While there are few pleasures greater than wandering around a new town exploring its shopping streets and stumbling on inviting cafés and quirky cultural attractions, cold winter days can make the experience less appealing than it might be. Happily, Munich is blessed with an array of shopping centres and arcades that are like little districts in their own right – but with perfect weather every day of the year
One of the smallest arcades on our list, but also one of the most engaging, is Luitpoldblock, which occupies a 200-year-old neoclassical building in the chic Brienner Quartier. Its tenants are a select and sophisticated bunch, ranging from stylish fashion brands such as Missoni to Salon Pauli, one of the city’s best hairdressers, and ErtlRenz, where you can commission custom-made ski boots and other sports shoes.
Adding to the centre’s all-day appeal is the famous Café Luitpold, a Munich institution since 1888. The original interior decoration was over-the-top lavish and has been recently modernised to appeal to a well-heeled contemporary clientele. With an exotic palm court, this remains a must-visit venue for a leisurely breakfast, a coffee-and-exquisite-cake break or something more substantial but always irresistible. Look out for the regular lunchtime concerts and confectionery workshops, and be sure to pick up a box or two of Café Luitpold’s in-house gourmet chocolates to take home. There’s also a tiny but fascinating museum on the history of coffee-house culture in Munich that’s well worth a quick visit.
On a rather larger scale, Fünf Höfe – the ‘five courtyards’ – is the epitome of style with its blend of fashion, lifestyle and culture. Created between 1998 and 2003 from a former bank building complex by celebrated architect studio Herzog & de Meuron, it plays host to an exemplary selection of stores. These include places to refresh your wardrobe – think Max Mara, Longchamp and Karl Lagerfeld, among other designer names – along with boutiques selling everything from chic stationery to high-quality kitchen accessories. Dotted among these are cafés, bars and restaurants to appeal to a wide range of tastes, from ‘healthy fast food’ at Bite Delite to Italian delicacies at Gusto Italiano da Giovanna.
Art is a key feature of Fünf Höfe’s squares and passageways: Tita Giese’s Hanging Gardens in Salvatorpassage combines lights, chains and philodendron plants to striking effect, while Sphere, Olafur Eliasson’s vast steel-mesh ball, dominates the Viscardihof. Dedicated contemporary art fans won’t want to miss the Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, with its impressive temporary exhibitions, cool café and particularly enticing museum shop. Meanwhile, Galerie Wittenbrink specialises in contemporary painting, sculpture, photography and more.
The centrally located Hofstatt appeals to a younger, trendier audience, with clothing stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister and Tom Tailor to the fore. The three-armed arcade was created out of a former newspaper headquarters just over five years ago, and its unique mix of heritage architecture and modern elements has helped make it one of Munich’s most popular shopping spots.
As with the city’s other arcades, shopping is by no means the only reason to visit: there are several laid-back coffee shops and casual eating places in which to hang out, including OhJulia, with its menu of simple but delicious Italian staples, and Cole & Porter, with its indoor courtyard terrace for those cold but bright days.
A short walk from Hofstatt is Kaufingertor, a 70-metre-long glass-roofed passage off Kaufinger Strasse, whose entrance is easy to spot thanks to artist Stephan Balkenhol’s painted wooden sculpture, Mann mit ausgebreiteten Armen (‘man with outspread arms’), that stands above it. The arcade has been a much-loved feature of Munich’s pedestrianised zone since 1994. Bright, airy and welcoming, it houses an intriguing array of shops, from the grande dame that is Galeria Kaufhof department store to contemporary clothing labels including Jack & Jones, Hallhuber and Vero Moda, along with one-off specialist shops such as Die Bonbon Manufaktur München where visitors can watch traditional sweets being made.
On an altogether larger scale, Stachus Passagen covers 7,500 square metres below Karlsplatz in the heart of Munich. Billed as Europe’s largest underground shopping centre, it’s the perfect retreat for those days when you don’t even want to know what the weather is doing. Recently renovated, it is home to more than 50 high-street fashion, beauty and lifestyle boutiques and brands, from The Body Shop and Görtz 17 to Swiss chocolatier Läderach and Cologne-based Butlers, which sells home accessories.
With a range of venues offering everything from designer picks to high-street favourites, it’s no surprise that shopping under cover in Munich should prove such an enjoyable experience.