munich, expat, city trip, city guide

Favorite places in Munich

what to do, where to eat and the best secret playground in town for parents

We have been back in Munich for a year now. After three years in Chicago, we still find it difficult to arrive. Especially because of the pandemic, the emotional repatriation has slowed down a lot. Some favorite places no longer exist and new ones have not yet been explored. Also, we came back to Germany with our little souvenir, our now soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter, and our leisure activities have changed quite naturally. So you can say, I am despite 4 years in Munich no longer an expert of the city. But I always get questions from you about where to go and how to network with other expats in Munich. Since I am a big fan of not reinventing the wheel but falling back on the wonderful experts that already exist, I give the floor here to Eleanor. Having come to Germany from the US many years ago, she too has come to know and love the city and today reveals her favorite places. And that from the perspective of a mother and someone for whom German is not a native language. Eleanor started her own business some time ago and has huge expertise in creating websites. I wish I had known her back then when I embarked on the major project of website creation. As always, you can find more info about Eleanor and her work in the infobox. Check her out if you’re looking for a fancy presence on the internet!

Meet Eleanor

Eleanor moved from San Francisco to Munich Germany on her own in 1997. After moving she got a job at an American digital agency that was starting their Germany operations in Munich. In her 25 year design career Eleanor has done everything from book compositing to designing mobile apps to methodology and agile process design for global creative teams. She’s worked on projects for clients such as Chronicle Books, Rizzolli, Vodafone, BMW, Audi, Bosch-Siemens Hausgerät, T-Online, and More.
 
She escaped corporate life in 2010 to start her own online business. Her work was noticed by Goop, Martha Stewart, The New York Times and Pottery Barn Kids. For the last year and a half she’s been having a really good time helping (mostly) female business owners get their websites launched in a day and figuring out their digital strategy. 

Recommendations from a local expat mum

I have lived in Munich over 20 years. I’m lucky in that I came on my own, voluntarily. I love this city, it didn’t happen over night, in fact it took about five years until I made the conscious decision to stay here. Funnily enough, I met my husband soon after that!
 
In my younger years I was out and about a lot. Especially with other expats. After having a child my experience completely transformed. I suddenly appreciated all of the amazing  playgrounds I walked past a thousand times and never noticed. I took comfort in the fact that we can get around easily without a car and that this is an extremely safe city with quick access to nature or natural surroundings. 
 
What Munich lacks in edgy couture-culture it makes up for with easy biking and walkability, lush bountiful green spaces, low crime, beer gardens, human scale architecture and gelato shops. 
 
Covid not withstanding, at the moment I’m woefully unaware of the food and nightlife scene. My daughter is four and a half. I really love going out to nice restaurants and when she’s a bit older and this dang pandemic is really, really gone I plan to get out again in the evenings from time to time and get back a bit more into city life.
 
For now, here are the places and resources that I’d recommend to someone coming to Munich.
 

Playing

Growing up in California I never experienced anything like the lush open air pools here in Munich. Public pools were always over-chlorinated concrete holes. My two favourite are Maria Einseidel Bad and Schyrenbad are two of my favourites.
I have a lot of playgrounds we frequent but I like going to the one at the Jewish Museum for two reasons: you can get on the wifi and on a hot summer day you can order food and (grown-up!) drinks from the cafe. I’ve spent many happy afternoons chatting with other parents over a spritz and a nosh while our kids had fun in the sandbox or riding their little bikes around. It’s right in the middle of town and also a hop skip and a jump away from…
expat, munich, city tips
This place is hardly a secret. It’s one of the most popular destinations to visit in Munich. Despite this, it’s still a living, breathing market where you can shop for excellent produce, sit in the biergarten in the middle of it or grab a quick sausage as  you’re passing through town.

If you have small kids this place is a real help. Basically, there is a small playroom with supervision for other moms and you can sit in a neighbouring room and enjoy a coffee and a slice of homemade cake. It’s not especially geared toward expats (but I’ve always noticed a few here and there) but it’s a welcoming friendly space if you’ve got small kids.

Working

Working? Yes! I would go here after my daughter was a few months old. They offered a morning care program for a couple of hours while you stay on the premises. I would drop my daughter off and then go into the cafe for a couple of hours with my laptop and answer a few emails, pay some bills. I’d do this twice a week and it was great to get a little break and get a few things done.

A lot of cowering places have opened up in Munich. I wanted to try more of them this year and last, but then we all know what happened. One that has saved my neck on more than one occasion is Twostay. An innovative start-up that uses restaurants and cafes as co-working spaces during the times that they’re not open for regular business hours. There is one in a restaurant around the corner from our apartment and I had a couple of days where I had to get out of the house to work on client website launches. The vibe is definitely international and the main communication language is English

expat, munich, city tips

Eating

One of the things I love about living in Germany is the ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ tradition. In my opinion the best cakes and pastries are from Alof which you can find at their cafe in the Glockenbachviertel and at Cafe Sommer in Untergiesing.

Früetzi loaf from Fritz Mühlenbäckerei  – Okay this is about a loaf of bread the ‘Früetzi’ only available at the Fritz Mühlen Bäckerei. It’s a thick white bread that makes the best toast in the world, hands down. I only allow myself to buy a half-loaf at a time because it doesn’t last longer than 10 minutes at my house!

"What Munich lacks in edgy couture-culture it makes up for with easy biking and walkability, lush bountiful green spaces, low crime, beer gardens, human scale architecture and gelato shops."

Connecting with other expats

There are SO many more resources than when I moved here. Especially online. In normal times, these groups also organise a lot of offline activities. Here are a few that might be of interest:
  1. International Parents in Munich Facebook Group – A great resource if you have kids, need support or just have questions about Munich
  2. LMBB (Little Munich Black Book) Facebook Group – Also a great resource but a not as kid-oriented
  3. WEM – A  fabulous group filled with a lot of expatriate women starting and running interesting businesses. 
  4. Internations – This is a platform for expats all over the world, that actually is based in Munich. There are groups for every interest. It doesn’t say this explicitly anywhere, but I think it’s pretty heavily singles-oriented
  5. Meet-up – Many English-speaking and expat groups here

Thank you Eleanor for these great tips. The playground behind the Jewish Museum is definitely my favorite spot too. Do you also live in Munich or are you planning to move here? Drop me a line with your questions and I might have just the right contact in my network to hook you up! I also highly recommend the app Matchfamilies. I had written about it here. Have fun settling in and if you have any tips to contribute, feel free to comment below in the comments.

Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

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