stevegattuso
This site is an always-in-progress repository for my thoughts and ideas. You'll generally find me writing about sustainability 🍃, urbanism 🏙️, programming 💾, vegan cooking 🍛, and whatever else pops into my mind.
Munich visitor's guide

The view from the top of Olympiapark

Willkommen in München! This page serves as my all-encompassing guide for friends and family visiting the city.

Just to set your expectations- keep in mind that I’ve only lived in Munich for a year or so as of writing this and my German is embarrassingly primitive. Even so, being a resident of this city means I get to explore things a bit deeper and hopefully can provide some interesting recommendations/advice for your stay.

While planning your trip I’d recommend checking out the WikiVoyage page for Munich. Rather than repeat its contents, I’ll try to keep this page filled with more personal and off-the-beaten-trail recommendations.

Cultural things

I can’t speak much about Germany as a whole, but I’ve found Munich to be a high-trust, high-regulation society1. Put shortly, there are a lot of rules and society at large generally adheres to them.

This was my biggest culture shock coming from New York, a city that is known for being very chaotic and somewhat lawless. Since settling in, I’ve found the rule-following to be somewhat suffocating, but it does make Munich a very pleasant place to live. I’d recommend trying to lean into it during your stay- if anything just to experience what life is like in a world where people actually follow the rules. It’s a fascinating attribute of life here.

Other cultural notes to keep in mind:

Getting around

Food and Drink

My favorite part about living in Germany are the bakeries. The bread here slaps. I would highly recommend trying out bakeries throughout the city. Bavaria is especially known for their pretzels, and indeed I’ve found that they are much better here than anywhere else I’ve been in the country. In addition to a standard Breze, I’d also recommend trying a Pfefferbreze (black pepper pretzel) and Butterbreze (a pretzel sliced in half smeared with butter).

Munich is also well known for its beer. I have a few recommendations below for Biergartens, but you can go to just about any restaurant and enjoy a Münchner Hell or, my personal favorite, Weißbier (a light wheaty beer).

Points of interest

Restaurants

Chi Thu (€€) (Various locations, but this one is pretty central)

Vietnamese street food, great for a reasonably priced lunch while you’re walking around the city. In all honesty, the bar for Asian food is pretty low here if you’re coming from a major American city, but this place is one of the most solid I’ve found.

Any biergarten (€)

Munich is famous for its biergartens and they’re certainly not just for tourists. If you’re coming in the warmer months I’d highly recommend checking out one of the major ones like Hirschgarten or even the Chinesischen Turm (Chinese Tower). Both of these are very famous but they’re also large enough where you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a seat to enjoy some Bavarian food and beer.

Blue Nile (€€€, maps link)

I’m not familiar enough with Ethiopian food to know exactly where the bar should be, but this restaurant was super tasty and had a great decorations. Worth a visit if you get bored with European food and want to try something different.

Saravanaa Bhavan (€€, maps link)

Self-described as the world’s #1 Indian vegetarian restaurant. This place is a staple of mine for the enormous dosas and being one of the few restaurants I can find here that are willing to actually make the food spicy.

malzraum (€€, maps link)

A Bavarian restaurant recommended by a Bavarian friend. I’ve yet to go here but have long had it on my list of places to try and realized that it’d be ridiculous for me to not include at least one Bavarian restaurant on this list.

Cafés

Lost Weekend (Maps link)

Hip/alternative coffee shop in Maxvorstadt, one of the trendier neighborhoods of Munich. You’ll find good coffee, vegan food, and a pretty relaxed atmosphere here. Grab a breakfast/lunch from here and then head over to AMUSEUM of Contemporary Art which is right next door. There’s also a neat English language bookstore and by-the-kilo thrift shop.

Café Bla (€€, maps link)

My favorite brunch spot in the city. They have great coffee, vegetarian/vegan sandwiches, and pastries. This is a great spot to visit before/after you check out the Deutsches Museum.

Caffè Da Me (€, maps link)

A small Italian café with the best pistachio cake I’ve ever had. The owner is also super nice and welcoming. Great for a quick snack while exploring around the center.

Man vs Machine (Maps link)

If Lost Weekend is full you can walk down the street a bit further and get some specialty coffee from Man vs Machine. It’s a local Munich chain that has good coffee by my (admittedly not too refined) standards.

Shops

The Munich Readery (Maps link)

A small English-language secondhand book store. Worth dropping by and browsing through, as their selection is surprisingly good.

Bars

Alte Utting (Maps link)

A former ship that some locals figured out how to throw onto an overpass and turn into a bar. It’s worth checking out for the novelty, especially if you can pair it with an event at Bahnwärter Thiel (an industrial/Bushwick-like shipping-container based culture center next-door).

Gorilla Bar (Maps link)

Excellent cocktails and a communist bar. The staff is also super friendly and seems to always be playing the same music I listen to- it’s hard not to love this place.

Things to do

If you’re here with a bit more time, one of my favorite parts about living here is the easy access to nature. Within an hour or so you can be in the mountains or swimming in a gorgeous lake.

Hike from Tegensee to Schliersee (Komoot)

This is a classic hike taking you between two lakes alongside the Alps. You can do it in either direction, taking the train from Munich to Tegensee, hiking to Schliersee, then taking a train back to the city in the same day. There’s even a cute Bavarian restaurant nestled away in the mountains about halfway through the hike.

  1. I’ve stolen this phrase from Chris Arnade’s Some things I like about Germany. The article is great hype material if you’re looking to get excited about your stay.