MUNICH

The Bavarian capital Munich (München, in German) is a very lively city with a rich history, impressive arts and engaging entertainment. It was the capital of Bavaria till 1871. Munich’s palaces, jewels and boulevards are reminders of it being a powerhouse of German politics and culture.

A major hub of business, research, medicine and engineering, Munich has two research universities, several colleges, and boasts of several MNCs and technology and science museums like the Deutsches Museum and BMW Museum. From being a modest market town on the ‘salt road’, between Salzburg and Augsburg, to being dubbed the Silicon Valley of Germany, with its electronics and computer firms like Microsoft, SAP and Siemens, Munich has come a long way!
Munich, besides being cosmopolitan, also bears the ‘typically German’ tag exemplified by its Oktoberfest, lederhosen (leather pants), Bavarian waitresses in their traditional dresses (dirndls), sausages, beer steins, etc.

A difficult truth the locals live with is the fact that Munich was the springboard for Nazism, a fact that is reminded even today by the concentration camp in Dachau close by. Munich is where the Nazi movement was born. The city leaders intelligently distanced the Nazi past from the city by highlighting Munich’s pre-Nazi history, the real Munich – a city of excellent architecture, impressive art and captivating music! Hence, the architectural masterpieces of Altstadt (the Old Twon) that were meticulously rebuilt, the Cuvilliés-Theater, the Altes Rathaus, and the Frauenkirche. Fascinating art and history of the city are showcased in its crown jewels, Baroque theatre, Wittelsbach palaces, paintings and parks. Ironically, it was the Nazis that were also partly responsible for rebuilding the much bombed Munich. Before the war ended, most Nazis knew that they will be carpet bombed and their cities destroyed. In anticipation of this, they meticulously photographed each and every building, street, and public areas. After the war, citizens of Germany had a choice on how to rebuild their cities. Cities like Frankfurt chose to let go of the old and chose to build modern cities with glass and skyscrapers. Munich on the other hand, rebuilt the city, replicating meticulously the features of the old city.

Old Town Hall and Marienplatz

Though there are almost 1.5 million people living in the city, Munich does not feel like a large city. Much of it has to do with how Munich has decided to incorporate elegance rather than embrace Modernism. Munich has a unique law that no building can be taller than the church spires. The policy hasn’t changed in spite of ongoing debates on this issue. Also, it is a very bike friendly and many areas, especially the Old Town are pedestrianised giving the city a unique charm of small town. There are still no skyscrapers in downtown Munich.

The original street plan of Munich was retained and the medieval steeples, Neo-Gothic facades and Neo-classical buildings were all re-created. Cars were blocked entry into the city centre and instead public transport was maximised, especially a very people friendly subway system – the U Bahn. The city planners also opened Europe’s first ‘pedestrian only’ zone (Kaufingerstrasse and Neuhauser Strasse). It has now taken almost 65 years after the last bombs fell to wrap up the restorations.

The allied bombing during WW II damaged the city heavily. But those historic buildings have been rebuilt and city centre now appears almost as it was in the late 1800s, with its largest church, the Frauenkirche and the city hall Neues Rathaus! This epitomises the architectural skill and quality of Munich, that leaves the travellers awestruck.

Very symbiotic with Nature, Munich is a clean, cultured and safe university town, which is why it gets consistently voted as Germany’s most liveable city. The rustic feel of the city cannot be missed, in its cleanliness, safety and the Mediterranean pace. The beautiful features of the city too contribute to it being the choice of tourist destination, like its mesmerizing views of the Alps, broad sidewalks, a massive river running through the city, boutiques and eateries and a massive green park. The beer gardens, with huge chestnut trees, welcome the locals during the warm days of the spring. Be it the cavernous beer halls, the Kneipes where people gather for meals and drinks, or the beer gardens, the locals are ever so ready to welcome the visitors to say ‘Prost!’ (cheers!).

The Bavarian capital’s low-key profile has led it to be called ‘Millionendorf’ (‘the village of a million people’), though it is a major metropolis. It gets listed frequently in the top 10 of global quality-of-life rankings and is the most prosperous city in Germany.

