Lonely Planet review for Englischer Garten
The sprawling English Garden is among Europe's biggest city parks – bigger than even London's Hyde Park and New York's Central Park and a favourite playground for locals and visitors alike. Stretching north from Prinzregentenstrasse for about 5km, it was commissioned by Elector Karl Theodor in 1789 and designed by Benjamin Thompson, an American-born scientist working as an advisor to the Bavarian government.
Paths piddle around in dark stands of mature oak and maple before emerging into sunlit meadows of lush grass. Locals are mindful of its popularity and tolerate the close quarters of bicyclists, walkers and joggers. Street musicians dodge balls kicked by frolicking children, and students sprawl on the grass to chat about missed lectures.
Sooner or later you'll find your way to the Kleinhesseloher See, a lovely lake at the centre of the park. Work up a sweat while taking a spin around three little islands, and then quaff a well-earned foamy one at the Seehaus beer garden.
When the sun is out, many Münchners love to get naked and work on their tan, even during their lunch break when they stack their coats, ties and dresses neatly beside them. It's all perfectly legal and socially acceptable, so leave your modesty at home.
Several historic follies lend the park a playful charm. The wholly unexpected Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower), now at the heart of Munich's oldest beer garden, was built in the 18th century during a pan-European craze for all things oriental. Further south, at the top of a gentle hill, stands the heavily photographed Monopteros (1838), a small Greek temple whose ledges are often knee-to-knee with dangling legs belonging to people admiring the view of the Munich skyline.
Another hint of Asia awaits further south at the Japanisches Teehaus, built for the 1972 Olympics beside an idyllic duck pond. The best time to come is for an authentic tea ceremony celebrated by a Japanese tea master.
Don't even think about spending the night in the park! Muggers, drug fiends and other ne'er-do-wells often keep the polizei busy till dawn.