Kicking Back in Munich’s Englischer Garden

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Growing up in Massachusetts, the ocean has always been a short drive away.  I LOVE being close to the ocean and LOVE spending time on the beach (remember my Southeast Asia perma-tan?), and the idea of being landlocked terrifies me a little bit.  Even if I’m not heading to the beach, it’s nice to know it’s there.

And then there’s Munich — a nice city, a fun city, and a city VERY far from the ocean.  Looking at Google Maps, you’d have to drive across the Alps and two borders to get to northeastern Italy and the Adriatic!

So, with no beach in sight, how do Munich-dwellers kick back on hot sunny days?  They go to Englischer Garden.

Englischer Garden is one of the largest urban parks in Europe — it’s much larger than New York’s Central Park.  When the days are hot and sunny, young and beautiful Germans head to the Englischer Garden to take their clothes off and lie in the sun.

There are beer gardens, bike trails, a Chinese temple — even a set of tightropes to walk!

The best attraction in the park, though, is the surfing.

River surfing.

Yes, apparently it is possible to surf in the middle of a manmade river!  On Prinzregentenstraße between Bruderstraße and Lerchenfeldstraße, you can watch some of the most intense river surfing in the world.

The manmade Eisbach River has a large break, so surfers can just jump in and surf back and forth, back and forth, until they wipe out.  And the moment a surfer wipes out, the next surfer jumps in, not wasting so much as half a second!

This is open to expert surfers only and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch.  Dave and I stood watching, transfixed, for the better part of an hour.

You can watch the surfing from three different angles.  That top photo is from the bridge overlooking the break.  You can also watch from behind on the west side of the river…

…and for the closest proximity, from the east riverbank.

I’m so glad I got to see the river-surfing in Munich this time around.  During my first visit to Munich last year, I didn’t make time for it.  Don’t make the same mistake I did — make sure you go see this!

While surfing is permitted, swimming in the river is not.

Not that anyone listens.

While this is technically against the rules, we saw plenty of people sitting in the river, swimming its length, and letting the current drag them along — sometimes with beers in hand.  (Though I wouldn’t be surprised if those were mostly British stag dos with the beers.)

A bit disgusting?  Perhaps.  This IS Germany, though.  I’d be more apt to jump in a river here than in Bosnia.

I loved this park.  I might go so far to say that it’s my favorite park in the world!  It had just the right blend of widespread appeal, relaxation, and quirkiness.

And with the rivers running through it, Englischer Garden is almost a worthy substitute for an actual beach.  If I lived here, you can bet I’d spend my summer afternoons here.

Have a favorite park?  Where is it?

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20 thoughts on “Kicking Back in Munich’s Englischer Garden”

  1. You can surf… a river?? How COOL! When I move to Australia one of the first things I want to learn is how to surf. I’ll be that chubby westerner doing face plants. I hope they enjoy the view.

  2. After having lived in Munich for half a year i’d grown to prefer “Westpark” over “Englischer Garten”. It’s a bit smaller, but also quite big. And is quieter, way less tourists 😉

  3. I looved visiting this park! You forgot to mention that there is also a nudist section where you can sunbathe in your birthday suit! hehehehe

    Another favorite of mine is Vondelpark in Amsterdam. It’s has big old trees, ponds/streams with ducks, seemingly endless bike trails, and community events. When we were there, they were having a fashion show. There was the main area of the show and then there were also models posed standing on big crates to advertise the show. It was super cool!

  4. Awesome post, Kate! The Englischer Garten is actually my favorite place in Munich – I like cycling there, or just walking, chilling with a book, and having an Oktoberfest-sized beer by the Chinese Tower 🙂 Oh and watching the surfers of course – aren’t they amazing?!

  5. River surfing..that is a new one!

    My favorite park is Millennium Park in Chicago! It’s located right on Michigan Ave and attracts tourist from all over the world! They have ice skaking in the park in the winter and it’s just magically. If you ever visit Chicago, it’s a must see!! 🙂

    Sally Stretton

    1. Hi, Sally — I’ve heard Millennium Park is really nice! Also, just to let you know, most spam filters block when you leave two or more links, as mine does. You don’t need to link to your own site — it’s already linked in your name.

  6. Great pictures & a lot of information. I hope to visit Munich and the English Garden soon, it’s really such a nice place. By the way there are several spots in Switzerland where you can do “River Surfing”, too.

  7. Technically, swimming is only forbidden so that the city can’t be sued in case of an accident, since there are no life savers. So yeah, you can just jump in, let yourself be dragged by the flow, get out of the water somewhere and walk or even take the tramway back -wet bikini and all, sure, why not?- then repeat till the sun sets 🙂

    Also, going for a barbecue at the river banks in the Thalkirchen area is sort of a Summer must if you live here, it can get really crowded so it’s best to get there early but it’s totally worth it!

  8. I love this park and have a post about it waiting to be published too! 🙂

    The river surfing was the highlight for me as well. I stood there for an hour watching them and taking wayyyyy too many photos.

  9. Thanks for promoting the Englischer Garten 😀 Last year, I was walking with a friend and we passed two tourists who started talking about how they had expected so much more and were pretty disappointed. I still think it’s a nice place, so calm!
    Surfing by the way is allowed now. Or at least… not permitted anymore.

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