Munich, is a city with numerous parks, gardens and forests.
Living in Munich, one can be spoiled with countless “Green Walks” and get up close and personal with nature.
Hiking in Munich, where the paths and trails are so well maintained, can be a wonderful experience, equally so for cyclists as well.
All year round, there are plenty of nature walks with beautiful scenery to fully experience the transition of seasons. No wonder Munich is ranked as a Top 10 city based on parks.
In spring you’ll see subtle colourful flowers popping up; in summer, you can combine a swim in the river and enjoy a picnic on the grass or in a Beer garden.
In autumn, like little kids, you can jump into a pile of dried amber leaves. Needless to say, in winter, after a decent snowfall, it is like walking in an enchanted forest.
Ich bin nicht überrascht (I am not surprised) why the locals here love their spazieren gehen (strolling): a very important verb that is taught to all beginners learning German.
Spoiled for choices, we’ve picked the best walks in the city with spectacular nature or viewpoints that are easily accessible by public transport. They are great as a weekend getaway inside the city.
Relaxing Walk in city center: The English Garden (Englischer Garten)
A green paradise in Munich! The English Garden is one of the most popular and beloved parks for tourists and locals.
Originally as a hunting ground, the elector, Charles Theodore in 1789, he converted it as a public park to win the public over. It was not however until the Landscape artist, Ludwig von Sckell (his name will appear again, and yes, his name is spelt “sk”, not “sch”, even Germans can mistake this) ensured the English styled garden would be harmonious and natural-looking with flowing streams, lakes, meadows, and woodlands.
The enormous park covers 375 hectares of greens with the River Isar running along on the east. As the south is more accessible with public transport, often on the weekends and public holidays, it is scattered with crowds.
To find a more tranquil atmosphere, you can head north. With a total length of 78km paths crossing each other, it is perfect to wander and discover your favourite spots.
Here, we will however point out some highlight areas.
South of English Garden: Catch the Surf, City Panorama & Bier Garden:
You might have already heard the whispers of the quaint surfing spot in Munich.
At the south entrance of English Garden (next to the Haus der Kunst) is where you’ll find Eisbachwelle (Ice brook), where no matter what time of the year, you’ll see surfers catching waves in this narrow but fast river.
The best spot to catch the action is on the bridge directly above, but watch out not to drop your camera!
Entering the park, you can stroll along the Eisbach (east) or the Schwabinger Bach (west) arriving at the Monopteros. At this Greek-style temple, you can catch the city view overlooking the 2-tower cathedral Frauenkirche and the distinctive St. Peter Church (Alter Peter).
Random fact, about tens of odd years ago, this was also a “secret nightspot” for drug dealing!
Further on from here is a pretty nice walk going north to the Chinese Tower Munich. Although to be completely honest, the resemblance of original traditional Chinese towers is more in the name, not so much in the style and architecture. It is however a pretty nice place to stop by and perhaps even enjoy the first beer garden on the trail.
In December, Christmas markets are also held here, where you can warm yourself with a Glühwein (mulled wine). Alternatively, there’s also our favourite beer garden in the area, the Seehaus. It is further north and it offers outside seating right by the lake!
It is definitely a nice way to end the walk with a Mass beer. From here, the closest U-Bahn is Münchener Freiheit (U-Bahn U3 & U6).
North of English Garden: A Quiet Walk in the Forest
While it is accessible to the north part of the English Garden with the U-Bahn (U6), you’ll find fewer people gathered here.
The forest-like landscape along the Isar or the smaller streams winding in between is just magnificent. With sunlight shimmering between the leaves, it is stunning! Although there are not as many beer gardens scattered along like on the south side, there are other surprises here.
Often in summer, you can catch a shepherd roaming around with his herd of sheep. (Yes, in the city!) And in the evenings, there are frequent events at the open amphitheatre.
If you are a little bit of a daredevil, you can jump (or watch the locals) into the river at the footbridge near the Isarring Bridge.
