Cradled by mountains and surrounded by lakes, Munich is within striking distance of snow and is a popular gateway for the slopes.
With good connections from Irish airports to the Bavarian capital and with spring sunshine melting the snow and warming up the cold Lenten days, there are plenty of attractions to make a visit to this lively and unpretentious city a great weekend destination.
Traditions are treasured here. Bavarian children build nests of moss for the Easter Bunny and eggs of all sizes and colours are painted and hung on tree branches in gardens — Easter is as attractive as Christmas in this part of Germany.
Plus, there’s a world class opera house, a premier football club, tons of historic buildings, eye-popping arts galleries, elegant shops, and hearty beer halls which should keep high and low brows sated for a three-day Easter sojourn.
Starkbierzeit Oktoberfest may be the best known beer bash in Europe but not so many are familiar with the Spring festival.
Starkbierzeit or the strong beer festival is an altogether more mellow introduction to the beery delights of the Bavarian breweries.
The festival begins two weeks after Shrove Tuesday and each of the city’s four main breweries open a marquee for the three-week duration.
They brew strong beer in small quantities, just enough for the Spring season. Expect all the usual trappings of Oktoberfest — oompah bands, girls in drindl dresses and boys in lederhosen, but with half the crowds.
A visit should give you plenty of bragging rights with your local craft beer cognoscenti when you get home.
There are three main art galleries — all called the pinakothek. Admission charges are nominal and they will be open over the Easter weekend.
The Alte Pinakothek, houses works by European masters from 14th to 18th centuries.
The nearby Neue Pinakothek houses 19th century works and if your taste is for the more contemporary, head for the nearby Pinakothek der Moderne. A mere baby in art gallery terms, Munich’s newest addition to the museum quarter, is a brash abstract building dedicated to pop art. Want to see some Andy Warhol? Museum Brandhorst is where to find it.
The Englischer Garten is Europe’s largest inner-city park and perfect for an amble in the spring sunshine. Attend a tea ceremony at the Japanese Tea House or visit Munich’s oldest beer garden at the Chinese Tower .
Improve your understanding of local history with a knowledgeable guide on the fascinating two and a half hour, Hitler and the Third Reich Tour. Afternoon tours daily at 3pm. Cost, €15. www.viator.com
Head to Marienplatz for the performance of the famous Glockenspiel. Then stroll over to the outdoor food market — Victualienmarkt — a bustling conglomerate of artisan food stalls. If you are visiting over Easter weekend, aim to visit on Saturday as it is closed on Sundays and church holidays.
If you are footie fan or an architecture buff, you’ll gravitate towards the state-of-the-art Allianz Arena with rubber walls that light up in the team colours. Even if you don’t get a match ticket, there are daily tours at 1pm.
Wide pedestrianised boulevards and café-lined squares make shopping in Munich quite a relaxed experience. You’ll find some popular names that have disappeared from the Irish high street. Woolworths and C&A both have stores here. For something German, the homewares chain, Butler’s has gifts to suit all budgets. Stroll down Maximilienstrasse for the haute couture experience.
Munich’s newest shopping centre is the Fünf Höfe (Five Courts), a sophisticated ensemble of modern art and architecture with shops, bistros and cafés, near the Marienplatz. Most shops will shut on Good Friday and Sunday.
Munich is home to two major houses. The Bavarian State Opera, the premier Munich opera company, is located at the imposing National Theater on Max-Joseph Platz. Over the Easter weekend, you can catch The Tales of Hoffmann with Rolando Villazon and Irish tenor Dean Power, Wagner’s Gotterdammerung and the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev.
The Staatstheater at Gärtnerplatz is the city’s second opera company. The company’s base theatre is closed for renovations with productions being farmed out to other local houses for the time being.
When the schmaltzy charm of the beer hall begins to pall, an evening at a Munich jazz bar might be just the thing to make your evening go with a swing. Vogler’s Jazz Bar on Rumfordstrasse, is a laid-back spot with a mellow sophisticated vibe.
Unterfahrt im Einsteinstrasse, located in an underground beer cellar, has a more frenetic, students-union vibe and a roster of international visitors.
The iconic symbol of the city is the twin-domed Catholic cathedral, Frauenkirche. Formal Easter services on Saturday and Sunday include music by Rheinberger, Palestrina, Orlando di Lasso and Gregorian chant.
Aer Lingus: Saturday Flights
Ryanair: Three flights weekly
from April 2. (Connecting bus to Munich 90 mins).
For good value and location, it is hard to beat the Motel 1 chain. With three city centre locations in Munich, doubles start at around €80.
Most of the main city centre sites can be easily accessed on foot. Trams, buses and an underground system make it easy to navigate.