Munich Cathedral

Munich City Guide

When you think of Munich, the first thing that most likely comes to your mind is Oktoberfest with all the delicious beer and savory food, such as currywurst or sauerkraut, or perhaps the traditional Christmas markets with their snowy and magical atmosphere. However, there is much more to Munich than that. This city is truly rich with both historical sites and astonishing nature, and I consider it one of Europe’s most beautiful and cultured cities.

First, here is some practical information on how to reach Munich, what are the local transport options, and what you should not miss while you are in this wonderful city.

Getting to Munich

By Plane: Since Munich airport is the second busiest international airport in Germany, there are numerous flight connections from larger cities in Europe and the world. It is located about 40 km away from the city center.

To reach the downtown, you can board one of the shuttle buses which go every 15 minutes. The price of one ticket is 10.50 euros if bought online, and 11 euros if purchased directly from the bus driver. You can find more information about the bus from the airport to the city centre here.

Terminal Airport in Munich

By Train: You can travel to Munich by train from numerous cities in Europe, such as Vienna, Florence, Cologne, Frankfurt and many others. Munich Central Station (Munchen Hauptbahnhof station) is the main railway station of the city. It is located on the West side of the central tourist area, and it takes only a 16 minutes walk (1.3 km) from Munich Hbf to the Marienplatz. At the entrance hall you can find the rail ticket office, luggage lockers and a currency exchange desk.

By Bus: You can easily reach Munich by bus from other European and German cities because it is very well connected by bus. The main bus terminal in Munich is located just next to the main train station. You can find more information on bus transportation in Munich here.

If you would like to visit Munich, you can check getbybus.com to find the best route from your city.

Public transportation, getting around in Munich

Trains and buses:

Public transport in Munich is operated by the Münchner Verkehrsgesellschaft (MVG) which conveniently integrates the bus, subway and tram system in the city. You can of course purchase a single ticket, however, if you are staying in Munich for a short period of time and will be using buses or trams a lot, it might be a good idea to invest in a day or a three day ticket which entitle you to an unlimited use of subway, tram and bus network.

You can purchase the tickets either at the website of MVG, by using their app or at the ticket machines which can be found on all subways stations.

City bus Munich

Taxi:
If you prefer to get around by taxi, the fixed order charge is 1.20 euro, and the basic fare is 3.70 euros. The basic fare is multiplied by an increment depending on how long the ride is (for up to 5 kilometres, the rate multiplies by 1.90 euros, and if it is more than 10 kilometres, it multiplies by 1.60 euros). If you wish to take a taxi directly from Munich Airport to the New Munich Exhibition Centre, there is a flat fare in the amount of 63 euros.

Bike:
Munich is truly the bike capital of the country, since more than 80% of the population owns a two-wheeled transport vehicle. Therefore, if you would like to explore the city centre in an inexpensive and efficient way, bikes are a great option.

There are many opportunities to rent a bike, and many different bike varieties are available, such as regular city bikes, mountain bikes, folding bikes, e-bikes, etc. In fact, I suggest renting a bike and using this opportunity to explore the region. You can even go on a bike tour and visit the breathtaking Neuschwanstein Castle (yes, the one which inspired Walt Disney to create the famous Magic Kingdom).

The central international bike rental place is Mike´s Bike route & Rentals. Here you can rent a large variety of bikes for 15 € per day or 5 € + 2 € per hour or for 70 € per week.

You can also use an online rental system Call a Bike. After you register online, you can do everything else using just your mobile phone. All you have to do is to pick one of the parked red-white bicycles, call the telephone number on the cover of the bicycle and confirm your rental, then follow the instructions. When the lock unlocks itself, you are free to ride on.

Sights

If you are staying in Munich only for a brief period of time, here are some recommendations for the things that you definitely should not miss:

1) Marienplatz – the Munich central square

The literal translation being Mary’s square, Marienplatz is  the heart of the pedestrian zone in the old town. It has has been the center of Munich since it was founded in 1158. Marienplatz takes its name from the Mariensäule (Mary’s Column), which was a symbol of gratitude for the city’s survival during the Thirty Years’ War.  Not only is it rich in history, but it is also a great place for shopping, considering the fact that there are a lot of popular shopping streets nearby. And if you need to take a break, you can easily find restaurants to every taste here.