With some luck, you’ll also discover beavers swimming in their lodge trailed by “marks” on the trees nearby.
Nature & cultural exploration walk: Nymphenburg Palace (Nymphenburg Schloss)
Although during the summer holidays, you’ll find a flux of tourists at the entrance snapping photos away, the park is so big that you can always find your quiet space.
And really, who can blame them? The picturesque Baroque Palace is set between two long canals, often with swans gracefully fluttering by. It is exactly how you would have imagined it in a fairytale.
The garden here is however the most impressive. Under the most influential garden artist in the early 1800s, Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell (the same Landscape artist for the English Garden) modernized the landscape in the style of the English garden and creating natural green features with streams and unique pavilions.
Whilst there are numerous attractions to do here: E.g. the palace, pavilions, museums and exhibitions, we will focus on the park itself. We have however added a list of places of interest at the end, so you can make it a combined day trip.
The best way to get there is by Tram 17 from Hauptbahnhof (Central Station). As you hop off, grab a coffee and maybe even a pastry from the corner bakery.
If it is in summer, definitely grab a 2 scope ice cream at Cremagelato. They have amazing flavours like lime-basil-gelato. Sometimes, I make the excuse for a walk just to have an Eis (Ice cream) there!
From this point, if you walk over the bridge, you can catch the panoramic view of the castle.
In summer, the water glistens; in fall, amber leaves gently roll over the stream, and in winter, the canal can actually freeze and becomes a winter playground. You can ice-skate or play ice hockey along the entire canal or grab glühwein (mull wine) from the little huts.
Ok, it’s time to start the walk!
Whilst there is an admission fee for the Palaces and Museums, the park is actually free.
At the main entrance, you are greeted by the typical French-style garden with two rows of Greek and Roman sculptures and a large water feature.
At this end, following the left or right, you can head into the vast woodland. If you enjoy the water scene, simply walk along the canal.
To really feel the nature and forest atmosphere, you should head in the northwest direction towards Pagodenburg Lake or to the southwest to our favourite Park Palace, the Amalienburg.
This pink building was once a hunting lodge, a gift from Elector Karl Albrecht’s wife Amalie in the mid-1700s and it definitely shows the decadence of its time. Both interior and exterior are decorated in the rich rococo style.
If you get a chance, you should also visit the inside. (Closed during winter) Everything in there is just “wow” with elaborate details and glam, it has even a Hall of Mirror at the entrance. Now, that’s fancy!
Depending on time and energy level, you can choose to loop back to the main entrance or continue west to Badenburg Lake.
Whilst you cannot baden (bath) in the lake, you can admire the opulent bathhouse next to it. The bathing area itself occupies two floors with an 8m pool and even has a balcony where bathers can look on.
The possibilities of where to walk in this park are endless. Whichever path you take, you will enjoy nature and unique architecture.
A small tip of people who live in the area – I often jog in this area in the evenings with a head torch. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you may even see a Rehe (deer) in the forest. (Isn’t that amazing that you can see Bambi in a city?)
However, if you do see one, just continue slowly and enjoy this magical moment.
As promised earlier, there are many activities to do around here. Besides the actual Palace Tour, here are some other suggestions. Enjoy!
Gondola ride: If you didn’t get to do it in Venice, catch your romantic boat ride here along the middle canal.
It is available from April to mid-October. www.gondel-nymphenburg.de
Botanic Garden: Between December and March, the Greenhouse is opened for “free-flying butterfly”.
You can be surrounded by over 50 species of butterflies from all over the world. You can reach there by a path at the north end of the castle. www.botmuc.de
Man and Nature Museum: This could be a quick stop off to entertain your kids.
Located in the north part of the castle, you can learn about modern natural history with interactive exhibits and reconstructions of animals.
