December 12, 2012

Christmas market in Munich

The snow arrived in Munich a few weeks ago, which means that the city looks like a traditional Christmas Card: the roofs, windowsills and sidewalks are covered in white and besides the Christmas markets opened doors on November 26th and with them Munich is brimming with Christmas spirit.

Germans (and foreigners) love the Christmas market! (In German: “Weihnachtsmarkt” or “Christkindlmarkt”). It is one of those sweet and cozy traditions that make the sometimes-unbearable German cold and the wintertime darkness tolerable.

Apparently the origin of the first Christmas market goes back to the Middle Age in Dresden, where traders and storekeepers set up a street market during the Advent time and it became so popular that other German cities replicated the idea.

In Munich there is at least one market in every city district. On November 23rd the German newspaper TZ published an article listing the most popular Christmas markets of Munich:

  1. In Marienplatz: this one is a “must” if you are new to the city or just visiting Munich. The Christmas tree is beautiful at night. However it is always so crowed and it is so tourist-oriented that if I were you, I would also try to visit one other more local market to compare and get the full feeling of the German Christmas market tradition;
  2. Middle Age market in Wittelsbacher Plazt (1 minute from Odeonplatz): this one is fun and different, see pictures below;
  3. Sendlinger Tor: in my opinion this one is similar to the one in Marienplatz very tourist-oriented;
  4. Chinesischer Turm: located in the middle of the beautiful Englischer Garten;
  5. the small market inside the Residenz Hof (Patio) is worth a visit;
  6. the “Kripperlmarkt”: the place to buy all kind of stuff for the crib, located around the fountain of Richard-Strauss in Neuhauser street;
  7. the one in Haidhausen in Weißenburger Platz (my favorite) and finally
  8. the one in Schwabing (Freiheit): I need to go and check this one out but they say it is also a must.

Of course there are many more. A list of all Christmas markets in Munich can be found at the official city website (with description of what to find and why to go).

But if you asked me and I had to pick one I would probably say: the Christmas market in Haidhausen. Why? It is quiet, almost hidden: two minutes walk from Rosenheimer Platz (so still very central and well connected by tram and S-Bahn) but away enough from all the hustle and bustle of the city center and the tourists.

A very good friend of mine that lived in Germany for many years and she is now relocated to NYC told me that the one thing she misses more from Germany is gathering together with friends after work at the local Christmas market and enjoying a glass of “Glühwein”. I agree and starting with the "Glühwein", here there are a few tips for you to enjoy the Christmas market the way it should be:

1.- “Glühwein”: Germans mainly go to a Christmas market to enjoy a glass (or two) of “Glühwein”.  The “Glühwein” is just warm (hot) spiced mullet red wine that no matter how bad/well it tastes, it will help you to keep warm even if you are outside and in minus zero temperatures. It is a tradition in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the French Alsace. When you order a “Glühwein”: you pay for the wine and also for a deposit (that varies from 2-4€) that you get back when you return the cup.

2.- Shopping: at the Christmas markets there are also stalls that sell winter clothing (pullover, home shoes, hats, gloves, etc.); small gifts, knickknacks; craftworks and Christmas decorations , but as I understand these shops target visitors and tourists.  My friend from Augsburg explains that locals do not buy any of these at the Christmas markets (unless they have had too much “Glühwein”…).  Besides prices are usually inflated.

3.- Food: there are usually food stalls that sell roasted nuts, the German gingerbread (“Lebkuchen” and “Magenbrot”), sweet crepes, fruit pieces dipped in hot chocolate, potato pancakes with apple puree, the usual German sausages, etc. They sometimes prepare stuff to take away, but mainly the food is served to be eaten at one of the market outdoor-areas. No worries! There are always patio heaters that will (should) keep you warm.

4.- Kids: some Christmas markets also have carrousels for kids.

5.- Music: some have small stages where local music is played live.

