The "Perfect Munich Day" begins with a morning stroll, perhaps through Schwabing, window shopping at the many antique, clothing and book shops. Heading south you'll go through the Hofgarten, and finally arrive at Odeonsplatz, the southern end of grand Ludwigstrasse.
In this square you'll often see musicians or street performers busking in front of the Feldherrnhalle, while locals stop to rub the shields of the two lion statues for good luck. The lions guard the side entrance to the Residenz, family seat of the Wittlesbach family.
The Wittelsbachs ruled Bavaria for over 500 years – most of which, it would seem, they spent building what must be one of the top five collections of exquisite jewelry in the world. The Residenz museum itself could fill a day, but a peek into the mind-bending collection within the Schatzkammer, the jewel section, is a great way to spend an hour.
Around the corner is posh Maximillianstrasse, perhaps Munich's most imposing boulevard, lined with shops catering to the moneyedest money of Europe and carrying fantastically overpriced goods (€2500 dog shawls and such).
Walking south from the Residenz, towards Marienplatz, at the pedestrianized heart of the old city, brings you along Residenzstrasse, a relatively more proletarian shopping street that's also good for window shopping and people watching. One block east, if you're in the need of a jolt of coffee or a pick-me-up, is Alois Dallmayr, Munich's finest delicatessen – in the true sense of the word. Famous for its coffee and cakes, Dallmayr sells a wide range of stupendously good taste treats and it's always packed with shoppers.
Make sure to get to Marienplatz by 11am for the prerequisite viewing of the playing of the Glockenspiel, a carillon high atop the towers of the city's Neues Rathaus. The characters perform their version of the Schäffler Tanz, which has been performed in public by coopers every year since 1517 to ward off further outbreaks of the Plague. It seems to be working.
If you skipped coffee or want to save your neck (the sight of thousands of tourists craning their necks twice a day is one of perpetual delight to locals) the view is best from the Metropolitan Café, a 3rd floor café with picture windows facing the Glockenspiel.
Afterwards, stroll through the Viktualienmarkt, a bustling outdoor market teeming with fresh flowers, delicious produce, wines and cheeses, and make your way down Sendlinger Strasse – the most reasonable of the shopping streets – toward Sendlinger Tor. Do stop in to the wildly baroque Asamkirche (St-Johann-Nepomuk-Kirche, Sendlinger Strasse 62), designed by the brothers Asam and containing fantastic frescoes and details.
One of my favorite destinations is Lenbach Haus (Luisenstrasse 33, 233-0320), a Florentine-style mansion containing rotating exhibitions of modern European art and the best collection of works from the Blaue Reiter movement, with expressionist works by Klee, Kandinsky and Macke.
As you exit through the Lenbach Haus' pretty garden, look around and you'll see you're in the heart of a veritable museum ghetto: within five minutes walk are several of Munich's finest, including the Alte and the Neue Pinakothek, the Geologische Staatssammlung, (geological exhibits), the Museum Reich der Kristalle (crystal and minerals), Antikensammlungen (applied arts from around the world), and the Glypothek with Greek and Roman sculpture.
Rest your feet and have some terrific coffee or sumptuous hot chocolate at Yablonski Café, opposite the Neue Pinakothek (which also has a nice café in its basement with very good cake and coffee). Or for an Asian treat for lunch, walk the several blocks to tiny Zum Koreaner, Amalienstrasse 46, with inexpensive and positively magnificent Korean specialties. There's no atmosphere to speak of but main courses are $5 to $7, it's as authentic as you can get and open daily for lunch and dinner.
Technology lovers will be thrilled with the offerings on hand here in Munich. Car lovers must visit the BMW Museum, a fascinating look at the history of 80's Yuppiedom's most prized possession. The museum is opposite the Olympic Park, which is a great place to get an overview of the city by ascending the 951-foot Olympia Tower where there's a good bar and fair restaurant.
Speaking of overviews, aviation buffs can explore two world-class collections here, with a large display within the Deutsches Museum, from gliders and pedal-powered planes to war birds, helicopters and a cutaway section of a Boeing 747. North of the city, the Flugwerft Schleissheim (tel. 215 7140) has a positively glorious collection of aircraft from around the world.
If you're in Munich in December, head for the two best (and most authentic) Christmas Markets: the best handicrafts are at the market in Münchener Freiheit (take U3 or U6 underground line), but the one at Rotkreuzplatz (U1 or U7) is no slouch either, and both sell mouth-watering German treats, hot sausage and pork shoulder, roasted and honey roasted nuts and chestnuts, and, of course, Glühwein (mulled wine) with an optional shot of spiced rum. This is living!
Forty-five minutes from Munich by train or car is the Renaissance city of Augsburg, one of a dozen perfect day trips from Munich. Established by Roman emperor Augustus in the 1st Century BC, this under-touristed old town with cobblestone streets has a fantastic Rathaus (where upstairs you can gawk at the gold leaf ceiling of the Goldener Saal) fronted by a lovely Rathausplatz. Nearby is the Dom Maria Heimsuchung, with a crypt that dates to the 11th century, and Augsburg's most famous site, the Fuggerei.
Founded by self-made millionaire merchant Jakob Fugger in 1521, the Fuggerei provides inexpensive homes in what may be the world's first low-income housing project for an unbelievable €6 a year. Chicago's south side this ain't; the houses are all quite charming, and one was the residence of Franz Mozart, Wolfie's father.
The family of Bertolt Brecht made its home here, and now the house is open as a museum of the writer's life.
And for an overview of the area, nothing beats a one-hour Air Tour, offered by Munich Flyers (089 642 717 61), which will take three people in a Cessna 172 over Augsburg, Dachau, Munich (good photo ops as you circle Marienplatz and the Olympic Tower) and Starnberg and Ammersee lakes. Narration in English, and the sight of the Alps from 7000 feet above Munich is majestic indeed!