In June I visited my cousin and his family in Munich, the third largest city in Germany, about 585 km (363 miles) south of Berlin. I had visited Munich once before so on this trip, I set aside one day for sightseeing in Munich to revisit some of the main sights and to explore two new-to-me attractions (Munich Residence and Olympic Park). On the remaining days, my cousin and I made day trips to a few places located south east and south west of Munich and to Salzburg in Austria.
Below is a map with blue markers to give you an idea where we were. Munich is the top marker, Tegernsee and Chiemsee Lakes are near the centre, Salzburg is far right, Füssen and Neuschwanstein Castle are lower left.
SIGHTSEEING IN MUNICH
Marienplatz, located in the heart of Munich, is an optimal starting point to get to know the city. In 1854, this square was named after the Marian column that stands in the middle of it. On the day that I was there, the square was packed with people out to celebrate Munich’s 861st anniversary festival.
On the right in the photo below is the tower of the New Town Hall. At noon, the Glockenspiel chimes and the figures appear in the windows of the tower. Munich’s glockenspiel is the largest in Germany and the 4th largest in Europe.
On the left in the photo below, the two green domes belong to the Cathedral of Our Dear Lady (Frauenkirche) which dates back to the 15th century. The nearly 100-metre high towers (also known as the onion towers) are inspired by the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
I walked for a couple of hours re-visiting other main sights in Munich, such as Karlsplatz (Stachus), Odeonsplatz, and the Victuals market (Viktualienmarkt). The market has more than 140 stands and shops offering local and exotic products.
In the afternoon, I explored a new-to-me attraction: the Munich Residence (Residenz). The Munich Residence is the biggest inner-city palace in Germany. From 1508 to 1918 it served as seat of residence and government to the Bavarian rulers.
The various Bavarian rulers furnished and extended the rooms to suit their own personal tastes, engaging important artists for the purpose. Some of the most impressive rooms that I saw include the Antiquarium (photo below), Stone Rooms (Steinzimmer), the Green Gallery, and the Treasury (Schatzkammer) where crowns and jewels of the last 10 centuries are displayed.
I was surprised at the inside size of the Residence, room after room on several floors, with huge amount of furnishings. Two words came to my mind “excessive opulence” as I kept walking and listening to the audio commentaries. The Munich Residence is well worth a visit and one would need at least three hours to see it all.
In the evening, my cousin and I went to Munich Olympic Park. We took the lift ride up to the 185-metre high Olympic Tower to see magnificent views over the city of Munich. It was a clear and calm night with a handful of visitors at the lookout level. We had a coffee break at the on-site revolving restaurant to soak in the views of the tented roof stadium, the BMW Museum, various sport facilities, and Munich by night. It was a beautiful end of this day in Munich.
DAY TRIP TO THE LAKES
On another gorgeous day, we spent time visiting the lakes near Munich. Tegernsee Lake is about 51 km south of Munich, and Chiemsee Lake is about 55 km east from Tegernsee Lake.
First stop was at Tegernsee Lake where we had a delicious lakeside brunch. On the platter was fresh pretzels served with cheese, eggs, cured ham, salami, and pickles. The Weisswursts (white sausages) are traditional Bavarian sausages made from minced veal and pork back bacon. They were served with sweet mustard and soft pretzels. The cappuccino came in a cute cup, just what I needed for the morning.
It was peaceful by Tegernsee Lake without any noise except the sounds of birds and water movements. After brunch, we walked around the lake perimeter for some exercise and enjoyed the lake views. The surrounding gardens, houses with timber sidings and hanging flower baskets were lovely.
In the afternoon we went swimming in Chiemsee Lake. The cool lake water was a refreshing relief from a warm and humid day with high temperature around 31 Celsius (or 88F). From the sandy beach, we could walk pretty far out into the lake as its slope was gentle and the water was so clear that we could see our feet.
DAY TRIP TO FÜSSEN
Füssen is located about 133 km south west of Munich. It’s a pretty town, easy to walk around to explore the shops and local scenes. We strolled in the town centre for about an hour, took a coffee break, and picked up our reserved tickets at the Tourist Office to visit Neuschwanstein Castle.
VISITING NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE
Neuschwanstein Castle is one of the most visited palaces in Europe, with around 1.5 million visitors a year. King Ludwig II based the design of the castle on the medieval paintings of Romanesque knight castles and an interpretation of the musical mythology of Richard Wagner, whom he admired greatly.
Construction of Neuschwanstein Castle commenced in September 1869 and never completed when the King died on June 13, 1886 in Lake Starnberg.
We booked our tickets in advance to avoid the long line up. The castle is easily reached on foot at a distance of 1.5 km with upward slope, mostly in the shades of the surrounding trees. Horse-drawn carriages are available for hire as well. Unfortunately the horse poops attract a lot of flies.
Ticket holders enter the castle as per the reserved time on their ticket to take the 30-minute guided tour in German or English. A tour guide walks the group through the castle to see the various rooms. Audio device is provided so everyone can hear the commentaries. No photography or video recording is allowed in the castle.
At first sight, Neuschwanstein Castle looks like a fairy tale with the green mountains in the background. I was most impressed with the Throne Hall and the amazing views from the castle, which includes a bridge above a canyon, the lakes, and Hohenschwangau Castle with its yellow walls.
EATING OUT AT A BEER GARDEN
On a warm summer evening, my cousin and his wife took me to a local beer garden for dinner. Picnic tables and benches are set up under white umbrellas. Customers pick up their food and drinks from food huts and pay at the cash counters before sitting down. We shared roasted chicken, ribs, and warm pretzels which went down well with the local beer.
I had a wonderful time in and around Munich. There are plenty to see and do in the Bavaria region. I was glad I could make this trip a reality and create new memories with my cousin and his family.
From Munich, we took a day trip to Salzburg, Austria. I also took the inter-city trains to Stuttgart to meet my friend and her husband and together we did more sightseeing. More on these day trips in my future posts. Stay tuned!
Thank you for travelling with me. I’d love to hear your comments.
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