The Christmas markets are open until December 23rd/ 24th. One exception is the one in Stachus with the ice skating area that is opened until after New Years. But aside from this one, on Christmas Day the Christmas market’s magic is gone... so enjoy them before... you still have time!

Which Christmas market do you prefer?

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November 14, 2012

The sweetest German tradition: the Advent Calendar and more

One of the things I enjoy most in Germany prior Christmas is the tradition of the Christmas/Advent Calendars. 

Although you may think that this is something just for kids, it is not. Most of my friends receive one of these Calendars every year from their girlfriends/husbands/etc. And if you check in the stores: many of the available options are also targeting adults with a sweet tooth.

In 2012 the Advent time runs from Sunday 2nd to Sunday 23rd December. However the commercial (sweet) versions of the Advent Calendar begin on December 1st until December 24th December.

These sweet Calendars, in case you have never seen one: are rectangular chocolate boxes that do not open but instead have 24 small windows that break/open and are filled with hidden sweets or chocolates. 

They also sell sets of 24 small cute cloth bags each one representing a day that you can fill with whatever you want: small gifts, notes/photos, messages, chocolates, etc. 

You can find a wide range of these calendars almost everywhere in Munich with prices that rank from 4€ to over 30€ (for the most exclusive ones). The Kaufhof and Karlstadt are the usual places to go but there are also sold in beauty and drugstores like Müller (in the toy section) and in small candy shops spread across the city. 

The manufacturers are getting smarter every year and want to reach other consumer segments beyond the children and therefore there are even Advent Calendars filled with beauty products or football merchandising.

But the sweet treats at Christmas do not end with the Advent Calendar: 
  • The “Baumkuchen” which I understand are very popular in Japan they also have a space in the Munich grocery shelves; 
  • The “Lebkuchen” which is the German Christmas cake par excellence;
  • The “Spekulatis” biscuits are originally from Belgium/Holland (I first enjoyed one “Speculoos” during my time living in Antwerp) but you can find them everywhere here in Munich;
  • And at the many street stalls (or at the Christmas markets) they sell roasted chestnuts/ almonds, other caramel coated nuts; fruit pieces dipped in hot chocolate; etc.

The Christmas markets will open in less than two weeks here in Munich (they are already setting them up) so if you happen to be in the city then and you want to know where to go, check the official site of Munich for a list of all of them with descriptions of their history and offer. 

Do you know any other traditional sweet treats from Munich/Bayern?

November 5, 2012

Rooftops and weather in Munich

The autumn time in Munich is confusing.  

Three weekends ago on Saturday 20th October Munich it was sunny and warm, it was like springtime all over again but in October:  we reached 25°. With this amazing weather: I went on a “rooftop crawl” in Munich:

Mandarin Hotel: The China Moon Roof Terrace is open from May till October. I have been there mid-afternoon in summer and in springtime for drinks and I must say that it is expensive but for a tee or a single drink the view and the service is worth what you pay for.

Oberpollinger is a fashion shopping center in Altstadt that you should visit. On their 5th floor they have a buffet restaurant and an outdoor area with a view to the city  (Dachterrasse). It is free to go up.

The Bayerischer Hof is a five star hotel in Munich where relevant international events take place: such as the Worldwide Security Conference. Also many celebrities stay there while the champions league game is on.
Facing the main entrance, you find the Michael Jackson´s memorial, which is outstanding and one should visit it, even if you are not a fan.

In the Bayerischer Hof: take the lift to their “Roofgarden” to enjoy a nice quiet breakfast until 11am (affordable); a lunch (expensive); a coffee or a drink (prices are like in any outdoor area in the Viktualienmarkt) and all with a great view of Munich.

Last but not least, check the cinema experience that @ the Astor Cinema lounge inside the hotel. It is not a rooftop but it is definitely an experience that you want to consider for a special evening. They call it a "premium cinema" and it is because the cheapest ticket costs 15eur. The 38 very comfortable seats (not usual chairs but sofas) and the service justify the price. 