The brown bear Bruno (or J11) is an exhibit representing the last of its kind, which was not seen in Germany over 170 years ago. Unfortunately, he was shot dead by a hunter! www.mmn-muenchen.de
Taxisgarten: My favourite and it is one of the more relaxing beer gardens in Munich. Bring your picnic basket and grab a Mass (German pint)!
The only downside is, it is 2.4km from the castle. So walking will take around half-hour. With some luck, you may find a MVG bike. www.taxisgarten.de
König Ludwig Dinner: Eat like the king! Enjoy the 3-course traditional culinary like the royalties in one of the buildings from the castle. Reservations available here: schlosswirtschaft
Nature Discovery Walk:
Perlacher Forst is one of the most adoring and magical places for nature walks in Munich. Scattered with spruce trees with over 13.36 km² of forest areas, you really feel like as you are living in a completely different world.
The walks are moderate and it is great all year round. Due to the tense forestry, I would say it feels more like wandern (hiking) than spazieren gehen (stroll).
And if you are like us, coming from a no snow country, in winter times, this really feels like Narnia. There are many trails within this area and the walk can last anything from one to endless hours.
This is also an ideal place for bikers since there are rugged paths as well as flat roads.
The following route is our favourite. It is accessible with public transport and with some luck and clear sky, you can see the amazing panoramic view of the mountain range from the Wendelstein to the Zugspitze (The highest mountain in Germany).
How to reach there: From Mangfallplatz U-Bahn U1, walk along Oberbiberger Strasse and you will reach a tennis court (also near the FC Bayern training ground).
This is the start. There’s a small freshwater fountain here (the same water source as what you use at home) and if you are going for a jog, you can fill or leave your bottle next to it.
During the weekends, there are usually some ladies from the neighbourhood selling homemade cakes and jams. A little treat that you can enjoy at the viewpoint or as a reward at the end.
To start, instead of taking the obvious paved road that you see straight away, take the path to the left.
When it forks, take the track to the right. If you are feeling active or want a challenge, you can use the exercise equipment along the side.
There are around 20 stations with exercises ranging from balance to pull-ups. Usually, you only see kids and their parents mucking around, but I’m sure there are more serious ones that come regularly.
Good to remember the name Trim-Dich-Pfad, just in case you get lost or want to show off to the locals.
After around 15minutes, you will reach the shooting ground, this is the signal to turn right.This will lead you to the Muggl (hill), where the promised amazing skyline of the Bavarian Alps can be viewed.
After another 1.5km, you will see a small bent path on the left. If it looks like you have to go up a hill, that’s the right way.
Follow this path and you will reach the viewpoint. On a clear day, the view is absolutely breathtaking and the history of this hill is just as fascinating.
This 26m high hill that you are standing on, was once a bunker with anti-aircraft guns during World War II.
Twenty years later, in 1970, the government finally decided to get rid of it. Discovering that it would be too expensive to destroy, they just settled it by covering it from rubbles from a nearby tunnel project.
A cheap solution that seems to be effective after all!
From here, you can end the walk by looping back to where you started.
At the bottom of the hill, instead of turning right to the shooting range, go straight and you will reach the entrance again in about half an hour. (Estimated total walking time: 1 hour)
For a 1.5-hour longer walk, at the bottom of the Muggl, turn left and you will arrive at the railway.
Follow this path and turn right on the third path available. This would directly take you back to the tennis court.
If you wish to stay in the forest after you have turned left from Muggl, turn right at any trails you see, and like the railway route, turn right on the third path that you see on the right. It will take you back to the same destination.
If you have a quench for a beer, head south from the Muggl to the Beer garden/ restaurant, Die Kulger Alm.
The walk takes about 50mins and is totally worth it. The owner claims they have invented the “Radler” in 1922 when 13,000 thirsty cyclists arrived after a race.
In fear of running out of beer, he spontaneously mixed lemonade and beer together. He then cleverly convinced the riders that the new beer is better to quench thirst and it is a safer way for the ride back home.
