Officially, someone must be 18 to consume any kind of alcoholic beverage in Germany, although at family gatherings, wine or schnapps might be offered to underage imbibers. For a bar or cafe to request proof of age of a prospective client is very rare. Drinking and driving, however, is treated as a very serious offense.
Beer, wine, and liquor are sold at most local supermarkets; many in Munich are open until 10pm. Munich doesn't have restrictive closing times for bars, many of which stay open until dawn, depending on the individual owners.
Munich offers a culinary experience to suit all tastes. People here love to eat. You can enjoy food from a variety of cuisines including international specialties, Bavarian restaurants, comfy cafés and beer gardens. Try the famous Bratwurst, the original franconian sausages or a light but typical Barvarian meal for a reasonable price. Inexpensive sausages, soups, and snacks are sold from outdoor stalls all around the Viktualienmarkt.
Beer gardens or "Biergärten"
An absolute tradition not to be missed! Here's a bit of history: In earlier times when brewers were desperate to keep their beer cool during the summer, they stored their barrels in cellars and planted chestnut trees above them, since their wide branches and large leaves keep the place nice and shady. King Max I. Joseph granted the brewers the right to sell their beer on the spot - but not food. Since then, the people of Munich have flocked to these gardens to drink fresh beer straight from the barrel, bringing along their own food.
As soon as the sun comes out in spring and temperatures rise above 15°C (60°F), the inhabitants of Munich flock to the large chestnut gardens, usually seating a few thousand people, and socialise over a litre of beer. Yes, a litre - the one-litre (2 pt) mug is the minimum amount available, and with about 5% of alcohol Bavarian beer is as strong as any European beer, so you had better get home by public transport or walking. However, there is also shandy called "Radler" (lager beer mixed with lemonade) and several sodas available for drivers. Still, you shouldn't be surprised at seeing locals consume several of these litres on a single evening: beer is regarded as a basic part of nutrition in Bavaria, not actually alcohol.
Nowadays beer gardens also sell food, and are usually affiliated to a restaurant. However, the B-Y-O tradition is kept alive, and thus beer gardens have both tables with tablecloths, where you are served by a waitress, have to buy restaurant food and are expected to leave a tip, and innumerable long tables and benches without tablecloth, where you consume what you've brought. You can also buy traditional Bavarian food such as "Obatzda" cheese, grilled ribs, potato salad, Brez'n and other specialities from self-service shacks. But real beer garden professionals never come without a basket stuffed with bread, cucumbers, radish which is cut in an elaborate spiral, homemade Obatzda, grapes, ham, sausages and whatever else takes their fancy. Plates and cutlery from home, sometimes even a tablecloth bearing the Bavarian white-and-blue diamonds and candles for after dark nibbling ensure Bavarian "Gemütlichkeit": this concept, central to the Bavarian mentality, translates best as "cosy and relaxed sociability". Just sit down at one of the tables with locals - it is a custom in Bavaria, whether in beer gardens or restaurants, to sit down with complete strangers and enjoy each other's company - they might even end up sharing their food with you. And if you go to a beer garden, don't expect to spend less than two hours there - this sanctuary to the Bavarian way of life has preserved relaxation in defiance of hectic modern life.
There are about 180 beer gardens in Munich, but be careful: a lot of restaurants put up a sign "Biergarten", only meaning that you can sit outside in a garden off the street, but staff are not amused if you bring your own food.
Some popular genuine beer gardens are:
An important part of the Bavarian mentality is "Gemütlichkeit": sociable relaxation in a comfortable environment. A great way to experience this is to go to a café and sit down with your friends for at least a couple of hours, chatting away or simply watching time passing by.
The sight of people reading the newspaper while enjoying a cup of coffee and maybe a cigar is reminiscent of the good old days compared to today's hectic way of life. And don't miss "Kuchen" in its many and rich variations such as Strudel, which Germany is renowned for. Whether inside the (often paneled) coffee house or outdoors on the terrace, it is the ideal spot to meet up with a friend or just relax at any time of the year.
Most cafés open around 10am and offer breakfast as well as warm meals, and some of them are also bars and are open until 1am. They are classic meeting points for all those who want a great night out but don't want to go to a nightclub. Some even have live music (Jazz, Klezmer) in the evening.
Suggested cafés are:
September 21 to October 6
Enjoy a vacation in Munich before the start of the IXA meeting by attending the largest fair in the world - Oktoberfest!
Munich's largest and most traditional breweries cordially invite you to join the festivities. Drink beer by the litre (or sodas and water are also available) and eat traditional Bavarian food such as pretzels with a diameter of 15 inches. You can visit several different beer tents on the Oktberfest where you will witness German crossbow championships, eat regional delicacies, drink different varieties of beer, and listen to traditional music.
If a restaurant bill says Bedienung, that means a service charge has already been added, so just round up to the nearest euro. If not, add 10% to 15%. Bellhops get 1€ per bag, as does the doorman at your hotel, restaurant, or nightclub. Room-cleaning staff get small tips, but you should tip concierges who perform special favors. Tip hairdressers or barbers 5% to 10%.
Within Munich's City Centre you have a wide choice of shops, boutiques and department stores. Find out which shopping area suits you best.
One of the representative boulevards planned by King Ludwig I, Maximilianstraße is one of the most exclusive areas in Munich. Sauntering between the Bavarian Parliament, Maximilianeum, and the Nationaltheater, the Bavarian State Opera, you can enjoy the flair of one of the boulevards that have rendered Munich the nickname "Italy's most northern city". Along rows of classicist buildings you will find internationally renowned luxury shops as well as a haute-couture phenomenon "Mooshammer", which can only be found in Munich.
Theatinerstraße and Fünf Höfe
This street connecting the central square Marienplatz with Odeonsplatz and Ludwigstraße is a primary address for luxurious shopping. It is also the home of traditional cafés and restaurants, in addition to an arts cinema showing original international films with subtitles. The entrance to one of the largest art exhibition areas, the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, leads into Munich's latest shopping centre, called Fünf Höfe or Five Courts. Exclusive shops, bistros and cafés are located in this fascinating ensemble of modern art and architecture.
The boulevard between Marienplatz and Karlsplatz/Stachus, with the medieval city gate Karlstor, has been a pedestrian zone and Munich's busiest shopping area since the 1970s. Half way between Marienplatz and Stachus you can turn left into "Arkaden", a roofed alley which is home to more individual shops and cafés.
Clearly one of the most typical shopping districts of Munich: the small street leading from Marienplatz to the medieval city gate Sendlinger Tor in the south of old town is home to many family-run retailing shops. It is the ideal place to go if you are looking for arts and crafts, unusual gift shops or arty posters. After shopping, there are plenty of little cafés and restaurants where you can sit down, relax, and enjoy the evening.