Although most people associate it with Oktoberfest, Munich is so much more than beer and bratwurst. This vibrant, cosmopolitan, and livable German city is so rich in history, architecture, and culture that it takes a lot to get to know it properly.
If you don't have much time on your hands, our suggestion is to skip the busy tourist trail and go straight to the heart of the city's true spirit, by trying these five essential experiences. We are pretty sure you'll be amazed.
1. Attend the tea ceremony at the English Garden
Most people have been to the beautiful English Garden in central Munich, one of the largest urban parks in the world and a 900-acre green oasis with shaded paths, brooks, ponds, swans, and beer gardens. Yet not many have managed to attend the tea ceremony at the Japanese teahouse, a small and somewhat surreal corner of Japan in the heart of the park dating back to 1972, when it was built as a gift from the city of Sapporo on the occasion of the Munich Olympic Games.
The Japanese tea ceremony takes place every second weekend of the month from April to October (see the full calendar here), and it is a great occasion to see the interior of the building, decorated in traditional Japanese style with tatami floors, rice paper sliding doors and scrolls of Japanese writing.
2. Ride (or watch people riding) the Eisbach wave
Since you're in the English Garden, don't miss the chance to do or watch some urban surfing on the southern border of the park, the one facing Prinzregentenstrasse (and pretty close to the Haus der Kunst museum). Every day, even in winter, around 100 surfers patiently wait their turn in a queue to surf the Eisenbach wave, a continuous wave rolling through the Eisenbach, a channel of river Isar. Besides offerig quite a unique spectacle in the heart of the city, these surfers are also very expert: known as E1, the Eisenbach wave is deemed very tricky, and given the limited width of the channel, you need to be ready to ride it as soon as you hit the water.