2) Frauenkirche (en. Cathedral of Our Dear Lady)

Not far from not far Marienplatz, you can see another famous symbol of Munich: Frauenkirche, or by its other name, “Münchner Dom” (Munich Cathedral). The cathedral was unfortunately damaged during WWII, however, it has since been restored. It is a wonderful example of gothic architecture and a must see for all architecture lovers. What is especially interesting is the legendary “Devil’s Footstep” at the entrance. Even though there have been many explanations on how the foot-shaped mark appeared, one of the most popular ones says that  the devil convinced the builder to construct a church with no windows, however, he was tricked. The cunning builder positioned the columns so that the windows could not be seen from the spot where the devil stood. After the devil discovered the builder’s trick, it was already too late – he could not enter the already consecrated church. The devil stomped his foot in anger, which left the dark footprint which can be observed in the church’s entrance.

3 Englischer Garten (English Garden)

The Englischer Garten (“English Garden”) is one of the largest city parks in the world and the largest one in Germany. It offers not only a magnificent view, but also many leisure time activities. You can ride a bike, jog, or even play football on the fields for recreational games. The Garden is divided into two parts: the southern part is around 2 km long, while the northern part is around 3 km long. The southern part is usually brimming with life, and on sunny days it is always crowded. On the other hand, the northern part has more of a peaceful atmosphere.

4) The Olympic Park

The Olympic Park was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics, and it consists of four sub-areas: the Olympic Area, which Includes the Olympic sports facilities, the Olympic Village, divided into two villages, one male and one female, Olympia-Pressestadt, where the Olympic Shopping Center is located, ad finally, the Olympic Park, which includes the Olympic Mountain and Olympic Lake. With the original capacity of 80,000 people, today this magnificent Park hosts many cultural, sports and other events.

5) Nymphenburg Palace

Undoubtedly one of the most famous sights of Munich, the Nymphenburg Palace was built from 17th to 19th century as a summer residence for the Bavarian Electors and Kings. Today, you can investigate the abundant art collection the Palace has to offer, and catch a glimpse of history, since the original furniture used by the ruling families has been preserved and displayed. If you visit Munich during the summer, you can also enjoy the beautiful garden surrounding the Palace. The entrance fee is 6 €.

If you are wondering how to fit all of the most important sights in Munich in just three days, check out our recommendation on how to get the most out of your stay in this vibrant city here.

Nightlife

If you come to Munich looking only to grab some of their famous Bavarian beer, you are missing out, because Munich has much more to offer than that. For one, they have some of the best craft beers you will ever try. The Giesinger Bräu is one of those alternative breweries which take their beer seriously. They only ship locally around the Bavarian area, so it won’t be possible to find this their beer outside of Munich, which is one more reason not to miss it.

If you feel like having a cocktail in a cosy and relaxed atmosphere, head straight to Flushing Meadows. Located at the top of the hotel with the same name, they have a deck for summer visitors and a cosy interior to warm up in during the cold winters. What is especially interesting is that their cocktails usually feature local liquors, Bavarian names, and themes. Therefore, if you are not a beer lover but would like to try something authentic nonetheless, Flushing Meadows is the place for you. Alternatively, hipsters will feel more at home at the High, all decorated in copper, with lots of plants, creating a dreamy atmosphere of an indoor garden.

If you are looking for a place where both local and international students hang out,you should visit Schall & Rauch. It is apopular meeting place for younger people, which means affordable drinks and party atmosphere.

And finally, if you still cannot decide where to go first, I recommend going to the pub crawl because that might be the easiest way to make sure you will have a fun and exciting night.

Outdoor activities

If you are interested in getting to know Munich and get some fresh air at the same time, there are plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Munich is a very bike – friendly city, so it would be best to go to one of many bike rentals in town. You can also go on a cycling tour of the city, where you can visit all the main sights and attractions accompanied by the local guide. For those who like a little casual recreation, but also enjoy their beer, you can also take a  Beer Bike tour, which unites two things Bavaria is well known for: cultural sites and excellent beer.

You can also take a day bike trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, and use this as an opportunity to explore the region while also being physically active.

For those who prefer a casual stroll in the nature, I recommend visiting the English Garden or the Olympic Park.

Shopping

Munich is a great city for shopping, regardless if you are after high fashion items or affordable souvenirs.

