An insider’s guide to Munich

Munich, GermanyAfter over 5 years living and discovering the corners of Munich, it was about time I created a real guide for the city I chose to be my home. Since I started the blog in April 2014, I have been sharing a lot about living in Germany and Munich, I’ve touched upon different aspects, including cultural, entertainment, gastronomic, romantic, practical and more. Now I’ve put together a bit of everything into one place, just to make life easier for everyone, an insider’s guide to Munich.

All information you will find here are based on my experience of both living in Munich and of showing the city to family, and friends throughout the years. From things to do, where to eat, drink and shop, public transportation, to events, I hope they will help you plan and have a wonderful time in the capital of Bavaria.

Top things to see and do in Munich

Marienplatz & the Old Town

Munich, Germany

A visit to Munich must include the Marienplatz and a stroll around the old town. At Marienplatz you will find the new and old City Halls (Rathaus), the glockenspiel, the dancing clock of the new city hall’s tower, cafes and stores. A few steps away you will find the Viktualienmarkt, the city’s open air market, with local and international products. Take the time to discover the pretty streets and squares of this part of the city.

Tip: The glockenspiel normally plays everyday at 11am and 12am., and between March and October it is additionally played at 5pm.

Englischer Garten

Englischer Garten, Munich

The largest park in town, and probably the most beautiful, the Englischer Garten is also a must when in Munich. There you find biergartens and restaurants for a traditional Bavarian dish and a beer, kids playground, beautiful paths among the trees, lakes, plenty of space for playing with dogs and having a picnic, and even the famous Eisbach, where it’s possible to surf all year round!

Tips
The park is huge, I recommend you to have a map/GPS that can help you get around the place, even I still get lost there sometimes.
The quickest and easiest way to get to the Eisbach to check the surfers is by taking the bus 100 and getting off at Nationalmuseum/Haus der Kunst at the Prinzregentenstr., which is right in front of the action.

Hofgarten

Hofgarten, Munich

Pretty close to the Englischer Garten (in the south part) you find this incredibly romantic and charming garden, that used to be the private garden of the Bavarian Kings’ residency, the Residenz. There you find benches to sit, a biergarten, cafes, and often someone playing music.

BMW Welt & Museum

BMW Welt and Museum, Munich

For car lovers, these attractions are impossible to miss, both are connected by a bridge. At the BMW Welt you can see a car show room, and you may enter the cars and check them out, shop at the merchandise stores, take a test drive, take a break at their café or eat at the Michelin starred restaurant EssZimmer by Käfer. The best of all? The entrance here is free.

Just across a bridge, you can visit the BMW Museum, where with a ticket you can spend hours checking out the timeline of the company, from where it all began until their prototype cars. Occasionally you may also find an extra special exhibition taking place.

Olympic Park & Tower

Olympic Park, Munich

Full of attractions all year round, the Olympiapark has lots to offer and it can be easily combined with the BMW Welt and Museum, which are just across a bridge. At the park you can go up the Olympic Tower for a great view of the city and even have a fine meal at its rotating restaurant, you can also watch the sunset at the Olympiaberg (a hill right in the middle of the park) go to concerts and festivals at different times of the year, go ice skating, watch hockey games, play tennis and football and much more.

Deutsches Museum

Deutsches Museum, Munich

For those into technology and museums, the Deutsches Museum is a must. It is a very interesting museum filled with great collections and exhibitions for everyone, varying from natural sciences to transportation. For more information, click here.

Nymphenburg Palace & Park

Nymphenburg Palace, Munich

One of my favorite places in Munich, and often overlooked by tourists and locals alike. The Nymphenburg Palace was the home of the famous royal couple whose wedding originated the Oktoberfest (Ludwig von Bayern and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen), as well as the birth place of king Ludwig II who built the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.

It is possible to visit a few rooms of the Palace for a fee, as well as some other parts of the property, such as the Porcelain Museum. As for the park, there is no entrance fee, and it’s open to the public, including dogs, which should be kept on the leash. It is a stunning place, completely worth the visit, and if you’ve got time, it’s possible to take a gondola ride and have a snack at the Café am Palmenhaus.

Check out the Palace’s opening times here.

Isar River

Isar, Munich

The Isar is the river that crosses the city, and a stroll alongside it will give you a different impression of Munich. During the summer is a beloved place for a barbecue, a picnic, or for simply relaxing and having a beer by the water. A great place also for sunsets and photography.

Watch a game or visit the Allianz Arena

Allianz Arena at night, Munich

For the football fans in town, if you don’t manage to get tickets for a game, you can take a tour of the Allianz Arena and have an idea of what’s like when it’s full with people. Everyone I ever took to see the stadium loved it, even the not so football fans. Check here more information about the tour.

Tip: in most games you can head to the Allianz Arena and try to get a ticket, normally there are many people selling them after you get off the subway. For Champions League games tickets are harder to get.

Go to a Biergarten

Biergarten, Munich

Warm days in Munich call for a Biergarten, and the city has plenty of them to keep you entertained. There, I recommend you to order the beer you like (yes, you can have beer in the same one liter Oktoberfest glasses) and a local dish accompanied by a Brezen. You’ll feel like a local!