When to visit

March to June is the right time to visit the city. With lesser crowd after the Fall, and summer crowd yet to visit for the peak season, March, April and May are the best months, with longer and warmer days. The city looks fresh and green with its vibrant blossoms, lightened up by the bright sun.

The city gets into the liveliness of the Spring, from its Winter lethargy. May and June are the best months to be in Munich, to enjoy the summer-like weather without much increase in the temperature and the crowd! If these months are missed, September and October can be the next best option.

By September end, the Bavarians, dressed in their traditional dirndls and lederhosen, gather in Munich for the Oktoberfest and other festivals that would closely follow. The shorter days see the trees change into bright yellow and red tones.

Autumn would be the suitable time to visit Munich for those who don’t favour hot and dry climate. But be warned about the unexpected showers of rain. The days are generally sunny and warm until October end.

The holiday months of December and January are the city’s off-season. If you do visit during winter, don’t be discouraged, as the renowned museums and excellent restaurants would welcome you warmly! Theatre and opera can keep you engaged too.

HOW TO REACH

By Air
The second busiest airport in Germany is the Munich International Airport. It ranks seventh in Europe and handles 38 million passengers every year. Also a major hub for Lufthansa and the Star Alliance, the Munich airport, has been named after the former Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauß.

Based on a worldwide survey of more than thirteen million passengers, Munich Airport has bagged the best airport in Europe title in 2015, and number 3 globally in the World Airport Awards. Over the past 10 years, Munich has been named the best airport in Europe, 8 times.

Munich Airport Center

Located between terminals 1 and 2, the Munich Airport Centre (MAC) is a recreation and service centre at the airport, that includes restaurants, a shopping mall, a medical centre, the conference centre and the MAC-Forum. The MAC-Forum, being Europe’s largest roofed outdoor area, is used for various events like a Christmas fair or ice-skating during winter and a beach volleyball tournament in summer. The Hilton Munich Airport (formerly Kempinski Hotel Airport Munich) is located next to the Munich Airport Centre.

Located 28km (17 miles) northeast of the City Centre, Munich’s International Airport has excellent air service from all over the world. The airport is linked with downtown by the S1 and S8 lines to the city centre. The subway terminal is below the airport’s arrival and departure halls. Taking 50 minutes, the S-bahn trains leave at 20-minute intervals on both lines. The Tageskarte (day card) for the Gesamtnetz, costing €10.80, is the easiest way, which also allows you to travel anywhere on the system for the rest of the day until 6 a.m. the next day. There is also a bus service which costs the same but is slower than the S-bahn. A taxi from the airport costs around €56 to the city. From 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. are rush hours and hence; allow an hour for the taxi ride.

By Train

Hauptbahnhof, Munich Central Station, is located in the centre of Munich. West of Marienplatz (two S-Bahn stations away) is the main station, and is just a short walk from the city centre. Well connected to Munich’s dense public transport network, the main station has a traveller-friendly infrastructure, that includes shops, restaurants, a supermarket (open on Sundays too), a tourist bureau and a Deutsche Bahn ticket and travel agency office.

Offering regional and long distance connections to many German cities, including several connections with ICE high-speed trains, Deutsche Bahn uses Munich as one of its main German hubs.

The TGV high speed line connects Munich with Paris and Strasbourg, and the Eurocity and City Night Line (night train) connect international cities like Amsterdam, Budapest, Innsbruck, Maribor Salzburg, Milan, Rome, Venice, Vienna, Verona, and Zurich.

Munich also has two other railway stations, one in the west (Munich Pasing) and one in the east (Munich East), both of which are connected to the public transport system and serve as transport hubs for Deutsche Bahn’s regional and long distance trains.

PLACE OF INTEREST

English Garden (Englischer Garten)

The English Garden is bigger than the Central Park in New York or the Hyde Park in London. This deceptively endless green area blends into the open countryside at the north of the city. It remained a former favourite hunting ground until when it was partly opened to the public by Benjamin Thompson, who later became Count Rumford, a great American-British reformer and scientist, who had later moved to Bavaria and entered government service here..

Stretching from the city centre to the north-eastern city limits, this large public park is one of Munich’s must-sees. Reminiscent of the rolling parklands that surrounded the homes of the 18th century English aristocrats, the open informal landscaping is what that gave the park its name! The park boasts of four beer gardens, a lake with boats, and a series of curious decorative and monumental constructions that includes the Monopteros, a Greek temple designed by Leo von Klenze for King Ludwig I, built in 1837 on an artificial hill in the southern section of the park.