Glockenspielcafe is featured in every tourist guide about Munich. From up there you do not only get a view of the main square of the city but you can actually enjoy a nice brunch or meal. I have been here many times. They do not accept reservations, which means that you need to go there and find (fight for) a table outdoors.

Alte Peter is a Romanic Catholic Church located within two minute walk from Marienplatz- the main square in the city-. You pay something like 5$ and then you get to go up and enjoy a 360° view of the city.

The Frauenkirche is the main church in Munich. Despite their works, you should be able to step up for a gorgeous view.

A weekend later after that 20th of October: all changed. On Friday night the temperature dropped to zero and it started snowing (out of the blue) and did not stop for two days. No more rooftops, no more sunbathing, no more anything that had to do with being outdoors.

On Sunday morning, Munich was covered in white snow. In just one week, we went from Barcelona to Stockholm.

I was not the only one surprised by this weather change; the local newspaper was also featuring the unexpected snow and reporting that Munich has not seen “this winter coming” since 1939.

I am unsure what happened during the week after the snow because I was in Berlin but when I got back to Munich on the following weekend, all the snow was gone, the sun was back and the temperature has dropped down again (something around 9° to 12°) somedays with sun, some others with rain

You can follow the official German weather service department in Twitter and Facebook. My favorite information sources on the current weather is:
Any tips on how you face the weather in Germany?

Related post: 

October 16, 2012

The Grocery list - Die Einkaufsliste 2/2

***Hidden places to buy local food stuff *** Vegemite and Marmite*** Food stuff from Australia, UK, Turkey, Asia, Russia***Buying fish in Munich*** Special Wine from Spain and France***

Thank you all for your emails regarding the entry “the Grocery List- The Einkaufstliste”.

The second part of this entry would not have been able without your emails and suggestions. Thank you for reading.

Below I am listing some places that are now in my shopping list (thanks to you guys!) and that sell food stuff from all around the world. Ready?

Antojos Latinos in Hofmannstrasse, 13.
Viva Latino American food and its entire wonderful foodstuff brand: Antojos Latinos has a wide range of imported “hard-to-find” food stuff range from South America.

The Pomeroy & Winterbottom in Reichenbachstraße 38 (two minute walk from Gärtner Platz) is a small store that apart from Marmite and Vegemite, sells some of the UK usuals at a price of course.  

Australian Shop: apparently there used to be one in Munich in Dachauer Strasse but they are closed now. Good news are that there is an Aussie online shop based out of Frankfurt that sells all the goodies you are missing.

The big Edekas also sell Marmite (no Vegemite I am afraid). 

Turkey in Munich: there are many Turkish grocery stores in Schwabing but my favorite and the authentic ones are in Landwehrstrasse and a few in Schwantalerstrasse (two minutes walk from Stachus). The Verdi supermarket is my favorite. 

They have amazing fresh groceries outside, a huge meat section and a small fish one in the inside. They make their own bread, which I love. 

Asia in Munich: I have been taken to many stores in Munich that sell Asian food stuff. And after trying them all, I still prefer the two ones that are in Rosenheimer Strasse, between Gasteig and Rosenheimer Platz. The Orientshop and the small local one that is just across the street are my recommendations.

Russia in Munich: My friend from Samara took me to Odessa a few months ago. Odessa is located in Karlsplatz, 4. However, my Russian friend says that this is not the authentic thing. Prima is. Prima is located outside Munich but I am unable to find an official website aside from this.

Are you a fish lover like I am? Then visit Poseidon or Fish Witte in Viktualienmarkt.

I was not aware of Spar when I wrote the first part of The Grocery List- the Einkaufslite. I am now. Apparently they partner Edeka here in Germany. I have been surprised by their range given the small space they have. They stock stuff that I do not usually see in the German markets.

