Munich in October is the best autumn break if you’re after all that cosy autumn goodness. You know the stuff… Golden leaves underfoot. Crisp mornings. Burning candles. Ankle boots. Crackling fires. Pumpkin everything.
When we first visited the beautiful and underrated German city of Munich in autumn 2011, we loved the colours and the gemütlichkeit that the season brought to it. So when we were looking for a short five-day break for October, we decided we’d go back for a second time to see more of Munich and Bavaria.
Oh and if you’re wondering, Munich’s famous Oktoberfest isn’t actually in October. It happens throughout September and finishes on the first Sunday in October, so the crowds will be out of the way by the time October properly kicks off.
Here’s some lovely things to see and do in Munich in October…
Things to do in Munich in October
Schloss Nymphenburg is a great big baroque palace with lakes, a forest and botanic gardens in its 500-acre grounds. If you want autumnal scenery, this is the place.
You can also have some lunch at the Schlosscafe im Palmenhaus in the formal gardens. We had a flammkuchen (like a thin pizza with crème fraîche on) and some sausages and chips. You’d expect somewhere in such a big tourist attraction to be overpriced, but it was quite reasonable. We’re going to write a full blog post about eating and drinking in Munich at some point, so will shut up for now about food.
There are lots of pavilions dotted about around the lakes and trees. We walked for miles through the woods, looking out for cute black squirrels. Then we sat and talked to some Canada geese for a bit after harassing some poor woman to take a photo of us on ‘our’ bridge (we did it last time so had to recreate).
Olympiastation at Olympiapark
The Olympiapark wasn’t the easiest thing to get to, being more designed for cars, but we found it eventually.
The stadium was built for the 1972 Olympics. It has also hosted the 1974 football world cup final and countless other big European football matches. It was home of Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich until about 10 years ago. It’s renowned for its unusual half-roof, which was very modern in 1972 and still looks futuristic now. You can do a walking tour of the roof… We obviously passed on this.
The stadium is set in a man-made park with lakes and trees, which all looks strangely artificial. Almost like a model landscape.
Strangely, you never seem to hear anyone raving about how stunning the architecture in Munich is. Perhaps it is overshadowed by Oktoberfest. But we’ve found Munich to be one of the most visually pleasing cities we’ve been to. One of the criterion for us really loving a city is how many pretty pastel-coloured streets it has. Bergen and Porto both delivered well for that this year, but we’d forgotten how beautifully colourful the streets of Munich are.
Probably the most recognisable Munich building other than the Rathaus is the Hofbräuhaus. It really is huge and definitely worth a visit if this is your first trip to Munich. In my opinion, there are better beerhalls in Munich, but it’s still worth going to once for the experience.
Of course, all through the city, the trees were turning golden and setting off the buildings in a new light. St Lukas kirche on the banks of the river Isar was looking particularly good with its gold details next to a golden tree.
Of course, the Neues Rathaus (new town hall) in Marienplatz is the big deal for most visitors.
It hosts the city government, but more importantly, the tourist information office if you need it. Every day at 11am, its glockenspiel clock chimes and little figures reenact a story (a bit like the clock in Prague, if you’ve seen that).
Bavarian National Museum
After reacquainting ourselves with the beauty of the city, we went to the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum).
I couldn’t take photos in there, so you’ll just have to imagine a huge museum absolutely jam-packed with everything Bavarian you can imagine.
We were highly amused by just how much stuff they’d crammed in. You really got your money’s worth! We’re not big on ‘old stuff’ and prefer modern art museums, but the sheer volume of artefacts in this was mind-blowing. Paintings, ceramics, china, musical instruments, textiles, a room full of gigantic statues of Jesus. They had it all.
The Viktualienmarkt is one of the loveliest markets we’ve been to in Europe – and we tend to visit one in every city we go to. It’s especially nice for autumnal plants – some really nice heather and cyclamen displays that we’d have loved to take home for the garden.
Its main draw is of course, food.
