People love summer in Munich – no wonder when you think of the many bathing lakes, beer gardens and mountain trips just waiting to be experienced here. Twelve things you should be sure to try during the hot season!
Munich is beautiful at every time of year, but summer here is really something special: in the morning, you can explore the still-empty city centre before the midday heat descends, then jump into the cooling Isar river for a dip, before meeting friends for an evening aperitif as the sun sets. That time of year has finally come around again, and we are ready for what that means: being the last to leave the beer garden, drifting lazily down the Eisbach and cycling along the green Isar river. Summer, how we’ve missed you!
As well as being extraordinarily green in the summer, Munich is also rather blue: bathing lakes and outdoor swimming pools shimmer as far as the eye can see, and the Isar river itself splits the city like a gigantic swimming pool. The swimming spots between Reichenbachbrücke (bridge) and the Flaucher river bank area are especially popular. A small canal off the Isar also flows through the Naturbad Maria Einsiedel (ecological outdoor swimming pool), which enjoys an idyllic setting in Thalkirchen, in the south of Munich. Other popular open-air pool facilities in Munich include the Schyrenbad baths, the Prinzregentenbad complex and family-friendly Ungererbad. For those who prefer to be closer to nature, there are so many bathing lakes to explore within the Munich metropolitan area – for example the Langwieder Seenplatte lake district, Riemer See lake and the Dreiseenplatte 3-lake district, made up of Feldmochinger See, Lerchenauer See and Fasaneriesee. One further highlight that you can only experience in Munich: on very hot days, you can drift along the Eisbach from the Englischer Garten to Tivolibrücke bridge, and then take the tram back to the spot where you left your towel.
As soon as the beer gardens open and the first rays of sunshine appear, people flood in to get comfortable together over Radler (beer shandy) and Obatzda (a Bavarian cream cheese dish). The beer garden season generally runs from March to October, but it is most beautiful on those really warm summer evenings when you don’t need a jacket and can sit for hours without getting cold. When you’re wandering amid fairy lights and chestnut trees to exchange an empty stein for your returned deposit, then getting home on your bike, you know that it doesn’t get much more summery than this!
As soon as the weather heats up people rush to be near water, so the streets of Munich’s historic Altstadt quieten down – and it is seldom more beautiful than on those really hot days. Between the shade of the Viktualienmarkt stalls and the sunny terrace tables in front of Bar Centrale, Munich starts to bear quite the resemblance to Italy. This is especially noticeable in and around Max-Joseph-Platz, a city square designed by architect Leo von Klenze, which was actually inspired by the famous Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome. The Theatinerkirche (church), on one corner of it, was the first church to be built in the Late Baroque style north of the Alps, while the architecture of the Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshals’ Hall) is reminiscent of the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. Tip: Take a guided tour of Altstadt and then enjoy an Italian gelato while leaning against the Residenz (city palace).
The Eisbachwelle river wave, beside the Haus der Kunst (art gallery), has been growing in popularity over the last few years and is now one of Munich’s top attractions, with onlookers watching wave-riding surfers from the bridge all year round. If you would rather be doing the surfing than the watching though, novices would be better advised to head to the smaller Eisbachwelle known as E2, which is a little further back in Englischer Garten, or to the wave at the Flosslände in Thalkirchen – which, incidentally, was the birthplace of river surfing during the ‘70s. Our author tried it for herself and concluded that river surfing is more beginner-friendly than surfing on the sea, because you start off standing up.
With added ice cream and reading, a good summer involves a lot of lying around – all you need is a good picnic blanket and, of course, the right green space. Fortunately, Munich has plenty of parks and gardens to enjoy. If you’re out and about in the north of the city, the Olympiapark (Olympic Park) or northern section of Englischer Garten are ideal. Although there may be more going on further south around the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower), you can still get a delicious snack for a couple of euros in the beer garden in the top part of Englischer Garten or at the Milchhäusl snack bar. In the south of the city, locals head for the grassy spaces directly along the Isar river, or the more secluded Isarauen meadowlands. The nearby Rosengarten (park) is also very beautiful! To the west is Westpark (where you will find Café Gans am Wasser) as well as Bavariapark. And if you’re in the Altstadt area, the Maximiliansanlagen public gardens offer a peaceful spot to pass the time.
There are flea markets in Munich all year round, of course – for instance the one on the Trabrennbahn (race course) at München-Daglfing and the flea market in Riem. If you prefer to go in the evenings, you can wander among food trucks and live music at the Midnightbazar or one of the other night-time flea markets in the city. The Hofflohmärkte (courtyard flea markets) that take place all across the city are also completely unique and typical summer events. From Sendling to Schwabing, each district takes its turn hosting for a day, with visitors able to explore flea markets in exquisite backyards and distinctive streets, and perhaps even discovering a treasure or two in the process.
