The third largest city in Germany and the capital of the German state of Bavaria, a.k.a “The Dream City,” Munich boasts 10 universities, vast urban green tracts, dozens of must-see sights, and a year-round festive spirit. Like all German cities, Munich shares a great range of parks, monuments, and interesting neighborhoods. Munich is located about an hour and a half from the Alps, and is close to Austria, Switzerland, and even Italy. Also only a short drive outside Munich, are the glacial lakes. These lakes are deep and cold well into the summer, though there are also small ones which warm up more quickly.
Home to some particularly large and beautiful parks, Munich has many memorable centrally located running routes to offer. The Isar River is lined along both banks by seemingly endless trails. There is also fantastic running in Englischer Garten, and in the area where the 1972 Summer Olympics were held. The terrain is fairly flat.
One great aspect of Munich is the ‘inner city,’ which occupies such a small area that everything is close and easy to visit, and also making the city very walkable. There is also excellent public transport, with subways and trains (U-Bahn and S-Bahn), as well as trams and buses. Areas outside the city are well served by trains. With its orchestras, ensembles, opera houses, and theatre, Munich is also a very culturally active city. Flip through Munich’s cultural events magazine to get a sense of how much is going on!
Munich climate is continental. Summers are warm but not hot, with average highs in the 23 range (mid-70s). Winters are quite cold but not frigid. Temps dip below freezing most nights, but average highs in January are about 1c (33). Munich is also quite humid.
The Iconic Routes
- Englischer Garten
2. Olympiapark Loop
3. Luitpoldpark Route
4. Schlosspark Nymphenburg Route
5. Westpark Loop
Englischer Garten Route
4.8 Miles RT LOOP. Fairly flat. Map
The Englischer Garten is known to be one of Munich’s most beautiful, and easy-to-navigate, running routes. Located in the heart of downtown Munich, the Garten is the most popular spot for running on dirt trails, among woods, and lawns. It is sort of Munich’s version of Berlin’s Tiergarden.
The enchanting park features the popular chinese beer garden, a small river with lots of surfers, and lots of green space. Not only does the park attract surfers, but lots of bikers, skaters, and (of course) runners, too.
Roughly 4.8 miles long, this specific loop runs along the River Isar, and is fairly flat. If you need a break, feel free to dip your feet in the river, or just relax on the grass for a while!
Isar River Running
The Isar River is at the heart of Munich, almost splitting the the city in two, flowing through its center. Munich has embraced the Isar, creating a greenbelt/linear park that follows the river many kilometers to the north and south. There are wonderful dirt paths for running along the river, through the Englischer Garten in Munich’s center, and heading south toward Issaring and Grunwald, and north toward Unterföhring. No matter where you are in or around Munich, head toward the Isar and just run. One nice option since the is to run one-way and hop on the train back. A few of the recommended sections:
- Center: The Isar paths start about 1km from Munich’s historic center, say the Marienplatz central square. Best sections in the central part of Munich are heading north on Praterinsel island, then on the east side paths past the Angel of Peace, up to Isarring. Then head back along the river or the Englischer Garten paths.
- Heading North from the Gasteig/Deutsches Museum area. Head along the paths on the east or west side of the river. It is 5.4 miles to Unterföhring. If you find yourself further north, there is good running from Garching and Freising. MAP
- Heading South from the Gasteig/Deutsches Museum area. Paths along the river to the Tierpark. There is parkland almost the entire 5km of path to Marienklause, on the east side of the river: Frühlingsanlagen, then Tierpark. It’s 3.6 miles to the end of the Tierpark. There’s a beach and beer garden in the park, and a surfing spot just south of Marienklause. For the return, on the west side, head along the paths along the canal (Isarwerkanal), paralleling the Zentralländstraße. MAP One can also continue for 7km south, to Grunwald, and still further, along Isar River paths.
5.2 Miles RT LOOP. Hilly. Start: Petuelring U-Bahn stop. Map
Also known as one of Munich’s most iconic running routes, is the impeccably maintained, asphalted, Olympiapark. Located in Schwabing, about 5 km from the city center, Olympiapark was created for the 1972 summer Olympic Games.
The beautiful park attracts both locals and visitors, and features a sea life aquarium, swimming pool, a small theme park, and lots of food carts. More specifically, there is a 5.2 mile paved route around the park, which will take you past the Olympiaturm, Olympia Eishalle, BMW museum, and BMW welt.
Olympiaturm: The olympic tower within Olympiapark. Has an overall height of 954 feet, and weighs 52,500 tons.
Olympia Eishalle: An indoor sporting arena used for various indoor events.
BMW Museum: An automobile museum of BMW history.
BMW Welt: A multi-use exhibition center, used for meetings and promotional events, and where buyers take delivery of BMW vehicles.
A nice add-on to this run is the ~3 mile route in Luitpoldpark, which starts from the same U-Bahn station, Petuelring, as the Olympiapark route.
2.9 Miles RT LOOP. One big hill Start: .Map
Located in between Olympiapark and the Petuelpark in Schwabing, Luitpoldpark offers tons of green space, a playground for kids, and the garden labyrinth. While this 2.9 mile route does include one fairly steep hill, you’ll get a beautiful view of downtown Munich, with the Alps in the background, once you’ve reached the top. The park is also known for its grove of 90 lime trees, to commemorate the 90th birthday of Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria.
