things to do in munich, is munich better than berlin, should i go to munich or berlin,

I just had the opportunity to spend four days in Berlin and I had a great time, just like everyone said I would. Despite doing one of my favourite things, seeing a contemporary circus show, and eating great food, I didn’t fall in love with the place – probably because I had heard so many people wax lyrical about how great it was.

Munich, however, is less familiar to me. The extent of my knowledge about the place is Oktoberfest and the Bayern Munich Football Club. After doing some digging, I’m thinking that Munich may be better than Berlin. Just to run a little thought experiment with myself, I came up with some reasons why, maybe, I should have gone to Munich instead:

My expectations wouldn’t have been as high

The advantage of travelling to a place you have heard of but don’t know much about is that you probably won’t be disappointed. You don’t build the place up in your mind (which is always a mistake anyway!) only ending up sad when the reality doesn’t match the vision. While planning my trip to Morocco, I didn’t read much detail about the cities I would visit – just the overall atmosphere – and the places I loved were a complete surprise!

You can surf in Munich

surfing on eisbach. things to do in munich, munich or berlin
Surfing on the Eisbach

Münchners don’t let their distance from the ocean deter them from getting on a surf board. They surf on the Eisbach, a channel of the Isar River that runs through Munich’s English Garden. Surfers don thick wetsuits and helmets and jump into the ice-cold water to ride the river waves. I’ve got to say, I can’t think of anywhere else in Europe you can do this! If you’re not skilled enough to get up on a board, you can still walk through the park which is bigger than New York’s Central Park, and watch the talented surfers hang ten.

It’s a much more “traditional” German city

Berlin is a cosmopolitan place with a culture unique to the city that isn’t representative of most of Germany. Conversely, Munich has a collection of small, distinct traditions that are representative of Bavaria. This is the place for sausages, pretzels, and beer for breakfast – locally brewed of course!

You’re in the natural habitat of Bavarian beer halls

bavarian beer hall, is munich better than berlin, things to do in munich
I see lederhosen, do you see lederhosen?

You’ve likely spent time in a “Bavarian beer hall” and have an idea of what goes on: long tables, big steins, and fatty food. Even then, it’s nothing like a real Bavarian beer hall. People squeeze together at long tables, drinking good beer and singing. It’s about the atmosphere, not the beer. It’s a place where you’ll feel true Gemütlichkeit – a warm sense of belonging (see, Germans aren’t just all Angst and Schadenfreude!). Get the staff at your hotel in Munich to write some good Bavarian dishes and get on your merry way!

Munich is even awesome for what’s outside of it

Schloss Neuschwanstein, things to do in munich, should i visit munich or berlin?
Schloss Neuschwanstein

There are many possibilities for fun day trips outside of Munich, from a trip to the Alps to the lakes like Walchensee, Chiemsee, and Tegernsee. For those of you who always wanted to feel like a Disney Princess, it’s an easy to trip to Neuschwanstein – the model for the castle in Sleeping Beauty.

What do you think, folks? Do you prefer the cosmopolitan, party-culture of Berlin or would you rather have beer and pretzels for breakfast in Munich? Let me know in the comments!

Photos courtesy of John MorganAmie Becker, Victor Wong, Martina Oefelein via Flickr – CC-licensed at time of publication.

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