Munich

Budget Traveller’s German Wanderlust

48 Hours in Munich

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Munich: putting the style into lifestyle.

Lifestyle, joie de vivre or lebensart – whatever you call it, Munich has it in spades. It might be down to the clear blue skies or simply the city's beauty, but one thing's for certain: the people of Munich always like to show their best side, whether they're in a beer garden, on one of the exclusive shopping streets, or in Bayern Munich's stadium.

A modern, cosmopolitan city with a big heart and a long heritage, as suave as it is easygoing, buzzing and yet tranquil. Munich is Germany's lifestyle capital. You don't have to be rich and beautiful to feel right at home in Munich, but it doesn't hurt. Besides, these characteristics aren't confined to strict dictionary definitions. Rich is he who has the time to leisurely amble through the splendid city centre, stopping here and there just to soak up the atmosphere. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. That said, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful squares in Germany has to be Marienplatz square – it is the heart of Munich and is home to the Old and New Town Halls. The town hall glockenspiel is as much part of Munich's identity as the Hofbräuhaus beer hall or the iconic Church of Our Lady, whose green dome-crested towers can be seen for miles around. Browsing the stalls of the Viktualienmarkt is a feast for all the senses. There's simply everything on offer at the city's famous food market – from traditional Bavarian specialities to exotic delicacies. But take note, bargaining and haggling have no place in the Munich lifestyle – so don't be tempted to try, least of all on the luxury shopping boulevards such as Ludwigstrasse, Maximilianstrasse, Kaufinger Strasse or the Tal. Everything on sale in these streets has a high price to match its high quality, from the latest fashions to wonderful antiques. For a far more affordable, not to mention more relaxed, shopping experience, head to Munich's pub and club quarter, which is no longer confined to the trendy Schwabing district, but also extends around Glockenbachplatz square, Gärtnerplatz square and Müllerstrasse. The area is as renowned for its party atmosphere as it is for its alternative shops, its relaxed atmosphere and its vibrant LGBT scene.

A trip to the English Garden doesn't cost you a penny and Munich's very own piece of paradise, situated between the Isar and the city centre, is the ultimate chill-out zone. From lazing around or watching people master the latest craze of slacklining (better still, have a go yourself) to the insane fun of surfing the Eisbach river, anything goes in the park. Add to that two of Munich's most beautiful beer gardens, one at the Chinese Pagoda, the other at a picturesque lakeside spot, and you've got the perfect recipe for a relaxing afternoon. These are the beer gardens where you'll find an eclectic crowd who live life to the full in the shade of ancient chestnut trees. That's the Munich way. The beer gardens came to be called cellars or keller – as in Salvatorkeller, Löwenbräukeller and Hofbräukeller – because brewers once kept their beer underground to keep it cool and soon hit upon the idea of selling it from the very same spot. This was the start of a sacred tradition that, as luck would have it, is alive and well among locals today.

The people of Munich are also proud of the city's museums, many of which are of international standing, such as the Deutsches Museum, the world's biggest science and technology museum, the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Lenbachhaus Museum. Then there's the Glyptothek Museum, the State Collections of Antiques and the Brandhorst Museum with its breathtaking collection of modern art from 1945 onwards. Here in Munich's Art Quarter, however, you'll also find charming little bars, cosy cafés and pretty boutiques, yet another example of how the Munich lifestyle combines culture with the finer things in life. The BMW Museum has the city's automotive heritage covered, while the stars of Bayern Munich show teams visiting the Allianz Arena another side to the city's unique lifestyle: what it's like to always be on top. Even if you're not a Bayern Munich fan, it's still well worth trying to get a ticket to see them play. The stadium atmosphere alone is world-class and guaranteed to give you goosebumps. And you won't be surprised to discover that the Allianz Arena is one of the world's most spectacular stadiums. It is, after all, in Munich.

Highlights

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