Are you ready to visit the heart of Bavaria? From the lively beer gardens, host of museums, as well as everything between, Munich offers plenty for you to see and do. From tips on how to tie your dirndl to why the green man should be respected, here are unwritten tips and rules that will not only help you fit in but also enjoy the city.
Guten Tag Won’t Cut It
One common stereotype is that all Germans have great English. Even though that might be the case in cosmopolitan areas such as Berlin, getting around Munich requires knowing some German. Close to 70 percent of the people speak some English, but the remaining 30 percent prefer sticking to their mother tongue with lots of eye rolling if you are unable to keep up. South Germany also has its own dialect; expect to hear people greeting one another using the Bavarian “Grüß gott” or the more informal “Servus”. Hivino.travel recommends bringing a German phrase book with you.
The U-Bahn Technically Isn’t Free
The lack of ticket barriers might give you a false sense of security, but the truth is that Germans are simply honest. People traveling with a monthly pass simply have to carry it with the, but if you are using one of those stripe tickets like most tourists, you need to stamp it using of the little blue machines before you head down the escalators to the platforms. Ticket checks might be infrequent, but the lines that lead out to the airport are common targets, so grab yourself one of the 3-day tickets and save yourself the €60 fine.
Cycling Can Be Fabulous
If you visit most cities, it is a joy to go cycling and you can tour Muich easily by bicycle. There are so many bicycle lanes in this city that you will be able to navigate easily around the city. I did a bicycle tour and loved it. I was able to see all cool parts of the city.
Getting Nude is Tolerated
I loved the fact that getting nude is public is legal here. But you have to know where you can go. I headed to the English Garden which has its own nudist area. Here you can get your kit off legally! I love it, I just put my bags down, pulls my pants off and got my willy out. Nobody batted an eyelid and there were quite a few other nudists around me. It’s definitely something to do when you are in Munich. I wrote about going nude in Munich here.
Lederhosen Are Normal
Did you assume that Lederhosen just came out once annually for Oktoberfest? Well, Lederhosen is the comparable to putting on a nice shirt before going to the club on Friday night. You will regularly see them around town and even for special occasions such as festivals. They are also standard dress for most Bavarian weddings, which means that you will see locals wearing wonderfully embroidered dirndls and smart jackets.
If you are a lady who’s embracing the traditional dress, the bow code is something you need to familiarize yourself with. To prevent unwanted suitors from investing their time in a person that’s already taken, how a woman’s apron bow is tied reveals her relationship status. A bow tied on the left means that she’s single while one that’s tied on the right means that she’s unavailable. Things then get a bit interesting. You can find yourself raising a few eyebrows if you tie your bow at front in the middle since it announces that you are a virgin. Finally, a bow tied at the back means that you are either a waitress or widow. The Germans grew up with this, but tourists need to get into the habit of glancing down to check the bow before turning on the charm.
The Green Man is Respected
Even if there’s no traffic, you should stay exactly where you are until you see the green man. The traffic symbol is treated with quiet reverence – woe unto tourists that assume they can simply nip across a quiet street without its authorization. If you even step foot on the road, you can expect a rapid and angry lecture from the oldest German close by, especially if there are children at the crossing. At the very least you will find yourself on the receiving end of a Munich stare.
Müncheners Are Always Optimistic About the Weather
Bars and restaurants in Munich rush to get their tables and chairs back outside once the snow is gone. Even in February, when the Alpine wind is quite chilly, you will find Germans stoically sitting outside eating a meal or with a maß. You will find yourself fighting to find a spot outdoors even if the sun peeps out just a bit. The only concession to the weather is that blankets will be almost always be provided – you will find them being thrown over the back of chairs patiently waiting for the next optimist.
The Mystery Potato Salad Is Worth Trying
A yellow-ish dish of carbohydrate goodness accompanies most schnitzel dishes and is available too as a dish in its own right at many beer gardens. It is a classic German dish that’s technically a potato salad but not as you probably know it since it has a creamy texture but with a tang that can be hard for you to put a finger on exactly what it might be. It is typically served with a sprinkling of chives and is not only a great way to balance out one too many beers but also quite addictive.
You might be used to making payments via card, bit more restaurants, bars, and beer gardens usually only take payments in cash. Once you are ready to pay, the waiter/ waitress will then come around with the black purse to settle the bill. They are used to people splitting the bill and will therefore assume that you would like to pay individually unless otherwise stated. The waiter/waitress will then cross items that you have paid for off your bill and move on to the next customer. Small tips are not only expected but also appreciated, so when handing over the cash, say how much you would like to get back as change.
Hofbräuhaus Should Be Avoided on Friday and Saturday Nights
Hofbräuhaus is one of Munich’s biggest tourist attractions. It is a famous beer hall that dates back to the 16th century and offers the typical traditional German experience, complete with a live brass band. You might be tempted to treat it as your local and go there on a Friday or even Saturday night, but this is not a good idea. Oktoberfest rules apply and you must be first seated, which means having to charm your way onto the end of another person’s table and waiting for long to place your order and actually get a beer. Sunday is a better option since you will get to enjoy all the atmosphere without the stress.
Seats Should Be Carefully Chosen
If you visit one of the many beer gardens in the city, remember that the seats you choose will determine the kind of service you get. Beer gardens are split into table service and self-service. Relatively self-explanatory, if you choose self-service you will have to head up to the food area to eye up the pork knuckle as well as pick up your drink. This can be incredibly handy if you aren’t a strong speaker of German as you get to take a look at all the options available and point if everything else fails.
A Bayern Ticket Gets You Bargain Travel
If you plan to see a bit more of Bavaria, one of the best ways to get around is using the Bayern ticket. The train ticket costs €25 for unlimited daily travel. It can be a good idea to travel as a group since each extra person costs just €6, which means unlimited travel for 5 people for less than €10 each. It includes all the regional trains and the U-Bahn and S-Bahn and can even take you to as far as Salzburg if a day trip to Austria is something you are interested in.
What’s the pfand?
Are you wondering why the advertised price of the drink does not match up with what you are being asked to pay at the till? There’s a refundable deposit on all glass and plastic bottles along with cans in Munich to encourage recycling. Once you have finished, simply return the bottle at one of the automated machines found in the vast majority of supermarkets for a coupon off your shop. It is usually between 20 and 25 cents and can only be used in the supermarket that you returned the bottle to.
Munich is in the heart of southern Germany, which is primarily catholic and very religious too. Sunday is reserved as the traditional day of rest, and most shops and supermarkets are shut and many restaurants are also closed. Ensure that you get some food and snacks on Saturday and embrace Sleepy Sundays like a native. If you want something to keep you entertained, all museums charge just €1 on Sundays, which makes it an excellent day to get your fix of culture.