Munich is an outdoor city par excellence, with a spectacular English Garden full of attractions and the Alps on its doorstep. Read more to find the best outdoor activities Munich has to offer.
Germans love Munich and regularly rate it as their country’s best city to live in. The temperate local climate makes its green city spaces – like the signature, sprawling English Garden Munich – all the more attractive. Beyond the parks, beer gardens and waterside attractions, the Alps beckon for day trips.
The English Garden
It’s a sign of Munich’s cosmopolitan character that one of its main outdoor attractions is named after another country. The English Garden (or Englischer Garten) was created by an Englishman, Sir Benjamin Thompson. However – the name is also a nod to English landscaping genius Capability Brown and the free-form English garden style in fashion when the park opened in 1789.
The English Garden is vast, stretching from the centre of Munich to its north-eastern outskirts. It’s one of the largest city parks in Europe and a big brother even to Manhattan’s Central Park. Alongside 5.5 miles of streams, 100 bridges, 47 miles of passageways and 50 or so bird species to explore, the English Garden’s generous 1.5 square miles contain many features and attractions.
Things to see in the English Garden
Discover the beautiful dainty Japanese teahouse, built on a lake island to commemorate the 1972 summer Olympics, it signifies peace and friendship. Continuing the Asian theme is the pagoda-like Chinese Tower with Munich’s second-largest beer garden at its base, seating 7,000 drinkers. A destination more suitable for families nearby is a merry-go-round carousel that’s been twirling since 1823, with exotic animals to delight the kids, including an ibex and a flamingo.
The classical so-called Monopteros is perhaps the most striking of the park’s temples, looking magical on its hilltop location when its 10 slender Ionic columns are lit up at dusk. But the English Garden’s most unexpected sight has to be its surfers, who queue up to cruise artificial waves pumped out by a special machine on one of the English Garden’s water courses. Feel free to bring your board and wetsuit, or relax and watch the experts show off their surfing skills.
Another park species you may come across are nudists. Clothes-free sunbathing is permitted in the English Garden’s Schönfield Meadow. The practice is popular with locals and anyone is welcome to join in.
More Outdoor Munich and Beyond
Once you’ve finished exploring the English Garden, Munich has plenty more outdoor attractions. The Botanical Gardens show off 14,000 kinds of plants, with summer best for dahlias and tulips as the stars in spring. Open all year round, admission to the Botanical Gardens in Munich is approximately £3.80 for adults, and £2.60 for concessions.
The Olympic Park – also built for the ’72 Games – is now a venue for concerts, intrepid sports such as abseiling and, in winter – ice-skating in Munich. Climb the 290-metre Olympia Tower for supreme city views. To the north, the Feringasee Lake is a lovely summer swimming spot which even has its own ‘adult only’ sandy beach strip.
Outside Munich, the Alps make a classic day trip, particularly the Berchtesgaden National Park which is a two-hour train ride away. A great place for breathtaking views with plenty of hiking paths, mountain cable cars, guided tours and more.
Feeling inspired? Start planning your top things to do on your trip to Munich.