A paradise for cyclists, joggers, soccer players, musicians, and sunbathers in summer and for cross-country skiers in the winter, the Englischer Garten has semi-official areas marked for sunbathing sans clothes too. Do not be taken by surprise if you happen to see such naturalists by the flower beds and paths.

Hop on to the tram 18 to go to the English Garten and spend a sunny day. Get off at any one of the park-side stops. Admission is free.

One of Munich’s most famous spots is the biergarten, located in the English Garden near the Chinesischen Turm (Chinese Tower). The jolly notes of the oompah musicians and the lively chat of the biergarten patrons enjoy a spectacular backdrop of this sylvan park. It is famous for its friendly ambience and an opportunity to people-watch! Get down at the Tivolistraße stop, from Tram 19, to join the entertainment.

Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche)

Frauenkirche or The Church of our Lady from the gothic-period, forms a unique part of the Munich skyline with its dome-topped towers, which residents say resembles a pair of beer steins bubbling over. Some say the domes resemble onion bulbs and the more imaginative of them refer to it as the church with Pamela Anderson domes.

It is a distinct late-Gothic brick edifice with its two 99 metres high towers. Munich’s Dom (cathedral), is an important structure today, as Münchners unanimously voted in a nonbinding referendum, to restrict all new buildings to be below its height within the city’s middle ring road. The main structure of the cathedral was completed in 20 years (1468-88), a record time in that period. The distinct domes were added in 1525.

Restoration was necessitated in the mid-1900s, after the bombing of the Allied forces during WW II. With a small fee to reach the observation platform at the top, the church tour can be wonderful experience.

The Frauenkirche is, off the Marienplatz U-bahn or S-bahn stop.

Deutsches Museum (German Museum)

Brimming with exhibits on everything from transportation to mining, bridge building to musical instruments, the Deutsches Museum showcases science and technology like no other.

This monumental building, on an island in the Isar River, is filled with aircrafts, vehicles, historic machinery, modern technology and a mine! With six floors of exhibits and 50 exhibition areas, the collection spreads out over 47,000 square meters. The Centre for New Technologies. Has interactive exhibition of nanotechnology, biotechnology and robotics, that could change your thoughts about science forever, are included in the exhibits.

The internet café on the third floor is open between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Other cafes are open until 4 p.m. The Kinderreich, a section dedicated to children, allows children to learn about modern technology and science through numerous interactive displays. Children should be accompanied by their parents. The planetarium is the most technically advanced in Europe and has four shows every day. For a 2-hour tour in English, call at least six weeks in advance.

An amazing collection of the museum’s transportation exhibits can be found in the Verkehrszentrum (Centre for Transportation) on the former trade fair grounds at the Theresienhöhe, which has been entirely renovated.

The Deutsches Museum is off the Isartor S-Bahn stop. It is open every day from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Tickets are priced at €11 for adults and €4 for children.

Old Picture Gallery (Alte Pinakothek)

The long redbrick building Alte Pinakothek, houses popular art collections from around the world. Exhibits of paintings from the Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany comprising about 700 pieces, include masterpieces of European artists, like Dürer, Titian, Rembrandt, da Vinci, Rubens (one of the world’s largest Rubens collections is here), and two renowned Murillos. The picture captions are mostly in German. A rented English audio guide may help, though it doesn’t cover every painting.

Open from Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours on Tuesdays alone, until 8 p.m., the art gallery serves as a magnet for art lovers.

The museum quarter Kunstareal includes the Pinakothek der Moderne, Neue Pinakothek, the Alte Pinakothek and Museum Brandhorst. The collections in every one of these museums are world renowned. The museums are a few hundred meters apart. A day ticket bought at Tageskarte, would provide entry to all these museums and the Schack Gallery in Lehel, and is also cost effective at €12 per person.

Pinakothek der Moderne

Housing four significant art collections, Pinakothek der Moderne is Germany’s largest modern art museum. The four collections are the 20th century art, applied design from the 19th century to today, a graphics collection and an architecture museum. It is in a magnificent building by Stephan Braunfels, the four-storey interior of which centres on a massive eye-like dome through which natural light filters through.

