Munich

The capital of Bavaria is a charming city and the perfect base for exploring southern Germany. The city offers the chance to experience traditional Bavarian culture through its renowned museums, beautiful gardens, restaurants and, of course, the classic beer halls

When to travel? If you are looking for the traditional Oktoberfest (Wiesn) experience, check the official dates here. The world’s most famous beer festival typically takes place over three weeks between mid-September to early October. Book a table in advance or arrive early to obtain a spot. Our favourite tents are Hacker-Pschorr and Armbrustschützenzelt!

Munich is well connected to other European cities and arriving via train places you directly in the city center. If arriving by plane, the Munich airport is located approximately 30 kilometers from the city. We recommend taking the S-Bahn train which is the fastest and cheapest option at €12. A taxi will take over an hour and cost about €45.

EAT

While visiting Bavaria try some of the local specialities: sausage (wurst), sauerkraut, freshly baked pretzels, Schweinshaxe and Knödel. The food is heavy food but worth trying for at least one meal, guten appetit!

Most of the big beer halls listed below also have on-site restaurants serving traditional dishes.

Sophia's Restaurant & Bar Upscale lunch spot near the botanical gardens. A nice break from the heavy Bavarian dishes.

Viktualienmarkt Stroll around the city's largest and most famous outdoor marketplace. Grab a beer and sample some traditional German bites

DRINK

Munich is known for its long-standing beer culture. The city has no shortage of beer halls and gardens with lively atmospheres. Explore the city in the mornings and head to the beer gardens in the afternoon to kick off happy hour. Prost!

Augistiner Keller This noteworthy beer garden and Bavarian restaurant is one of our favourites with its authentic feel and delicious food. It is located near the main München Hauptbahnhof train station.

Hofbräuhaus München The most recognizable of them all, this 16th century beer hall is the ultimate German experience with dirndls, lederhosen and steins (maß) of beer. If time permits, we suggest visiting during the week to avoid long wait times as this location can be a touristy and crowded during the weekend. Reservations are not taken for the Beer garden and the Haus has a strict no seat, no service policy.

Paulaner Bräuhaus Excellent beer and a modern take on traditional Bavarian dishes.

Schumanns Over the beer? Head to this spot for an upscale cocktail bar experience. Recommended by a friend.

PLAY

Englischer Garten A large beautiful park in the center of the city. Plenty to see and do as the area spans over 900 acres. Check out the surfers near the south side of the park and the Chinese Tower/ Biergarten.

Frauenkirche One of the most notable sites in Munich, this Cathedral distinctively marks the Munich skyline. Climb the tower for unbeatable views of the city.

Leopoldstrasse Less touristy, this cool street offers cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping.

Marienplatz The largest public square in Munich, this Platz is the heart of the city. Plenty of restaurants, cafes, shops, and people watching opportunities. Check out the Glockenspiel cuckoo clock.

Day Trips

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Dachau opened in 1933 and was the first of the Nazi concentration camps. It is not a light hearted stop but this memorial is very powerful and the history is well documented. Plan to spend 3-4 hours here. Open daily.

Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles Not to be missed if you are in the area and have time for this fairytale visit. Tickets for both castles are not needed to wander the grounds, but if you are looking for the full experience we recommend booking tickets in advance to tour the castles! Make sure to visit the MarienBrücke suspension bridge for the best views of the Neuschwanstein castle. Trains depart hourly from München Hauptbahnhof and arrive at Füssen train station via a two hour journey. From here take a bus to the castle (20 minutes). Going by car is the most direct and should take approximately 1.5 hours.

STAY

If you are only visiting for a weekend, we recommend staying in the Altstadt (Old Town) for easy access to all the sites. Looking for something less touristy? Try an Airbnb or hotel in the Schwabinger Tor neighbourhood, which is home to many cafes, bar, and restaurants found on Leopoldstrasse.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Asheville

Ashvillle is a bohemian town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Known for its artist enclaves, live music venues, craft beer breweries and delicious food, Asheville is just sparkling with southern charm!

Asheville’s airport is small and flights in and out can be pricey. Another option is to fly to Charlotte and drive two hours through the mountains.

Given the loveliness of the surrounding area, we recommend renting a car. If you’d rather not drive, Uber is available and an easy option for getting from the downtown area to the River Arts District, Biltmore Estate, and Biltmore Village.

EAT

Green Sage Cafe Healthy, organic cafe in downtown.

Tupelo Honey Perhaps Asheville’s most famous restaurant, serving up Southern food from scratch. Try the South Asheville location, likely to be less crowded.

Twisted Laurel Mediterranean food in an industrial-style setting.

Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe Tasty bakery in Biltmore Village with outdoor seating.

DRINK

Wicked Weed Brewing Pub Friendly brewery in downtown Asheville with outdoor seating.

New Belgium Brewing Company Industrial brewery and taproom near the River Arts District. Grab a seat on the deck for lovely views of the French Broad River.

Village Wayside Bar & Grille Local dive open late night in Biltmore Village.

