Munich’s famous Englischer Garten or English Garden dwarfs both Central Park and Hyde Park, London in size. Not many places can boast an urban space twice the size of Central Park, New York. English Garden occupies an area of 1.4 square miles from mid-town to city limits.
The garden is a park which gets its name from the informal landscape style that was popular in Britain around the mid 18th – 19th century. It’s easy to see why on a summer’s day over 100 000 people flock to the park; woodland and meadows, a network of wide paths, plenty of places to picnic and an ice cold stream running through it makes it an easy choice for city-dwellers to relax and unwind. I spent a day here taking in the scenery, getting lost and generally being an tourist. Here are ten reasons why you must never leave Munich without visiting the English Garden.
1. You can ride an artificial wave
There’s an artificial wave where surfers line up along the bank and wait their turn. You need to be an expert or skilled surfer as the current can be strong and there are metal poles under the stream.
2. Go with the tide on the Eisbach
The Eisbach or ice brook is a man-made river which flows through the park. Although swimming in the brook is not allowed it’s not a rule that’s enforced strictly. On any day swimmers brave the chilly water and let the natural tide carry them along the brook. It’s a fun thing to do and you will see hordes of teenagers gliding along the brook.
3. Almost everyone rides a bike and there are plenty of spaces to park one
One of the most noticeable things in Munich is that almost everyone rides a bike. So there are bike stops everywhere. If you’re peckish and want to stop for lunch you can park your bike next to your table and relax. No bike police here.
4. There’s a rose garden
English Garden has a rose garden and it’s as beautiful as it sounds. As well as perfectly manicured flower beds there is an arched pavilion with seats, right in the middle, where you can sit surrounded by roses.
5. Goldene Bar serves up a mean grapefruit lemonade
The Goldene Bar is a cafe and restaurant which sits behind Haus der Kunst. It has a terrace overlooking the park. They serve a mean cold grapefruit lemonade and a fabulous cup of coffee with cake.
6. You can drink tea in a Japanese tea house
The Japanese tea house inside the park was built in 1972 to celebrate the Olympics in Munich that year. A traditional Japanese tea ceremony takes place here regularly. However, you will need to check opening hours outside summer months as it was closed when I was there.
7. Eat local at Seehaus Restaurant
Seehaus restaurant inside the park is set in the most idyllic setting with views across the lake. It’s cosy and gorgeous and has outdoor seating as well as more formal dining inside. The menu is pretty incredible and suited for celebrating a special occasion. I had the charred Bavarian salmon in elderflower oil. Delicious!
8. A five-storey Chinese Tower serves up beer
The Chinesischer Turm, or Chinese Tower, inspired by the Great Pagoda in Kew Gardens, London was first constructed in 1789 to 1790 . It has five storeys and a beer garden with 7000 seats. It’s still only the second largest beer garden in Munich. Come here during summer and it’s Oktoberfest in the sun.
9. Buy ice cream from a converted toilet
Fraulein Grüneis is, wait for it…a public toilet converted into a quaint ice cream shop. It’s become one of the most popular meeting places in the park and all of Munich. You can buy anything from pretzels to penny sweets here.
10. Visit a Greek style temple built on a mount
Monopteros or Apollo Temple is a 16 meter high Greek style temple built in 1832 on a small hill within the park. It was designed by Leo von Klenze and is complete with polychrome stone paintings. As much as its historic value the elevated position offers a stunning view of the sunset over Munich. Rumour has it that it’s a favourite with lovers.