The 4 most curious museums in Europe
18 May is International Museum Day and there will be lots of events and activities to celebrate and to promote the role of art and culture in society. Make the most of this day to get away and discover the cultural heritage of other cities. Don't worry if you've already visited the most famous museums in Europe, because we have an alternative: the most curious museums in Europe. Here are just a few of them...more info
Keep calm and visit a museum
It probably can’t boast about having the best weather or food, but London is one of the world’s great centres of art production and exhibition. Its museums are a must-visit for expert and amateur museum-goers, as well as tourists who relish wandering through the kilometres of galleries to admire an Assyrian relief dating back 2,600 years, or paintings by Caravaggio or Turner, Charles Dickens’ original manuscripts or Pop Art silk screen prints by Andy Warhol.
The fact is London has museums for all tastes. From small and medium-sized private collections to the homes of illustrious figures, and large museums where you can spend days on end, if you feel so inclined. What’s more, most of them are admission-free. We toured the city, and here are our findings regarding the ten museums you simply shouldn’t miss.
1. British Museum – A Walk Through Archaeology
Going to London and not visiting the British Museum is like going to Madrid and not having a calamari sandwich. Among the oldest museums in Europe, it houses one of the most prestigious archaeological collections in the world. Here you will find such celebrated artefacts as the Rosetta Stone, the friezes from the Parthenon of Athens and a display of Egyptian art matched only by the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The British Museum is in the district of Bloomsbury, a short distance from Tottenham Court Road and Russell Square, housed in one of the most striking Neoclassical buildings in England.
2. National Gallery – the Temple of Painting
If visiting London without going into the British Museum is like visiting Madrid and not eating a calamari sandwich, then touring the city without setting foot in the National Gallery is like going to Rome and not trying a dish of pasta. Presiding over the immensity of Trafalgar Square, London’s National Gallery is home to some of the most famous canvases in art history, notably Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait, Rokeby Venus by Velázquez or Bathers by Paul Cézanne.
3. Tate Modern – for the Creative
Opened in the year 2000, a former power station on the bank of the Thames houses Britain's national gallery of international modern art, known as the Tate Modern. It is one of the city’s major attractions and boasts one of the most comprehensive modern art collections in the world. Here you can see works by Picasso, Dalí, Mark Rothko or Andy Warhol, while their excellent schedule of temporary exhibitions enables enthusiasts to keep up-to-date with the leading artists of the moment.
4. Wallace Collection – An Oasis in the City Centre
If there was a single word to define The Wallace Collection, it might well beoasis. This erstwhile family residence is located in the heart of London, a stone’s throw away from Oxford Street and Selfridges department store. Much of the original decor remains intact and the mansion houses a collection of art, weapons and objects which the Wallace family bequeathed to the British state in 1897. Works by Rembrandt, Velázquez, Titian, Canaletto and Fragonard rub shoulders with sumptuous chandeliers, vases and chimneys in this must-see landmark. The museum is quiet, admission-free and not too large, ideal for those seeking to avoid crowds and not get museum legs from too much walking. Be sure to have afternoon tea in the museum’s elegant covered court before leaving.
5. Tate Britain – British Style
Opened in 1897, this museum boasts a large collection of historical and contemporary British art. The major draw in the exhibition is the section dedicated to William Turner, one of Britain’s most famous painters, whose life was dramatised in the award-winning 2014 film, Mr. Turner, starring Timothy Spall in the title role. There is a boat service connecting the Tate Britain to the Tate Modern, so there is no excuse not to visit both museums and have a stroll along the bank of the Thames.
6. Victoria and Albert Museum – Art in the Service of Empire
Covering an area of 45,000 square metres, the Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the most spectacular museums in London. Located in the exclusive area of South Kensington, it features a truly amazing collection of decorative art. Items on display range from ivories to oriental textiles, goldsmithery, ceramics, glass and building fragments. The architecture of the building is eminently majestic, too, featuring large galleries and courts containing life-size replicas of Trajan’s Column and the Pórtico da Gloria from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela – incredible!
7. Charles Dickens Museum – A Literary House
Oliver Twist and David Copperfield are two of the most famous novels of all time, while their author, Charles Dickens, is one of the great geniuses of English literature. Born in Portsmouth, Dickens spent most of his life in London. Although he lived in various houses, the one at 48 Doughty Street in the central district of Holborn is the site of the museum dedicated to this literary figure. Here, the writer lived with his family from 1837 to 1839, a comparatively brief yet fertile period in which some of his most celebrated works were written. Venturing into this Georgian house is like travelling back in time – a highly enjoyable experience, as the rooms have been kept the way they were in Dickens’ time. Rounding off the visit is an exhibition of the writer’s personal belongings and his manuscripts.
