Munich: The Esquire Travel Guide

Bavaria’s capital excels at life’s simple pleasures

Most Popular

Munich is a cultured place. There are theatres, opera houses and galleries galore, but don’t let that put you off – the city’s true genius is an ability to elevate more modest pleasures to the status of high art. Witness the class of the football team, Bayern Munich, the chic sophistication of car maker BMW and, above all, the craft of Bavarian beer-making, which reaches its zenith in the Oktoberfest when nearly 6.5m litres of Pilsner are consumed in just over two weeks with barely a brawl, at least not involving the locals. Prost!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


1 | Where To Stay
At the Cortiina Hotel, which is perfectly located within walking distance of the best bits of the city. Understated and extremely classy, the hotel is the flagship property of the Kull & Weinzierl partnership responsible for many of Munich’s hippest bars and restaurants. Watch the sunset from the rooftop bar or enjoy one of nearly 30 gin brands in the Cortiina Bar. Opposite the hotel and owned by the same group, Bar Centrale will serve you a mean espresso to kick-start your day.

Most Popular


2 | Where To Lunch
At Brenner Grill, a lovely restaurant with vaulted ceilings in a discreet courtyard off Maximilianstrasse. Chefs knock out fresh lobster or delicious Swiss Simmental Goldbeef steaks on a large open grill, accompanied by fine German and Italian wines and some of the more attractive diners you’ll ever sit near. Eat on the terrace if the weather’s good.

3 | Where To Dine
At Nürnberger Bratwurst Glöckl, in a 400-year-old building beside the Frauenkirche, famed for its Nürnberger Schweinswürstl mit Kraut (that’s pork sausage and cabbage). This slice of pure Bavaria has been rammed pretty much permanently since it opened in 1893.

4 | Where To Drink
As discussed, Bavarians go bonkers for beer (factoid: the state is home to 700 breweries) and the best place to drink the golden stuff is, appropriately enough, in a beer garden. The Viktualienmarkt, a food market and square, can get touristy but the beer garden is a classic example of Germanic egalitarianism: the Pilsner is served from vast wooden barrels supplied by Munich’s big six breweries on rotation every six weeks. Try to time your run to coincide with Augustiner, the best in show.

5 | What To See
The Englischer Garten is a huge park in the centre that’s home to more beer gardens, but we’re here to see the surfers. The man-made Eisbach river running through it has had a neat standing wave since engineers in the Seventies tried to slow the flow with concrete blocks. As these blocks are a couple of feet below the surface, this is very much a “see” and not a “do” unless you’re a pro surfer.

6 | What To Do

Drool over some of the best-looking cars ever made – including this 2002 TI built in 1968 – at the BMW Museum. The building’s extraordinary architecture is reason enough to visit, but then you can also immerse yourself in the century-long evolution of one of the world’s most famous car (and motorcycle) marques.

7 | Where To Shop
Head to Angermaier to buy yourself some lederhosen. They will prove to be the most comfortable item of clothing you ever own, you never need to wash them (result) and wearing them at the Oktoberfest means you won’t stand out as a tourist quite as much.

8 | Where To Party
A city with such deep pockets was always going to have a nightclub to match, so enter stage left P1, the party playground for Munich’s millionaires and attendant übermodels. Face control on the door is predictably strict, but you read Esquire, so once you’re in you can enjoy a chic interior, great dance DJs and wall-to-wall Teutonic totty.

9 | Where To Avoid
Making a complete tit of yourself at the Oktoberfest/Wiesn. The event is over 200 years old and despite the revelry, it is revered by Bavarians. So, don’t come in a silly costume (unless that silly costume is your new lederhosen) and do soak up the pretty strong lager with regular requests for pretzels, roast chicken and Schwein every which way from the dirndl-wearing waitresses.

10 | Why Now?
Because the Oktoberfest, cunningly, begins at the end of September and reaches its finale during the first couple of days of October. This time of year is usually still sunny, so if you miss the festivities you can enjoy Munich minus the drunk tourists.

11 | When In...
Refer to the Oktoberfest as Wiesn, which means “meadow”, because the mutter of all bierfesten takes place in Theresienwiese, a huge square to the west of the centre.

Tom Barber is a founder of