I was also not familiar with the concept of Getränkemärkte in Munich when I wrote the first part of the Grocery List- The Einkaufsliste. This is a supermarket just for drinks (non- and alcoholic). Apparently there are advantages of shopping there for bottled water, the soft drinks, the beer or the strong stuff. The prices are slightly lower than usual and the range is wider.

Wine.  K. and I usually order our wine online and it is delivered straight from the Spanish winery to us in Munich. But another good option if you are really into wine is: Wein + Vinos are a good option for you. They are probably the largest online wine seller in the country (for fine and selected wine). They started in Berlin in 1996 and grew across the country. Today Wein & Vinos has stores in many cities in Germany and one is Munich in Wörthstraße 36. 

And this is all. Again thank you guys for your tips. The second part of the “Grocery List- Die Einkaufliste 2/2” would have not been able without you.

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Munich marathon

Sunday was the marathon day in Munich.

I had forgotten but the fences and volunteers filling glasses along the street reminded me.

It started at 10am and ran through the city (Olympia Park, Rathaus, Frauenstrasse, Isartor, Odenonsplazt, etc.) with music and small events in different parts around the route all ready to cheer up the runners and the audience. With 42 kilometers and more than 7000 runners the Munich marathon is one of the five largest marathons in Germany together with Berlin and Frankfurt. 

Munich must also be admired for the organization, security and display of volunteers informing drivers and pedestrian of alternative routes. The runners made to the finishing line eventually (unfortunately I could not be there to see it) but the official site of the marathon was reporting in almost live time. The fastest man needed 2 hours and 19 minutes and the fastest woman 2 hours 32 minutes. “Respekt”.

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October 8, 2012

Optician´s in Munich

The time has arrived when I really need new glasses. I did not know where to start because I usually buy my contact lens online @ LinsenPlatz so I had no reference at all to which opticians were good in Munich. 

I asked a few friends and they all directed me to the big chains… but which are they? So I decided to do some research to get a list of the largest opticians in the city; then I visited the ones that have stores nearby, talked to a few of them and learnt about their promotions. 

After the “gathering info” operation, all that is left for me is to choose one and make an appointment. Although I need an afternoon free to do so, which means I will need to wait until next week. But in the meantime, I have put together a summary for you about the options we have here in Munich when looking for new glasses.

According to SPECTARIS (the German Opticians´association): 40 million adult Germans (>16 year old) use glasses and almost 3 million use contact lenses in the country, which should give you a feeling that these guys do know about myopia, farsightedness and astigmatism. The industry has sales over 3 billion € per year and the export rate is approx. 48%, mainly to Europe but also to other areas (exports to Asia are around 10%). 

Fieldmann and Apollo are the two largest chains in Germany. However, there are other optician´s that are also well established with a presence in Munich that one should consider. 

Besides I have also seen a couple of TV spots from an online shop called Mister Spex. Apparently this is the “Amazon” for glasses in Germany. By choosing the shape of your head and face, your nose and forehead, as well as your preference in color, price, etc. you get a list of suggested frames that would fit you. 

But if you are like me and would like to try on-site the frames, instead of fishing for suggestions online, here you can find a list of the most popular and established opticians in Munich:

Fieldmann with over 500 subsidiaries has several stores in Munich. The two ones that I have visited are: in Haidhausen (Weißenburger Straße 21) and in Karlplatz (Sonnenstrasse, 1).

Apollo has the largest network of stores with over 700 shops across Germany. To celebrate its 40th birthday they have a number of special offers these days. 
There is one Apollo on my way to the gym in Westenhellweg 64 (close to the Lenbachpalais) and another one in Neuhauser Straße 21 (close to Karlplatz).

Pro Optik: also in Karlplatz (Sonnenstrasse,3) is also celebrating its 25th anniversary since they opened their doors in 1987. They have around 100 subsidiaries in Germany.

Matt Optik has a store in the Munich shopping mall MIRA in Feldmoching. Too far away from me to visit, but in case it is close to you, here are the details: MIRA, Schleißheimer Straße 506.