Over 140 stalls with everything you could possibly want to eat (provided you like sausages, of course). We were cold and had a big evening meal coming up, so opted for some homemade chicken noodle broth. This was devoured while people watching – a great activity (provided you like watching people eat sausages, of course).
Haus der Kunst
After lunch, we headed off for our inevitable fix of modern art – it was also good to be indoors for a bit to warm up.
The Haus der Kunst is next to the Englische Garten, which is a must-see but not something we had time for this trip. The art museum building itself was designed by the Nazis and is interesting in itself. Inside, the gallery does not have permanent pieces, but hosts temporary exhibits.
It also has a beautiful café bar inside, which is definitely worth a visit in its own right.
Watching urban surfing in the Englischer Garten
Even if, like us, you have absolutely zero interest in water sports, you should pop over to the bridge outside the Haus der Kunst to see some surfing on the Eisbach, a side branch of the river Isar. It’s done on a man-made wave.
We’ve sat and watched surfers in the sea on a few holidays, but we noticed how much more successful they were on this wave. They actually managed to stay up for a fair amount of time.
Still don’t see the appeal, but it’s worth a look – and of course had a glorious backdrop of autumn colour.
An autumnal day trip: Landsberg am Lech
One of our days in Munich, we decided to do a day trip to the fairytale Landsberg am Lech.
I can’t put into words how cute that town was. GO.
Where to stay: the suburb of Aubing
There’s very little nice, affordable accommodation in the centre of Munich, as we discovered in 2011. We thought maybe there’d be some better central options now that Airbnb has blown up, but everything available was either over £100 a night (our limit!) or had a dodgy looking shower. Last time, we stayed at Hotel Laimer Hof in Laim, a pretty suburb. We enjoyed ‘commuting’ into the centre on the tram or S-bahn and pretending we lived there.
So this time, we decided to stay in another nice suburb not too far away, called Aubing.
We found the lovely Hotel Grünwald Garni, which was just right: independent and family run, but big enough for us to be anonymous and not have to make conversation with people. The shower was genuinely worth writing home about (or texting your mum) and the receptionist remembered that we wanted milk for our tea. Prima.
The hotel is at a crossroads, next to a gigantic maypole-type affair. And there are plenty of cute doors for getting that outfit shot for Instagram…
The best beer hall in Munich: Augustiner Braustuben
Augustiner Bräustuben is our favourite place to eat and drink in Munich. It is the ‘brewery tap’ of the famous Augustiner helles lager, often called the ‘champagne of beer’, something we’ve been mildly obsessed with since our first visit to Munich. It even featured in our wedding. Augustiner Bräustuben is also the perfect cosy haven to escape the autumn chill and be enveloped in Bavarian hospitality.
That’s all we’ll touch on about beer for now, but we will get a full blog post about food and beer in Munich up at some point.
In conclusion, we’ve never been anywhere quite so full of autumn colour. Munich is the perfect place for a city break around October time. You can also use it as a base for a good variety of day trips. Salzburg, Neuschwanstein Castle or Nuremburg are all within easy reach, as well as idyllic little Bavarian towns like Landsberg am Lech.
See you in another five years, Munich…
Munich in October: useful information
How to get there (and away)
We flew from Manchester airport, which took about two hours. The S1 and S8 S-Bahn trains take you from Munich airport into the centre every 20 minutes. It takes about 45 minutes.
Where to stay
It’s all about the suburbs for us. With such a good train system, staying in the centre and paying more isn’t really worth it. We stayed at Hotel Grünwald Garni in Aubing.
How to get around
Munich’s transport system is a thing of Germanic beauty. Efficient U-Bahns, S-Bahns, trams and buses will get you anywhere you need to go. Much of the city centre is walkable and taking it all in on foot is part of the fun.
When to go
For peak autumn colour, Munich in October is perfect. Remember that the infamous Oktoberfest actually happens throughout September, so it’s much quieter in October itself too, which is a bonus.
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