These beer gardens are your best choice for good beer and good times when you’re in Munich, Germany.
If you want to get straight to the beer garden list, go here.
What is a beer garden?
Imagine a place where you can commune with friends and strangers alike in the great outdoors with a liter of beer in one hand and a giant pretzel in the other. Welcome, my friends, to the beer garden!
Around the world, the terms “beer garden” and “beer hall” are often incorrectly used to describe any place that primarily serves beer. So, what exactly is a beer garden?
A beer garden is a specific type of establishment that serves beer, is outdoors, has grounds covered by gravel or stone, offers communal seating, and is shaded under trees. Beer gardens are never inside and are never formal. Some are attached to breweries but not all. Very often, there’s music or some type of entertainment. Beer gardens are known for their family friendly, serve-yourself type of atmosphere where everyone is welcome.
Why do they call it a beer garden?
Beer gardens originated 200 years ago in Bavaria to serve the storage and fermentation needs of brewers. They had discovered that lager fermented under cooler temperatures yielded a purer and better tasting product.
The best way to keep their beer cool was to store their barrels underground, so they expanded the cellars already under their breweries, digging new storage areas beneath their yards. To keep the sun from baking the soil and heating up the precious beer below, they planted “beer gardens” which consisted of chestnut trees that would eventually shade the ground. Rather than waste the land overtop the cooling lager, some ingenious brewers added tables so customers could have a place to enjoy their beer.
With that, the beer garden was born.
How do beer gardens work? How do you order, pay, etc?
Beer gardens are largely about self-service. There is usually a central beer pouring station with a wall of empty half-liter and one-liter glasses at the ready. Grab one and take a look at the beer menu. When you’ve decided, all you need to do is order, pay and watch as they fil up your glass with that gorgeous golden liquid.
If beer isn’t your thing, don’t worry. There are plenty of other beverages available. Also, be warned, most beer gardens only accept cash.
When ordering for multiple people, be careful to only purchase what you can carry. Those full one-liter glasses can get really heavy!
After you’ve successfully gotten your drinks, it’s up to you find a place at a table. Don’t be shy about sitting down next to strangers because by the end of your visit, they likely won’t be strangers anymore.
How much do beers cost at a beer garden?
A one-liter glass of beer (called a mass) is usually right around 8 Euros. It may cost more if ordered in the full-service restaurant section of the beer garden. Also, in some beer gardens, there may be a refundable 1 Euro deposit for the glass.
Do people eat at beer gardens, and what do they eat?
Oh yes, people love to eat in beer gardens! There are usually food stalls with a variety of traditional German offerings like giant pretzels and sausages.
A very popular item is “Steckerlfisch,” which is a whole grilled or smoked fish on a stick. Other bar-type food like burgers, nachos and wings are also usually available.
Many people bring their own food when visiting a beer garden. You’ll see everything from families putting out tablecloths and setting up spreads worthy of royalty to others enjoying a simple bag of chips or an apple with their beers. Foodwise, anything goes at a beer garden.
In addition to the tables reserved for self-service customers, many beer gardens have a section for restaurant-style service where wait staff will come take your order.
Pro Tip: If you’ve brought your own food, you are not allowed to eat it in the restaurant section.
Now that you’ve learned a little something about beer gardens, you have to figure out which ones to visit while you’re in Munich. There are many, but here are eight of the very best.
The Best Beer Gardens in Munich
No trip to Munich would be complete without visiting Hirschgarten, the largest beer garden in Europe. Situated among the lush green meadows of Hirschgarten recreational park, it dates back to 1791, where it started life as a royal hunting lodge.
Later, it became a restaurant and over the years, it has grown into one of Munich’s most popular destinations, with a capacity to host over 8000 thirsty guests. They serve a variety of beer, including Kaltenberg, Schloßbrauerei Kaltenberg, Hofbräu Tegernsee and Augustiner. If it’s food you’re after, they have plenty of traditional Bavarian fare as well as many other international favorites.
Popular with both tourists and locals, Hirschgarten is known for its lively and family-friendly atmosphere. There’s a playground for the kids, and given that the name of this beer garden literally means “deer garden,” it shouldn’t be surprising that they have a small, kid-friendly deer park on site.
Chinesischer Turm / Chinese Tower
“Englischer Garten” or English Garden is a sprawling public park in the center of Munich. When visiting, it’s difficult not to notice the gigantic, two-hundred-year-old wooden pagoda towering 82 feet in the air. Walk toward it and you will have discovered the Chinese Tower, the second largest beer garden in the world.
For being so large, it’s remarkably peaceful, perhaps due to the lovely setting and the comforting shade from the evergreen trees. There are rows and rows of picnic benches which can hold up to 7000 patrons. They also have a stage at the base of the pagoda which, on weekends, features brass bands playing traditional German oompah music.
Chinese Tower is a popular attraction, particularly with the students from the nearby university. In addition, you’ll see people from every walk of life enjoying themselves, chatting, drinking and eating. There are kiosks with a wide variety of food, making it difficult to choose just what to sample.