Aktivoptik has one store in Neuhausen and another in Starnberg. They are both too far away from me to go and check, so I´ll leave you with the website for further information.

Krass: is another large optician chain with 47 subsidiaries across Germany and the only one that I am familiar with, since they have one store at the end of my street.

Other large optician chains in Germany that are not present yet in Munich are Optiker Bode, Binder Optik, Abele Optik and Eyes and More.

I understand that you can request a free of charge sight check in all of them, but of course this is a hook to get you to buy/update your glasses/lenses afterwards with them. 

The so-called “Nulltarif” is apparently very popular these days in many of the above, since they usually offer it in one way or another. 

I have known this promotion for years thanks to the international French optician chain Alain Affleou. Afflelou´s started many years ago offering the second pair of glasses for just one euro more after the purchase of the first pair. It was a sort of revolution in France, as well as in Spain when they expanded. Nowadays the promotion has evolved and I believe that now you can actually get a third pair free of charge (or again at 1€). 

Of course the second and the third pair must be chosen from a specific frame collection that is branded under the Afflelou name (no Prada, Rayban, etc.) but still is very practical to have a backup and the frame quality is not bad. The glasses are standard, which means that you usually (at least in the Afflelou´s promotion) need to pay for the extras: anti-reflection coating; etc.

Some of the largest opticians in Munich have the “Nulltarif” or similar promotions, so the way to go is to identify which ones are close to you, visit them to check that they have a good range of frame options and pop in inside to see if they are nice. Yes, this is important, because not all of them are. During this research, I visited two stores with a friend who was looking for new sunglasses. In both stores the sales people were inattentive and cold. This is the reality in Germany: the client service treatment is different to the US or the south of Europe. It has nothing to do with how professional they are or the quality of the product; it is just not as warm and attentive as you would expect...  

Do you know other opticians to be considered? Please let me know. 

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September 24, 2012

Welcome to Oktoberfest 2012

Last Saturday Munich kicked off the 179. Oktoberfest, as every year… or not? 

Apparently in 2012 the Wiesn -the term refers to the Oktoberfest and it is short for Theresienwiese: the area where it takes place- is smaller than in 2011 due to the organization of the “Zentral Landwirtschaftsfest”  (lit: festival of agriculture) next to the Oktoberfest site.

Besides there are a few new rules this year: no glass bottles are allowed in the premises; the music sounds lower than usual and the gas stations are not allowed to sell alcohol after 8pm or on Sundays. This last one started before the Oktoberfest, will stay when it is over and as I see it, is another measure in line with last year´s ban of drinking alcohol in the city´s public transport. 

I will stop here giving general info about the Oktoberfest 2012 and instead will refer you to the numerous information sources online, including the Wiesn official site. Check them to learn about the history of the festival; the tents; how to book a table or accommodation; the price of a mass, etc. 

Instead I will tell you about:
one of my favorite parts of the Oktoberfest: the “Trachtenumzug”; 
the table booking and accommodation prices and;
surviving the Oktoberfest.

The Trachtenumzug means literally: “parade of traditional costumes” and it is a colorful and entertaining parade full of Bavarian history that takes place the second day of the Oktoberfest (on Sunday from 9.45am) and marches around (more or less) the old city center until it reaches the Wiesn site. Different local associations and clubs in Bayern march with their music bands; all members dressed up in their traditional costumes and some even parade with a carriage and a VIP on it that waves proudly at the crowd. These associations mostly go back to the medieval times and each represents a small town or city in the region.

The photos are nothing special, I found very difficult to secure a spot on the front row to capture the parade. 

The prices. Last year I went to the Oktoberfest on a Monday morning with an ex-colleague from Frankfurt and friends. We found free seats for lunch (around noon) and it cost us around 30€/person with food and shared desserts included. This year, we booked seats for the very first Saturday and we paid 35€/person. This seems reasonable to me, to you? 