Munich is a cyclist’s dream: it’s not just that you can quickly get to anywhere you need in the city centre by bike; there are also many worthwhile sights in the further surroundings that are a pleasant cycle-ride away – such as Starnberger See (lake). Cycling south along the Isar river takes you past Tierpark Hellabrunn (zoo), the Flaucher riverbank area and Grosshesseloher bridge, and then on to Pullach if you like. Or if you prefer to stay in the city, we recommend one of our cycling tours – along the Isar, through Englischer Garten, to take in Munich’s highlights or even the 20-kilometre Grand City Tour. Other articles that may interest you: To mark the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Olympic Games, our author visited all of the venues used during the event by bike – check out the Olympic tour here! You can find an overview of all you need to know about bike hire here.
One great thing about summer is that waking up early is so much less effort! That means you can explore the empty city before the hottest part of the day. The best places to watch the sun rise are from Olympiaberg (hill), the statue of Bavaria or the Monopteros (temple) in Englischer Garten. Then you can head into Altstadt for a coffee – for example at Karnoll’s in the Viktualienmarkt food market, which serves coffee and pretzels from 5.30 a.m. Early morning is also a great time to enjoy a jog through beautiful scenery along the Isar river, and families can explore Tierpark Hellabrunn (zoo) from 9 am. If you want to be among the first to experience the view over the city, you can also take a trip up the Olympiaturm (Olympic Tower) or Alter Peter (church) from 9 am. Our author got up early to go on safari in Nymphenburger Schlosspark – where if you’re lucky, you can spot deer, beavers, kingfishers and tawny owls.
A cool drink on a sunny terrace is as much a part of summer as sunglasses and a bike. And you’ll have the sun on your skin for a particularly long time on the terrace at the Goldene Bar in the Haus der Kunst art gallery. Wine lovers can order a glass of their favourite tipple at the Hoiz Weinbistro on Sebastiansplatz, while seekers of solitude can experience peace among the drinks, snacks and plants in the Dachgarten secluded rooftop venue on Karlsplatz-Stachus. If you fancy being a bit further from the ground, you can reserve a table on one of the city’s pretty roof terraces – at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof or the Hotel Deutsche Eiche, for example. Take note that aperitif culture is as big in Munich as it is in Italy, and you’ll find spritzers on every corner in the summer!
A beautiful summer’s day offers perfect conditions for exploring the little boutiques in an individual neighbourhood. There’s Munich clothing label WE.RE for example, the two designers behind which design and sew their creations in their own studio in the Glockenbachviertel district. A few streets away, store owner Stephanie Zürn sells first- and second-hand fashion in a trendy setting. Meanwhile, A Kind of Guise in Maxvorstadt sells high-quality men’s and women’s fashion, all produced in Germany. At HIER Store in Haidhausen, Stephanie Kahnau sells her own fashion along with many great goods from other Munich labels. You can discover more independent stores on the Findeling platform.
There’s so much to discover in Munich in the summer – so you don’t always want to spend hours sitting in a restaurant. At lunchtime in particular, it’s sometimes enough to grab a bite from a snack kiosk or food truck when the weather is hot. Maybe you’ll choose a Fischsemmel (fish roll) from the market on Wiener Platz, some Bavarian fast food from Bazi’s Schlemmerkucherl or some Georgian-Greek delicacies from Royal Healthy Slices on Hohenzollernplatz. Altstadt also has plenty of places to pick up a bite to go, from Schweinsbratensemmel (roast pork rolls) to veggie sandwiches. For more ideas, we enjoyed a stroll on Landwehrstrasse with food blogger Fernando Gonzales, who runs Instagram account @aufdiefaust.
From spring walks and autumn hikes to winter skiing – Munich and its surrounding areas have a great deal to offer in every season. Summer is of course the ideal time to discover the most beautiful bathing lakes in the area: the turquoise-blue waters of Walchensee lake are reminiscent of the Caribbean and Wörthsee is among the warmest lakes in Bavaria, while the Fünfseenland region invites visitors to come and enjoy Munich’s most popular bodies of water, such as Ammersee lake and Starnberger See (lake) If you want your day to include sightseeing as well as some splashing around, we recommend you visit Schloss Herrenchiemsee (palace) in the coolness of the morning and then jump into Chiemsee lake afterwards. Summer is also a great time for hiking – this walking guide with information on bathing lakes includes suggestions on where you can go to cool off. And if you prefer a sportier means of transport, you can book a canoeing tour along the Isar river from Bad Tölz.