- The capital of the German state of Bavaria, with a population of about 1.4 million.
- Has a very high standard of living by international standards.
- Originally founded by two monks of the Benedictine order (Munichen means “by the monks’ place”). You can see a monk depicted on the city’s coat of arms.
- Nicknames: Millionendorf (“Village of a Million People”).
- Currency: Euro (EUR).
- Spoken languages: primarily German, though English is widely spoken.
- Best time to visit: from March to May, before the onset of summer. Note: prices go significantly up during Oktoberfest, but it’s a great time to visit (just bring a jacket).
- Arriving via airport: Munich International Airport is located 18 miles north-east of Munich and connects to the city by suburban train (S-Bahn) on the S1 and S8 lines. Hop on one of the trains that depart from the airport to central Munich every 5-20 minutes (10.40 EUR). Or take the Lufthansa Airport Bus, leaving every 20 minutes, for 10.50 EUR. Taxi fare is flat at 51 EUR.
WHERE TO STAY
Ground yourself near Marienplatz, the heart of the city, for access to plenty of great restaurants, beer halls, street shows, and architectural wonders. Lodging opportunities in the area are available to suit any budget. Locate yourself next to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) for easy access to the rest of the city. Rosenheimer Platz, Sendlinger Tor and Universitaet are also good places to stay.
- The city’s has an underground rapid-transit system: the U-Bahn (Untergrundbahn network). The above ground S-Bahn, or Stadtbahn, services suburban locations.
- Munich operates the MVV (official website). The same ticket entitles you to travel on both the U-Bahn and S-Bahn, as well as on the trams and buses. A tip for tourists and short-term visitors is to get the white and blue striped multi-trip card called Streifenkarte (“Stripe Ticket”).
- Taxis are easy to find, with prices starting at 3.30 EUR plus 1.70 EUR/km for the first 5 kilometers. Taxi numbers: IsarFunk Taxizentrale +49 (0)89 45 05 40, Taxi Zentrale Freising +49 (0)8161 36 66.
- A Call-A-Bike system allows you to pick up bikes around the city. Dial the number on the bike to register and the system will unlock it using an automated code. 8 Euro cents per minute.
- Drinking age is 18 (16 if only drinking beer).
- Some clubs also feature Ü30-Parties, where only people over 30 are admitted.
- Tip: Hofbrauhaus is possibly the most famous beer hall in Munich. Get there early (before 7 PM) to beat the crowds.
- For clubs and discos, head to the neighborhoods of Kultfabrik or Optimolwerk, in the Haidhausen district. A plethora of bars and hip cafes frequented by students and other German youth can also be found in Maxvorstadt.
- Hip scene: Gärtnerplatz.
- Alternative scene: Haidhausen.
- IN MUNCHEN is a good resource for keeping up to date with the hotspots.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Marienplatz, the main city square. Check out the 279 foot tall tower, which houses a glockenspiel (43 bells accompanied by mechanical marionettes, which perform when the clock chimes).
- Frauenkirche: Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady. The city’s largest church, with a capacity of up to 20,000 people.
- Dachau Concentration Camp. One of the first concentration camps in Nazi Germany, Dachau served as the model for future camps built by the Third Reich. A moving and emotional place to visit.
- BMW Headquarters and Museum. Located near the Olympiapark, this is the headquarters of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW). A must-see for any car enthusiasts.
- Tour the awe-inspiring halls of the Residence Palace of Munich, once the royal quarters of the Bavarian monarchy and now a fascinating museum of German history.
- Starting at the Isartar, walk along the banks of the River Isar to take in the beautiful views.
- Take a stroll through Altstadt (“Old Town”), the traditional walking destination for visitors.
- Olympiapark, where the 1972 Olympics were held, offers a nice place to take a walk around. Sitting right on a lake, it’s now a recreational park used for concerts, festivals, and everyday leisure.
- To jump right off the tourist track, connect with Munich Greeter, a local organization that connects tourists with volunteer “Greeters” that will guide you around the city, showing you their own favorite neighbourhoods and sights. These walks are free, with an emphasis on intercultural discourse.
- Many locals detest the city only being known for beer culture, so be sure to compliment other aspects – of course, it really is an amazing place, so you won’t even have to pretend!
- Visit Gap. Located near the central train station in Munich, Gap is an alternative cafe which turns into a bar at night time. Come check out the work of local artists on display.
- You’re in for a treat if you visit Munich during one of the famous festivals. Among the more famous ones are Oktoberfest and the Winterfestival Christmas Market.
- You will notice that buildings are at most 5 stories tall in the city’s center, as nothing is allowed to stand taller than bell towers of the cathedral.
- Where to find good cheap eats: check out food served to go, at markets and bakeries around the city. A bratwurst in a bun can be had for under €3. For a very local meal, try a Munchner Weisswurt, a veal breakfast sausage, with a pretzel and a Weissbier on the side.
- Dangerous areas: avoid the area around the main train station, especially at night. Otherwise, Munich is a very safe city.
RECOMMENDED MUNICH GUIDE BOOKS
- Rick Steves Pocket Munich & Salzburg
- Lonely Planet Munich, Bavaria & the Black Forest
- Munich Travel Guide: The Top 10 Highlights in Munich
Recommended trip duration: 4-5 days