Spotlight on: Cycle Chic Munich

May 17th, 2010 § 21 comments


On L.F. (top left):

  • White top, skinny belt, leggings: H&M
  • Black flats – Aldo
  • Sunglasses – Ray Ban

On A (top center):

  • Blue top – Gap
  • Necklace – Powell’s Home and Garden
  • Black cardi – H&M
  • Leggings – Gap
  • Sandals – Chaco

On me (top right):

  • Green top – ON, thrifted in Portland
  • Pendant – Anthropologie
  • Tweed shorts – thrifted in Munich
  • Footless tights – Target
  • Flats – Palladium
  • Sunglasses – H&M

On L.M. (second photo, left):

  • Top – Tianello
  • Pants – Gander Mountain
  • Flats – Rogue
  • Bracelet – Original by Monica Hansmeyer
  • Hat – small shop in Munich


Last week, some friends of mine came into town and we did what anyone with any fondness for cycling and the outdoors should do: we rented bikes and explored the city of Munich on two wheels.

Munich is an extremely bike friendly city. There are so. many. bikes. everywhere. And locals ride all year round; through rain or snow, in business suits and heels, and on everything from road bikes to cruisers to the odd tandem, and with no shortage of kid-purposed bike attachments. Reason #348 why I love this city.

I borrowed my friend L’s husband’s bike (we’re the two with the mountain bikes), and my friend A. and her mom L. rented two cruisers from Radius Tours and Bike Rental. They were pleasantly surprised in how great of a shape their rentals were and how comfortable to ride all day long. We conveniently picked them up right at the central train station, from where we were within a short ride to all the main attractions we had planned. Their bikes were reasonably priced and A. received a 10% student discount with her student ID. With bikes, sunglasses, and snacks in check, we were off for our adventure…

We started with the city center and slowly made our way down Maximillianstrasse to the Isar river. Maximillianstrasse boasts some of Munich’s most high-end boutiques and hotels, with names like Vuitton, Versace, and Chanel sprinkling the store front windows. From the Isar, we made our way to the English Garden, where we took several breaks to enjoy the various sights (the ‘Chinesischer Turm‘, beer gardens, etc), while cycling amid the crowds of tourists, commuters, runners, and many many dogs.

We navigated by simply plotting a course along a map and checking ever so often to see if we were still around the parts of town we were hoping to see. This type of ride-and-go approach works best if you have the whole day with nothing else to do but enjoy the sights and each other’s company.

For a more structured approach, Munich offers a variety of guided bike tours. The one that’s come most recommended to me is Mike’s Bike Tours. The tours are in English and highlight some of Munich’s most spectacular sights, providing some historical facts and information at a leisurely riding pace.

Munich also offers a variety of street-side rental opportunities, with bikes conveniently parked all around town, ready to be rented and ridden. All you have to do is call the number on the side of the bike, provide payment information to obtain the bike lock code, and ride off. Here are a cluster of such ready-to-rent bikes by the university, provided by Next Bike Rental

Our bike ride day was one of our favorite days during my friends’ visit. It offered the perfect way to see the city and to cover much more ground than we would have by walking. It also gave us the flexibility to chart our own course and stop where we wanted, without being confined by public transport schedules or stops. And since Munich is a city already inundated by bikes, we really just had to hop on and follow the cycling masses. Drivers are more than used to cyclists, unlocked bikes are parked everywhere, and paths are clearly marked with bike signs. I would definitely recommend Munich as a place to be explored by bike.

I would love to hear from you about places you have visited and enjoyed on two wheels. What are some of the bike friendly cities and towns you would recommend? What are the most unlikely places you’ve explored by bike? And what tips and suggestions do you have for cycle chic tourism? As always, your insights are greatly appreciated! Happy cycling, S.

Post Script: Just after writing up this post, I learned of Dottie and Trisha’s Lets Go Ride a Bike Summer Games. Just think Olympics meet Cycle Chic meet Activism and there you have it in a nutshell. There must have been some kind of serendipity at play, because their event could not have come at a better time. I’m submitting this group ride for my participation in the first event, ‘Social Cycling’, and look forward to competing in events two (‘Learning Experiences’) and three (‘New Territory’) as well. Fellow cycle enthusiasts, make sure to check out Lets Go Ride a Bike for full event details and your chance to win a Batavus BuB!

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§ 21 Responses to Spotlight on: Cycle Chic Munich"

  1. Trisha says:

    You guys look GREAT. And so does Munich. I went on a walking tour when I was there, back in the B.B. (Before Bike) days. Should I be lucky enough to go back, I’ll definitely follow your two-wheeled itinerary. Thanks for submitting such a great entry to the Games.

  2. Sally says:

    My gosh, it looks so lovely and springy over in Munich!