PLAY

Biltmore Estate A historic, Chateau-style home built by George Vanderbilt with gardens and sprawling grounds at the seat of the Blue Mountains.

Blue Ridge Parkway A 496 mile drive through North Carolina and Virginia offering stunning vistas of the Appalachians. There are lots of hiking trails near the Parkway.

North Lexington Avenue A street in downtown with antique and eclectic shopping.

River Arts District Just west of downtown, this industrial area along the river is home to artist studios and galleries.


STAY

For a weekend stay, base yourself within walking distance of the downtown area.

If you have a car and intend to hike or visit surrounding areas, parking could be tricky downtown. We stayed in the very affordable Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville, just south of and within walking distance of Biltmore Village.

The Biltmore Estate offers luxury accommodation, a lovely option for a romantic weekend.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Vancouver

If traveling through the Pacific Northwest, be sure to include a stop in Vancouver! The city is wedged between the Pacific and coastal mountains which makes for a beautifully unique skyline. The city and its residents have seemed to master the balance between big city life and the mountains while charming its visitors with a laid back, friendly vibe.

Vancouver International Airport is about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city center. It typically takes about 30 minutes by car to arrive into downtown from the airport.

Vancouver is a bike friendly city and has the infrastructure for comfortable, self-guided tours. There are several rental shops located throughout the city. We rented near Davie Village to spend the day biking around Stanley Park.

EAT

Burgoo Kitsilano Their slogan states food is for comfort. Throw on your finest sweatpants and order the mac’n’ cheese with no regrets!

Catch 122 Cafe Bistro Cute, rustic lunch spot serving a modern take on traditional Canadian dishes.

Granville Island Public Market Located on a tiny peninsula south of the city, this is a must do in summer. The market hosts a variety of food stalls, locally sourced products and art vendors.

Wildebeest This restaurant is known for its meat-heavy farm to table menu.

DRINK

For serious beer drinkers, head to East Vancouver to experience the city’s top breweries. A few of our favorites are listed below.

Alibi Room Modern bar in Gastown with a trendy, bustling vibe. The avid IPA drinker will not be disappointed as the pub offers 50 taps of local and imported craft beers.

Granville Island Brewing Canada’s first microbrewery with tours and formal tastings. Stop here while visiting the Public Market.

Vancouver Urban Winery A stroll away from the Alibi Room, this winery offers local, Canadian wines sourced from grapes in Railtown, Vancouver. The winery also has a wide selection of ciders and beers alike.

PLAY

Gastown Head to this historic neighbourhood to explore local shops and restaurants.

Granville Island A great place to bike through and grab lunch.

Kits Beach Historically known for its hippie culture, this is a perfect spot to enjoy a day soaking in the sun and taking in the mountain views.

Stanley Park Bike through Vancouver’s “backyard”, a massive outdoor park with swimming, beaches, an aquarium, zoo, and more. Check out the Brockton Point Totem Poles which pay homage to the indigenous Salish people and their culture.

STAY

Gastown Stay here for unlimited dining options. Known for its food and young professional scene, this historic part of the city will not disappoint.

Kitsilano Kits is the place to be for hipsters and bohemians. The neighborhood offers easy access to the beach, pools and a cute Main Street (West 4th Avenue) with boutique shops and restaurants. Lululemon fans will find the city’s flagship store here.

West End A 10 minute walk from downtown, this neighborhood provides more of a relaxed, residential feel but is close to Coal Harbour, Stanley Park and the city’s beaches. Most hotels are near Robson Street.

São Paulo

This sprawling metropolis is Brazil’s financial hub and most populated city.

São Paulo is huge and its public metro system extensive. If you are comfortable navigating public transport systems in major cities, it will be a piece of cake. Pay by ride (like New York City’s subway) or for a longer visit pick up a Bilhete Único reloadable card.

As with any large city, pickpockets are common. Take care and keep belongings close.

EAT

Brazilian food is comforting, dynamic and delicious. A few “must-tries” include the sandwich de mortadela at the Municipal Market of São Paulo, feijoada (black bean stew with chorizo and pork), pão de queijo (baked cheese roll), bacalao croquettes (fried cod sticks) and Brazilian pizza.

The Liberdade neighborhood, or “Little Japan”, has loads of traditional Japanese eats and is home to Brazil’s largest Japanese population.

DRINK

Açaí berries Try mixed into fresh juices. Vendors are plentiful.

Cold beer Brazilians will tell you this is the only way it should be drank!

Cachaça A Brazilian liquor made from sugarcane. Try it in caipirinha, the national cocktail.

PLAY

Ibirapuera Park Run or ride bikes through São Paulo’s Central Park,.

Trianon Park This breath of fresh air is a small but beautiful park in the city center with trails, playgrounds and birds.

Vila Madalena Sweet neighborhood known for its hipsters, bohemian shops, good restaurants and bars.

São Paulo Museum of Art You can’t miss the large concrete building with imposing red pillars.

STAY

Stay in either Vila Madalena or the city center. We had a fine stay at the affordable, 3-star Hotel Ibis São Paulo Paulista in the center.