Munich: a local's top 11 things to do

Gartnerplatz in Munich. Photo: Shutterstock
Gartnerplatz in Munich. Photo: Shutterstock

There's more to Munich than Oktoberfest! Our intern Laura Fröhlich shares her top addresses for shopping, eating and enjoying a pampering session.

1. Shopping in Lodenfrey department store

Lodenfrey has six different floors, featuring international high-fashion for men, woman and children. The first floor is famous for the gorgeous view through the “glass house” over to the two towers of the Frauenkirche, the most famous church in Munich. Brands here include Moncler, Escada and Etro and attract a fashionable crowd, and there is also a wide selection of traditional costumes should you want a traditional attire for Oktoberfest. And once your shopping is over, rest your feet in the café and enjoy a free espresso.

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2. Cotidiano – the bakery restaurant

Cotidiano has a wide choice of delicious and healthy bakery products. The menu features lots of local dishes as well as international ones. There is a large choice of salads and, of course, of the famous Flammkuchen too, with plenty of vegetarian variations. Alternatively, start your day with “Le Grand” breakfast, which includes eggs, yoghurt, fruits, homemade bread, croissants, meats and cheese. You should also try the freshly squeezed orange juice, it’s worth every penny!

The restaurant gets very busy during breakfast and lunch, so it’s hard to find a table at this time. The best time to come is for a late breakfast or lunch during the week. And don’t give up if you have to wait 15 minutes for a table on a Sunday morning; the wait is worth it.  Despite the crowds, you won’t need to shout at your friends over the table. The waiters are really friendly too and you should get all your party’s food at same time so you start altogether in a more convivial way. On sunny days, sit outside and enjoy the view to the Gaertnerplatz.

3. People-watch in the Gaertnerplatz

The Gaertnerplatz is Munich’s central square dating back to 1860 and named after the famous architect Friedrich von Gaertners. Adjacent to the square is the Gaertnerplatztheater, which is surrounded by lovely independent shops. 

Traditional italian seafood pasta with clams.Traditional italian seafood pasta with clams. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Try Munich's best Italian: Osteria Italia

It’s not German food, but maybe the best Italian kitchen you will find in Munich. With 600 Italian pubs in Munich alone, it’s fair to say that the Germans are fairly addicted to Mediterranean food. Stepping into this osteria transports you straight to Italy and, for the duration of your meal at least, you’ll forget you are in Germany! You may even bump into a local celebrity. If you have a special occasion to celebrate and your party is big enough, ask for their "private table" – a candlelit basement room which will take your breat away (note that for this room you'll need to call at least three weeks ahead and choose your menu beforehand).

5. Enjoy a curry to remember at Shiraj

Try the curry in Shiraj and you’ll embark on a culinary journey though India. If you the long menu daunts you, don’t hesitate to ask the waiter for advice. They are really patient!

6. Have a coffee in a genteel atmosphere at the Golden Bar

Golden Bar is a café-bar in the Haus der Kunst museum. The name of the bar references Karl Heinz Dallinger’s paintings adorning the walls that were specially commissioned by the bar’s architect Ernst Haiger. The atmosphere is genteel and you can enjoy a coffee on the terrace, whilst sitting on a designer chair. You can go to the Golden Bar and the Museum shop without paying the entrance fee.

7. Browse for books at L. Werner

L. Werner is a real treasure trove of art books.  Outside the shop are some special deals and if you find the perfect book, but don’t want to carry it around all day, they also have an online shop. Also on the website you’ll find a range of events advertised, mainly about architecture.

8. More books – and good deals to boot – at texxt 

If you think only Amazon has every book, then you haven’t been to texxt bookshop on Kaufinger Street. It’s a miracle how shop assistants find titles between huge cartons filled to the brim with new and second-hand books. You can spend hours rummaging. The bonus is that the books are cheaper than on Amazon and you don’t have to wait for your delivery!

Café Vorhoelzer. Photo: ShutterstockCafé Vorhoelzer. Photo: Shutterstock

9. Sip a cocktail at hip student hangout Café Vorhoelzer

Café Vorhoelzer is located on the rooftop of the TUM Department of Architecture and Technical University of Munich. It’s mainly students here, enjoying a fresh cocktail or an excellent chai latte depending on the time of day.

10. Shop till you drop at My Theresa

You may know of its famous online shop, but did you know that they started their online venture from their shop in the centre of Munich? If fashion is your life then a pit-stop here is a must.

11. Enjoy a pampering session at the Wellness Bayerischer Hof/Blue Spa

Star architect Andrée Putman has created a unique four-storey wellness retreat for body and soul. On warm days, you can enjoy a swim in the open as the sliding glass roof opens up. It’s no problem if you’re not staying at the hotel, you can buy a pass for €29.40­­–€44.50 per person, depending on which day and how many hours. But book in advance as the number of tickets is limited!

Enjoying a spa day. Photo: Shutterstock

Enjoying a spa day. Photo: Shutterstock