I’m a big fan of layovers when there’s a worthwhile escape. If you find yourself in the Munich airport on a layover, or have time to kill before a flight, don’t waste time at the gate: head to the world’s only full-scale brewery and beer garden, watch the sports analysts diagnose the latest football game while sipping back martinis at a gin bar, or surf a wave instead of wifi.
Most of the excitement takes place just outside terminal two. Airbrau, the airport brewery, has a beer garden serving three house beers–a pilsner, lager, and wheat beer–and a variety of rotating seasonals. The staple beers are good and cheap–half a liter for under three euros–and unlike places like the Hofbrau house, where pretzel girls walk around with stale twists for nearly four euros, the pretzels at Airbrau are a third the price and palatable. It’s a typical menu with all the Bavarian favorites, but if you’re running low on Euros, order the ‘hangman’s special’ for ninety-nine cents: ‘one glass of tap water, one bread roll, and one cigarette to smoke outside.’
If beer isn’t your style, the Hilton Airport Hotel has a bar that specializes in gin cocktails. Should you find yourself there on a Sunday, you can seat yourself in front of the cameras, where German sportscasters talk football to live television audiences from the hotel lobby. If you’re like me and as interested in sportscasters speaking German as waiting for a flight, wander around the lobby with your gin to admire some of the very fine modern art on display.
As for the surfing, this takes place for a few days in the fall just outside the terminal. The airport erects a standing wave attracting long lines of people waiting to ride. While it’s unlikely that you’ll find time to catch the wave on a layover–the wait is lengthy–the main atrium hosts dozens of special events and performers.
And if all is quiet, then head up to the flight deck, a few stories high, where you can look out over the entire airfield, and on a clear day, see for miles.