Virtuoso Life January 2018 Why Go to Munich in the Winter?

Why Go to Munich in the Winter?

A chilly session on the Eisbach.
A chilly session on the Eisbach.
PHOTOS BY CLARA TUMA 

In the heart of Bavaria, at the foot of the Alps, Munich engages travelers with baroque architecture, grand art museums – and, of course, beer and sausage. “Munich is one of Germany’s most affluent and beautiful cities. You immediately sense a pristine alpine vibe mixed with a great cosmopolitan feel,” says Virginia Giordano of Culture Trip Germany, a Virtuoso on-site connection that works with travel advisors to plan trips to Germany.

With its world-famous Hofbräuhaus and open-air Viktualienmarkt, the city seems built on the promise of a good time. After the Christmas markets’ hubbub dies down, time spent in wintry Munich is exceptionally cozy and hospitable. Start in its bustling main square, Marienplatz, to explore cafés and bakeries, cultural attractions, and surprisingly great shopping. And don’t miss this unusual year-round highlight: surfers showing off their skills on the tiny Eisbach (ice brook) in the English Garden, Munich’s beautiful central park.
 
Where to Eat

At Seehaus im Englischen Garten, outdoor enthusiasts bundle up with their beers while overlooking the lake. Inside, it’s warm and lively – a perfect place to try venison with chestnut mash, cabbage, and berry “jus,” a German cold-weather favorite. Walk back to the city center through the park, and visit the Japanese teahouse and Chinese Tower along the way.
 
After shopping on Maximilianstrasse, the main retail drag, settle in for a long Italian meal at Brenner Grill, a see-and-be-seen spot that occupies the city’s former royal stables. Try the robust vegetable soup for a great antidote to sausage and pretzels.
 
Behind the solemn gray exterior of Tantris, a two-Michelin-star restaurant open since 1971, is a decadent burst of color and creativity, in both the design and the French- and Swiss-inspired food. Book a table at lunch for great value at this Munich institution.

The neighborhood of Lehel is just a 15-minute walk from the tourist center, but it feels like a hidden gem. Visit Pâtisserie Dukatz for brioche and flaky croissants, plus German bakery specialties.

Warm up with a cup of rich hot chocolate at GötterSpeise, or browse its large selection of chocolates and cocoa powders.

At Café Frischhut near the Viktualienmarkt, indulge in Munich’s famous Schmalznudel, a sugary fried cousin to the doughnut, best enjoyed with a cup of coffee.

Where to Shop

Manufactum “harkens back to a time when quality and craftsmanship were key,” Giordano says. Browse housewares and clothing, or pick up freshly baked bread and cheese.

Next door, Dallmayr, an only-in-Munich gourmet grocery, offers regional specialties, fine china, fancy teas, and its own line of coffee.

Explore a colorful twist on the traditional dirndl at Noh Nee, which incorporates resplendent African fabrics into the classic Bavarian design. The Brienner Quarter, on and around Brienner Strasse, once served as the main connection between Munich’s royal palace and Nymphenburg Palace, the Bavarian monarch’s summer residence.

Today, browse its family-owned shops for clothes, jewelry, and home decor, or take one of the quarter’s new guided tours.

What to See & Do

The collection at Lenbachhaus, an art museum in a former private villa renovated by Norman Foster, centers around the Blue Rider school of early twentieth-century expressionist art, with works by Kandinsky and Klee. See the highly anticipated Gabriele Münter exhibit through April 8; a founding member of Blue Rider, she had a fascinating long-term relationship with Kandinsky. Afterward, Giordano recommends lunch at the museum’s restaurant, Ella (Kandinsky’s pet name for Münter).

Getting to Munich

Munich Airport is consistently voted one of the best in the world. Arrive early for one last beer and sausage at the only airport brewery on the planet, Airbräu – 90 percent of its food is sourced from Bavaria. Or ask your advisor to book the airport’s VipWing experience, featuring expedited check-in and security, a private beer garden and buffet, showers, and a VIP transfer to your flight.

Cocoa at GötterSpeise.
Cocoa at GötterSpeise.

Where to Stay

Mandarin Oriental Munich

Discreet and refined, the 73-room Mandarin Oriental, Munich occupies a prime location in the city’s Old Town, with a rich gold-and-cream lobby (snag a seat next to the fireplace for afternoon tea) and minimalist style at Nobu’s Matsuhisa Munich. Book a top-floor room for inviting views over the red roofs of the city’s Old Town.

Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich

Since 1858, the 297-room Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich has been a center of glamour and grandeur on Maximilianstrasse. Savor skyline views from the spa, or enjoy sophisticated Bavarian cuisine at local favorite Schwarzreiter Tagesbar & Restaurant.

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