Ahh, dear old Ruhetag or ‘day of rest’ as it is known in Deutsch. On Sunday, all of the shops are closed, except for the odd Petrol station kiosk and a small shop at the Airport. A day for workers, a day for family, a day for honouring whichever deity you choose to honour. A day OFF! Imagine that! This is a concept held dear to many Germans. They’re so serious about it that it’s enshrined in law, and has been since 1900 with only a few minor adjustments in the last century. It remained in Bavaria, even after 2006 when the decision was placed in the hands of individual states as opposed to being a federal matter. It may not surprise you to know Germany has the strictest adherence to the Gesetz of all European countries. Many major shopping chains are happy with this situation though, stating that a Sunday opening would not likely lead to an increase in profits or sales.
Having recently moved from the U.K, this came as a bit of a shock to the system. What do you mean, there’s no 24/7 Tesco? I can’t pick up teabags, an avocado and a flat-screen TV at 3pm on a Sunday? Let me tell you, this took me a while to adjust. After a handful of Sunday mornings waking up to an empty fridge, I got my act together and did the shopping during the week instead. Taking a forced rest from 24/7 consumerism is something I can recommend to you all. A New Year’s resolution, perhaps? Just make sure there’s milk in the fridge for tea!
If you are in Bavaria over a weekend, you’ll certainly need something to keep you occupied. Take the opportunity to have a long lie-in, unless you have young children of course, then you won’t be doing any such thing. Ever again. These are my slightly-off-the-beaten-track top 10. What are your favourite things to do on a Sunday? Let me know in the comments!
1 Soak up some culture at a Schloss
Nothing is more quintessentially Bayerisch than Neuschwanstein Castle. The spectacular castle built by King Ludwig II to hide away from public life is said to have inspired Walt Disney when he created Cinderella’s castle at Disney World. This is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Europe, visited by 1.4 million people per year, and one you cannot miss. I suggest making the trip in winter to see the castle in all its glory, dusted in delicate white snow. Perched precariously on the hillside near Füssen in the Allgäu region, it is easily doable from Munich in a day. You can take the 45-minute hike up to the castle doors, or hop on a horse-drawn carriage. The trip up is €7, and you even get a thick felt blanket to cover your legs on colder days. Castle entrance is €13 for an excellent guided audio tour in a multitude of languages (little one enjoyed the tour, snoozing away in the baby carrier the whole time!) Even better, opt for a König combination ticket priced at €26, which has a 6-month validity and entrance to King Ludwig II’s other palaces at Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee. That’s 2 more Sundays sorted. When you’re peckish, the castle cafe-bistro serves hot drinks, cake and Brezen and a short stroll down the hill you can get a hearty lunch at the schlossrestaurant.
There are several more beautiful Schloss sites around Munich. Head to the Neues and Altes Schloss Schleiβheim and check out the Aviation museum (part of the Deutsches Museum) whilst you are there. The castle grounds frequently play host to a multitude of other activities such as Horse Trials and Dragon Boat racing, so check what’s on before your visit.
2 Make like a local at the Spa
Visit the biggest Thermal Spa in Europe at Therme Erding (and stay if you like, in a gigantic indoor hotel shaped like a tall ship). Upon entry, you are issued with a little chip on your wristband. This opens your lockers but perhaps most importantly, you can simply beep it at one of the many restaurants, cafes or swim-up bars inside the vast world of Therme. With indoor and outdoor pools, slides, flumes, saunas, an over-16s-only area, sunbeds, daybeds, a wave pool and no less than 15 places to eat and drink, you can easily lose an entire day here. For an altogether quieter experience, head to Aquariush at Unterschleiβheim. The mineral-rich thermal water bubbles from 2km underground, and is a perfect 77.5 degrees Celsius. Here you will find a baby pool, outdoor pool, 2 cafes and brand new Saunaoase for adults – this is just the spot for a bit of relaxation. Even better, it is open until 10pm every day.
3 Trek with some sassy creatures
Not even 30 minutes from central Munich lies Aying, and its beautiful forested countryside. At Lamaland Loher you can take a gentle 2-hour stroll through the forest with some soft and fluffy Llamas but remember to book your spot in advance. For €35, you will be in charge of your very own madam who may or may not respond to your gentle cues for direction change… These ladies have what can only be described as ‘showgirl’ names – Loretta and Chantal to name a few. They certainly live up to their stroppy diva reputation and will keep you amused with their funny ways on the forest walk. Lamaland Loher runs a cafe and gift shop, where you can buy unique items such as a Llama weekly planner. For lunch afterwards, head to Ayinger Bräustüberl a few minutes away from Loher, where you can feast on a platter (seriously, it’s HUGE!) of the most succulent ribs you’ve ever tasted for €16 complete with Pommes. A dish best shared between two.