The New Collection is the busiest section of the museum, housed in its basement, focusing on applied design from the industrial revolution via art nouveau and Bauhaus to today. Obscure interwar items, not looking out of place in a Kraftwerk video, alongside Volkswagen Beetles, Earnes chairs and early Apple Macs are exhibited. Many 1960s furniture, a collection of weirdest jewellery and latest spool tape recorders are also part of the exhibit.
Around 400,000 pieces of art on paper including drawings, prints and engravings by Leonardo da Vinci and Paul Cézanne are all housed in the State Graphics Collection. These works are light sensitive and hence, just a fraction of the collection are exhibited at any given time.
The Architecture Museum stands tall with entire studios of blueprints, drawings, photographs and models by top practitioners as Baroque architect Balthasar Neumann, Bauhaus Maven Le Corbusier and the expressionist of the 1920s, Erich Mendelsohn.

St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche)

The oldest parish church of Altstadt, St. Peter’s Church (called Alter Peter or Old Peter), has its origin in the 12th century. It has been restored in various architectural styles, the Gothic, Baroque and Rococo. The interior is Baroque, and has a stunning altar and aisle pillars with exquisite 18th century figures of the apostles. It is worth the long climb up 300 ft on a clear day you can see the panoramic view of the Alps.

It is Munich’s oldest church but with the smallest place of worship! It is open daily. Alight at Marienplatz by U-bahn or S-bahn. The tour is free but a there is a small fee to climb its tower but you get a spectacular view of Bavaria for your efforts. The church’s glittering altar, the bedecked skeleton of St.Munditia, a revered Christian martyr, allures all.

Marienplatz

The U-bahn stops at its namesake station, in the Marienplatz square. The square is the heart of Munich, as it was in 1158, when it was established. It had hosted spectator events earlier, such as jousts and executions! Today, this Alstadt square hosts mimes and musical performances on the street, and houses numerous restaurants and shops. During Christmas, the square gets crowded with vendors selling holiday gifts at Christkindlmarkt.

Neues Rathaus borders this square that has various shops and cafes. The square is named after the statue of the Virgin Mary, who watched over it for over 3 centuries. Erected in 1638 by the Elector Maximilian I, Marienplatz marks the city’s gratitude for its survival of the Thirty Years War (religious struggle between Catholics and Protestants that devastated vast regions of Germany). In 1960, when the statue was lowered from its pedestal for cleaning, workmen found a small casket in the base, with a splinter of wood believed to be from the cross of the Christ.

Viktualienmarkt (Victuals Market)

It is the city’s open-air market and the heart of downtown Munich. Fresh fruits and vegetables including German and international specialities are sold here. People from all economic strata, businessmen, workers, and casual tourists, come here for a quick bite. It is the fiefdom of a bunch of chatty imposing women who run the stalls with complete authority. They insist on you not touching the samples and instead hand over the pickings to you. Quality fish treats from Poseidon’s, tasty empanada from Mercado Latino on the south of the market, Bavarian and Mediterranean delights from Freisinger, are just some of the famous stalls. The beer garden is where you can enjoy snacks with cold beer. The choice of beer on supply rotates throughout the year among six major Munich breweries, displayed on the maypole. These are also the six breweries officially allowed to serve at the Oktoberfest.

The Viktualienmarkt is located in Alstadt off the Marienplatz U-bahn and S-bahn stops and is open six days a week.

Residenz (Royal Palace)

Munich’s royal Residenz (residence) was a modest Neuveste (New Fortress) in 1363, on the north eastern city border. By the time the Bavarian monarchy fell in In 1918, the palace could compare itself favourably with the best palaces of Europe and it is considered a true treasure of Germany.

Located centrally, the Residenz was inevitably damaged severely in the Allied bombing of 1944-45, and its reconstruction took decades. It is a big draw with for tourists who find it an elating experience to wander around the Residenz. Its highlights include crown jewels, the state collection of Egyptian art, the Cuvilles theatre and the Herkulessaal concert hall. Beautiful courtyards, fountains, grottoes, a medicine room, a chapel and much more, decorate the outside area.

