As a Brit that’s been living near Munich for the better part of the last two years, I’ve found there’s a lot of things to love about the city. As with any large-scale life upheaval, there’s been highs, lows and plenty of inbetweens… But as my return to the UK approaches, I’ve come to realise a bit of my heart will forever stay in München.
So what did I find that made me fall in love with Munich and this bit of Bavaria in general? It’s such a long list, it’s hard to pick a place to start! Consider this my farewell love letter to the city.
As a Brit, talking about the weather feels appropriate. It seems like most days here are graced with blue skies with barely a bit of cloud. Regardless of the season, there’s almost always a chance to go for a walk and see some gorgeous places.
Because talking about the rain is clearly a British hobby, I have to mention it. When it does rain here, I’ve found it’s generally perfectly vertical and umbrellas are actually useful tools! Compare that to Lancashire, which is always drenched with sideways lashing rain? I’d pretty much thought this sort of precipitation was a myth.
Location, Location, Location
Munich is blessed by its location on the River Isar. This massive river runs through the city, creating the most lush and peaceful spots along its shores to while away the day. In fact, there’s a huge amount of greenery both in the city and the areas around it.
Walks along the river, through the massive English Garden and around the Nymphenburg Park are amazing to be able to access – all without a car. Getting from A to B was never a concern, with great public transport that’s clean, affordable and running at almost all hours of the day. It’s a far cry from my area of Lancashire, which has about one bus an hour on a good day!
From large, crystal clear lakes to snow topped mountains, the areas surrounding Munich are spots of outstanding natural beauty. The location really is second to none. In a couple of hours you can be in Salzburg, Austria or standing on top of a mountain overlooking the Alps. You can be at a glass-clear lake, dipping your toes in the water or half way up a wooded path on the way to a monastery brewery. Fantasy castles and island bound palaces are easy day trips from the Bavarian capital.
Munich and the southern edges of Bavaria are, quite simply, breathtaking. I’m certain I’ll miss the sunny Bavarian blue skies and gorgeous views most of all. Yes, even more than the food.
Beer, Biergartens and Ice Cream
With those beautiful sunny skies comes warmth and Biergartens. They’re lovely open spaces, filled with the gentle murmur of people quietly talking, eating and drinking. There’s a special sort of feeling at a good Biergarten that’s hard to describe. Even as an foreigner with little German language ability, they feel like little communities. There’s a social warmth to them that I rather like.
My local beer garden has a perfect canopy of horse chestnut trees, a gently bubbling stream that runs alongside and a never-ending supply of my favourite Radler and Breze.
Now I’d always thought I didn’t like beer at all but living here taught me that I was wrong. Munich beer is brilliant and a shandy made from it is easily the best thing to have on a warm day. Pair it with some Bavarian potato salad and whatever kind of Wurst that takes your fancy and it’s a match made in heaven.
But what’s the second best thing to have on a sunny day? Ice cream. Munich has some great gelato and ice cream shops and if you’re ever in the area I’d highly recommend a visit to True & 12. I’m definitely going to miss having a gelato shop only a five minute walk from the apartment!
I do love the seasonality here. From January to Lent it’s Krapfen time, so you can stuff yourself silly with all sorts of doughnut combinations.
From Lent to Easter, pickings are relatively bare but Easter chocolates will start showing up. I actually think it’s nice that the products aren’t out from Christmas, like they are in the UK. Their limited window of availability makes them feel far more special and worthwhile.
From Easter though, things start to liven up. The days get longer, the weather warmer and festivals kick off left, right and centre. Then it’s time to discover Spargelzeit. The way Germans celebrate this vegetable’s harvest season is something that will live with me forever. There’s white asparagus everywhere, graded by quality and you’ll even find some areas have their own Spargel Queen!
From trust-based potato stands at the farmers driveway to vegetable stalls on the road side, throughout the year I’ve found the offer changes from asparagus to strawberries, cherries and pumpkins. It feels like the Bavarian kitchen is still keenly tied to locally produced food and I think it’s a shame the UK has lost much of its understanding of the farming seasons.
The Christmas Markets are like the Biergartens of the winter. Instead of everyone sat around a table with a cool, refreshing drink, people huddle together under fir tree adorned shelters, snuggling up under scarves and hugging hot mugs of Glühwein (or hot rum) in their hands.
Markets in Bavaria are so very different to the “German Markets” in the UK. Their atmosphere is entirely unique. If I feel like the British versions are full of people out to get drunk or grab a quick gift, the German ones are cosy, intimate affairs.
Even in a massive tourist hub like Munich, the markets have a warmth to their atmosphere that English ones lack. Traditions are king and you can expect to find the same stalls in the same locations year after year. Munich offers up so many different kinds of markets too, from Tollwood to the Mittelaltermarkt, they all have their own individual character and personality. Whilst Munich doesn’t have the oldest tradition of hosting Christmas markets, it certainly has the most variety.
Lastly, it’s not just Munich’s fabulous location, amazing weather and endless streams of food, festivals and events that won my heart. It’s the city itself.
From the gorgeous Marienplatz (best viewed before 10am or after dark) to the utterly wonderful Viktualienmarkt, there’s a character to Munich that’s all its own. I know it comes from living in the region but Munich genuinely feels special. Rather than using masses of concrete, buildings reconstructed after the Second World War copied their original design. The centre is clean, well maintained and lovely to stroll through.
It’s hard for me to refer to it as a city, in all fairness, as it feels much more like a large town. Munich is divided into lots of different neighbourhoods and all of those individual sections have their own personalities. It’s almost like Munich is an accidental city, made of a bunch of villages that grew too large to remain separate.
For me, Munich feels like a cosy neighbourhood. It’s somehow welcoming and homely, especially if you’re wandering through outside of peak tourist times.
There’s so much to love about living in this area. Even though I’ve used far more words than I should have for this post, I just couldn’t help myself. It’ll come as no surprise that I’m immensely sad to leave. At the same time, I’m also incredibly grateful to have experienced this wonderful part of the world.
Auf Wiedersehen, Munich!