If you are on a budget, I recommend visiting their Flea Markets where you can find souvenirs, clothing, and other second hand items on a very affordable price. The largest of flea market in Munich is the flea market at the Theresienwiese. It is held once a year on the first Saturday of Munich’s Spring Festival, and it attracts over 80,000 visitors from all over the world. There is also an open air flea market, München-Riem flea market, which takes place almost every Saturday from 06:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. When the weather is nice, this flea market easily attracts several thousand people.

If you prefer visiting a shopping mall, there are plenty of options to choose from. Perhaps the most famous is the Olympia shopping centre (OEZ), Bavaria’s largest shopping centre with over 130 shops. Another shopping mall worth mentioning is PEP Neuperlach, where you can find plenty of shops with clothes, cosmetics, multimedia and more.

If you only wish to know where you can do your grocery shopping, it would be best to go to Lidl or Rewe, which offer a great variety of products and the best value for money.

If you are looking for fresh produce, I recommend visiting Viktualienmarkt, located in Altstadt.

Restaurants – eating out in Munich

If you find yourself getting hungry after a long day of sightseeing, Munich offers a large variety of restaurants for any taste buds.

Fast food & cheap eateries in Munich

If you are looking for a quick snack, you can either opt for an American style fast food, Turkish kebab, or some more traditional options, such as currywurst or french fries. For a delicious burger, I suggest going to Ruff’s Burger, which offers a large variety of delicious burgers, and it is also a great value for money. The only downside would be that the place is a bit small, so there is a possibility that you won’t find a seat. If you wish to try some Turkish fast food, you can’t go wrong if you head to Turkitch Kofte & Kebap, a cosy restaurant perfect for a quick, but also hearty meal. On the other hand, if you are craving a currywurst and some fries, Bergwolf is a great option. It is one of those guilty pleasure fast food places which will surely satisfy your taste buds. Do not miss the opportunity to try out some of their special fries sauce!

Munich Cafes

For a delicious brunch, try Schmalznudel, which offers a good variety of fresh baked goods and a cup of coffee. If you order a“schmalznudel”, a fried pastry dough sprinkled with sugar, you won’t regret it. If you are a true coffee connoisseur, Man Versus Machine Coffee Roasters is a perfect place for you. Likely the best coffee you will taste in this city. The coffee is roasted on site and  freshly brewed. It can be slightly more pricey but it is definitely worth it.

Munich restaurants: upscale & fine dining

If you want to have a full culinary experience, go to Atelier, which is an upscale restaurant awarded with three Michelin stars, Some of the most interesting dishes on their menu are Bavarian prawn, scallop and Périgord truffle, and sweet bread with sauerkraut and capers. Another excellent choice if you are feeling fancy is restaurant Dallmayr. You are probably already familiar with the name, since it is one of the world’s leading gourmet food stores. Today, besides the deli it also offers a Michelin-starred restaurant which is among the finest places to eat in Munich. Despite the superb quality of the ingredients, the atmosphere is relaxed and laid back, so you can truly enjoy your meal.

Munich restaurants: International cuisine

For those who are not afraid to try something new and different, Savanna is an excellent restaurant to do just that. It is a South African restaurant where you can try a variety of exotic meats, such as zebra, crocodile or ostrich. On the other hand, if you are looking for food with a Hawaiian touch, I suggest visiting the Aloha Poke restaurant. If you are worried that you won’t like the taste combination of the standard dishes they offer, they also have a “mix it yourself” option, so you can choose your perfect combination. The portions are big and the ingredients are fresh and good quality.

Munich restaurants: vegetarian and vegan restaurants

Max Pett is a great option for plant-based meal, at affordable prices. It is conveniently located about 10 minutes walking distance from Munich central train station. There are plenty of gluten-free options and all the drinks on their menu, including wine and beer, are alcohol free. For a vegan fast food option, visit Erbils Orient Lounge, a vegan doner shop, offering vegan versions of traditional turkish dishes, such as kebabs, pita sandwiches, baklava, etc. If you are looking for a cosy vegan coffee shop, you can’t go wrong with Lost Weekend. It is a bar which is also a bookstore, creating a warm and cosy atmosphere to relax in. They also serve small snacks, such as cakes and sandwiches.