As you enjoy the Radler here, it is also worth the while to try their food menu. Unlike most Beer gardens, you will find the cuisines here are modern and creative.
Proud of their “Garden kitchen”, they change their farm-to-table menu daily adapted to the daily’s best.
What a nice way to end a trip! To head back home, it is only a short 15minute walk to Furth, S-Bahn S3.
Green Walk with City Skyline: Olympic Park (Olympiapark)
Once upon a garbage dump, thanks to the Olympics, it has now transformed into one of the most popular places for walks in Munich.
Do you see the pattern? It seems piling up dirt was a common solution in Germany at this time!
With 300-hectare space, the area does not only facilitates regular sports training but also hosts venues such as the Munich Marathon and Spartan Race, world-class concerts, summer festivals and host an outdoor cinema. At one time, it even hosted an international ski race.
Whilst many tourists come here to see the 291m tall Olympic Tower or to climb the roof of the Sail-like Stadium, locals love to come here for a relaxing walk, jogging, or even a group workout.
The park has successfully captured the concept of “Green Olympic Games” by integrating both architecture and landscape with nature.
All in all, it is an inviting and active recreational hub that is great all year round. It is ideal for weekly training, weekend relaxation or for seasonal entertainment.
The easiest way to get to Olympiapark is by U-Bahn U3 to Oylmpiazentrum.
If you have time, you can also visit the famous BMW Welt & Museum (BMW World). Not only you can see spectacular car displays (eg. the Z3 featured in James Bond’s Goldeneye), but you can also explore future technology.
For the actual walk, pass the back of the museums and follow the direction of the Olympic Tower.
Where it forks, stay to the left and you will arrive at the Ice-Sport centre. Now slow down and follow your toes to discover the Walk of Fame.
Like in the Avenue of Stars in L.A., you will find celebrity handprints here, from Elton John to Metallica. A perfect photo opt for Instagram!
Nearby, there’s a kiosk and restaurant where you can grab takeaway coffees and snacks.
If you like to see the architectural details of the Sporthalls, you can fork right leading you through the halls.For me, I like to continue walking around the lake to the open theatre.
Often, you can see people in a group working out or “yoga-ing”, sometimes, even boxing training. In my case, I once played a board game here!
But if you continue a little more, you’ll find a perfect grassy knoll adorned with Japanese Cheery trees in spring and people sunbathing in summer.
From this point, looking across the Lake and you probably wondered to yourself, why are there so many people on this hill?
And yes, that’s the highest point of the park where you can see an excellent view of Munich.Without paying an entrance fee at the Olympic Tower, you still can see the 360 degrees skyline of the city.
Simply follow the path around the lake and cross the bridge on the left. The path to the viewpoint is very obvious.
To catch the best sunset in Munich, head east to another hill at the Olympia Alm.
Grab a beer there and you can walk over on the grass to enjoy the golden rays (this is one of the few beer gardens in Munich where you are allowed to take your beer outside of the actual beer garden).
Quite often, you can see pink and amber rays diffusing across the sky.
On the way back, you can trace back to Olympiazentrum or head south to bus stop 144, where it can take you to U3/U8 U-Bahn stations.
Whichever way you take, it is never boring. On these hills, you’ll find on warm sunny days bikes/skates flying down the hill, or in winter, kids with marshmallow-like suits schlittenfahren (sledding).
Hiking in Munich: Map of "green walks"
So we hope you will enjoy these spaziergänge (strolls) as much as we do.
In striving to live in a green city, we hope you also take the advantage of using the well-organised public transportations in Munich.
Our guide will help you to find the best green sustainable transportation for you.
As always, we love to hear about your experience from our walks.
For more wonderful Bavarian Hiking Opportunities why not check out our post on the Zugspitze – Germany’s Highest Mountain, as well as the walks available about Lake Starnberg and Lake Ammersee.
Thanks for reading our take on Hiking in Munich!