8. Handel & Hendrix – A House of the Baroque… and Rock, Too
What do the guitarist Jimi Hendrix and the composer Georg Friedrich Händel have in common? Well, they both lived in the same house, although with a 200-year separation in time. To be more exact, Handel resided at 25 Brook Street, while Hendrix lived at number 23. Two adjoining houses which can be visited together. Handel lived here from 1723 until his death in 1759. Four of the rooms have been re-constructed, including the bedroom and dining-room, and some of the composer’s music and personal items are on display. If you’re lucky, you might also be in for one of the concerts organised there from time to time. The home of Jimi Hendrix, where he lived in 1968 and 1969, features an exhibition highlighting the musician’s important role and influence in 1960s London.
9. The Queen’s Gallery – In Queen Elizabeth’s Home
The British love of monarchy is well known, so before leaving London, it is worth getting a feel for the esteem in which Elizabeth II is held by the people. And, the best way to get to know someone is by visiting her home. The Queen’s Gallery is located at one end of Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence in London, where temporary exhibitions of items from the Royal Collection are held. If you’re due to be in London in summer, check out the events calendar beforehand. The Gallery opens for a few weeks and is a veritable experience.
10. Saatchi Gallery – In Line With the Latest Trends
Avant-garde and ground-breaking, the Saatchi Gallery is one of the great cutting-edge exhibition centres in Europe. Opened in the early eighties to display the art collection of the publicist and art collector, Charles Saatchi, it was bequeathed to the British government in 2010. It is one of the most frequently visited museums in the world and the ideal spot to become familiar with artists and art movements. Even those not moved by art will be impressed by this museum. It is located in the heart of the Chelsea district, an area frequented by London’s elite, so you will feel like a celebrity when you visit.
Text by Aleix Palau for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS
15 food hot spots in Munich
By Laura Conde
You have three days off, and some money saved up. You’ve already visited the major European capitals and, although you would love to return to London or Paris, you just can’t afford to pay €4 for a cup of coffee right now. What to do then? Book a flight to Munich? We’re here to help and to answer your question. We took a flight to Munich to spend three days discovering the wonders of the third largest city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg, the capital of Bavaria, where people say goodbye with a cheerful “ciao”, have beer and sausages for breakfast, and worship both Guardiola and Duke William IV, who back in 1516 passed a law that would change the course of German history – the so-called Purity Law – which established that only water, hops, yeast and malt could be used to make beer. Why did he do that? Apparently, William IV was losing many of his subjects because they were drinking lethal homemade beer that contained all kinds of preservatives.
Drinking beer, as we can see at Oktoberfest, has always been and always will be a deeply-rooted tradition in Munich, which is one of the cities where the popular biergarten (beer gardens) appeared: they are outdoor gardens with long tables to share, and Bavarian music playing in the background; places where you can bring food and spend all day drinking beer. When the weather is fine, the biergarten fill with locals and tourists, but they are usually closed in winter. Beer lovers must come to the city during the Starkbierfest, the so-called “strong beer festival”, from 21 March to 6 April. It’s a kind of Oktoberfest, not as busy but just as fun, when the locals take to the streets with the same purpose in mind: to drink lots of beer!
Another famous William in the history of Bavaria was William V of Wittelsbach, whose huge wedding celebration was unique in the city, and it led to the creation of one of Munich’s largest attractions: the famous Glockenspiel in the Town Hall, which can be seen twice a day and is a really interesting event. That festive spirit from 16th century Munich, where everyone stopped working in order to devote themselves to that wedding, is still pleasantly alive today, in a beautiful and surprisingly lively city, where the locals are kind and cheerful. We walked through the city’s historic quarter, the trendy neighbourhoods and those new districts that are enjoying a boom thanks to the gentrification that increasingly affects the outskirts of wealthy cities, and we found what we think are Munich’s 15 hot spots. And after this, you won’t need to think twice: You have to go!
