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Munich with my son

We had a senior trip to Rome planned for my son who graduated HS in 2020. We are finally taking that postponed trip, but couldn't find a good deal for Rome, so on a whim he chose Munich! It will be just the two of us, and he will turn 20 the day before we leave. I usually research a lot before planning a trip, and I still have lots of time (we will be there the last week of July into first week of August). But now I feel all aflutter after booking the trip. I know we will find plenty to do and will only have time for the highlights, but what do y'all recommend for a first and probably only trip to Munich? I love history and museums, while my son will probably only have enough interest for one or two. We both speak a bit of German, and our family ancestry is German, so I think that is why my son chose it. So tell me, what are your favorites of Munich and the surrounding area? Best restaurants, coffee and pasty shops, antique/junk shops, museums/palaces, anything of interest that we should look for? What should we definitely do or not do? We have 6 days not counting travel days and are staying on Marsstrasse at the King's Hotel.

Posted by
221 posts

Munich has a walkable Old Town and some good museums and a palace and churches that are worth a visit. But, I would choose to stay mostly outside of Munich. My must-sees include Neuschwanstein Castle and Salzburg. I would also try to see Mittenwald and/or Garmisch and Oberammergau. I would also probably make time to visit Dachau.

Posted by
38 posts

Hi, LAB.

  • I'm a science nerd, which means a mandatory stop at the Deutsches Museum. In good weather, I always head up to the roof to the collection of sundials from around the world in the Sonnenuhrengarten ("sundial garden"), where there's also a decent view of the city, including the Zugspitze and the Alps under good atmospheric transparency.

  • In any weather, I stop at Eisbachwelle, to witness a uniquely Munich urban-surfing setting on the speedy waters (and standing-wave created by the culvert) of the Eisbach creek.

  • At the height of Nazi populism and rule, Münich was considered "Hauptstadt der Bewegung" (capital of the movement). Now, at the former heart of NS-governance in the city is the documentation centre NS-Dokumentationszentrum München highlighting just how Munich became said capital of the Nazi movement.

  • I also like the Jewish Museum Munich for its exhibitions, both for the historical and contemporary.

  • As home to the 1972 Summer Olympics, Olympiapark and Olympiastadion are worth a look. I strolled through the former athletes' park where many residents now call home, but I wanted to see the memorials to the 1972 Olympics Massacre.

  • In good weather, wandering the palace and gardens at Schloss Nymphenburg is a decent way to spend a half- to full-day.

  • The headquarters to BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) means there's the BMW museum to visit for auto enthusiasts.

  • There's a ton of art at the Pinakotheken: Alte (Old), Neue (New) and Moderne; but throw in some very modern works housed within the funky building at the Museum Brandhorst. For exhibitions on urban art, there's also MUCA (Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art).

  • As you've mentioned you're comfortable speaking a bit of German, you're in time to visit some outdoor beer gardens. I like Biergarten am Chinesischen Turm inside the massive Englischer Garten, although this beer garden can get busy because of its obvious location and setting. I spent a lot of time in the research institutes in Garching bei München, and visiting the smaller neighbourhood beer gardens after work was a pleasant way to spend the late-afternoon or evening with cold draught Bavarian beer in relatively quieter and less unruly surroundings. While I'm not advocating a schlep north to Garching, I do recommend heading outside the city centre and into neighbourhood beer gardens for a summertime beer (or other refreshments). For example, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper had these online recommendations last summer.

  • As Brad also points out, possible daytrips from Munich include Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site; southeast to Chiemsee; south to Starnberger See, Tegernsee, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mittenwald. If it were me and I wanted time among the Alps, I'd go directly to one of the alpine towns and stay among the mountains. As the decadal Passion Play will be back up and running again this month, Oberammergau will be "busy."

I hope you and your son enjoy your time in Munich!

Posted by
870 posts

You have some great suggestions here. We would suggest also that perhaps an overnight or two in the Garmisch area? The mountains are lovely, and an easy trip from Munich by train. Also, Mittenwald is a cute town that is an easy train ride from Garmisch for a quick day trip. You also have the Zugspritz, which my son loved doing, as well as his favorite, the Partnach Gorge. He was a bit bored with Munich after a couple of days but loved Garmisch.

