This past September, we traveled to Munich for Oktoberfest. Yes, THE Oktoberfest. We were meeting a small group with plans for a couple of group visits to the Wiesn fairgrounds, a tour of the Erdinger Brewery and the Andechs Monastery. With only one free day before the rest of our group arrived, a bike tour was a perfect plan to reacquaint with a city I’d visited once, years earlier.
There are a couple of tour providers in Munich. We chose Mike’s Bike Tours of Munich based on a friend’s recommendation and concerns about getting a reservation during the busiest time of the year. Mike’s seems to be the biggest tour company, by far.
We met our group at the Altes Rathaus, located a couple of blocks from Mike’s shop. There were at least 40-50 people and I was really concerned about how ungainly our group size would be. Four guides met us there and provided a short talk about the old government building, while I continued to imagine this group of 50 plus riders and guides trying to ride around central Munich.
Fortunately, my fears were quickly allayed. As the group walked to the shop, the guides broke us up into smaller groups of a dozen or so, each lead by one guide. Each guide led his group to a different staging area with bikes ready to go. (Side note, the back door to the Hofbräuhaus is across the street from Mike’s shop and they were very accommodating about a few dozen riders using their restroom facilities, pre-ride.
Our guide was Basti, who bills himself as “probably one of the few, half Bavarian, half New Zealanders out there“. Before we rolled, Basti asked for a volunteer. As I raised my hand, I realized (from having read some Tripadvisor reviews) that I’d just volunteered to be the “Ass Man”. The Ass Man’s job is to bring up the rear (so to speak) of the group and make sure no one was left behind or separated from the group. It’s a smart and simple way to track of the group. There were a couple of inexperienced riders with us and it would have been impractical for Basti to try to herd the entire group.
The tour wove through central Munich, stopping briefly at the Hofbräu (the front door this time), the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Residenz, a short walk around the Odeonsplatz area, through the Hofgarten and past the Bayerische Staatskanzlei. From there we entered the Englischer Garten, riding past the nudist meadow, picnickers and informal soccer games. At the Chinesischer Turm, we parked the bikes and stopped for lunch and a beer or two. In addition to refueling, it was a good opportunity to meet our fellow riders, including three young ladies from Australia wearing AFY T-shirts (don’t ask) and a couple from Austin (small world!). Basti shared some ideas on less touristy beer halls than the Hoffbrau and some restaurant recommendations.
Our tour then continued through the garden to the Eisbach Standing Wave, where surfers challenge a dangerous standing wave blocks from central Munich.
From there, we rode on past the Bayerisches Staatsministerium, eventually turning south along the Isar River at the golden Angel of Peace statue. The stretch along the Isar was a wooded bike/walking path with one or two very moderate hills. We turned back across the Isar on the Maximilian Bridge after stopping at the Maximilianeum building. After a short stop overlooking the massive Deutsches Museum, we cycled up Tal Strasse to complete our tour.
Here’s the approximate route.
As with many tours, you pay at the conclusion of the tour. It’s a good opportunity to tip the guide. Mike’s shop had some T-shirts/hats/merchandise for sale as well as some handy pocketable maps (complimentary).
Here’s our group, with the Ass Man award:
With the lunch/beer stop, our tour lasted about four hours. The pace was easy and mostly flat. Highly recommended.
Also, check out Alexandra’s detailed review at Speaking Denglish, with tons of photos.