Englischer Garten

englischer garten RELAX: The grass around the Monopteros is a
favorite chill-out zone.

ENGLISCHER GARTEN: I’ve whiled away some of my most contented hours here, lying shirt off besides a summer stream, listening to the sounds of nature and the chatter of other delinquent timewasters in the distance.

The Englischer Garten is a wild but well-tended green corridor that rolls right into the heart of Munich.

The park is the world’s largest within a city and a prime place to relax, stroll, ride, drink, flirt and about anything else you can think of.

This is where Munich locals come to relax when they couldn’t be stuffed getting out of the city. They sit about in the sun, fry up on barbecues, ride bikes, horses and waves. They walk along the river, float along on rafts, dip in the streams and smell the roses.

Viva la Munich

Prince Elector Karl Theodor and his architect Friedrich Sckell created the Englischer Garten in 1789. This was the same year the French stormed the Bastille starting their revolution.

The park’s name comes from its wild style, imitating untamed expanses around England’s grand estates. There are meadows, forests, streams, ponds and a big old lake in the middle.

The surf’s that way

englischer garten surfingSURF'S UP: Ignore the signs and surf in
the stream.

You’re a soldier on assignment in Munich from your Californian hometown. You want to ride the breakers like you did in the old days but the nearest beach is a long, long way. What do you do?

Find an artificial wave created by a bridge and surf on it, of course!
Near a bridge over the Eisbach stream on Prinzregent Strasse there’s surfing to be had.
It’s crazy but there’s wave-catchers there all year round.

Munich-based GIs started the trend after World War Two. It’s officially forbidden but police turn a blind eye these days.

In stricter times surfers dug narrow trenches along the stream banks and buried their boards when the cops approached.

Danger in paradise

Head downstream to a series of small waterfalls where the young and the restless often jump in for a wild ride.
In summers’ heights it’s carefree scene, but beware the currents if you decide to dive in.
Swimmers can be swept into submerged rocks and now and then don’t resurface. If you don’t feel safe stay on the dry side.

The “T” in Garten

On an island in the stream is the dainty Japanische Teehaus (Japanese Teahouse). Japan bequeathed the cottage to Munich for the 1972 Olympics.

You can join in a Japanese tea ceremony here from April to October on every second and fourth Saturday and Sunday of the month at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. Phone: 089 22 43 19

Chinese Cake

englischer garten towerMEET 'N' DRINK: The Chinese Tower
is a popular meeting point.

A helluva lot of toasting, drinking and dancing goes on around most wedding cakes and this one is no exception. The Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) is the Englischer Garten's most-loved meeting point and looks like and “I do” dessert.

A Bavarian band blows out tunes from the upper tiers while dozens relax at benches in the beer garden below.

A popular Christmas market takes place here in December.

The tower was built in 1790, burned down in 1944 at the height of World War Two and rebuilt 1951-1952.

Roll-your-own temple

Like something out of a Greek tragedy is the Monopteros, built in 1838. It’s a circular temple crowning an artificial hill and offers views all the way to the Old Town. This was a favourite spot to smoke a few joints in the 1960s, now it’s just a nice place to gad about.

Yet more beer gardens

Munich’s best-placed beer garden is the Seehaus on the edge of the park’s lake.

It pulls a lot of celebrities and the uppity breed they call “schicki-micki” here in Munich. A bit expensive but worth it. You can rent a paddle-boat and go for spin around the islands on the lake, called the Kleinhesselohersee.

If you really want to stretch your legs you can walk 3km up into the northern section of the Englischer Garten along quiet, leafy paths to the former royal hunting cottage of Aumeister.
It’s now more famous for pouring the amber fluid for those who have made the trek.

Nuding up

englischer garten musicSING ALONG: Spontaneous musical outbursts are common.

Many Germans like to get naked. Those in Munich often do it here, especially in the southern section between the Monopteros and the Schwabinger Bach stream.

Nudism has a long tradition in Germany and they call it Frei Korper Kultur, meaning Free Body Culture.

There’s a club that’s even organised nude bike rides through the park. The sight of dozens of people starkers can be a tad cringe-worthy, particularly if they’re oldies with more fault lines than the Pacific Rim.
On the other hand I think it’s a tradition that radiates equality and acceptance, so don’t be afraid to go with the flow.

The details

Location: Englischer Garten, Schwabing
Open: It's a park, so it's open all the time, but technically it's forbidden to spend the night here.
Directions: Take the U-Bahn No. 3 or 6 to stations Universität, Giselastraße or Münchener Freiheit (depending on how far north you want to go!) then stroll west for a few hundred metres.

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The Englischer Garten is an attraction north of the city centre. Nearby attractions include...

Hofbrauhaus - The most famous beerhall in the universe!
Munich Residenz - Old seat of the Bavarian rulers. See the family jewels.

Or you could just...

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