Emergency contact information

  • Hospital: In case of a medical emergency the number to call is: 112. The person on duty will inform you about the nearest ambulance and offer you any medical advice and instructions you may need.
  • Dentist: If you require an emergency dental intervention, at weekend and on holidays you can reach the dental emergency service at any time on +49 89 140 44 44.
  • Pharmacy  / 24 hour pharmacy: There is always one of the pharmacies within a particular area which stays open for 24 hours (on a rotating basis). If your need of drugs is so dire that you cannot make it to the chemist yourself, call the emergency number for 24 hour pharmacy emergency supplies: + 49 (0) 89 59 4475.
  • Police (Numbers to call, police stations): If someone attacked you, or if you saw a crime being committed, the number to call is 110.

Exchange Money and using credit cards

If you’re travelling from outside the Eurozone, then you will need to know the mid-market exchange rate for your home currency. When you arrive in Munich, there are plenty of exchange offices to change your money in, however, I recommend exchanging your money in a bank for the best rate. Also, you will save more money if you pay by your credit card than if you use ATM to withdraw cash. When using ATMs, avoid being charged in your home currency. When an German ATM offers to charge in your home currency, it normally means you’ll be charged more for the conversion. Get charged in the local currency instead, to ensure a better rate. If you still decide to go to an exchange office, make sure to take into consideration not only the exchange rate, but also the commission fee. Sometimes this is a flat rate, and sometimes it’s a percentage (from 1% to 10%) of the amount being exchanged.

Parking in Munich

If you prefer to travel by car, there are several things to keep in mind. In the central area of the city, it is possible to find a limited on-street parking during the day and unlimited in the evening. Parking for visitors is only permitted on areas marked with blue lines. Parking in streets without blue lines is forbidden. Therefore, pay street parking is available in the entire area inside the Mitterer ring. Maximum stay till 19:00 is 2 hours and after 19:00 it is unlimited.

Parking rate till 19:00 is € 0.50/12 min., and after that 19:00 it is € 0.20/12 min. In the nearby area the rate is € 0.20/12 min., while the daily max is € 6,00. It is also good to know that parking is free on Sundays and public holidays.

Please be aware that if you leave your car unattended and parked at the wrong place, there is a big chance that your car will get towed away.

FAQ Munich

Q: Is Munich safe?

A: While most of Germany is very safe, there has been an increase in reported incidents around Octoberfest, especially around some areas that are considered to be a bit shady, such as the area around the central station. Therefore, you may not want to spend more time there than necessary after dark, especially if you are travelling solo or with children. Also, as in all other big cities, pickpocketing can be an issue in popular tourist zones. However, if you take the usual precautions and keep an eye on your belongings, you should be fine.

Q: Where to stay in Munich?

A: If you want to be near the most popular attractions and sights, I suggest staying in the Altstadt, which is the Old town. If you have a budget for it, staying near Munich’s impressive buildings and famous squares, such as Marienplatz, is an excellent way to soak in the Munich’s essence, rich in culture and history. If you are more of a party goer, I suggest staying in Glockenbach, which is Munich’s party area. There you will find a large variety of bars and clubs, giving you an opportunity to explore Munich’s nightlife. If you are someone who enjoys peace and quiet after a day of sightseeing, staying in Haidhausen might be a perfect option for you. Also called the “French quarter”, this colorful quarter offers plenty of opportunity for a relaxing walk in the nature, enjoying the beautiful view of the Isar river at the same time.

Q: Which souvenirs to buy in Munich?

A: If you are searching for a unique souvenir at a bargain price, I suggest visiting the Flea market. If you take your time, there is a high chance you might find some hidden gem in the midst of the other knickknacks. For food-related gifts, do not miss Galeria Kaufhof, which is a German department store chain offering many delicious treats to remember your trip by.

If you have any beer lovers in your friend group, you can’t go wrong with a little something from Höfbrauhaus, Munich’s famous beer hall. You can buy pretty much anything related to beer here, from T-shirts to beer mats.

Q: Are Munich stores open on Sunday?

A: While almost everything in Munich is closed on Sunday, there are still some stores available in case you forgot to do your shopping earlier in the week, and most of them are located at the Central Station, such as Edeka or Rewe To Go.

Q: When will the next Oktoberfest take place?

A: The opening ceremony will be held on Saturday, September 21st, and the celebration will go on until October 6th.

Q: When does Munich Christmas Market start?

A: The biggest Munich Christmas Market is held on Marienplatz, and this year it will be open from November 27th to December 24th. However, there are as many as 24 Christmas Markets in Munich, all opening around the end of November and lasting a day or two before Christmas.

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