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Christian Beirle González / Getty Images
Christian Beirle González / Getty Images

Germany’s secret capital

Munich

Not all Germans can live in Munich, but the majority would like to. The people here are better dressed, the cars a bit more upscale and the design slightly more polished than in Berlin. Not surprisingly, Munich is often referred to as the secret capital of Germany.

Discover Munich
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The capital of Bavaria is blessed with centuries-old beer traditions and hundreds of beer gardens and beer halls, exquisite architecture and lively shopping streets. Visitors can spend hours delving into art and culture in the museums of the Kunstareal or enjoy people watching in the Englischer Garten, Europe’s largest city park.

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    Fünf Höfe

    Design shopping in world-class architecture

    Contemporary versions of Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen may be available in shops but are still a ‘no go’ for Bavarian fashionistas. They prefer to shop in the Fünf Höfe. These five courtyards were once part of a dull bank building that, thanks to the involvement of the Swiss architectural duo Herzog & De Meuron, has been transformed into a shopping mecca teeming with high-end design. The sixty boutiques sell clothing, tableware, art and literature. It goes without saying that there are also restaurants and coffee bars.

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    Herzog & De Meuron were also responsible for the Allianz Arena, located between the airport and city centre and a landmark of modern Munich. This football stadium has a pillow-like exterior made of plastic foil which, depending on the team playing, is illuminated red or blue from the inside.

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    Der Pschorr

    Slow food, strong frothy foam

    The beer house at the Der Pschorr brewery focuses on promoting Bavarian slow food, which of course includes regional beer. Unlike in other areas, they do not add carbonation to the beer served here. This produces all kinds of practical limitations. Since the beer does not go flat, it is tapped from small wooden barrels that must be kept wet at all times to prevent natural carbonation from escaping through the cracks in the wood. The glasses also need to be ice cold and spotless. The result of all this perfectionism is wonderful tall glasses with a generous frothy head on which you should be able to place a Deutschmark – equivalent in weight to two euro coins – without it sinking. Thanks to the moderate carbonation level, the beer is also easy to drink. But not too fast: slow is best.

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    Jurriaan Teulings
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    Jurriaan Teulings

    More traditional Bavarian treats can be found in the delicatessen Dallmayr, a paradise of tastefully displayed cheeses and meats, walls packed with luxury marmalades and pyramids of sweets. A fountain full of crayfish stands in the middle of the shop.

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      Tantris

      Top restaurant

      The restaurant Tantris in northern Schwabing is famous throughout Germany. Its founder, Fritz Eichbauer, once said, “With the money we’ve spent on Tantris, we could’ve bought a castle. But where would we eat?” Two Michelin stars and nearly half a century later, the restaurant is still in a class of its own, not only in Munich, but in all of Germany. Those who want to pull up one of the 125 seats are advised to reserve a table several weeks in advance. The red 70s interior with Asian sculptures is unchanged since the opening, making it unintentionally trendy, but the focus continues to be on the menu. Naturally, the cuisine is haute and Bavarian, and don’t forget that Italy is very close by.

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      Those wanting to learn the art of cooking from Chef Hans Haas can enrol in one of his day courses. He is the guide throughout the preparation of a five-course meal.

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        Englischer Garten

        A stroll in the park

        Munich boasts the largest city park in Europe: the Englischer Garten. The name refers to the English style of the landscape architecture that was popular when the park was created and now includes a Japanese teahouse, Chinese tower and Greek temple. There is even a permanent wave in the Eisbach River that can be surfed Hawaiian style.

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        But the most important and typically Bavarian element is the cosy and inviting beer garden Seehaus, where it seems as if the entire city is playing hooky on a sunny weekday. Nearby food stands sell grilled Steckerlfisch, mackerel on a stick. Add to that a walk through the park, and the experience is complete.

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