Munich’s numerous parks play a huge role in life in the Bavarian capital.
Some offer a haven for runners and cyclists, some come with a fascinating history and others serve as a hub for open-air events and concerts. While many visitors will have heard of Englischer Garten, one of the world’s biggest urban parks, the city has plenty of other gems to discover. From Olympic sites to former royal hunting grounds, these are Munich’s favorite green spaces.
Best park for exercising
Larger than Central Park in New York, Munich’s much-loved Englischer Garten (English Garden) runs through several neighborhoods and along the river. With 375 hectares (927 acres) and around 80km (50 miles) of trails, Englischer Garten is where a lot of locals come to exercise, and the park even attracts a few surfers thanks to the Eisbach wave located on its southern edge.
For those in full-on vacation mode, it is also possible to do nothing more strenuous than lifting a heavy glass. Beer gardens are scattered throughout the park, including at Chinesischer Turm with its wooden pagoda and Seehaus next to a lake. For a great photo of the city skyline, head to the Greek temple-style Monopteros, which sits at the top of a small hill.
Best park for city views
A must for sports fans visiting Munich is Olympiapark, the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. The park was developed on a former airfield, which later became a dumping ground for debris from World War II. Today, the site offers an interesting collection of buildings and attractions, the Olympic Lake and plenty of green space.
Olympiapark has several vantage points for excellent city panoramas. You can walk to the top of Olympic Hill, take a rooftop tour of the stadium or, for a view of champions, check out the 291m-high observation deck in the Olympiaturm.
Best park for history
Since many travelers have the glorious Nymphenburg Palace on their Munich to-do list, you should also factor in some time to explore the expansive grounds. Fanning out to the west of the palace, the gardens offer several outbuildings, a canal, lakes and a number of baroque features that survived an early 19th-century revamp. The grounds cost nothing to enter, and a free app is available to help you explore.
Neuer Botanischer Garten
Best park for rainy days
Munich’s botanical gardens are a must for budding green thumbs. Visitors can discover native Bavarian plants and hardy alpine shrubs in the garden, home to more than 19,000 species and subspecies, as well as a huge selection of plants from warmer climates, such as the beautiful tropical water lilies in the humid Victoria House.
With 15 different greenhouses in total, Neuer Botanischer Garten is also a good option for days when the weather isn’t great. There’s even an attractive cafe overlooking the greenery. As the gardens border the Nymphenburg Palace grounds, it's possible to combine the two.
Best park for beer drinking
Not far from Nymphenburg Palace is Bavaria’s largest beer garden and its adjoining park. Originally a royal hunting ground, the area was first opened to the public in 1790. Today the beer garden seats up to 8000 people, and although deer (Hirsch in German) used to wander freely among the tables like guests, you’ll now find them grazing in an enclosure next door.
Best park for festivals
It might not be very green nor particularly park-like, but this open space in the west of Munich is world-famous. For just over two weeks of the year, Theresienwiese is home to Oktoberfest, with several weeks, if not months, of site preparation required. For the rest of the year, it hosts other events and festivals, or is simply left empty.
Best park for entertainment
Created in 1983 for the International Garden Exhibition, Westpark is an oasis in an otherwise built-up part of Munich. Park visitors can expect a real mix, with a rose garden, a Nepalese pagoda and several sculptures scattered throughout the grounds. Barbecuing is permitted in several areas, and the park (of course) has a couple of beer gardens as well.
Westpark also has two lakes, with charming cafe Gans am Wasser on the shores of one and a stone amphitheater next to the other. In summer, the latter hosts a popular open-air cinema, with film watchers bringing cushions and blankets to settle in for the evening.
Best park for lunch
Walk through a large archway on the edge of Odeonsplatz and you’ll discover an attractive park fit for a king. The Hofgarten (Court Garden) belongs to the former royal residence, which was the home and governmental seat of Bavarian dukes, electors and monarchs. Built in the style of an Italian Renaissance garden, it comes with well-kept flower beds and neat gravel paths that converge at a central pavilion.
Nowadays, its location in the heart of the city makes it a popular spot for office workers on their lunch break. A few cafes line one edge of the gardens, but be prepared to pay a premium for the location. One cheaper option is a small branch of the excellent Munich coffee roastery emilo – we recommend their Nussecken (a nutty triangle-shaped biscuit dipped in chocolate).
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