Please, do not believe anything that does not sound reasonable. I read at the September issue of the Munich magazine Prinz that apparently there are people who are asked to pay 5000€ for a table booking at the Oktoberfest. I am not an expert in this matter but after visiting some of the tent sites to check on prices, I believe booking prices should go from 35€ to 90€/person. If you are offered something above this, I suggest you definitely question it...

Regarding accommodation, I read that some hotel room prices go up by 200% during the Oktoberfest (ok, I get this, every city in the world put up the room prices while a big event/trade fair takes place). This is the reason why sites like couch-surfing or initiatives like the mobile village at the Reitstadion Riem are becoming more popular for the Wiesn visitors. This temporary mini village is made of 98 mini lofts and cost approx. 129€/night. 

Of course one can also do like in the so-called “Italian weekend” of the Oktoberfest and rent/bring one´s own caravan (mobile home) to Munich and then replace the accommodation costs for petrol and private or street parking fees. If this last one is an option for you, please be aware that street parking in Munich is usually (even without the Oktoberfest) an impossible mission; besides street parking fees are alarmingly high and parking control officers do not miss one… I would never sleep in a stranger´s couch nor in a caravan, but this is me... I love hotels but for that to work, planning in advance is key. Book in advance and you will get the best hotels and the best deals. 

Surviving the Oktoberfest.  The Oktoberfest is fun and so good for the books of the city and local businesses … But the truth is that living in Munich, life must go on no matter what: you still need to get up early to go to work; you still need to do the weekly grocery shopping and you still want to enjoy life in this safe, clean and cozy city that is usually ranked as a top place to live because of its quality of life.

How do you live in Munich without living the Oktoberfest?

Aside the fun and the books, if you live in the city center, the Wiesn means that:  

the streets are not as clean and safe as you are used to; 
the supermarkets and shops´ shelves are emptier than usual;
there are longer queues everywhere, including in the U/S-Bahn stations; 
your bike is no longer safe without a lock while you pop in that store;
and if you decide to go for a walk in the park on the weekend, you will hardly enjoy some quite time with the kids/family/boyfriend because the green areas (unless it is raining) are full with tourists drinking or sleeping on their hangover. 

I am not cranky, I am just describing what I see and experience myself in Munich and through my friends´ eyes.  I have a good friend, born near Munich that every year books a two-week holiday outside Munich coinciding with the Oktoberfest... 

Do not run away like my friend, stay and enjoy the festival, but if you do, remember to be careful and above all patient. 

What are your experiences/thoughst/questions on the Oktoberfest? I would love to know about them :-)

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August 10, 2012

Biking in Munich

** Munich by bike ** German bike club ** Bike tours in the city and surroundings ** Online resources **  Renting a bike ** Buying a bike **

I have read in many places that Munich is a “Radlhauptstadt” = a capital city for the “Radl”, which is the Bavarian equivalent of “Rad” (short for “Fahrrad”) so a bike. 

If you navigate online you will find strong arguments that support this statement/city slogan. The main one is that Munich´s infrastructure (public and private) strongly favors and supports this green “vehicle”:
  • There are approx. 1200 kilometers of bike lanes in Munich; 
  • The bike parking facilities are free and almost everywhere (unless you read “Fahrräder abstellen verboten”, “ Bitte an xxx keine Fahrräder abstellen” or something similar);
  • The public transport and taxis are expensive; as well as the rates for street-parking (besides the traffic jams are frequent and the parking control officers are everywhere);

If they were not reasons enough to convince me, the city publishes a lot of information about living and moving on a "Radl" in Munich: bike city maps; a bike route planner to plan how to get from A to B quicker and with bike lanes; an annual program of events (i.e. the bike summer nights, courses, free technical bike checks); tours outside the city to discover the surroundings, etc.

The MVG (the Munich public transport company) has partnered with ADFC (the German Bicycle Club) to put together more than 20 bike routes within and around Munich. You just need to pick your route and then take the U-Bahn or S-Bahn until the starting point, where your bike route starts. At the end of the tour, there will be another metro station that will take you back home. There are routes from 22 up to 68 kilometers and they include: the Bavarian mountain Taubenberg; lakes like Starnberger See or Ammersee; Dachau; etc.

