Things to do:
- Berlin Wall: Such a powerful site to see. The west side is covered with art, and the east side is completely bare. Walk alongside it and see a piece of modern history.
- Brandenburger Tor (Gate): One of Berlin's most famous monuments, this 18th-century monument was built by the Prussian king Frederick William II after the Batavian Revolution.
- Museum Island: In the middle of Berlin you can find a cluster of museums and historic buildings, including the Berliner Dom (AKA the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church), La Pieta, Pergamonmuseum, Alte Nationalgalerie, and others.
- Juni Park: Art and skate park.
- Hang out on the Havel River: We took a boat tour, hung out, drank wine, and had a great day.
- Sanssouci Palace: Gorgeous palace of Frederick the Great that over looks the river.
Things to do:
- Marienplatz: Central square in Munich where you can see Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), the Glockenspiel (a 100 year old clock with wooden figurines that dance around it on the hour), Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), Mariensaule (Column of St. Mary), and Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) in the winter.
- Beer Gardens: This is a great way to spend part or all of a day -- see below for details!
- Englischer Garten: Large public park in the middle of Munich where you can walk, run, bike, play sports, swim, and hangout by the river.
- Viktualienmarkt: Massive daily market with foods and goods in the center of Munich.
- Eisbach River Surfing: There is a man-made wave pool of sorts in the English Gardens and it has become the playground for surfers in Munich. It is so cool to watch them all hit the waves, especially in the freezing cold!
- Oktoberfest: Oktoberfest runs from mid- to late-September, and is an absolute blast. Imagine a huge version of the state fair. There are parades, roller coasters, food vendors, little shops, and of course the beer tents. If you want to spend a day at the beer tents, be sure to get to Oktoberfest by 8am on a weekend and 10am on a weekday to get a table. You can bop around tents and have a great time anywhere you are, but it can get pretty tiring to not have a place to sit for hours. We went to the Hacker Festzelt, Löwenbräu, Bratwurst, and Schutzen tents and had a great time at each, though I don’t think you can really go wrong in any tent. For food, you absolutely must get a chicken. This is seriously the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life (sorry Mom!). I also really liked the currywurst, pretzels, cinnamon nuts, and bratwursts. Eat more than you think you want – you’ll need it to balance out the drinking! For rides, you have to check out the Tobbogan, the carpet slide, and the Teufelsrad. All are very traditional, and incredibly fun.
- Note: there are plenty of non-alcohol related activities and non-alcoholic beer if you want to go and not drink!
Where to eat and drink:
- Tattenbach Wirtshaus & Stüberl: I absolutely love this restaurant. It is traditional, delicious, and inexpensive. The staff was great, and we stayed for a long time eating and drinking great Radler (beer with lemonade). If you go, be sure to have the sampler! It’s a ton of food, and a great way to try a lot of traditional things at once.
- Hofbräuhaus: One of the most popular and most traditional beer gardens in Munich. It's also very touristy so be prepared for a crowd.
- Max Emanuel Brauerei: Popular beer garden for students and backpackers.
- Seehaus: One of the more posh beer gardens in Munich, but you really can't beat the view. It sits right on the lake of an English garden!
Where I stayed:
- Novotel: I cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It was beautiful, conveniently located, the staff was great, and it had the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. It’s a little more expensive that I would usually do, but we managed to find a deal online that helped. I would definitely stay here again.
Foods and Drinks to Try:
Spatzle: Doughy pasta served with meat and cheese, and sometimes dropped in stew.
Schnitzel: Breaded, fried meats often served with vegetables or fries.
Apfelstrudel: Delicious apple filled pastry served with ice cream.
Spargel: White asparagus, best eaten from April to June.
Kartoffelpuffer: Potato pancakes served with apple sauce or sour cream.
If you're not a beer drinker, start here. It is so. much. better. than American beer, and one of the best ways to spend the day is at a beer garden.
Currywurst: Kind of like a hotdog with spicy ketchup. You can get them from street vendors anywhere, and they're delicious.
Don't touch the Brennessel! It's a poisonous plant that stings you if you touch it. Think of this kind of like Germany's poison ivy -- it's located in meadows and grassy areas.
Germans are great at holding their alcohol, and drink to enjoy not to over do it. Don't be that tourist, please. For the sake of all Americans, don't be the hammered kid causing a scene. Pace yourself, indulge wisely, and be sure to eat plenty of the delicious German food while you drink!
I have always felt incredibly safe traveling in Germany, but I also make sure to be aware of myself. Watch your valuables closely (pick pocketing is common), keep your wits about you, and ask your hotel/hostel/Airbnb host which areas are safe to wander around, and which are not.
Transportation in Germany:
Germany, especially in the big cities, has a great public transportation system. You can easily catch a bus, train, or tram, and it's pretty inexpensive. You can also get day, week, or month long passes which save you the headache of counting out your coins each time you get on board!
Taxis and Uber are easy and convenient to use in main cities.
Germany is a big country, so trains and planes are often the easiest and most inexpensive way to get between cities.
To take a train: I bought an unlimited Eurail Pass and was able to take as many trips, to as many countries as I liked for one flat rate. I bought the one month pass, but you can buy them for almost any length of time and travel to cities throughout Belgium, or throughout the whole region.
To take a plane: There are lots of discount flight websites, but I particularly like Ryanair, Rome2Rio, and Google Flights.