City slickers speeding down the autobahn in top-of-the-range BMWs, endless wheat beer and oompah-pah in the Hofbräuhaus and 20-somethings shopping for trendy Oktoberfest dirndl dresses -- you'll find it all in progressive, festive and downright traditional Munich. Some visitors come for the world-class Pinakothek galleries, some for boutique shopping on Maximilianstrasse, others for outdoor activities with views of the not-so-distant Alps. But for most Münchners, there's no place like the vast English Garden, where they can shrug off that self-consciously cool image and (quite literally) let it all hang out.
Things to Do
Marienplatz beckons with street entertainers, pavement cafés and the Gothic Neues Rathaus. Arrive at noon when the glockenspiel chimes. A short stroll away is the opulent Residenz palace evoking the 700-year Wittelsbach dynasty, and the twin-domed Frauenkirche church. Contemplate Picassos and Warhols at the Pinakothek galleries and motoring legends at the space-age BMW World. Outdoorsy Münchners enjoy the lake-dotted English Garden, where they cycle, row and sunbathe in the buff during their lunch hour.
Join the morning throngs shopping for fresh produce in the Viktualienmarkt before quaffing Frühschoppen (pre-lunch beers) under the maypole. Designer is the word on stately Maximilianstrasse boulevard and the nearby Funf Höfe courtyards. For more idiosyncratic tastes, dip into the galleries and boutiques in Gärtnerplatz and Schwabing. The Bayerischer-Kunstgewerbe-Verein showcases every form of local creativity. Oysters and champagne in Munich's centuries-old Dallmyr deli is very Munich, as is a tight-fitting dirndl or pair of strapping lederhosen from Loden-Frey.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Oktoberfest's stein-swinging infuses Munich's jovial beer halls year-round. The Hofbräuhaus draws tourists and locals with oompah bands and dirndl-clad waitresses juggling liters of foaming Weizen (wheat beer), while the chestnut-shaded Hirschgarten and cavernous Augustiner Bräu are less crowded. Socialites hobnob over expertly mixed cocktails in Schumann's American Bar before hitting the upbeat jazz clubs in party-loving Schwabing or the dance floor in the ultra-exclusive P1 Club. Book tickets to see the acclaimed Bavarian State Opera perform at the National Theatre.
Restaurants and Dining
Münchners are never merrier than when eating and drinking. For a traditional Bavarian feel, choose a wood-paneled tavern in the Altstadt serving herby Weisswurst veal sausage (don't forget to peel it) with sweet mustard or glistening pork knuckles with sauerkraut. Chefs get creative in minimalist-chic restaurants in Haidhausen and Maxvorstadt. Schwabing's old artists' quarter is the place for late-night Chinese, Italian, Mexican and Greek food. See Munich's skyline glitter from the Olympic Tower's revolving Restaurant 181.
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