert in a palace. Each holiday season, the Munich Residenz offers up a schedule of special concerts that range from traditional Bavarian Christmas songs to grand opera. Performances are generally accompanied by a tour of the palace, which is sure to leave a lasting impression. Formerly the royal palace of Bavarian monarchs, this stunning venue mixes Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neo-Classicism architectural styles with amazingly beautiful interiors that display the rich history of the city.
Never ones to take a sunny day for granted, Munich locals come alive in the spring. The city's abundant green spaces are in blossom and the Munich Spring Festival is scheduled for April. With warmer temperatures, it's the perfect chance to explore the city.
Munich is brimming with inspiring architecture, whether historic or cutting edge design, and one of the best ways to experience it all is up close on a cycling tour. The city is exceedingly bike friendly and there are a number of tours that will take you to such highlights as the Hofbrauhaus, Angel of Peace, Bayerisches National Museum and St Luke's Church – all with insightful commentary from experienced guides. If you'd prefer a slower pace, walking tours are also readily available.
Another popular spring time spot is the Englischer Garten. Translated to 'English Garden', this sprawling park is one of the largest urban parks in the world. It spans 417 hectares, making it larger than New York's Central Park. Along with abundant stretches of green grass and tall trees, it offers the chance to explore such attractions as the Japanese teahouse or watch the river surfers at Eisbach.
One of the most popular attractions of the Englischer Garten, though, is the beer garden. With 7,000 seats, it's the second largest in Munich, and it's a great opportunity to mingle with locals. Of course, you can enjoy a refreshing pint, but there are also food stalls serving up traditional foods and a brass band performing on the weekends.
Summers in Munich are pretty temperate, making it ideal to spend your days out and about. One of the best places in the city to do this is Olympiapark. A piece of the city's history, this was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. Along with being a highlight for sports fanatics, it remains a significant architectural achievement for the city.
A number of guided tours are available, covering everything from behind the scenes to architect highlights. There's also opportunity for some light adventure with a roof climb at Olympic Stadium or the Olympic Tower views stretching as far as the Alps. Olympicapark is also home to a shopping centre, park and holds a number of cultural and social events.
The warmer weather also provides a great opportunity to day trip to Brechtesgaden National Park. Sitting approximately an hour and 45 minutes from the city by car, this wilderness area is a nature lovers dream. Partake in guided walks through the alpine scenery or marvel at the reflective blue waters of Lake Konigssee. The Jenner cable car ascends to the heights of 1800m at the edge of the park, while the Watzmann thermal baths offer a little relaxation after a long day of trekking.
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