The re-creations of many private royal chambers and apartments are the favourites of the visitors. The Wittelsbach treasures are exhibited in several museums that encompass the Residenz. All the halls, galleries, rooms, chapels and museums with the Residenz and the Cuvillies theatre and treasury can be visited with a combo ticket costing €13.

Schatzkammer (Treasury).
It contains many masterworks that includes a host of treasures from Wittelsbach royal crown jewels. The crown of Bavaria’s first king, Maximilian I, created in Paris in 1806-07, is the highlight. A renowned 50 cm high Renaissance statue of St. George studded with diamonds, pearls and rubies, is an incredible centrepiece of the Schatzkammer collection.

The building is off the Odeonsplatz U-bahn station.

BMW MUSEUM

Home of the BMW car company, Munich boasts of the BMW museum with a circular tower, a defining image of Munich’s modern cityscape. A spectacular collection of old and new BMWs are on exhibit. Items relating to the company’s social history and its technological developments are also on display.

The trendy design of BMW Welt, opened in 2007, its futuristic façade, contrasts the conservative image of Munich’ architecture since 1945. This is a must-see, if you even have a fleeting interest in cars and engines. Over 15,000 cars are handed over to customers here every year. An average of 2 million people visits the place every year. Besides tours of the building, readings, concerts and exhibitions are also not to be missed. Tours can be booked only through telephone or email.

The BMW factory adjacent to it, can be visited on weekdays. Plant tours, lasting 2 ½ hours, need to be registered in advance via phone. The tour begins at 4 p.m. and finish at the information counter at BMW Welt. The tour doesn’t include the car assembly area, as the plant reconstruction is underway. This would mean there is no wheelchair access too. Reservation at least two weeks prior to visit is recommended for all tours.

BMW Welt tour €7; factory tour €8. BMW Welt is open Mon.–Sat. 9–6, Sun.10–6. Olympiazentrum (U-bahn).

BMW Tower

Built between 1968 and 1972, the BMW tower was ready in time for 1972 Summer Olympics, and was inaugurated later on May 18, 1973. Located near the Olympic Village, the 101 meter high edifice is often cited as an example of Munich’s modern architecture. The exterior of the tower is supposed to resemble the shape of four cylinders in a car engine, and the museum resembling a cylinder head. Both iconic buildings were designed by the Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer.

Nymphenburg Palace (Schloss Nymphenburg)

This palace is beautiful blend of Baroque and Rococo architecture. It is the largest of its kind in Germany and is visited by over 500,000 people a year, and ranks only second to Deustches Museum on the popularity index. Over the 200 years, the palace grew in size, beginning as a summer residence built on the land given by Prince Ferdinand Maria to his beloved, Henriette Adelaide, to mark the birth of their son and heir, Max Emanuel in 1663.

Schloss Nymphenburg is the summer home of the royal Wittelsbach family. It extends to the west of the city, covering nearly 500 acres. King Ludwig I’s ‘Gallery of Beauties’ is a portrait gallery of 36 beautiful women of the day, one of the few interesting piece of art featured in the palace.

A trip in spring or summer will enthral you as the palace grounds would be in full bloom. Warm weather makes forest walks highly enjoyable. Open daily, the palace also has abbreviated opening hours during winter.

ANDECHS MONASTERY

People enjoy the beer in the brewery of the cloister Andechs at July 11,2011 in Andechs, Germany. The world’s most famous Cloister Brewery is a world heritage by UNESCO.

Andechs is a Benedictine monastery, and one of the famous pilgrimage sites of southern Bavaria. It lies 5 km south of Herrsching and can be reached by Bus 951 from S-bahn station (also connects Ammersee and Starnbergersee). The extraordinary ensemble, surmounted by an octagonal tower and the dome with a pointed tip has its history dating back 1,000 years.

It is not just the beauty of the hilltop monastery that draws visitors. The beer brewed here plays a part in it too as 600,000 litresof beer are brewed annually. The monastery serves Bavarian food and makes its own cheese too! Enjoy the food and beer at the monastery tavern or on the terrace outside.

HOFBRÄUHAUS

The beer hall Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany. It is one of the biggest beer hall in Munich.