4 Brunch and a stroll
This really is a year-round favourite in our household as it’s easy-going for the pushchair and lots of fun for the pup. Head to Schwabing and you’ll be able to park on the street for free on Sundays, or get the U-Bahn to Münchner Freiheit. Spot the whos-who of Bavaria’s answer to Chelsea sipping coffee and cocktails in the many cafes and restaurants in this small network of streets. Stop at the Occam Deli on Feilitzschstraβe for coffee and cake, or lunch, or both. Its modern European menu is a nice break from the traditional Brezen and Wurst. Stroll into the Englischer Garten and do a loop around the Kleinhesseloher See which will take you about half an hour, with a stop for coffee at the Seehaus restaurant if you want. Head to the Chinesischer Turm or the Eisbachwelle if you need a bit longer to walk off all that cake.
5 Meet a Wizard in Ellmau
This is another family favourite, where pups are welcome too. In fact, Monty said it is one of his favourite days out. At 1,520m at the top of the Hartkaiserbahn gondola (which is pushchair-friendly), you will find the triple-level Bergkaiser complex. Enjoy a cocktail and a delicious light lunch at the very top in the luxurious Kaiser lounge, or head downstairs for something more hearty in the Panorama restaurant. Its panoramic wrap-around windows let you enjoy the scenery, whatever the weather outside. At the gondola level is a traditional skiing self-service restaurant where you can grab a quick drink before you head off for a hike.
Ellmi and Willi – resident Frog and Owl – welcome you to their Zauberwelt. This forest trail is truly magical, with talking trees, hidden caves and wooden observation tower which is not for the faint-hearted. In the summer there is a discovery trail and many circular walks from the gondola station. In the winter, they host events such as the Magical Mountain Event to mark the start of the advent season.
6 Meet some unusual critters
Poing Wildpark is 30 minutes from central Munich and offers an authentic experience for interacting with wildlife. This is an extremely family-friendly place, and although it will be busy on Sundays, there is plenty of space for everyone. The 4km circular trail around the park is pushchair-friendly and allows you to see animals in their natural habitat. For only 50 cents, you can buy a bag of animal feed at the entrance to try and tempt some Moufflon or Deer a bit closer to you. There is a wonderful, open rabbit and guinea pig enclosure just inside the front gate, full of friendly little critters who are keen to use up any leftover feed you have. Just make sure to check the pushchair before you leave, especially if you have a toddler!
Thankfully the more boisterous and dangerous animals are safely in their large enclosures, you will be relieved to know. The European Brown Bears are a particular highlight of the park, as well as the twice-daily bird of prey flight demonstrations. If a 4km walk hasn’t worn your little ones out, there is a massive adventure playground complete with water world and a pirate ship, next to the picnic meadow and kiosk.
7 Look at life from 181m up
The Olympia Turm in the Olympic Park is a fabulous spot for seeing all the sights of the city from way up high. A lift whisks you up in less than 30 seconds to the viewing platform, with all the attractions of the city printed on the glass windows. Lift passes are €7 per person, and free for birthday children. If you are up the tower between 2.30pm and 4pm, you can have coffee and cake in Restaurant 181 on the floor below the viewing platform. The restaurant constantly rotates, completing one rotation every 53 minutes. See if you can pick out your favourite Munich spot from up high! The park is also home to the Sea Life Centre, which is open on Sundays too. Take a stroll around the lake and work up an appetite for lunch at the Restaurant Olympiasee.
8 The Lakes: Ammersee
45 minutes from Munich, just off the 96 is Ammersee. Keep to the north of the lake for a beautiful lakeside walk, or a wander around Inning. You can take a boat trip between April and October from Stegen in the north, or stop for some lunch. You’ll find everything you need at Restaurant Fischer. They have a beach and ice cream bar in the summer and a winter lounge in the colder months. The restaurant is open all year round as is their shop, Manufaktur, where you can pick up locally-produced gourmet treats.
9 The Lakes: Tegernsee
For a lakeside skiing in the winter, you will want to head to Tegernsee. The Sonnenbichl ski area in Bad Wiesee is home to the Audi ski centre and some serious World Cup slopes. You can take a boat trip from April to October, and again in the Christmas season. A unique experience, this winter boat trip connects the three Christmas markets at Tegernsee, Bad Wiesee and Rottach-Egern. If you’re just after a day trip, the town is easily accessible by train from Munich and a top spot for lunch is Aran Restaurant. With other restaurants in Munich, Passau, Landshut and Rosenheim, you will feel at home in this calm oasis. The Tegernsee branch has a stunning terrace with panoramic views over the entire lake.
10 The Lakes: Starnberger See
Another lake easily accessible from Munich by train on the S6 line is Starnberg. The place to be seen on Lake Starnberg is Hugo’s Beach Club Undosa. They do a fantastic Sunday brunch buffet, with the rest of the menu being delicious and Italian. In the summer you can recline on the deck chairs immediately next to the lake and enjoy the beautiful alpine scenery. There is a particularly awesome adventure play park just down the Seepromenade, and you can discover some history and local culture at the Starnberger See Museum which is a steal at €3 for entry.