World's Best Beer Gardensbeer connoisseurs: sprawling indoor halls and outdoor gardens that can seat upwards of 8,000 people, guzzling brews made using centuries-old, secret recipes. From the world's most celebrated beer garden to the largest and the most scenic beer lover’s spot, we've picked out the world’s 5 best beer gardens. Raise your mug for a toast -- but be careful, you might just need both arms to lift that massive beer stein!
Munich, GermanyThe world’s most celebrated beer garden, Munich's Hofbräuhaus has been brewing and pouring monstrous mugs of foamy beer for thirsty patrons since 1592, when the Duke of Bavaria ordered a brewery built near his royal household. Today, the sprawling ground floor of the Hofbräuhaus can host up to 1,300 visitors at large wooden tables, some of which have been decorating the hall since the late 1800s.
As dirndl-clad waitresses with astounding arm strength carry stein after massive stein to drinkers, traditional Bavarian bands entertain patrons from a central stage. In the summer months, an outdoor garden area opens with seating for up to 400 visitors.
Don't expect to be rubbing elbows with the locals. Alas, the Hofbräuhaus has earned its reputation as a tourist mecca. Still, when visiting Munich, you'd be remiss not to lift a mug (or two) at the historic hall.
Munich, GermanyIf downing a stein at the Hofbräuhaus feels a bit too touristy, head over to the 8,000-seat Hirschgarten, Munich's largest beer garden and a favorite among locals. Hirschgarten lies alongside a nearly 100-acre park, and deer sightings are a common (and pleasing) occurrence for garden-goers.
Keeping with German beer garden tradition, patrons are provided with mugs that they are expected to clean themselves, as well as get their own refills of the Augustiner beer straight from barrels. In a traditional (if surprising) twist, guests are allowed to bring food or snacks from home, but we'd recommend ordering some of Hirschgarten's own snacks, such as roast pork, spareribs, roast chicken and pretzels.
Queens, New YorkJust beyond the trendy reaches of Manhattan lies a surprisingly traditional drinking establishment, the Bohemia Hall and Beer Garden, an indoor-outdoor enterprise in the multicultural borough of Queens.
Tucked behind a looming brick wall, the beer garden is filled with long picnic tables and tents, and a stage featuring live bands and entertainment. While there is an indoor hall, the action really takes place in the garden where waitresses sling beers to waiting patrons.
Beers can be ordered by the glass or pitcher, and include Czech and German favorites such as Krusovice dark, Staropramen lager and Warsteiner Dunkel. Be sure to arrive hungry and devour some of the traditional foods, such as Czech-style potato pancakes, pork or chicken schnitzel, and klobasa.
Salzburg, AustriaSince 1621, the monastery of Mülln has been brewing beer using a secret recipe perfected over the centuries. That history has sealed Mülln’s reputation as one of Europe's -- and the world's -- most renowned beer halls.
The monastery's pub, Braustübl, has become a popular drinking spot for locals who enjoy their brews from either the indoor beer hall or outdoor beer garden, which can seat a whopping 1,500 people.
Take a gander as your giant steins are filled with beer directly from wooden barrels; it gives the experience an authentically old-world feel. Attached to the hall is a delicatessen arcade where folks can buy snacks and meals at food stalls, including roasted chicken, cheese, smoked mackerel and radish salad.
Prague, Czech RepublicYou'll want to indulge in a few beers while in the Czech Republic, and the most scenic spot for a tipple is Prague's Letná Beer Garden, set atop Letenske Park overlooking the Old City and the scenic Vltava River.
Picnic tables and shady trees fill the outdoor beer garden, making it a perfect spot for imbibing summer beers, especially Gambrinus 10°, the only brew on tap. If -- gasp! -- you don't like beer, Letná also offers red and white wines, and hungry patrons can order pizzas from the garden restaurant. After swilling a few beers, explore the park's pathways and the views of Prague's historic bridges.