  3. EmilyKennedy says:

    What a super fun event! I love city bike rides!

  4. I never learned to ride a bike. I usually don’t care one way or the other, but right now I’m feeling the lack – that looks like so much fun!

  5. k says:

    I’ve got a grant to do research in Munich over the summer. I know Schwabing was chic back in the day – is that still a great (and safe!) area for a stylish prof to stay?

  6. admin says:

    @k – yes, Schwabing is the posh part of town near the university and the English Garden. It’s definitely very nice and clean and safe, but really, I would say that so it all of Munich. The advantage of Schwabing is its great location and closeness to most things you’d likely want to see/do as well as to the university and Staatsbibiotheck and a lot of the night life. The disadvantage of Schwabing is the price tag on most places there.

    K, if you narrow it down to some places and have any other questions about their locations or anything else about coming to do research here, just shoot me an email, I’d be happy to help! You’re going to love Munich! :)


  7. Stephanie says:

    Zadar, Croatia is also a good city to explore by bike. I hadn’t ridden in over ten years, but drivers are very good about giving bikers lots of space. Not to mention, it’s about five Croatian kuna to one US dollar, and renting bikes (and scooters and cars) is very inexpensive!

  8. charlotte says:

    One of the great pleasures in life is exploring a new city on a bike!

    I think the best tip is just do it – there’s very little you need besides the desire and a bike. Go for it!

  9. I was hoping to go for a bike date with my husband tomorrow evening, but the weather has turned so gross and rainy here so that will have to wait till later in the week.

    You all look so cute and sporty!

  10. Julie Briddon says:

    Hi There, someone wrote in the above comments, that they had never learned to ride a bike, well neither did I. Then I got married, had kids (3) and they all learned to ride a bike (the kids), so feeling left out, I have finally learned, at the grand old age of 37! Best thing that I have ever done! Do are never to old to learn anything and I have the bumps and bruises to prove it!!

  11. admin says:

    @Julie Briddon – thanks for the comment! What an inspirational thought, I agree that it’s never to late to learn something new and I loved hearing this success story of yours. I hope this inspires other readers who feel like they missed out on bike rides in their youth to not be afraid to try it as an adult. S.

  12. Pristine says:

    Just curious: how do you deal with hat hair after wearing the safety helmet?

  13. admin says:

    @Pristine – ahhh, the helmet question :)

    We didn’t wear a helmet cycling through Munich and I stand by that choice. Munich has an incredible infrastructure for bikes, there are a TON of cyclists, and drivers are very aware of cyclists on the road. Much like in many European cities where cycling and bike commuting is norm, people just wear their everyday clothes, business suits, dresses, etc, and hop on the bike without a helmet.

    In the Midwest, where cycling is nowhere near this common and in the cities where I am in the Midwest, I wear a helmet. As I’ve said before, it has less to do with my cycling skills as with the context and the drivers’ approach to cyclists. There, I usually wear my hair down (easier to put a helmet on) or in low ponytails, braids, etc. When I take the helmet off, I just shake out my hair a bit or fluff it back up with my fingers, and it’s done. The helmet really doesn’t affect my hairdo as much as one might think.


  14. [...] pictures are from a little while back when my friends were in town and we spent one day visiting Regensburg, Germany. Regensburg is a beautiful old city in Bavaria [...]

  15. [...] Summer Games ever since they started this summer. You can find my previous entries here: Going on a group ride in Munich; going on a bike date in Munich; followed by another bike date/group ride in Prague; sticking my [...]

  16. [...] my stay in Europe (file under: things I would do differently now) but I did get to take a few very memorable bike trips through Munich and Prague. Once I returned to the US, I was eager to get back on a bike and give [...]

  17. Juli says:

    I came across your blog as I was looking for what clothes to wear in Munich on spring! Like you, I am also an academic chic and would probably have the same fashion sense like yours, so your blog is really helpful as I live in the tropics, I would have no idea on how to dress up for spring.

    As for your question in bike tours: One of the most favorite biking experiences I had was cycling around Kyoto, Japan in Autumn. The maple leaves are red, and ginko leaves are yellow. Such beautiful view as you cycle along the Kamo river! If you are interested, here is a link of a sample bike course around Kyoto:

    Other runner-ups for my bike experiences were in: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap (Cambodia), Nong Khai (Thailand)

  18. [...] and spending the days outdoors. (You can read about my other LGRAB Summer Games participation posts here, while E.’s entry is to be found here.) Prague Bike Tour, originally uploaded by [...]

  19. Find best accommodation for your vacaton in Croatia: choose between apartments, hotels, luxury villas, rooms, rural houses and enjoy your croatian holiday! Get best prices and book it direct from thw owner!

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