It took me a year to make the decision to buy a bike in Munich. Why did it take me so long? Easy:
  • I have driven a car since I was 18 and I love driving; 
  • I was 12 years old last time I rode a bike and 
  • honestly I was under the impression that it was dangerous/complicated with all the cars, buses, trams… 
But I was mistaken. 

Firstly, not matter how many years have passed since you were on a bicycle, trust me: you do not forget it. Secondly, it is not dangerous/ complicated. You see parents with bike trailers for their children all the time; they ride to/from the office in their suits and with their laptops; to/from the supermarket with their grocery bags; to/from parties on the weekend in high heels (!), etc. It is not that the locals have a specific gene that makes them more skilled than you and me, it is just that it is easy. 

And dangerous? Well, I believe that the drivers in Munich are very respectful with bicycles and they are used to give way and to keep the security distance (I actually believe it is more complicated to drive a car in Munich than a bike).

There is a very nice brochure by the city of Munich where it explains the StVO (so the rules of the road and driving) for bikes. It is in German so if you do not understand it, get someone to help you or easier: ask in the Tourism Office or book one of the many bike tours in the city, this way you can learn the basics with a guide while sightseeing the city.

The most popular organized group tours in Munich are: Mike´s bike tours; Lenny´s bike tours, Frankie´s bike tours, Munich Walk Tours and Radius Tours
I have not tried any of them, but if you do, please drop me a line and let me know your impressions. 

Maybe you are like me, in which case you might want to go for a test ride before you invest in your own bike. In this case, a very good option is to rent a bicycle from the many shops/services in the city (private and public). Most of the above shops that offer organized tours by bike also have rental services.

The DB (Deutsche Bahn) has a bike rental service named: Call a Bike that is very easy to operate. They have several spots around Munich where to pick up the bike and it costs 0.08€ per minute, with a maximum of 15€ per day (or 9€ if you have a Bahncard).

Some bike rental shops require a deposit (that can go from 50€ to 100€) and then they charge you an hourly fee (that can go from 2€ to 5€ or 15€ per day). Most of the above companies that offer bike tours also have a rental services.
In some places they also offer student discounts, so do not forget that if you are enrolled in a language school here in Munich, you might be eligible for a student card (it depends on the school and the number of hours).

And finally if you are ready to go out and shop for your own bike, then you will find that the number of options is so large that it is almost impossible to compare them all. 

My suggestion is: pick one or two shops that are close to your place/office, go there, look around and ask the staff for advice. The prices are more or less standard in all shops for first and second hand bikes. 

If you go into a bargain quest, you will only be losing your time. Some people comment on forums claiming that they have bought bikes for 50€ or less and they are fantastic (well I hope so). I guess that this option works for people that are not using the bike regularly... But if you do, you want to make sure that what you pay for is in a good condition and that it is not going to cost you more money in two weeks, when you discover that you need to buy new brakes...

My honest advice is:
  • if you want your bike to be your main transportation in Munich, please avoid the super cheap stuff (junk) found in a dark patio of a corner shop somewhere and go and pay the market price in any of the many bike shops in Munich. Yes, this might mean to pay from 250€ for a bike;
  • if you just want a bike for a short sporadic ride on a sunny Sunday in the park, then do not let the shops sell you a brand new bike or an expensive second one. Go for a cheap, cheap bike. The second hand market here is very competitive and dynamic, so you should be able to find one for 150€ and that is in a good condition for the use you are planning. Just make sure the brakes work before you pay!!!

Shops to buy a bicycle in Munich (first and second hand): 

And this is all from me today. I hope this info is useful. As always, drop me a line if you know of any other options/shops/places to rent/buy a bicycle here or just to tell me your experience with the bike in Munich.

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