Where to stay: This is the type of city where staying in a hostel is a really great option. Munich is a very young city with students coming and going all the time, and hostels will give you the opportunity to meet a ton of people to go exploring with or to grab drinks with at night. I stayed in Euro Youth Hostel when I was there, and thought that it was a really great hostel. It was very clean and safe, and it’s a two minute walk from the main train station making the location virtually unbeatable. There are a bunch of Airbnb listings in Munich, but it seems you’ll pay a little more than you would in a hostel with this city. Definitely try to stay in the city center area, I had little reason to take public transportation in Munich, and I loved it!
Where to eat: Beer halls rule the streets in Munich, and they’re the place to go if you’re looking for traditional Bavarian food (and drinks!). If you’re in Munich during Oktoberfest, it’ll be a much different experience going to a beer hall, but I speak from the off-season Munich experience. One great non-touristy beer hall is the Augustiner Bräustuben– they have great food and it’s not in the middle of the city so it’s way less crowded, and you’ll actually see some locals there. Make sure you get the pancake-type dessert, it was seriously the most incredible thing. If you’re looking for a more well-known hall, the Hofbräuhaus is probably the most well-known. This is the beer hall where Hitler infamously began his political movement, and where many other famous patrons have gone over the centuries. Because of it’s very central location and history, it’s a bit more expensive than others, but the room is absolutely gorgeous and the food is still pretty good!
What to do: There are a ton of things to do in and around Munich, even if you’re not visiting during Oktoberfest. In fact, if you don’t visit Munich during Oktoberfest, you’ll probably have more of an opportunity to explore the city without having to deal with all of the people and events surrounding the festival. I would recommend starting your trip to Munich with a free walking tour of the city. I used this tour company, and had a really great time- the guide was super informative and thorough, and it gave me a really great idea of what I would want to see on my own (like the Hofbräuhaus). I also opted to visit the nearby concentration camp, Dachau. If you choose to visit this site, I urge you to do so with great deference to the history, survivors, and victims of the site- I’ve seen some really disrespectful things happen at these types of places, and there are few things that bother me more (i.e. please do not take selfies). I would definitely recommend visiting Dachau on an organized tour because it’ll give you the best look into the history of the place, and will make the trip much more significant. I took this tour, and would highly recommend it- the guide was very knowledgeable and respectful, and the tour included the train and bus ticket needed to get to Dachau from Munich (plus they physically take you there from the Munich train station, so there’s no way to get lost). If you’re looking for a more light-hearted out of town excursion, consider checking out the Neuschwanstein Castle. This is supposedly the castle that Disney’s Cinderella Castle is based on, and it’s apparently a true sight to see. I didn’t get the opportunity to visit, but I’m told that it can get fairly crowded, so try to plan your trip on a weekday and leave as early as you can to avoid the rush. If you have a lot of time to spend in Munich, I would also highly recommend a side-trip to a town called Regensburg. It’s very easy to get to from Munich, and is really worth the trip if you have the time. The best part about Regensburg is how few tourists it seemed to attract, so I felt like I was really able to get a good feel of Bavarian culture that was much more difficult to find in Munich. There’s a beautiful river and bridge in Regensburg, and a huge cathedral that’s worth a stop into. Otherwise, it’s just a great town to wander through the tiny streets and enjoy some local cuisine and beverages!
Overall Opinion: I absolutely loved my trip to Munich, and I think that the city really exemplifies everything that I expected a German city to be. The architecture is stunning, the history is incredible, and there’s so much to see and do in the area as well as in the city. If you’re able to, I would plan to spend more than a weekend in Munich because of how much there is to do in the region, and Munich makes a great “home base” for such travels.