When you think of Munich or in fact Germany, the first thing that comes to mind is probably beer. They do have great beer, I’m not going to lie, but there is so much more to do and check out in this city, which may or may not include beer for good measure.
I arrived in Munich last Friday in a jet-lagged haze coming from Bangkok with the family. After an 11 hour flight with a two-year-old, you can not expect too much in the way of sleep. However, to my surprise, we went out like a light got to München in one piece. Our main reason for coming was to check out Fruhlingsfest, otherwise known as Springfest; Oktoberfest’s little more deviant sister. Before the madness started, I wanted to stretch the old legs and see what was going on.
We were staying with good friends in the city and when we arrived, they mentioned that they often go Bouldering after work with colleagues. Something new I thought, and I have done it before but thought it’s a great way to stretch the legs and most likely arms before heading to Springfest.
Right in the centre of Munich is Boulderwelt München Ost, the place recommended to us by Yannick. You simply rock up (dreadful pun intended) and they give you some climbing shoes. No need for any ropes, climbing harness or safety equipment. The centre has a number of walls with all kinds of difficultly levels from overhangs. It’s an epic way to challenge yourself building up to harder routes. The place was packed out and was certainly the spot to hang around after work on a Friday. They even had a cheeky bar there for when you’ve finished your session.
We took our son Theo with us and he had a blast in the kids climbing room; basically a miniature version of the main room with mini climbing walls. He was stoked!
One of the most unique things about Munich is that there is an actual standing river wave in the centre of the English Garden park right in the middle of town. On previous visits years ago for Oktoberfest, I first saw locals riding around on bikes with board racks attached heading through the city and I knew I had to check this thing out. It’s a pretty surreal scene seeing people surfing on the Eisbach. It’s super shallow and breaks close to a bridge, which provides the perfect viewing spot. There are two ways of getting in, either directly from the left or the right-hand side of the river bank.
You can rent surfboards and wetsuits from the SantoLoco Surf Shop if you don’t bring your own. Just remember to respect the locals and wait your turn. Like with me, they will gladly let you surf the wave as it’s pretty common to stack it and fall multiple times when you first try. As soon as you fall off, remember to go flat and starfish. The wave will then spit you out quickly over the back of the white water and send you downstream, where you can just paddle to the sidewalk back up and join the queue to go again. This place is epic and something that I love about Munich. It’s the perfect training ground for the offseason for snowboarding and the closest you can get to actual surfing; being hundreds of miles from any decent ocean waves.
An hour drive outside of Munich, you get to the mountains and a small town called Garmisch; made famous for the 1936 Winter Olympics during the Nazi regime. History aside, Garmisch is one epic place to escape while still being so close to the city. We left to head up there the day after Springfest. It was pissing with rain and going to be about 2 degrees Celsius. Yannick goes, ‘why don’t we go e-biking’? ‘Sure why not, that will be one way to cure the hangover’, I thought to myself until the morning arrived. We eventually left Munich at 2 pm and got the rental store Bikeverleih in Garmisch an hour later.
As soon as we got to the store, you’re hit by the number of e-bikes they have on display. They had about 50 or so ranging from 4,500 to 6,500 Euros. I had my reservations about e mountain bikes. I always thought like so many, that they are for all people who can’t or don’t want to cycle anymore but little did I know, my mind was about to change rapidly!
As soon as I got on the bike and whacked on the start eco button, I saw this whole e-biking thing in a new light. You basically pedal like any bike and it gives you a subtitle kick forward; at least in ‘eco’ mode. If you want more assistance, you can then go into Tour mode, followed by Sport mode, and then the big daddy ‘Turbo’. Keep in mind that this thing relies on a battery and if you blast it in turbo the whole time, it might run out quick. Then you’re stuck up on a mountain with a 30kg bike and only one option; to go old school and manually pedal it back down. What a bore!
We took the road out of town from the rental store and headed to the main carpark at the bottom of the massive ski jump and old Olympic stadium in Garmisch. Then it was time for the ascent. I’d say it took around 15 minutes going up this hill, which would normally take 40 mins. It felt like cheating but damn it felt good! These things are seriously fun. They are pretty heavy and felt like a different way to ride but come to any hill where you want a bit of a kick when you’re pedalling, it’s so easy to use!
We got where the skiing supposedly starts and it started snowing. Coming from a month in Thailand a week ago, this was a bit of a shock to see snow in May. I have to say, I loved riding around in the weather. There was no one else out expect some random deer on the path. We belted around for 2 hours then headed back into town. I have to admit, it’s different but definitely worth it and would love to try it out again. The technology is getting better and better and the bikes are well worth a day or weeks rental.
Garmisch is easily accessible by both car and public transport. We drove approximately an hour south of Munich to Garmisch. Frequent buses are also available, departing from Munich around every two hours and starting at only 6 euros for a one-way trip.
You can also catch the ‘Deutsche Bahn’ train, with services departing from Munich every thirty minutes. With so many ways to get there and so much to experience, there’s absolutely no reason not to visit Garmisch!
Munich boasts a stunning city centre where timeless and traditional meets modern. What better way to see the heart of the city than from above? The new town hall (Neues Rathaus) is the perfect place to do it, with an observation deck atop the 85-metre tall tower. The deck can be reached via elevator and the views from the top overlook the city rooftops and are simply spectacular. You can also explore the corridors of the town hall and take in the beautiful architecture and grand window views.
If you want to take in the views including Neues Rathaus, St. Peter’s Church is the place to be. This one requires a bit more walking (300 steps to be exact), but the view from the top of the steeple will take your breath away!
Spread out throughout Europe, traditional Roman baths can be found in many major cities. Unlike most ancient baths, Müller’sches Volksbad in Munich is one of the newer baths; opening its doors in 1901. The baths combine the beautiful and historic art-nouveau style architecture with modern facilities and make for a perfect year-round experience.
Müller’sches Volksbad features a large swimming pool, Roman steam baths, steam rooms, saunas and more. Admission to the indoor pools starts at 4.80 euros and additional tickets can be purchased to include extras.
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