A Champions League weekend in Munich
If you're lucky (or rich) enough to have a ticket for this weekend's Champions League final in Munich, or even if you're just planning on heading to Bavaria to soak up the atmosphere, there's a fair chance you won't just be there for the duration of the game. And nor should you be: Munich may rightly be renowned as a beer-lover's paradise, but there is a variety of other attractions to suit all interests.
Yes, it's not all about beer, but what better way to kick things off than a visit to Europe's only airport brewery? Sample a glass of the excellent Airbräu in the space between terminals one and two and note the price - it will probably be the cheapest one you'll have all weekend.
Checked in and luggage deposited, it's time to stretch your legs after the trip. Late afternoon and evening is a fine time to explore Munich's city centre. Head to Marienplatz to see the gothic city hall and then simply feel free to wander; the centre isn't huge and is easy to navigate. Just to the north is the Odeonsplatz square area next to the old royal palace and its gardens, while to the west of Marienplatz is the twin-domed Frauenkirche that is synonymous with the city. If the weather is clear, tackle the steps that wind up to the top of the Peterskirche (St Peter's Church) between Marienplatz and the Viktualienmarkt food market.
Enjoy a cool refreshing beer in one of Munich's famous beergardens.
On a warm Munich evening, there is nothing better than a few hours in one its many beer gardens. The Augustiner beer garden is one of the biggest and best. Take tram number 16 or 17 heading west or the S-Bahn to Hackerbrücke and marvel at the thousands of benches under a canopy of chestnut trees as you drink what most locals consider the city's best brew. Only fancy a shandy? Then just take a "Radler" from the large self-service area. Saturday
Start the day the Bavarian way with a traditional "Weisswurstfrühstück" - a veal sausage breakfast. If the sun is shining, then make your way to the English Garden - one of Europe's biggest inner-city parks - and the Seehaus. The lakeside restaurant and beer garden offers a sunny, picturesque setting to sample the chunky white sausages together with mustard and, of course, a Weissbier (any other kind will be frowned on somewhat and don't, whatever you do, go for ketchup instead of mustard, or even worse-try and eat the skin).
Now it's time for some sporting culture. Take the subway north to the Olympiazentrum, where you can explore the old Olympic Park, which - unlike many other host city's facilities - is very much still in use 40 years on. Admire the sweeping tensile architecture and see what the special UEFA Champions Festival has to offer, including skills clinics, a museum and the chance to have your picture taken with the Champions League trophy. Whet your appetite for the main event with the Ultimate Champions Match
in the old Olympic Stadium at midday, featuring some of the biggest names from the last 20 years including Cafu, Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro. Entry is free.
Saturday evening, now where to watch the game? If you're not heading to the stadium, there will more than enough venues showing the match, offering different experiences. Want to feel like you're back in England? Then, just head to one of the handful of Irish pubs (Killians, Kennedy's, the Shamrock, Molly Malones). Fancy some fresh air? Weather-permitting, pretty much all the beer gardens will have large screens erected (Augustiner Keller and Chinese Tower are the largest and most centrally located). Want to play it by ear? Any bar or café worth its salt (and some that aren't) will show the match. It will be hard to find anyone in Munich on Saturday who won't have their eye on this "home final." Some places will have been booked out for weeks, others more first-come, first-served. Leopoldstrasse offers a number of options, both inside and out, and will also place you in prime position for the after-match party. If Bayern win, expect the long street to become the world's biggest open-air party - a cacophony of flag-waving, horn-tooting revelry.
Munich has a thriving open-air scene.
Depending on how the night before panned out, Sunday is the perfect time to take in a little more of Munich's culture. As it's very much a Catholic state, almost ALL shops will be closed (with the exception of a handful at the main station), so any last-minute souvenir shopping will have to wait until the airport. The Königsplatz area offers a glimpse of Munich's Nazi past with some imposing architecture as well as a collection of world-class art museums that span the full spectrum of tastes. Sunday is very much café-time in Munich, so why not cap your visit with a coffee and cake? For location and a touch of elegance, Café Tambosi at Odeonsplatz is hard to beat (although a little overpriced and slow to serve), while Café Vits (near Isartor) makes the finest coffee in town.