A Day & 1/2 in: Munich, Nürnberg, & Dachau

Old 14th century Town Hall in Marienplatz

This year’s trip to Europe was definitely one for the books. Not just because I learned so much being immersed in another culture, but I learned how to do it in the shortest time possible. This post is the first of four that will cover each country we visited and how we made the best of the day and a half we spent in each city.

You may be wondering why we (my boyfriend and I) spent so little time in each place. The cheapest round trip tickets covered a two-week span and truthfully, it was a personal decision we made to take on the most we could. We expected to be a bit rushed and were prepared to wake up with the sun every morning. The most surprising thing about it all, however, was just how doable it ended up being WITHOUT any of that fuss. We slept in, our walks were leisurely, and we even had time to get lost and find our way again without worrying we were wasting precious time. So without further adieu, I give you Germany! The Quickie Guide:

MUNICH

We landed in Munich on Friday afternoon and yes, we were jet lagged. Although we knew we wouldn’t be able to do anything without a nap, we quickly checked into the Hotel Am Markt in the heart of the city and set alarms for 4pm. That pretty much nipped it in the bud because after the recharge, the hunger forced us to leave in search of food, and staying out until about 10pm put us right back to sleep once we returned to the hotel. No matter how much you want to knock out, don’t do it! Surviving the first day is key.

Venturing out into Marienplatz, the main square, we found dinner in the cellars of the town hall which features a giant tower and their famous chiming glockenspiel. The charming Ratskeller had beautiful touches of the same Neo-Gothic design as the outside of the building and their menu consisted of just the kind of traditional Bavarian eats you crave coming off the plane. Our post-dinner walk took us through the winding streets, to curiosities like Ohel Jakob, the recently built synagogue meant to replace the one destroyed in 1938, and the little outdoor markets that dot the city, set up in almost every plaza big enough to fit one.

Glockenspiel inside tower of the town hall, Neues Rathaus
Rischart rooftop

The next day after a rooftop breakfast at the delightfully typical Rischart, we set out for Englischer Garden, Munich’s very own Central Park. It’s sprawling and green and home to the most mallards and swans and geese I’d ever seen in one place. We walked to the Chinese Tower, which has one of the largest biergartens in the city. With just about 7,000 seats, it’s the perfect place to have a refreshingly cold helles while enjoying the weather with friends. I know this, because we got really lucky with the weather and didn’t even need our coats once the sun came out, which meant pretty much every German and their baby (yes! rosy-cheeked babies everywhere!) was out for a beer. Shortly after sitting down, a band occupied the top terrace of the tower and played what I can only describe as German beer music. Lots of accordion, lots of tuba, lots of Prost! It was amazing.

A seat by the lake at Englischer Garden
Augustiner am Platzl, home to one of our favorite beers
Me & my dunkel
Der Pschorr beer hall and brewery
Inside Der Pschorr

The later part of the day followed the same pattern we’d set for pretty much the rest of the trip. After deciding a time and place for major meals, in this case dinner at Munich’s famous Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, we’d spend the rest of the time wandering. This took us to The Crazy Ice Cream Maker where we tried Augustiner Beer-flavored ice cream, and then across to Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. We found the cheapest and most delicious schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock) at the Augustiner restaurant by the plaza, as well as one of the more elaborately decorated beer halls we went to, Der Pschorr. We went from pub to pub, trying different beers and strolling through the streets, listening to echoes of an accordion from a far away street musician and feeling like we could stay forever.

But we didn’t :)

NÜRNBERG

Our time in Nürnberg actually happened at the end of our trip, when we’d already met up with another couple of friends who live in that part of Germany and let us stay with them in their wonderful flat. We drove into the city from Prague, just in time to settle in and grab some dinner. The tiny, romantic Dürrer Hase, with it’s Moroccan-style tiled walls and candlelit interior, offers a curated selection of steak and wine that even we couldn’t resist. The next day, we set out to the Nürnberg Castle, an incredibly steep climb straight into 11th century Germany. It’s got a quaint little courtyard (which was responsible for the illusion of time-travel, at least for me), ongoing exhibitions, and a tower you can climb to the top for a small fee. The cafe essentially growing out of one of the sides and the gardens are worth a visit, too. We opted for a beer below at the Zum Albrecht Dürer Haus, with a view of Tiergärtnerplatz and Albrecht Dürer’s creepy rabbit.

Inside the walls of the Imperial Castle of Kaiserburg Nürnberg
Augustiner bar overlooking Tiergärtnerplatz

We continued to make our way down the steeply sloping streets to St. Lorenz church, which was huge inside with beautifully ornate stained glass windows, and eventually to the kebab place that fed us lunch. I won’t go into much detail about this because there are a million in every city, just don’t expect to find too many of them open on a Sunday!

Front face of St. Lorenz Church
Inside view of the stained glass windows

Later we took the tram to Dokumentationszentrum, the enormous exhibition of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where we got to stand in the very place Hitler delivered speeches from at Zeppelin Field. It’s a lot of ground to cover but definitely interesting enough to go visit. It helps that the whole thing wraps around a beautiful lake with a park and plenty of scenery, so it’s not the drag you’d picture it to be on its own. The rest of the day was for drinks and dinner with old friends, who took us to one of the more hipster hangouts in Nürnberg, Cafe Katz. The mismatched furniture and laid back vibe was fairly reminiscent of a typical Wynwood coffee spot, and we felt right at home. We ended the night with a try at some pretty good Turkish food and a walk through the redlight district, which was a first for me. Apparently this is not the place for a girl to go without trusted male company..? Who’d have thought!

Zeppelin Tribune where members of the Nazi party stood during rallies.
A beer or two and some catching up at Cafe Katz

Just to make this post a bit longer than its already is, I’ll share some of what we saw in..

DACHAU

“Work sets you free”

It’s the first of the WWII concentration camps after which the rest were modeled and located only a short trip north of Munich. With beautiful memorials and much of the original prison and crematorium still intact, it was both an experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on and one I’m not in a hurry to repeat. It’s also free! So if you can make the time, it’s worth it.

I hope this not-so-quick recount of a quick trip spurs a few spontaneous vacations and awakens the travel bug in all of you! If you’ve been to some of these places and can relate or have extra recommendations to add, comment down below!