Tag Archives: munich

Munich Solo Ride

Who would have guessed that I’d return to Munich for Oktoberfest for the second year in a row?  Last year, we took and enjoyed Mike’s Bike Tour (review).  Lenny’s was a possible option for this year but the route looked pretty similar to Mikes.  My one free day was forecast for showers and rain all day.  After being turned away from Mike’s new rental office (the weather forecast was not good, happily it was also wrong), I quickly rented a bike from the original location and set off on my own tour.  Munich has an emerging craft beer scene that could warrant a tour of its own and I wanted to visit at least a couple of small breweries.

Giesinger GlassRiding south out of the Altstadt, the first stop was to be Brauerei im Eiswerk. It was easy to find but sadly not open until 17:00.  Next up was Giesinger Bräu.  Armed with both a printed map and GPS, the brewery was tough to find.  A friendly Frau sensed my uncertainty.  After a mishmash of English, German, finger pointing, and head nodding, I set off up the only hill for miles around.  And found Giesinger at the top, next to the all important “kirche” (church) landmark.

Following a couple of beers and a very tasty smoked fish salad, I headed back downhill and rode  towards the Oktoberfest “Wiesen” grounds.   The map showed the most direct route was via the busy Humboldtstraße.  As I looked for a suitable side street to avoid traffic, I crossed Humboldtstraße and discovered generous bike lanes and no need for taking the back roads.  Munich’s reputation as a bike friendly city is well deserved.

OktoberfestI rode around the exterior of the Oktoberfest grounds to get a better sense for the scope of the festival and took some photos from the Bavariapark hill on the west side.  I continued a short distance west through Bavariapark, the mostly empty Wirtshaus am Bavariapark beer garden, and the Deutsches Museum Verkehrszentrum  and stopped at at the Endless Staircase in front of the KPMG building to get a shot of this stairway to nowhere….or is it art?

Endless Staircase
Endless Staircase

Front entranceFrom here, I rode north and east to the main pedestrian entrance to Oktoberfest.  Many visitors, including my group, arrive via the U-Bahn and miss the photo opportunity at the walking entrance.

Continuing east, I rode past the Hauptbahnhof, numerous Trachten (Germanwear) shops, and a constant flow of Lederhosen and Dirndl clad revelers headed to the festival.

Finally, I rode into the Altstadt, stopped for an obligatory selfie with the wild boar in front of the German Hunting and Fishing Museum and worked my way back to Mikes.

Rub His Nose for Good Luck!
Rub His Nose for Good Luck!

Here’s the map:

The route is about 10 miles; it took me about four hours, with frequent stops for photos and lunch.

A couple of notes if you decide to take a similar ride:

  • The Thereisenwiese grounds are home to Oktoberfest as well as a few other festivals.  Depending on the time of your visit, there may be nothing there to see.
  • If I rode this again, I’d continue up the hill past Brauerei im Eiswerk and look for the bike paths that appear to connect more directly to the Giesinger area.  But do ride down using the route shown through the woods.
  • Another fun alternative would be to ride from Mike’s across either the Maxilimilian or Ludwigsbrücke bridge and visit one of the beer gardens shown on the east bank of the Isar River.  Or go the other way around and end your ride there.
  • There’s nothing magic about the route I took through the Altstadt and there are places on the pedestrian malls where bikes must be walked.
  • Finally…..if you haven’t taken one of other Munich bike tours…do that BEFORE you venture out on your own.
  • Have fun!

Rick Steves Likes Bike Tours

(Photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)

Rick Steves recommends bike tours:

For a quick but meaningful spin around town, consider a bicycle tour. You’ll find fun and memorable guided bike tours in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bruges, Budapest, Munich, and Paris, as well as many bike-friendly countryside areas. You’ll get a young, entertaining, often foul-mouthed, sometimes informative guide who will give you a breezy introduction to the city and a close-up look at back streets few tourists ever see. Tours are typically fun, reasonable (roughly $30), and an easy way to meet other travelers as well as get a new angle on an old city.

Mike’s Bike Tours of Munich – Classic Tour

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.