The Isar River’s wide, flat banks are basically one big park, where locals spread out picnics, go jogging or bike riding, or just enjoy a cool beer after work.
Recent heat makes the prospect even more inviting. During the summer, when schools are out and many Munich families leave for vacation abroad, the riverbanks seem to draw tourists as well as residents.
The 8-mile-long Isar, which divides Bavaria’s capital city north to south, is often mentioned in surveys as one reason why so many new young people want to live here. For recreation, the river includes the foot and bike paths on each side.
The Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest museum of science and technology, sits on an island in the river. The riverside stroll from the museum to the zoo, two miles south and two back, makes an unforgettable morning, wafts of charcoal smoke and grilled meat whetting your appetite along the way.
A good turnaround point for the stroll is Hellabrunn Zoo. One option for a break is the legendary zum Flaucher beer garden on the river nearby.
Bikers love this stretch, too. In a recent July, nearly 10,000 bikers rode past a counting post near here on a single day.
The many bridges across the river afford a peek into the nooks and crannies of the city’s neighborhoods.
South of the city center, sandbars represent a chance to create a highly personal relaxation experience. Picnicking on the gravel riverbank is a popular pastime, and a spot for blanket and basket can be hard to find at weekends or on holidays.
There’s so much to do on the river that a discussion often precedes the fun.
The towers of St. Maximilian church display their majesty above the trees on the west side of the river.
The banks are wide enough that paths in this popular area can offer strollers some privacy, unless a photographer interferes.
Sandbars seem to change with the ebb and flow of the water. New ones pop up in a sudden surprise; old favorites wait for your return.
No many how many times I come here, the paths along the banks of the Isar beckon irresistibly.
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