There is much more exploring needed to be done in Germany! We've only accomplished two small trips so far. A quick day trip to go hiking in The Black Forest and a few days in Munich.
Germany has tons of quaint villages, historic castles and new/old age cities. Whatever vibe you are looking for, you can find in this country. Everyone we interacted with was very nice and super helpful answering questions. I think they appreciated that I was trying to speak to them in German, even though it was very limited.
If you are looking to drink lots of good beer, this is the place for you! Unfortunately, Oktoberfest was canceled this year, but next year it's on! German meals are very hearty. They love their meats... of all kinds. You will also see more sausage variations than you could ever imagine, yet alone know what they all are. Real deal butcher shops are very common. You also cannot leave Germany without getting a giant pretzel. It's like a right of passage. They have your original version as well as ones that are covered with all different toppings. It kind of reminded me of a pretzel pizza. Finally, you'll see many bakeries and cafes filled with pastries and other sweets. Many things really aren't too sweet like we are used to. They are a lot more tart in flavor and many are filled with fruits to give a hint of sweetness.
Surprise surprise, the primary language in Germany or 'Detuschland' is German ha. Everyone we came across, however, also spoke English. Unfortunately, our German or 'Detusch' is not nearly good enough to have full conversations. You should not have any issues communicating if you are visiting areas that are known for tourism. Most historical plaques have multiple translations. Also, a lot of restaurants have English menus, if asked. If they do not, use your Google Translate App! It is a lifesaver, believe me.
Also, as part of the EU, Germany uses the Euro as its currency. Make sure you take out some cash for local markets, beer gardens and things of that sort. Most places in cities take credit card, but it is always good to have just in case.
Munich is an 'all in one' city. There are historical sites and museums you can tour, tons of beautiful gardens and parks, endless strips of cute boutique shops and restaurants, high end shopping districts, lively squares, beer gardens galore, open-air markets and river surfing. Munich is actually pretty large, but most of the things you will be interested in seeing are right in the heart of the city. It is also very walkable. If needed, the train system is easy to follow.
Honestly, we really enjoyed our time here. I am not much of a true 'city person', especially for long periods of time, but I really liked Munich. It is a combination of an old European city, with modern touches. Both authentic and new all at the same time.
Any type of food you could desire can be found in Munich. It is very global in that manner. But you're in Germany, you need to go the traditional route! Seeing authentic German restaurants throughout the city is so neat. The ambiance feels like you went back in time. The coloring, the lettering, the hanging crests, the décor and all the other little intricate details really are cool.
EXPERIENCE MULTIPLE BEER GARDENS
The beer gardens throughout Munich are even cooler than I anticipated. Some are a little more touristy than others, but they are all super fun all the same. The most famous, right in the heart of old town, is the Hofbrauhaus (HB). Yes, it is by far the most touristy, but locals will be there as well. You'll see the 'boys club' all dressed in their lederhosen, with their own personal steins ready to drink. Many drink and traditional food options are available with a massive indoor space that wraps around the garden. Again, they are throughout the city! They even have a few within the parks, which are awesome! They are completely outdoors and are perfect in the summertime. Go to a few, even if it's just for one drink. There are great vibes all around. Tables are first come first served, so be prepared to have to be fast to get the seats near the band.
FOOD AT THE VIKTUALIENMARKT
This might have been one of the nicest local markets I've ever been to. This open-air market happens daily and is worth a visit or two. All the fruits, vegetables, butcher meats and other prepared foods are completely fresh and come from local farms and villages throughout Germany. You will also see a lot of artisans and beautiful flower shops in the mix. This is a great place to grab lunches while you are visiting the city. Not only is everything incredible fresh and delicious, but it is so reasonable in price compared to what you would be paying at a true sit down restaurant. Yes, most food signs here will be in German. But if you ask nicely, they will let you know what it is. Honestly, just go for it! If something looks good, just eat it! Remember, this market is cash only.
Again, there are so many things you stumble upon as you are walking through old town. The cobblestone streets are lovely and the city just oozes charm. The square is really the heart of everything, including beautiful cathedrals, sculptures and fountains, many historical sites, shops and more. Tickets can be purchased right outside of the sites. This area does get rather busy during the afternoon. You know the trick, if you want to enjoy the city without tons of people, head to the square in the morning and stop at a café as you go. Seriously though, just walk around! You'll find so much more that piques your interest than what you read online.
ENJOY THE MASSIVE PARKS
Something I've noticed that European cities do astonishingly well, is create huge parks and gardens to enjoy. Without green space available for most residents, parks are their avenue to relax and unwind within nature. The parks in Munich are some of the largest I've seen. They are well tended to and have many things to offer. Most contain cafes and some actually house their own beer gardens. There are multiple entrances from all over the city where walkers, joggers, bikers, horseback riders and pets alike can all enjoy. The best thing is to pack a little picnic and lay out in the grassy fields. The largest center city park is called the English Garden. It is actually one of the biggest urban parks in the world! For a size perspective, this park is larger than Central Park and to be honest, it's definitely prettier and much better maintained.
The Isar River flows right through the middle of Munich. There is a path and green space that lines the river for many many miles. You will see lots of people strolling the path and runners passing by. It's nice to walk the river for a while and see different neighborhoods of the city, which you many not have visited on your own. It was really enjoyable to meander, with a beverage of choice, as the sun was setting. If you go too far, you can easily hop on a train and head back to where you came from.
TRAIN TO THE OLYMPIC PARK
We happened to be in Munich during the 2020 Olympic Games. We had to partake in the spirt and head to the old stadium that was home to the 1972 games. I've never been to an Olympic Stadium, so it was kind of cool to see. It was a very short train ride from the heart of downtown and a nice way to spend a few hours. I was very surprised by how unique and pretty cool the architecture was for being almost 50 years old. Yes, the village stadium is super small compared to today's standards but, all events were housed right there. The soccer/track arena is still used to this day! The remainder of the village is utilized as a large park both for sports and leisure. They also support some events on site. There are a few new builds on the outskirts of the village for other sports that were not accepted in the games back then.
The Black Forest
Southern Germany weirdly looks like the rolling hills of Maryland. If you teleported me there without any clue, I would have never guessed. There were farmlands, fields and woods with pine trees, as far as the eye could see. Quaint German villages will sporadically pop up around the bends of the road.
The Black Forest itself is incredibly dense. I imagined it being 'dark' from the name, but it was actually very vibrant in color. The lush greens of moss, ferns and other foliage fills the paths. The forest is growing and expanding everywhere, up boulders, trees, waterfalls, within streams and beyond. This ecosystem is definitely alive and well!
We only did a day hike here, but this specific hike wasn't very difficult. It was more long and leisurely, vs strenuous. But it was very nice to do all the same. If you intend to do a lot of hiking here, rent a car, and stay in one of the many small villages throughout the area.