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Yes, it's touristy, but Munich's Hofbräuhaus piles on the charm—and the liters of beer. (Photograph by Jens Schwarz, LAIF/Redux)

Finding Old Bavaria in Munich

For all its progressive thinking, Munich tends to look to the past when it comes to lifestyle.

The capital of meat-eating, beer-swilling Bavaria is a place where dinner takes the shape of knödel dumplingsknödel dumplings and pig’s trotters, washed down with local beers by the liter.

And although the residents ham it up for Oktoberfest (September 19-October 4 this year), you’ll catch them breaking out the trachten—as they call their traditional outfits—for special occasions year-round.

It’s all done with such a sense of gemütlichkeit (neighborly friendliness) that there’s nothing cloying about Munich—and nothing fake about it, either.

Some of the wood-paneled, hangar-like beer halls date back 200 years, and as the days grow warmer, their expansive beer gardens become the meeting places of choice.

Main event: Starkbier-zeit, or “strong beer time,” is Munich’s lesser known but more authentic spring beer extravaganza. It runs annually two weeks near Lent.

Also try: Salzburg. The baroque Austrian stunner is possibly the only other city in the world where lederhosen are considered acceptable formal attire and apple strudel is widely sold

This piece appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine and was adapted from an article that originally ran in our U.K. edition.