There are many sustainable companies and experiences in Munich, so there's always something to discover in terms of sustainability. Whether in 4 or 24 hours, on an extended weekend or a whole week: Our tips and suggestions for a sustainable stay in Munich!
A first glance at Munich gives the impression of somewhere tranquil and green, thanks to the bountiful parks and bike-riding locals everywhere you look. A longer look reveals numerous projects, events, shopping options and ongoing initiatives that make it clear the city is becoming more and more sustainable – and that this sustainability is something that you can participate in too.
For a short stop in Munich, it’s well worth renting an MVG bike so you can experience the city centre in a way that’s stress-free, active and flexible. If the weather suggests otherwise, the city’s well-developed public transport network is an excellent alternative. Four hours is ample time to explore historic Altstadt and the neighbouring Glockenbachviertel district. To get started, we recommend wandering across Marienplatz towards the Viktualienmarkt (food market), where vendors offer local, seasonal and fresh produce as well as souvenirs.
From here it’s just a short walk to the Glockenbachviertel and Gärtnerplatzviertel neighbourhoods, where small and large boutiques stocking sustainable brands are waiting to be discovered: About Given and akjumii are great for fair fashion and accessories. In Eva Simon's shop atelier, high-quality fabrics become custom-made or sustainable workwear, while Saskia Diez is the place to go for sustainable jewellery, and the beautiful nkm store stocks natural vegan cosmetics – all made in Munich using pure, locally sourced ingredients. You can discover more organic labels, children’s toys and stationery at Auryn. If you’d like to learn more about the topic, you can even book a guided tour with Green Fashion Tours, so you can not only find the right places to shop, but also get to chat with sustainable designers. If it's a hot summer day, you can try vegan varieties at the Eismeer ice cream parlour!
If you have a whole day to spend in Munich and the weather is fine, you should definitely include a walk through the Englischer Garten. This is one of the largest city-centre park complexes in the world and hugely varied, from the surfers on the Eisbachwelle river wave in the south to the wild, expansive northern section. Along the way you can make time to stop off in places like the beer garden of the traditional Milchhäusl kiosk, which exclusively serves organic Bavarian fare.
Alternatively, you could take public transport or cycle to the Ostbahnhof train station in the east, and take a look around the emerging Werksviertel-Mitte district. This is an exciting place where creative people put their heads together to come up with innovative sustainability concepts such as the Almschule (Alpine School) on the roof of the WERK3 building, as well as various temporary and second-use projects in other old industrial buildings. If the exploration gets your hunger going, be sure to visit the inclusive deli that Katharina Inselkammer runs. “Kunst Werk Küche” employs people with and without disabilities to work together, and here inclusiveness is as important as delicious food – it’s a wonderful example of the social aspect of sustainability.
On your second day, why not try a longer city walk? You can tour through the city’s characterful neighbourhoods from east to west or north to south, discovering all the sights; and of course you can shorten or combine routes in any way you choose. A strenuous day of walking is bound to build up your appetite by dinner time: Klinglwirt serves Bavarian fare in a highly sustainable manner, as the city’s first self-styled eco-friendly traditional restaurant. Vegetarians are well catered-for with a menu that includes organic spinach noodles and Schupfnudel with organic sauerkraut, while all the meat served – in beer goulash, schnitzel, etc. – is sourced from local livestock farms where animals are raised in high-welfare conditions.
If you’re not ready to hit the hay after dinner and fancy catching a bit of culture, you might like to visit one of the charming independent cinemas in the area. Munich locals regularly frequent such cultural institutions as the “Museum Lichtspiele” cinema which is over 100 years old and has movies with original sound with and without subtitles in the programme. Or if cinema isn’t what you’re after, how about one of Munich’s independent cabaret and theatre stages? Many of these are cornerstones of the culture scene, family-run and full of love for detail.
Do you have two more days to spare? Then you should start day three in Munich by exploring the Mensch & Natur museum. You can delightfully while away the rest of the day wandering the extensive grounds of Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace). The park is known not only for its idyllic setting, but also for the rare animal and plant life that it supports: some 17 mammals and 175 bird species live here, including bats, grass snakes and the common buzzard. Our author took a look around.