This is Munich’s most famous brewery and was founded by Duke Wilhelm V in 1589. It has been at the present location since 1808. Year 1897 saw it requiring to be modernized, as beer and restaurants became major contributors to the city’s economy. Its final major reconstruction work happened in 1950 after its destruction in the war. Hofbräu means ‘court brewery’. The golden beer, poured in pitcher-size litre mugs, can be relished with the music performed by the brass band on most days. The noisy ground floor is contradicted by the quieter restaurant upstairs. This legendary beer hall is a major hit with visitors to Munich.

Asamkirche

It is an 18th century, flamboyant church and has an extraordinary entrance framed by raw rock foundations. The door, overshadowed, by the massive rocks hardly gives away the opulence of the interior. There are only 12 rows of pews. The 14th century Bohemian monk and the patron of Bavaria, St. Nepomuk who drowned in the Danube, is led by angels from a rocky riverbank to heaven, is depicted above the doorway. The official name of the church is Church of St. Johann Nepomuk. It is but known as the Asamkirche after its awesome architect brothers Cosmas Damian and Egid Quirin Asam. The church is a showcase for true southern German late-Baroque architecture which is reflected in the interiors. The frescoes and rosy marble covering the walls were also done by the Asam brothers. There is also a gilt skeleton at the sanctuary’s portal.

OKTOBERFEST GROUNDS AT THERESIENWIESE

Within a ten minute walk from the Hauptbahnhof (one stop on the subway U-4 or U-5), lies the place where Munich’s famous Oktoberfest and the winter version of the city’s Tollwood music, art and food festival are held. Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen celebrated her marriage to future King Ludwig I, here, in 1810, with thousands of Münchners. The exhibition ground is named after her. The success of the event made it an annual celebration from then on, which has grown now, into a 16-day international beer and fair extravaganza that draws over 6 million people every year. Though it starts in late September, it ends on the first Sunday of October, hence the name Oktoberfest.

Bavaria Statue

The 19th century hall of fame (Ruhmeshalle) features busts of famous Bavarian scientists, engineers, generals, artists and philosophers inside while there is monumental bronze statue of the maiden Bavaria outside, overlooking the Theresienwiese, home of the Oktoberfest. It was commissioned by King Ludwig I, who was obsessed with art and architecture. This edifice was not finished before his abdication in 1848. The maiden Bavaria, over 60 feet, was at that time the largest bronze figure ever. It is hollow and has 48 steps to take you up to its base, from which point, there are 66 steps up to her knee and a further 52 steps up to the head, from where you get a spectacular view of Munich, through her eyes!. The ticket costs €3.50. Visits allowed between April and October 15, from 9 to 6, daily. It is open till 8, during Oktoberfest.

DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP MEMORIAL SITE

Now KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau, the infamous camp is outside town. It paints a sombre picture of the camp, with photographs, contemporary documents, a few cell blocks and the grim crematorium. This is where 41,000 of over 200,000 prisoners lost their lives. Between 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., a documentary film in English is shown daily. With many a people from all over the world meeting here to reflect upon the past and the present, the former camp has become more than just a grim memorial. It has become a place to honour the dead by people who came from Germany and other parts of the world.

From Marienplatz or Hauptbahnhof, take S-2 (public transport) towards Petershausen and disembark at Dachau. From outside the Dachau S-bahn station a bus (726 towards Saubachsiedlung, leaves every 20 minutes) can be taken.

HOHENSCHWANGAU AND NEUSCHWANSTEIN

The two castles Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, belong to the Wittelbachs and are 1 km from each other, across a valley. Bavaria’s king Ludwig II (1845 – 86) spent much of his youth at Schloss Hohenschwangau, near the town of Schwangau. Probably its neo-Gothic atmosphere found its influence in the way the wildly romantic Schloss Neuschwanstein, the fairy-tale castle, was shaped by the king. This castle is said to be the inspiration for Disneyland’s castles.

Berchtesgaden National Park

The fabled Königsee is the most photographed panorama of Germany. Königsee and Obersee are nestled within the Berchtesgaden National Park, a 210 square km wild mountain country, with beautiful flora and fauna. There are no roads and the mountain paths are difficult too. Guided tours are organised by the park administration from June through September.

