This summer included several weeks living in Munich on a catsitting assignment – a perfect setup to pursue Isar Biergarten Hiking. The route described took me multiple segments and multiple days. There are many different ways to approach it.
The Isar River is the most prominent greenbelt of Munich. The river flows from the Alps in the south through Munich to eventually meet the Danube near Deggendorf. I worked my way from south to north along the 18-mile route through the city stopping at the 16 beer gardens that seemed most notable. The beer gardens along the Isar route are just a fraction of 100+ places promoted as beer gardens in the Munich locale, but I can’t imagine a more enjoyable hiking route to string together beer garden visits (read about what truly constitutes a “beer garden” in The Great Beer Garden Field Guide).
Munich is among the most walkable cities you will encounter. The Isar kind of cuts the city in half along a North-South axis. Think of the Isar and the greenbelt it passes through as an 18+ mile, continuous linear park. Passing through in summer, you will see people and families fishing along the river, swimming, sunbathing both on the beaches and in the meadows (watch out for “naturists”), enjoying picnics, walking, exercising their dog, hiking, running, skating, cycling, surfing — and to the point of this story, relaxing and having a beer! The old city center is on the West Bank, an easy walk to the river on lower ground. Excellent transit connections that line both sides of the river enable seemingly infinite access points to the greenbelt along the river no matter where you happen to be staying. It also makes one-way hikes of a big variety of lengths easy to do.
The S-Bahn stop at the Großhesselohe Isartalbahnhof is the southern starting point of the route. The old train station at the stop has been repurposed as an attractive brewpub with a comfortable terrace. At this point, there are high bluffs on both sides of the Isar spanned by Großhesseloher Brücke, a high (over 100 feet) rail bridge with a pedestrian deck suspended beneath.
Heading downriver along the top of the eastern bluffs is a hike through cool shade broken by occasional viewpoints. The various beer gardens along the way seem almost like natural wonders to stop and savor. The route drops to the river near the Hellabrunn Zoo before proceeding up a chain of islands with a mix of forest and rocky beaches. The Muffatwerk is a former piece of water and power infrastructure at the river edge that has been repurposed into a performance center. A short climb back up the bluff to the east leads to Wiener Platz and the Hofbraukeller.
Then it is back down to the river and the southern reach of Englischer Garden. Englischer Garden is a big public park that encompasses several miles of the route. It has its own 48-mile network of walking, hiking, bicycle, and bridle paths that crisscross the park through the forests and meadows. Some paths are wide and more formal while others are single-track dirt paths that can seem secluded. At the northern reaches of the park, there is a rural feel with woods, tall grass meadows, and a pleasant, rough trail along the river leading downstream to the suburb of Unterföhring.
Beer Garden Stops Along the Route
I found the many beer gardens to be oases of relaxation and refreshment. Most feature self-service beer and food stands as well as terrace areas where table service is offered. In the self-service areas, bringing your own food or snack (but not drink) is allowed. Many of the beer gardens are paired with an indoor restaurant or beer hall.
Although there are a variety of beer styles at a given place, you won’t find lots of different beer brands at a given beer garden. Most feature one of Munich’s “big six” beer brands and many also feature Franziskaner beers in order to give a solid wheat beer option. Expect to pay for a “pfand” token when you buy a beer — you’ll get your deposit back when you return your mug and turn in the token.
I learned that these places go through their ups and downs over long periods of time, but are enduring parts of the Munich beer culture. Always check the website of the places you hope to visit on a hike to be sure you know their days and hours of operation
Isataler Brauhaus is a brewpub built into a repurposed train station. It is not a beer garden like all of the other stops mentioned on the route but is worth a stop when departing the S-Bahn. They specialize in a wheat beer.
Waldwirtschaft is a 2500 seat beer garden and restaurant serving Spaten and Franziskaner beers in a pleasant, forested environment.
Hinterbrühl is a 1000 seat beer garden and restaurant in a forested area along the Isarwerkanal. Not so many beer gardens feature Hacker-Pschorr beers as this one does.
Gutshof Menterschwaige is a 2500 seat beer garden serving Löwenbräu and Franziskaner beers. Laid back, family atmosphere among the chestnuts.
Harlachinger Einkehr is a 700 seat beer garden and pub serving Augustiner and Franziskaner beers.
Gasthaus Siebenbrunn is a 750 seat beer garden and terrace serving Spaten and Franziskaner beers in a beautiful setting near the zoo.
Zum Flaucher is a 1700 seat beer garden serving Löwenbräu and Franziskaner beers on a forested island with popular, rocky beaches.
Biergarten am Muffatwerk is a compact 400 seat beer garden serving Hofbrau beers wedged in next to the Muffathalle, a popular performance venue.
Hofbraukelleris a classic 1850 seat beer garden serving Hofbrau beers in Haidhausen.
Biergarten am Chinesischen Turm is a huge 7000 seat beer garden serving Hofbrau beers. It is the second-largest beer garden in Munich and probably the most famous on the route.
SEEHAUS im Englischen Garten is a 2500 seat beer garden and restaurant on the shore of a pretty lake serving Paulaner beers.
Hirschau is an 1800 seat beer garden in Englischer Garden serving Löwenbräu and Franziskaner beers.
Mini-Hofbrauhaus is a small beer garten in Englischer Gardenserving Hofbrau beers
St. Emmeramsmühle is a 600 seat beer garden and restaurant serving Spaten and Franziskaner beers at an old mill site near an historic river crossing.
Aumeister is a classic 2500 seat beer garden in the far north part of Englischer Garden serving Hofbrau beers.
Seewirtschaft is a tranquil spot on the Unterföhringer See (also called Poschinger Weiher) with a 650 seat beer garden at serving Hofbrauhaus Friesing and Huber Weisse beers.
Isar Biergarten Hiking
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