For a culinary treat to perfectly round off the day, visit the award-winning Tian restaurant at the Viktualienmarkt food market. Produce is processed from root to leaf here, and the creations are all vegetarian/vegan and leave absolutely nothing to be desired – what’s more, this climate-friendly kitchen has been awarded a Michelin star.
The next day, we recommend a visit to the multi-award-winning Ökologisches Bildungszentrum (environmental education centre), which is also ideal for children. The focus here is on environmental education and the question of how Munich can develop in a sustainable way. In addition to a varied programme aimed at children and teens, there is plenty to see and do outdoors when the weather is fine, with a play area and wetland habitat located in the grounds.
You could also book a place on the “München wird besser” guided tour – a solidarity- and ecology-themed walk through the city. The tour takes in a number of interesting spots including the Kammerspiele canteen, a special screw shop that epitomises Munich’s traditional handicraft heritage, and the weekly market on St. Anna Platz.
The Giesinger Grünspitz, a joint project with Green City e.V., is a beautiful place to end your day. For several years there has been a space under the chestnut trees here which is completely open to all and whose use has been co-designed by the community. You can grab a bite to eat or something to drink at the kiosk, or even bring your own refreshments. There is also a regular programme of events including film evenings, readings and small concerts.
Alternatively, Roecklplatz is a perfect place to round off your day. The acclaimed restaurant is a collaborative project bringing together social work and free enterprise, offering training to socially disadvantaged young people, with at least one place always reserved for young refugees. The top-notch menu includes a range of mouthwatering classics, but also a variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes.
If you’re staying in the city for a whole week, it’s worth organising a day trip out of the city for the fifth day of your stay – for example to Fünf-Seen-Land, which can be reached easily by S-Bahn (light rail) and where you can follow any number of wonderful hiking routes. How about a walk from Possenhofen to Tutzing, following in Empress Sisi’s footsteps? Or if you prefer to go further afield, jump on the Bayerische Regiobahn (BRB) regional railway to Tegernsee (lake), for example. Find out here how the Tegernsee Valley is committing to sustainability. One unquestionable highlight is an electric mountain bike tour over forest trails and side roads, with the opportunity to savour regional delicacies at various farms along the way.
Get the next day off to a relaxed start with a hearty breakfast at Emmi’s Kitchen. There are two branches, which serve exclusively vegan fare – not that you’ll notice it’s vegan when you bite into their glorious pancakes. If you want to stay seated there for a bit longer, you could order a Beyond Meat burger for lunch – Emmi’s Kitchen was the first place in Munich to offer the acclaimed meat-free patty.
Afterwards, you can head to the Grünwald Walderlebniszentrum (Forest Experience Centre) or visit one of the world’s largest scientific museums – the Deutsches Museum, where you should be sure to take in the “Mensch und Umwelt” (Man and the Environment) exhibition in particular. The organically certified beer garden attached to the Muffatwerk arts and cultural centre is just a stone’s throw away.
If you’re more into wine than beer, we recommend popping into Weinberg in Obergiesing for a wine tasting – the superb vintages sold here come directly from sustainable family-run businesses. Don’t be surprised if you take a bottle home as a souvenir!
You can start your last day in Munich with a laid-back stroll through charming Rosengarten (park) or follow an interesting wild herb trail walk to discover the many edible plants growing wild in the middle of the city and along the banks of the Isar river. Afterwards you can wander through the city’s flea markets, many of which take place in the pretty backyards of the Haidhausen district or in the Westend area. Find out more information about dates for these markets here and here.
When rain limits your options, browsing Munich’s excellent second-hand shops is always worth your while – nowhere else will you find such a wonderful combination of luxury and sustainability. Depending on where you’re out and about, you can also pay one last visit to one of the cafés which are supplied by local coffee roasters or a restaurant serving vegan takes on regional dishes. You’ll find a great selection here.