Posted by
69 posts

Thanks for these great suggestions. We already have our hotel booked, so we have to spend all of our nights in Munich, but we do plan trips via train to Salzburg and possibly Neuschwanstein. My son is a soccer fan, so I'm sure we will take a tour of the Allianz Arena and my top museum choice is the Alte Pinakothek.

Posted by
896 posts

Lots of good suggestions above and I give a second vote for Deutsches Museum.

For a day trip I always like Tegernsee for a great combo of lakes, villages and alps. You can get there using the regional train. Once there you can take a cable car to the top of Wallberg and hike to a restaurant.

Renting bikes for the day is a great way to spend a day.

For antique/junk shopping I recommend a flea market (flohmarkt). Looks like there is on at Olympia Park on July 29th.

Have Fun

DJ

Posted by
60 posts

We did a family trip with our four sons a few years ago to Munich. There is so much to see and do especially if you include day trips on the train. First we did the Hop On Hop Off tour just to get an overview of the city. We visited Dachau and took a day trip to Berchtesgaden to see the Kehlsteinhaus ( I like WW2 history). My sons are also soccer (Fussball) fans and loved the Allianz Arena tour. (In fact, we canceled our trip to Neuschwanstein to do that. Well worth it). They also liked Mike's Bike Tour and Hofbrauhaus. One second hand store that my wife likes is called Pick and Weigh. We found several items of clothing to add to our Trachten. That's all I can remember for the moment, I'm sure I'll think of more. We are going back in September for Oktoberfest. I can't wait. My wife calls Munich one of her favorite cities!

Posted by
28145 posts

for a restful vacation from your vacation I'd consider a short local train trip to Erding which is near the airport and a northeasterly suburb. From there it is a short jump to the largest thermal bathing area in Europe, the both exciting and relaxing Therme Erding. https://www.therme-erding.de/en/ My wife and I love it there. You could relax poolside or enjoy the water toys, maybe a bit of instructor led water exercise, perhaps some spa or sauna time. Perhaps the lad would enjoy the super fast water slides and other waterpark type fun.

Very easy to get to.

Posted by
1179 posts

Another vote for a daytrip to Dachau. It was one of the most memorable places I've been to.

Posted by
69 posts

Thanks for the recommendations. Our trip calendar is filling in nicely. So far, our must dos are:
tour of Allianz arena
train to Salzburg for day trip
train to Dachau
Alte Pinakothek
wandering, eating, and drinking our way around town

Posted by
34 posts

We are doing the same thing with our son in September - for the same reason! Missed his Senior year!! We are staying in Munich and are planning day trips to Dachau, Neischwienstein, Tergensee and Salzburg. Wandering around Munich interspersed in there. We have been to Oktoberfest a few times, so we know Munich a bit, and have been to Tergensee (Beautiful), but our son was only there as a baby. You will love it and so will your son!! We have actually already been in touch with Rick Streves recommended Radius Tours for Dachau, Neischwienstein and Salzburg...things we have always wanted to do and never have and a tour seemed like best way. Enjoy your trip!!!

Posted by
800 posts

As someone who's spent a fair amount of time in and around Munich (in my 20's I lived near enough it was a weekend hang out and I've guided a number of other friends on return visits) I'll make these recommendations.

Drop Dachau. It's depressing and will impact the remaining time on your trip. Seriously.

Here's a short write up I did for my nephew when he did his first trip over 3 years ago.

One thing you should think about is the Hunting and Fishing Museum. It’s just inside the city gate closest to the Bahnhof (Train Station) on Neuhauser Strasse (Street) on the way to the Marienplatz (the central square). You can’t miss it; there are a couple huge bronze statues outside of a boar and a catfish. The entrance is on the corner of the building. Most tourists don’t even know it exists, but once you go in you’ll be impressed. I guarantee most Americans have never heard of it.

If you have the time I recommend going to the DeutschesMuseum, which is on an island in the river about 10 minutes walk from the Marienplatz. Head southeast and you’ll find it. They have exhibits on everything, including a mining one that goes underground for ¾ mile. The focus is on how things are/were made, not just displays. Great collections of scientific instruments. Not a lot of military stuff, but some of the rarer WWII aircraft.

Munich has two great art museums, the Alte and the Neue Pinokotecks. They have a great collection of old masters, good enough that the Smithsonian borrows from them.