THE TRENDY MUNICH
1. Brunch at Cotidiano
In Gärtnerplatz, the trendy area in Munich par excellence, and one of the most bustling areas in the city, we can find this busy place, which is ideal for Sundaybrunch or just to spend the afternoon enjoying a large mug of coffee (which is actually served in a bowl!), and taste one of the sandwiches, homemade cakes or salads. Other things not to be missed in the square include the range of salads and other dishes that are available, which look absolutely delicious. The large window that looks onto the street is delightful on sunny days, which are unfortunately not very common in winter. But that’s part of Munich’s charm. There is no Wi-Fi in the café.
2. A stop to shop for clothes at Kauf Dich Glücklich.
Very close to Cotidiano we find a very interesting shop selling men’s and women’s clothes. Inside there is a small bar where they serve coffee. Outside there is a sort of terrace with a few recycled tables and chairs, and this shop is the ideal place to stop and purchase sophisticated, urban, stylish and affordable clothes.
Oderberger Straße 44
3. XXL cake at Kochspielhaus.
The size of absolutely everything in this café in the centre is incredible. Their idea of a portion is nothing like ours, so tourists who like to eat well will not be disappointed. Kochspielhaus, however, is not one of those tacky places where they serve huge portions of food and people talk in a loud voice: it’s a beautiful café, with impeccable decor, similar to Cotidiano, with a bakery inside. It’s full of young professionals, many of them accompanied by their dogs (if there’s a city that’s dog friendly, it’s Munich), where everything is gorgeous as well as huge. When you walk in, you find a selection of large and delicious cakes, that you can combine with an enormous latte, or a gigantic glass of fruit juice. The café is covered in wood and is a must if you want to discover the coolest side of Munich.
4. Italian dinner in Sarfati.
We weren’t sure about visiting an Italian restaurant because after all, we are in Munich, and here people have beer and sausages for breakfast (we’ve seen it with our own eyes), and when you’re really hungry you can have pork knuckles. But there is such a strong Italian influence in this Bavarian city that you wouldn’t think that this colourful restaurant, Sarfati, situated in the hipster part of Munich, is an international restaurant. Many people in Munich speak Italian and any restaurant in any neighbourhood includes Italian dishes on the menu – tiramisu, salads or pasta, for example. In this context we find this restaurant/wineshop that puts a lot of work into its pasta dishes: all the ingredients come from Italy (you should order “burrata” if it’s on the menu), the pasta is handmade with excellent raw materials, and there is an interesting selection of wines. The house wine, an Italian Asinoi, is delicious. And you can eat excellent food for €25 each.
5. Any time of day at Café Marais.
This is probably our favourite restaurant in Munich, both for the quality of a simple and delicious menu that is available all day, and for the fairy-tale decor, in a small area surrounded by small and charming boutiques selling clothes by local designers. It’s not very far from Sarfati, and it’s a friendly café with large cakes and tables to share, full of vintage details and an authentic atmosphere between retro and naive. Looking out the window while it snows outside is an amazing experience. Bear in mind that there is no Wi-Fi here.
6. Brenner, Germany’s largest indoor grill.
As we were saying, the Mediterranean influence in general, and Italian especially, is ever-present in Munich. We can see this in one of the fashionable restaurants in the city: Brenner. It’s a large and busy restaurant situated in an old stable, and the average price on the menu is less than €25, while it is sophisticated and stylish. Mediterranean-style cuisine with a clear Italian influence and interpretations of traditional German dishes is what we find in a restaurant where you have to order meat, which is served with vegetables, and is cooked instantly on the largest indoor grill in Germany. They offer a wide selection of cakes, perfect for the sweet-toothed. There is no Wi-Fi, either.
7. A coffee with the children at San Francisco Coffee Company.
It’s a very pleasant café chain, and we chose the one that is next to the amazing Verkehrszentrum, the transport museum, to stop for a drink, and at last! – we were able to use their Wi-Fi and boast a bit about our trip on Instagram (there aren’t many restaurants with Wi-Fi in Munich). Delicious coffee and cakes in a modern, attractive and child-friendly place – it was full of families with children, and there was even a play area.
Check where the cafés are at: www.sfcc.de
THE TRADITIONAL MUNICH
8. A litre of beer at Hofbräuhaus
This is a very interesting place: Hofbräuhaus. Don’t leave the city without coming here. It’s a large brewery, established in 1589 by… guess who? Yes, William V, the same man whose wedding lasted one whole week and produced the Glockenspiel in the Town Hall. This place is a paradise for tourists, a large temple of beer, served by the litre and drunk like water, while eating an XXL pork knuckle with potato dumpling at 5 pm. Hofbräuhaus is like Munich’s version of “Cheers”. It’s a place full of interesting characters, ranging from large blond men with bushy moustaches, wearing the typical Bavarian costume, to waitresses wearing the same traditional costumes. Look out for one thing: the knot on their dresses. If it’s on the right, they are married; if it’s on the left, they are single; and if it’s at the back, they are widows.
