Small-Town Charm and Free-Flowing Beer
Despite its population of 1.4 million, Munich (or “München,” as it’s called in German) feels small. This big-city elegance is possible, in part, because of its determination to be pedestrian- and bike-friendly, and because of a law that no building can be taller than its church spires. There’s ongoing debate about changing this policy, but there are still no skyscrapers in downtown Munich.
Walking through Munich, you’ll understand why it is consistently voted one of Germany’s most livable cities – safe, clean, cultured, a university town, built on a people scale, and close to the beauties of nature. Though it’s the capital of Bavaria and a major metropolis, Munich’s low-key atmosphere has led Germans to dub it “Millionendorf” – the “village of a million people.”
Dawdling in the sunlit main square called Marienplatz (“Mary’s Square”), I love to take in the ornate facades of the gray, pointy Old Town Hall and the Neo-Gothic New Town Hall, with its beloved glockenspiel – only 100 years old – that recreates a royal wedding from the 16th century.
Nearby, you can experience small-town Munich at the Viktualienmarkt, long a favorite with locals for fresh produce and friendly service. While this expensive real estate could have been overrun by fast food places, Munich keeps the rent low so these old-time shops can carry on.