Destination Run: Highlights of Munich’s Englischer Garten
When it comes to the best and largest urban parks in the world, the Englischer Garten in Munich rivals London’s Hyde Park and New York’s Central Park. A series of open green meadows is transversed by streams and wooded dirt paths that open into brightly lit expanses of lawn and open-air beer gardens to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. A visit to the Englischer Garten should grace any itinerary to the city. While you’re there, why not squeeze in a quick run to counteract all the fabulous German beer, sausages and pretzels you’ve been enjoying.
Munich’s metro, referred to as the U-Bahn, is expansive, easy to use and the best way to get around the city. Buy tickets at the kiosks at any station and validate them as you enter the train. Most tourist sites recommend getting a day pass when visiting the city which will give you unlimited use of the trains, trams, and buses until 6 am the following day. Do make sure to buy and validate a ticket! The trains are patrolled by transit authorities and, although you will not be checked each time you ride, getting caught without a valid ticket will result in hefty fines and dirty looks from your fellow passengers.
Universitat, Odeonplatz, and Lehel are the closest U-Bahn stops to the park. Lehel and Odeonplatz are closest to the southern entrance where our route begins. Odeonplatz is just a bit further away but will lead you on a scenic route through the Royal Garden and past Prince Karl’s Mansion as you make your way to the entrance.
Recommended Route & Highlights
There are many route options through the 5 kilometers of space in the Englischer Garten. No matter what path you choose, you are sure to end up jogging along one of the many streams that crisscross the park, finding a few beer gardens and observing locals and tourists enjoying the expansive lawns and river banks. However, if you’ve only got one day to trek the park and you prefer to have an idea where you are going, this is the recommended route for ensuring you hit all the highlights.
Eisbach River Surfing
Begin your run at the southern end of the park at the intersection of Prinzregentenstraße and Wagmüllerstraße. Take a quick stretch while enjoying the spectacle at one of the park’s most famous spots along the river. Despite the cold temperatures in the appropriately named Eisbach (ice stream), you will typically find a line of wetsuit-clad surfers waiting to take on the large standing wave. Once you’ve seen enough of the adventurous bunch, follow the main path north into the park.
As you continue north, crossing the river you will find yourself entering the most popular area of the park. To your right, you will see the wide lawn speckled with families and university students lounging in the grass. You may catch a few crossing to your left to grab the beers they stashed in the stream to stay cold. On a particularly nice day, you are likely to see many sunbathers avoiding tan lines by relaxing in the nude. Yes! Nudity is legal in Munich. So, try not to stare too long as you soak up the cultural experience and continue on your way.
Chinese Tower & Beer Garden
If you veer off the main path and head northeast you will soon come across the green-roofed Monopteros Pavillion quaintly situated on a small hill. Crossing the stream you will see the famous Chinese Tower and Beer Garden where many visitors enjoy cafeteria-style bavarian classics with a hefty 1-liter mug of beer. Fight the urge to stop now–these are not light mid-run snacks.
Continue along the eastern edge of the park heading north and you will come to the small Kleinhesseloher Lake. You can admire the Paddle Boats skimming around the three small islands as you circle back around the lake. Continue along the western edge until you reach the west entrance at the intersection of Königinstraße and Veterinärstraße. Here you can make your way to the Universitat U-Bahn stop.
Alternatively, you could double back for that liter of beer at the Chinese Tower and take a cool-down walk for the last half mile or so out of the park’s western entrance.
Extending Your Route
The suggested route will be around 3 miles and will take you through most of the highlights of the park’s southern end. If you are looking to go a bit further and escape the crowds, consider crossing into the northern half of the park before circling back.
When you reach the lake you can find a pedestrian bridge across from the paddle board rental. Take this bridge across Isarring Road to reach the quieter Upper Englischer Garten. Turn right until you come across the Hiraschau Beer Garden, a local favorite. Here you can continue north to run on the wooded paths along the Oberstjägermeister Stream or continue right to find the Isar River.
When To Go
There’s a chance the beer gardens will open early in April or stay open into October if weather permits. However, visiting May through September is your best bet for enjoying a beer in the sun. Locals recommend avoiding the last weeks of September unless you are planning to join in the Oktoberfest festivities. The streets and parks are sure to be filled with tourists descending on the city for some serious beer drinking.