With a place for almost every kind of activity, Luitpoldpark attracts walkers, runners, bikers, sunbathers, aerobic groups, football games, soccer players, and tons of people relaxing. Despite being one of Munich’s smaller parks, visitors have widely noted it as a great place to go for a beautiful and relaxed run. For a longer run, enjoy Olympiapark, accessible from the same U-Bahn station.
6.7 Miles RT LOOP. Fairly flat. Access: S-Bahn München-Laim Map
Known as the most calm and peaceful park in Munich, Schlosspark Nymphenburg offers great trails for walking and running, several garden pavilions, a cafe, gorgeous fountains, statues, and, most importantly, the beautiful Nymphenburg palace (Schloss is the German word for Palace). The park is 6km west of the city center, and reachable by S-Bahn train.
Nymphenburg palace was a summer residence to the birth of the long-awaited heir to the throne, Max Emanuel, who was born in 1662. With its unique architecture and garden design, Nymphenburg is one of the best examples of a synthesis of the arts, throughout all of Europe. The large fountains in front of Nymphenburg palace park not only give pleasure to visitors, but also represent a landmark in Bavarian technological history.
Our 6.7 mile loop will you take you around the outskirts of the entire park, and is a fairly flat and relaxed run. Yet, once you reach the park, there’s no need to stick strictly to the route shown on the map we’ve provided. The whole thing is walled-in, so it’s nearly impossible to get lost! A nice feature of our run is the tree-lined “allee”, along the Nymphenburg canal, which is lovely for running and has great views of the palace.
3.6 Miles RT LOOP. Fairly flat — a few small hills.Access: U-6, Westpark station. MAP
The beautiful, urban Westpark is located 6km west of the city center, in the Sendling-Westpark neighborhood. Some argue it is even lovelier and more enjoyable than the Englischer Garten! This diverse park offers tons of trees, green space, lakes, chirping birds, playgrounds, an open air cinema, oriental shrine, buddhist temple, and gorgeous Japanese garden. With a few small hills, several hidden paths, and lots of alleys, Westpark is a perfect place for running. A tour of the outer trails is about 6k (3.6 miles).
This park is a good option if you’re looking for something a little more quiet, and not /so crowded with people. The park is open year-round, and mostly attracts families, bikers, runners, and walkers. It is easily accessible by the U-6, about 20 minutes, direction Klinikum Grosshadern.
Oktoberfest (Theresienwiese) Run
3km Loop. Start: Sendlinger Tor U-Bahn station. MAP
Oktoberfest is a big deal in Munich. This is a fun 3km around the main Oktoberfest grounds and buildings, called Theresienwiese. Sites include the famous hall with the Bavaria-Statue. In the head of the statue there is a platform with two benches which can be mounted using a spiral staircase inside of the figure. There are views from four ‘hatches’ inside the statue, with great views of the Theresienwiese and the surrounding city. The route starts at the Sendlinger Tor U-Bahn station.
Starnberger See (Lake)
20km continuous path along eastern shore. It’s 7km fr0m Starnberg to Leoni. Access: S-Bahn station in Starnberg, about 30 min. from Munich. MAP
A nice destination run is to run along the shore of the Starnberger See (Lake), the second largest lake in Bavaria. About 30 minutes south of Munich on the S-Bahn (train), it’s a great opportunity to get out of the city and enjoy an alpine lake in an easy and continuous path. The eastern side of the lake is more recommended for running, with a 20km long shore side path from north to south. Run as long as you like of course. The town of Leoni is a good destination, at the ~7km mark. There is a steep hill at the 5km mark. Along the way, there are beaches, parks, and a couple of sections with spectacular homes. There are a couple of detours off the main lake path, such as around the Castle Berg, but it is well marked.
One could continue further along past Leoni, and hop a ferry back to Starnberg. It’s another 6km from Leoni to the next town, Ammerland. On the west side there are additional S-Bahn stops along the lake. See this guide for Lake Stanrnberg sites, ferry schedules, and other info.
Despite being a smaller city, Munich has a large selection of hotels. Mostly located in the city core, almost all of Munich’s central hotels border the Englischer Garten, which is home base for the following lodging areas:
- Gastehaus Englischer Garten. Centrally located. Known to have the best rooms for visiting runners. Make sure to book early.
- Hotel Astoria. Centrally located. If you can’t get a room at the Gastehaus Englischer Garten, book here.
- Hotel Adria. Centrally located. Roughly 300 yards from both the south end of the Garden and the running trails along the River Isar.
- Munich Park Hilton. Opposite the Garden’s eastern border, along the River Isar. Recommended for business travelers who want all the familiar amenities of a big chain hotel.
- Munich Marriott Hotel. East of the JFK bridge, which bisects the Garden. Fantastic fitness center.
There are also plenty of hotels near Olympiapark and Schlosspark.
Running Stores and Group Runs
There’s a great selection of running shops, especially for a city of Munich’s modest size. InTeam Laufshop is the main specialty running store within the city.