The locals will tell you, however, that you’ll never go wrong by trying out a plate of their legendary Nuremberg Sausages. If you are planning to visit Chinese Tower on a Sunday, make sure you get there early because they serve a breakfast buffet that shouldn’t be missed.
After you’ve finished with the Chinese Tower, why not take a stroll across the English Garden to the park’s northern edge and visit the Aumeister beer garden. It’s situated outside of a 19th century house and is about half the size of the Chinese Tower beer garden. It began life as a watering hole for royal hunting parties and by looking at it today, there are still plenty of people who find it the perfect place to wet their whistles.
The Biergarten Aumeister has a fun, family atmosphere with plenty of park visitors and hikers taking a break for a bite of food and a seasonally available beer.
There are numerous food stalls, but if you want a complete beer garden experience, you really shouldn’t miss out on their version of “Steckerlfisch,” which is a grilled fish on a stick. As you eat it, you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like sitting under those chestnut trees while enjoying the view of the pond. Make it extra special and go on a Thursday when they have live music.
Seehaus im Englischer Garten / Seehaus in English Garden
Believe it or not, the English Garden is a big enough park to support yet another beer garden! This one is very special and a little bit different.
Set alongside the banks of Kleinhesseloher See, a peaceful lake, Seehaus feels more romantic than most beer gardens because of the lovely water-side views and the cool, Mediterranean vibe. It has 2500 seats but the best ones are located on the sunny terrace, a perfect location for people watching.
At Seehaus you’ll see a mixed bunch of patrons, including a younger, more fashion-conscious crowd than is usually found at a typical beer garden. That leads to a more upscale feeling, which is reflected in the prices — a liter of Paulaner costs nearly 9 Euros, making Seehaus one of the more expensive beer gardens in Munich. Still, it’s such a charming place, you don’t mind one bit as you sip your lager and gaze off into the water.
Another fun feature of Seehaus? After you’ve had a relaxing visit and a belly full of beer, you can work off some of those calories by renting a rowboat at the jetty which is only steps away.
Did you just hear that bell? That means there are happy customers at the Augustiner-Keller beer garden. Whenever a bell rings there, a new barrel of beer has just been opened.
Augustiner-Keller is a little off the beaten path but is well worth the trip. It’s one of the oldest beer gardens in Munich, dating from 1812 and it’s also one of the biggest, with 5000 seats. The exterior of its charming horseshoe-shaped building hasn’t changed since 1895.
The beer garden itself is big with table after table of happy guests enjoying Edelstoff beer right out of the barrel as they sit underneath over 100 leafy chestnut trees. There are self-service and full service sections as well as three terraces.
The food highlights are the “Resche Brezn,” which are crispy pretzels and the “Hendl,” the best roasted chicken you’ll ever try. Of course, like many other beer gardens, you can always bring your own food.
The Hofbräuhaus Biergarten
In Marienplatz, at the center of Munich’s old town, it’s impossible to miss one of the most famous tourist attractions in Germany — the Hofbräuhaus. Most visitors know it as the oldest beer hall in Munich.
What they may not realize is that there is a charming beer garden located in the Hofbräuhaus courtyard. It’s small compared to many other beer gardens, with seating for just 400 visitors. Still, they have hundred-year old chestnut trees, communal picnic tables and very often traditional Bavarian music. Also, be warned! Their pretzels big enough to share with several people.
This beer garden is only open in the warm weather months and is extraordinarily popular with tourists, so check their website for opening times and get there early.
While most beer gardens are on the older side, with at least a hundred-year history, Biergarten Viktualienmark was established in 1970, making it the youngest beer garden on the list. It is, however, located in the city’s oldest farmer’s market, the Viktualienmarkt, which is conveniently situated right in the middle of Munich. It’s just around the corner from the Glockenspiel in the Marienplaz, so this beer garden attracts a substantial crowd of both tourists and locals.
It’s smaller than the other beer gardens, with a mere 600 seats in the self-service section. They break tradition by having cobblestones and not gravel on the ground but do have towering chestnut trees and that essential beer garden feeling of hospitality.
Biergarten Viktualienmarkt rotates serving beer from some of the city’s best breweries, including Paulaner, Spaten, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr and Löwenbräu. Many people bring their own food or something they just purchased at the market, though there are food stalls on site offering traditional Bavarian fare.
Situated on the River Isar, between Grünwald and Harlaching, is what is considered to be one of Munich’s most beautiful beer gardens. Gutshof Menterschwaige is also one of the oldest, existing in some form well before Munich was even a city.
The original estate was destroyed by the Swedes in the Thirty Years War but was rebuilt and eventually became a locally famous inn. History buffs will love that this beer garden is right next to the Lola Montez House, a buxom dancer and former mistress of King Ludwig I.
Gutshof Menterschwaige is very tranquil and is a favorite stop for cyclists and hikers in need of rest after exploring the river. There are tables and bench seating for 2000 guests in the self-service section as well as a wooden terrace with an additional 150 seats. Along with their traditional beer garden fare, they boast very popular seasonal cakes and delicious sweet crêpes.
If you have children with you, they will be enchanted by the playground and climbable pirate ship.