9. Bavarian dinner at Augustiner.
One of the most popular beers in Munich, also known as the champagne of beers, has been brewed since the 14th century in a monastery in the city centre. It has an amazing restaurant where you can taste high quality Bavarian food for dinner, in an equally traditional setting, but less informal than the previous brewery and also less touristy. Although they serve a large range of Bavarian dishes, we also find international cuisine.
10. Wasabi cheese (and more) at the Viktualienmarkt biergarten.
The Viktualienmarkt is one of Munich’s hot spots and it is worth flying to the city just to see this place. It’s an enormous outdoor market selling fresh produce and top quality food, and in summer a biergarten is set up here, which is very popular with the locals, who usually buy food at the market and eat it at the biergarten, washed down with a large beer. Although the biergarten is only set up in summer, the market is open all year round. As well as the outdoor market, the Viktualienmarkt has a large indoor area full of fresh produce where we can find many shops and food stalls.
11.Souvenirs from the Milka shop.
In the indoor market – where we don’t recommend stopping to eat, although everything there looks delicious, we can guarantee – we find one of the most popular souvenir shops in the city: the Milka shop. When we got to the till, a friendly shop assistant, in perfect Italian, convinced us to leave behind some badges we were going to buy, telling us they were too expensive and that why would you spend all that money on them (“troppo caro, amici”). It was probably just then, or maybe just before, that we fell in love with this place full of all kinds of interesting objects, from Milka-purple Bavarian dresses to slippers, chocolates, or one of our favourites: a 4.5 kg Toblerone!
12. Beer by the litre at Oktoberfest.
It happens once a year but you remember it for the next eleven months. Marquees are erected next to the river, offering many places to enjoy beer exclusively, which is apparently drunk by the litre. Everyone in Munich, together with a large amount of visitors, takes to the streets to enjoy the pleasure of drinking beer: families with children, elderly couples, groups of students, businessmen, etc. It starts off early in the morning, so by midday the merriment is at its height in every corner of the city, the shy become bold and people strike up friendships that will last at least until the end of Oktoberfest.
13. The spring Oktoberfest: Starkbierfest.
Two weeks to celebrate strong beer, in several places in Munich, which locals usually call “Oktoberfest with no tourists”. The main venue for the festival, boasting plenty of beer and Bavarian music, is Paulaner, a brewery in Nockherberg, where apparently the first starkbier (strong beer) was made, called Salvator, which helped monks to endure their partial fast during Lent.
ART & SNACKS
In the modern art museum, the Lenbachhaus, situated in the so-called “art district” with all the most important museums, we find a beautiful café with large windows that serves international food, especially Italian. It’s worth visiting just to take a photo next to its attractive seventies-style sign, although we do recommend visiting its collection of paintings by 18th and 19th century Munich-born artists, too. There’s more to it than just food!
WITH A MICHELIN
15. Star-quality traditional dinner at Pfistermühle.
Munich has several restaurants with a Michelin star. Some of them serve international cuisine, like the interesting and prestigious Japanese restaurant, Toshi, but we decided to stop at Pfistermühle, situated in an old 16th century ducal mill, to taste star-quality food, for less than €60. It’s right in the city centre and in fairy-tale surroundings, and especially offers interpretations of Bavarian specialities.
Staying at the Schiller 5.
We chose this 4-star hotel in the centre for several reasons: it’s close to the station, which makes it easier to get to the airport; five minutes from the Marienplatz square, also in the centre; and in an area full of hotels, so there were restaurants open all the time, and all kinds of services in general. The hotel is sober, modern and comfortable, with a kitchen in the room, and the owner, a friendly elderly gentleman, goes round the tables at breakfast to ask guests if they are happy at his hotel.
A must (especially with the children): Deutsches Museum
Apart from all our food recommendations, we advise you to visit the most popular museum in Germany. The best way to get there is by walking along the river, which has a good place for swimming, very busy in the summer. It’s one of the most important science and technology museums in Europe, and has a section on transport (ships, aeroplanes and all kinds of motorised contraptions), space, musical instruments, ceramics, pharmacy, metal, physics, etc. We would need about eight days to visit it all! A good place to have a cup of coffee is the café inside the shop.
Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!more info