Dance the tango between the columns of the Propyläen on the Königsplatz, explore the Italian buildings on the Ludwigstrasse on a Vespa or meditate before the Thai Sala in the Westpark – you can explore the whole world at these spots in Munich!
If you've always wanted to travel to Asia, just head to the Westpark, where you will find the Thai Sala and a Nepalese pagoda alongside a Chinese and a Japanese garden. If you're wondering how the Far East came to the west of Munich, you don't have to wait long: the ensemble, along with the entire park, was created to mark the 1983 International Garden Festival. At the time, the Thai Sala was the first free-standing shrine to Buddha in Europe. A visit in the summer is particularly rewarding when the Buddhist full moon and new moon festivals take place.
There's more wildlife here than anywhere else in Munich: Hellabrunn (zoo) is home to a mammoth 18,500 animals and 740 species. When it opened in 1911, the zoo was the world's first geo-zoo. To this day, special care is taken to ensure that the animals are kept as species-appropriate as possible. Take a walk through the zoo – which could well take a whole day – and you can explore Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and America. As well as the monkey house and a large aquarium, there's a bat cave where the animals can fly around freely. But best of all: the zoo takes people on a journey into the wilderness even if they just plan to bathe by the Isar (river). Because it's not uncommon to be sunbathing at the Flaucher (pebble beach) and hear a lion roaring in the background.
If you've ever wondered where Munich's reputation as 'Italy's northernmost city' comes from, just tale a stroll through the Altstadt (Old Town)on a sunny day: Leo von Klenze modelled his design for the Max-Joseph-Platz (square) on the famous Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, the Theatinerkirche (church) was the first church in the late-baroque style north of the Alps – and the architecture of the Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshal‘s Hall) is truly inspired by a loggia in Florence. If you love Italy, either ride down the Mediterranean-looking Ludwigstrasse on a Vespa and stop off at one of the pavement café – or enjoy an Italian ice cream on the still warm walls of the Residenz (city palace). From here you not only have a perfect view of Max-Joseph-Platz, but also the longest evening sun.
Munich's most impressive palace complex is without a doubt the Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace): With a 200 hectare palace park, four park palaces and the palace roundabout, the site covers a huge area that you can explore on long walks in every direction. Highlights here include the Parkschlösschen Badenburg (pavilion) with its impressive swimming pool, the Pagodenburg (Asian-inspired lodge) and the Jagdschlösschen Amalienburg (hunting lodge). The view from the park to the palace is a little reminiscent of Versailles – although with a span of 632 metres, the Nymphenburg is even longer.
No quarter in Munich resembles Paris as much as Haidhausen: Not only does this part of the city look very French, it's also known as the 'French quarter'. Because some of the streets and squares around the Ostbahnhof have French names – such as the popular Bordeauxplatz (square). But Haidhausen also smells and tastes like Paris: the Crêperie Bernard & Bernard serves genuine French crêpes, you can get a great pain au chocolat at the Claude & Julien bakery, evening you can dine at one of the many French restaurants - such as Le Faubourg, Rue des Halles or Maison Massard.
If the Munich winter is too cold for you, you can always warm yourself up in the greenhouses at the Botanischer Garten (Botanical Garden) where the temperatures are always tropical. From December to March, there is usually a special exhibition of exotic butterflies – with 400 different species flying freely through the space. But the Botanical Garden in Munich, one of the largest in Germany, is full of surprises the rest of the year too: around 19,600 species grow here in humid tropical areas, the cool tropical mountain forests or in hot deserts.
Munich owes its name 'Athens on the Isar' to King Ludwig I who was not only a a great fan of Greek antiquity, but is also responsible for many classicist buildings in that style. He had them built by the court architect Leo von Klenze, who designed the Glyptohek (art gallery) and the Propyläen (Propylaea) – modelled on the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens – on the Königsplatz (square). It is not only the architecture – the slight lowering of the meadow ensures that the square still looks like a temple complex today. Leo von Klenze also brought a piece of Greece to Munich in the Bavaria (statue): the Bavaria statue on the Theresienwiese (square) was also modelled on ancient Athens and its city goddess Athena.
The impressive entrance alone resembles a modern pyramid – and even in the interior of the Ägyptisches Museum (Museum of Egyptian Art), which was reopened in 2013, despite its modern construction much is reminiscent of temple rooms and royal tombs. The museum is situated in the same building as the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film (University of Television and Film Munich), but is completely underground. And is entirely dedicated to ancient Egyptian exhibits – which is globally very rare. Visit the finely curated pharaonic works of art here in this special setting, and you'll feel as if you're on a journey back in time to ancient Egypt.
Munich has not one, but a whopping three river waves in the city. But the most famous of them all is the Eisbachwelle at the English Garden. Surfers come here day and night, and it even attracts professionals from all over the world to ride the wave. And locals and tourists alike flock here to watch the show. As if that doesn't create a holiday atmosphere enough, you will see the surfers – often still wet through – taking a tram or riding their bike in the city. In any other city, you'd be surprised about a surfboard or skis on public transport – but here it's quite the custom.
The Japanese Tea House in the English Garden was built to mark the 1972 Olympic Games, to introduce Europeans to the art of the tea ceremony. If it's unfamiliar to you, you will marvel at the extraordinary building located on a small island in the Eisbach (river stream). The Tea House is generally open from April to October offering Japanese tea ceremonies. And once a year, always on the third Sunday in July, JapanFest (festival) is celebrated behind the building!
The Café Luitpold on der Brienner Strasse is probably the last original such example in Munich. As far back as the 1880s, it shone out as one of the city's few coffee houses. At that time, it has over 20 salons and society rooms, including a billiards room. If you're interested in history, you can visit the café's own mini museum. And don't miss the Sunday brunch with a live band. Or stop by in the afternoon for cake from the café's own patisserie – perhaps in befitting style with a slice of Sachertorte.