Think Munich, think bratwurst and beer? While the city may be famous for its traditional gastronomy, it is doing much to shatter the anachronistic prism through which many still see it. From vegan eateries to ambitious biking schemes, sustainable fashion stores to pristinely-maintained gardens, below are four reasons why travellers ought to make this green pilgrimage . . .
Carbon-cutting transport initiatives
When it comes to lowering emissions, Munich is the city to beat. Cheering green travel like it’s going out of fashion, local environmental organisation Green City has not only established a bike rental system that would make Boris Johnson reflect, it offers individual bike courses for immigrants, the elderly and people with disabilities.
In fact, Munich’s historic centre is virtually car-free thanks to initiatives like the Munich Transport and Tariff Association – a public transport system comprising 18 S-Bahn and U-Bahn rail lines, over 70 bus lines and 10 trams. Tickets are reasonably priced and conductors keep time to the second; just watch out for the trams as they slink by inaudibly!
Munich is full of secret treasure troves, not least those that pay homage to goods of a bygone age. Located on Hohenzollernstrasse in Munich’s trendy Schwabing district, the unassuming Kunst Oase – or art oasis – is a citadel of antique rarities. Visitors peruse the exquisite ware in a basement every inch of which is filled; gilded curios glint in the chandelier-refracted light, mirrors and portraits adorn the walls and tassel-hemmed lampshades hang in their thousands from the ceiling. Between cupboards and dressers plants spring forth unabated; a babbling spring completes the oasis vibe. Attracting a mixture of tourists and antique veterans, Kunst Oase is a mainstay on the antique scene and chimes with Munich’s coveted approach to recycling.
Meanwhile, sustainable fashion stores and flea markets abound. Check out Deargoods or IKIM Munich for an alternative approach to keeping up with the Joneses; their commitment to using recycled garbs, sourcing from sustainable manufacturers and ensuring they do not perpetuate a demand for products from any poorly-regulated companies is to be emulated. Or, for a one-off find, why not pop along to the München-Riem flea market? Held every Saturday just outside the city centre, the market allows locals to buy and sell their wares while generating proceeds for local charities and worthy projects. Now that’s social responsibility!
Despite the meat-focused cuisine that typifies Munich, vegetarians and vegans have ample choice of restaurants. While Prinz Myshkin serves up a cohort of Asian-inspired vegetarian dishes – fried oyster mushrooms on arugula, anyone? – restaurant and juice bar Saf specialises in organic vegan fare, ensuring all their food is local and seasonal to boot.
If home cooking is more your bag, why not head to the Viktualienmarkt near Marienplatz? Open Monday through Saturday, this ‘Victuals’ Market’ boasts local produce of the finest quality; organic beer, splitting sacks of herbs, mottled eggs, hummocks of spices – ruby, brown and umber – and buckets of glistening strawberries. Here in Munich, non-air freighted grub is easy to come by and affordable too, and seeing as most big supermarkets are closed on Sundays, many locals stock up for the weekend and take a picnic to one of the city’s many parks. For the weary postprandial tourist, opportunities for cycling and walking abound.
For those who, like me, prefer to walk everywhere, an afternoon in Munich’s English Garden makes for the perfect outing. Its panorama is one of stately constructs and lean-to tourists; from the Chinese Tower to the domed Monopteros reminiscent of a toga-swathed age, to the turquoise Eisbach brook curling through the park, this is a place to lose yourself.