A yellow turret above a 1901 baroque style building in Munich. Letters read Müller’sches Volksbad

Swimming in Munich

Munich is a landlocked city and the capital of Freistaat Bayern, one of 16 states in the German federal republic. It’s bisected by the Isar River which completed an 11 year restoration project in 2011 and is now the cleanest, and wildest, it’s been in centuries. There are beaches on the Isar, but the city is also home to fourteen public swimming pools (Münchner Bäder) including the pools used for the 1972 Olympics with their still-very-cool tensile membrane roofs. The oldest of these pools, Müller’sches Volksbad, was built in 1901 in Baroque architecture and a tremendous amount of artistic detail inside.

We had one full day in Munich before we split for our Camping Bannwaldsee adventure and we really maximized our time. We saw the canal surfers, dined under the Chinesischer Turm, and played on a playground in the English Garden. Well, László did, anyway. We even managed to squeeze in a visit to the Deutsches Museum. The swimming was the highlight of the trip, for me anyway.

This was my fourth trip to Munich and the first I’ve been aware of these pools, or even considered swimming.

Swimming is kind of a perfect activity to do with László. He loves it. He’s comfortable doing it, even when he can’t touch the ground, and we all have fun together. Seriously, this kid is a fish. So when we were trying to find something to do, swimming was a sure bet.

This pool is gorgeous and the water was impressively clear and swimmable. There are two pools, a large pool, pictured above, the catered to athletes and casual swimmers. The smaller, warmer pool, was also shallower and allowed the more relaxing play-swim that toddlers love. That’s not to say other people weren’t trying to work out, but that you didn’t have the brave the colder waters or strive for athletics to enjoy the place.

I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed in my former self for not knowing about these pools. Then again, I wasn’t much of a swimmer in 2003, -5, or -8 when I was in Munich. Or a biker. Or really any kind of athletic behavior….

See, not a great look. I didn’t even have a beard in 2005 and I thought it was cool to stamp dates on your pictures.

These are the kinds of activities you can’t really engage in when you’re on a guided tour. I get it, letting a group of 15-17 year olds loose in Munich would probably not result in all of us hanging out in a swimming pool. It might have, but given the size of Burnsville Sr. High’s swim program in 2003, I really doubt it.

Shot on film: My first trip to the Olympiapark was in 2003 with a school trip. This was as close as we got to the pool. These roofs still impress the hell out of me.

Still, when your encounters with Germany involve getting on and off of tour busses and being directed from one spot to another, you’re going to see a lot of impressive things, but you may miss smaller, less notable, attractions like the public swimming pools. And you might continue to miss those things when you return two, three, and eight years later because you stick to what you know.

I’m glad I’m not a person who only goes back to stuff they’ve already seen. It’s cool to see how places like the Deutsches Museum and Englishergarten change over time, and it was fun to see them through the lens of parenting, so I’m glad I got back to some things. But only doing stuff you already know is boring and new stuff is fun.

László counters the forces of gravity in the wacky house at the Deutsches Museum’s kid’s kingdom.





One response to “Swimming in Munich”

  1. Joan Avatar

    The pool reminds me of the ones we went to in Hungary. So glad you found these. The entire trip looks amazing and what memories you will have!