If the weather’s good take a walk up along the river through the English Gardens. If it’s warm everyone will be sunbathing around the Greek temple. At the North end is the American University. It’s a really good place to picnic or just walk. It’s changed a little since I first was there; they built a huge gov’t office complex that looks like a greenhouse where one of the old wrecked (WWII) buildings used to be.

A popular destination on the west side of the city is Schloss Nymphenberg. It’s a huge complex of “castles” (actually great houses) where the King of Bavaria used to have all his court. It was where you stayed if you wanted to see the king. You waited there until they gave permission and then you’d travel south to the real residences (Hohenschwangau and Nyphenberg).

I like to just walk around the city; there’s always something going on. If you use the Marienplatz (MP) as the center location everything’s pretty easy to keep track of. Just south is the daily farmers market. I always get stuff there and carry it with me for lunch. I try to eat breakfast at the hotel, lunch at the market, and save the restaurant for the evening meal. Walking around Munich in the evening is really nice. You’ll always find musicians playing in the streets (Munich is famous for its musical education). Look around for Jazz cellars (they play all kinds of music). You won’t notice them during the day, but after 5-6 pm they start setting out the chairs and tables on the sidewalks.

For a really good bakery/coffeshop go north/west (from MP)past the new city hall towards the Frauenkirche. It’s in the plaza between the church and the garden, where all the bikes are parked.

You’ll find a lot of the traditional beerhouses in this area also; Pauliner, Augustiner, Spaaten, etc. I think they’re pretty touristy, but usually good. Look around; there are lots of smaller places where the food is good and less expensive. You know to look at the posted menus before you enter? There’s a really good little beer hall just past the old city hall (at the east end of MP) across the street from McDonalds. Schneider Brauhaus.

The Residence is near the south end of the English Garden. It the place where they have the Crown Jewels on display.

The new BMW Museum is north of the American University.

Neuhauser Strasse is one of the major shopping areas but its walking traffic only. There’s lots of art and other stuff in walking distance.

Posted by
800 posts

Here's my take on Salzburg, which is not a "day trip".

If it didn’t snow I’d seriously think about retiring here. It has to be one of the prettiest cities on earth. You have this huge castle, the river right down the middle that’s so clean everyone parties on the banks, a great forest, nice gardens, big university, great food, and lots of music.

This place is for Mozart freaks, and you’re going to hear his stuff all the time, but there’s a lot of other music also. I sent some time last trip listening to a couple guys from Australia playing native stuff, which you would think would be out of place, but wasn’t.
I highly recommend the Hotel am Dom, which is a small hotel right in the center of old town. It’s on a small back street and in walking distance of everything touristy. The cost was not bad, and the rooms were really nice with great bathrooms. The staff was awesome, spoke English, gave good recommendations, and were just plain helpful. The alley is full of antique shops and a couple good places to eat, it opens out onto two huge squares which are connected to all the major roads, and where, in the afternoons, the local eating places set up tables that allow you to just sit, grab a snack (see photos) and watch people.

There’s a local produce market, but it’s kind of spread out (more like individual selling spaces) for a couple of city blocks to the west of the hotel in the mornings. They often have booksellers and other stuff there too. The main shopping area is along the river. At the base of the hill the castle is on you’ll find the churches, university, and small gardens. The area where the two hills are split by the river (you’ll see what I mean) has some really neat residential areas and small “pubs”. Around (behind) the Salzburg is a huge square garden surrounded by a more traditional residential area. It’s a good walk over to this, but a nice one. It took me a whole day to walk around the hill what with stopping and side trips.

If you stand and look up at the castle the hill to your right has a couple museums on it. There’s also a restaurant over there I tracked down where Walter Mathau meets up with Glenda Jackson in the movie Hopscotch. The view is killer, the food and service not so much; spendy too.

Remember the town is known for salt (salz). You’ll see shops that only sell that, but hundreds of kinds. There’s also a lot of cooking shops and this is the city best known for its food in Austria. The local cuisine takes a little of German, Italian, Slavic, and Mediterranean and mixes it all together. You’ll see more pasta than potatoes, more paprika and seasoning, lighter breads, and fish, lamb and pork. More use of “southern” fruits and veggies too. Olives and capers instead of pickles. Goat cheeses too. More beer, less wine.