Königssee

Boats are a less strenuous way into the Berchtesgaden national park where 21 electrically driven excursion boats operate on the Königsee (King Lake). The electric boats are silent and so doesn’t disturb the peace around. The trumpet fanfare of the skipper of the boat alone is allowed to shatter the silence, to demonstrate the resonating notes between the vertical cliffs plunging in the dark green water below.

The serene emerald green Königsee offers a picturesque, memorable moments to be cherished for a lifetime. The lake, cradled by the mountain walls 5 km south of Berchtesgaden, is Germany’s highest lake (603m) with shimmering, deep, clear water. Buses 841 / 842 starts the trip from the Berchtesgaden train station roughly every hour.

Taking the path along the lake shore helps avoid the crowd. It is a 3.5 km return walk to Malerwinkel (Painter’s corner), a vantage point to get a panoramic view.

Obersee is smaller than Königssee, but is equally beautiful. It is a 15 minute walk from the second stop (Salet), on the boat tour, to reach here. The jagged mountains and the steep cliff has a spectacular waterfall, Rothbachfall, that plunges more than 1,000 feet.

Boat service

Königsee’s boat service runs throughout the year, except when the lake freezes. It takes close to two hours, without stops, for a round trip to St. Bartholoma and Salet, the landing stage for the Obersee, costing €16.30. A round trip to St. Bartholoma alone takes a little over an hour and costs €13.30.The Berchtesgaden tourist office organizes evening cruises in the summer, on the Königsee, that includes a concert in St. Bartholoma church and a four-course dinner in the neighbouring hunting lodge.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The double-barrell resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a popular hangout among the skiing fans and day-trippers from Munich. A fabled setting, just a snowball’s throw from the Alps, the place renders the term ‘wintered in Garmisch’ an aristocratic ring. It offers the best skiing in the land, which includes runs on Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze (2964 m).

The place is a unison of the two towns Garmisch and Partenkirchen, made by a decree of Adolf Hitler, in order to bring the 1936 winter Olympics to Germany. As the International Olympic Committee was about to reject Germany as a possible host as the town offered very few hotel rooms, Hitler forced the unification of the towns to make it appealing to the IOC.

Now, the united town is one of Germany’s premier tourist ski towns and provides excellent skiing, hiking and biking opportunities. Lying a few kilometres from the Austrian border, the twin towns, though united, have retained their individuality. Garmisch is more modern, while Partenkirchen offers an old-world Alpine village ambience.

A comfortable base for excursions to Ludwig II’s palaces, Schloss Linderhof and the Jagdschloss Schachen, and also the Oberammergau and Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a great place to plan your tour from.

Salzburg (Austria)

The great musician Mozart was born in Salzburg. It is an easy day trip from Munich. The Munich central station runs trains every hour, that take about 1 ½ hours. The Bayern ticket is valid.

FESTIVALS

The German Mardi Gras equivalent, Fasching, brings Munich alive during the pre-Easter season. Oktoberfest is celebrated by September-end to early October.

The festival – Long Night of Music – has night long with music and live performances by many groups, ranging from heavy-metal bands to medieval choirs, at over 100 locations throughout the city. Everything including transportation on special buses between locations, is covered with a single ticket.

Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is the most festive, spirited parties that have ever been kicked off. The first keg is tapped by the mayor to signal the start of weeks-long festivities, which would run until early October.

The Oktoberfest draws millions of people to Munich, who visit the grounds, partake in the merrymaking in massive tents and relish the beer drunk from heavy glass mugs and boots! The massive tents are an attraction in themselves, as each one of them is unique in size, décor and the crowds they attract. Hopping between tents is the best way to enjoy Oktoberfest. Allot a festival day to visit each one of them. Entry is free. Visitors are just charged for what they consume.

People participate in the Oktoberfest with their families. Some bring their young ones dressed in Trachten (traditional Bavarian wear) to enjoy the carnival rides and child-friendly entertainment at booths around the grounds, with a discount on Tuesdays, which are family days of the festival. Legal drinking age is 16 years and you can see many young teenagers served in the tents of the breweries. Families fill the Agustiner tent, the city’s oldest brewery’s tent.

Weekends are for huge parties. Weekdays see a calmer Oktoberfest experience and there are special weekday lunchtime food menus that many tents offer.

For more information about customized itineraries to Europe, SMS Europe to 53456