You can go up to the castle two major ways; walk or take the vernacular train. I always walked, but it’s a good hike. I like to look at the old fortifications, so that was best for me. Those are impressive here, and more so if you look at the model (in the museum at the top) showing how they tie in all the way along the ridges on both sides of the city. You have to go to the top, if only for the views. On a clear day you can see huge distances.

The big square by the Dom (the main church), which has a big gold ball in one corner, also is a place where vendors, musicians, and chess players hang out. On hot days it gets shady (due to the hill) so it gets popular.

Posted by
8188 posts

Sorry, I disagree. Do not drop a visit to Dachau. It doesn't matter if it affects the rest of your trip. It should. It should affect the rest of your life.
Everyone should visit a Concentration Camp, to see the lowest form of inhumanity to our fellow humans that is possible.

Posted by
269 posts

Do a segway tour. Your son will love it and you will get to see many Munich sites in 3 ½ hours. Go see the surfers at eisbach in the Englishgarten. Visit the BMW welk and museum. Do some activity at olympic park. Rent bikes and ride around the Englishgarten. Have a beer at a biergarten. The hofbrauhaus is touristy but your son may find it memorable to drink beer from an enormous beer stein. Rent a car to somewhere ( like Neuschwanstein) and let him drive superfast on the autobahn. Near the castles is the luge run. Take a cablecar to the top of the Zugspitze or some other peak. Take a Third reich tour. Visit Dachau.
Skip the Residenz museum. Too many gilded rooms and would be boring for him after the 20th room.

Posted by
205 posts

I have taken people to Dachau and to Bergen-Belsen and to Auschwitz. Do they impact your trip? Yes. Do they bring you so down you can't do anything else? No. We took a bus full of high schoolers to Auschwitz. They were pretty quiet in the time after visiting; a lot of reflection happened on our three hour bus ride after we left. But those kids carry that with them, and they do it in a way that means they will be part of the prevention and not the problem. They are better humans for having taken that time and given themselves that space. And they take it with them beyond as well--to those who might not have the opportunity to go.

Visit Dachau. Give yourself space afterwards--a quiet bus and train ride back into town and an easy "soak it in" experience that gradually brings you back to the present. You will be better for it and not regret it.

Posted by
231 posts

I very much agree with Ms Jo and Howling Mad on the subject of visiting Dachau. My young adult daughter and I went there several years ago. Of course, it affects you, but it’s a very important site.
Rick Steve’s did a special in 2018 on “The Story of Fascism in Europe”. You and your son might be interested in watching it as preparation for your trip. It’s about an hour long and can be found at rick steves.com under Watch, Read, Listen and then under Specials.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Lab

Munich is a fabulous place.

A good idea is a full day hike with https://www.munich-wanderland.com/
I have done it myself and can really recommend!

You meet the guide at the train station and after a short train ride you will be in the middle of the mountains.
Experience the Bavarian alps, culture and food - its really something specials!

Posted by
127 posts

Not to hijack the thread--but I'm wondering how people get to Salzburg from Munich? We plan to spend two nights in Salzburg after arriving at MUC airport in December. We planned to rent a car AFTER the side trip to Salzburg as the rest of our journey is in Germany, but maybe it's easier to get the car right away and drive to Salzburg rather than take the train? I'm looking at long itineraries and prices that are comparable or more than adding an extra couple days of car rental/gas/tolls.

Posted by
1815 posts

but maybe it's easier to get the car right away and drive to Salzburg rather than take the train?

Definitly: no. Postpandemic car rental is expensive, gas is, thanks uncle Vladimir, super expensive and parking in Salzburg is expensive as well. And once you have arrived there a car is pretty useless.

Posted by
67 posts

Hi LAB,
Lots of good suggestions here. I'm bookmarking this string. @Henry at fotoeins, I especially appreciate your "science nerd" suggestions!!

"Drop Dachau. It's depressing and will impact the remaining time on your trip. Seriously."*
KGC: No one goes to Dachau expecting to be delightfully entertained. If the experience harshes your mellow or bums you out -- well, then the history of it had it's desired effect. Seriously.

Posted by
127 posts

Thanks sla019. I think I found the good connections. Thank you so much for your help on my other thread.