Enjoy a beautiful view over the city

Munich from above

Munich offers a few places where you can appreciate it from above. If like me, you also love seeing a city from over the rooftops, here are a few ideas to do just that in Munich: the new City Hall has an elevator that take you up to Marienplatz, you may also like to climb the narrow steps of the St. Peter’s Church right across it, go up the Olympic Tower, or maybe enjoy a drink or two in one of the famous rooftop bars in the city, like the one at the hotel Bayerischer Hof.

Have a traditional Bavarian breakfast

Bavarian breakfast

If there is something you should experience while in Munich, that is to have a traditional Bavarian breakfast, a pair of weißwurst, brezen, sweet mustard, and a weißbier. Yup, beer for breakfast! Find out more about this tradition here.

Getting around with the public transportation

It is incredibly easy to get around Munich, options vary from bus, Tram, U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (suburban trains) and bicycles. Tickets can be bought at machines located in all U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, most Tram and bus stations, inside the Trams and buses, as well as online, on the official MVG website or app (also in English).

My tip is to download the MVG app, register (yes, even if you don’t live in Munich you can buy tickets using the app) and use it to plan your journeys, buy your tickets, check the timetables, keep updated on the traffic, and even get several tips for Munich, including the list of free Wi-Fi spots around the city.

Tram in Munich

Which ticket to buy?

There are several types of tickets you can buy. Here are the ones I most recommend:

For one person:
Single-day ticket (€6,60) valid for one person traveling in the inner area and until 6am of the following day.
Single 3-day ticket (€16,50) valid for one person traveling in the inner area and until 6am of the fourth day.

For up to 5 people:
Group day ticket (€12,60) valid for up to 5 people traveling in the inner area and until 6am of the following day.
Group 3-day ticket (€29,10) valid for up to 5 people (where 2 children between 6-14 years count as one adult) traveling in the inner area and until 6am of the fourth day.

» Always remember to validate your ticket (only once on the first use) «

Ticket machine, Munich

Apart from these tickets, there are also the CityTourCard, which gives you access to transportation and discounts on over 70 attractions in and around Munich, and the QueerCityPass, which is a special ticket for the LGBT-community that gives access to transportation and discounts in over 60 queer-friendly partners in and around Munich.

For more options of tickets and further questions, check the MVG official website.

 

Some of the best places to eat and drink in Munich

Bavarian food

I’ve combined my favorite places in town, the best rated and Michelin starred restaurants in one place:

Bavarian

Augustiner Keller
Hofbräuhaus
Schneider Bräuhaus im Tal

International

L’Osteria (Italian)
Arte in Tavola (Italian)
VIB Grill (Brazilian)
Blue Nile (Ethiopian)

Steak

P. Korn
El Gaucho

Burger

Mc Muller

Cafes

Maelu
Café Lotti
Cotidiano
Hungriges Herz
Café am Palmenhaus
Café Jasmin
Café Luitpold
Aroma Kaffeebar
Gartensalon

Ice Cream

Der verrückte Eismacher
BallaBeni

Michelin Starred (2017 guide)

1 star
Schuhbecks in den Südtiroler Stube
Les Deux
Schweiger
Gourmet Restaurant Königshof (Hotel Königshof)
Acquarello

2 stars
Dallmayr
Tantris
Atelier (Hotel Bayerischer Hof)
Geisels Werneckhof
EssZimmer by Käfer

 

Nightlife

nightlife

Pixabay

I’m not much into nightlife these days, but I have many friends in town who are, so club recommendation comes from them. On the other side, I do enjoy having a good cocktail in a nice bar, so here are a few cool bars and popular clubs in Munich for you:

Some cool bars

Die Goldene Bar
Couch Club
Schumann’s
Barroom
Zephyr Bar

Some popular clubs

P1 Club
Pacha
Milchbar
Harry Klein

 

Top places for shopping in Munich

Street in Munich

Sendlingerstr.

If shopping in Munich is something you don’t want to miss, then you have to check out these places while here:

Streets

Neuhauserstr. & Kaufingerstr. (Old Town)
Maximilianstr. (Old Town/Lehel)
Theatinerstr. (Old Town)
Sendlingerstr. (Old Town)
Friedrichstr. (Schwabing)
Leopoldstr. (Schwabing)

Department Stores

Oberpollinger
Galeria Kaufhof
Ludwig Beck
Lodenfrey 
Karstadt

Shopping Malls and Hofs

Riem Arcaden
Olympia Einkaufszentrum
Fünf Höfe
Hofstatt

For souvenirs

There are several souvenir stands along the Neuhauser./Kaufingerstr., some at the Sendlingertor and Viktualienmarket, and it is also possible to find many items at the department store Galeria Kaufhof.

 

Holidays & Events

Oktoberfest at night

Oktoberfest

In order for you to plan your stay in Munich, here are the official national and public holidays in the city, as well as the main events happening throughout the year:

National and Public Holidays for 2017

January 1st: New Year’s Day
January 6th: Three King’s Day
April 14th to 17th: Easter Break (Saturday stores are open)
May 1st: Labour Day
May 25th: Ascension Day (40 days after Easter)
June 5th: Pentecost Monday
June 15th: Corpus Christi
August 15th: Assumption Day
October 3rd: German Unification Day
October 31st: Reformation Day (in 2017 will be celebrated 500 years of Martin Luther efforts towards religious and social changes)
November 1st: All Saints Day
December 24th: is not a holiday, though stores close at around 2pm
December 25th: Christmas Day
December 26th: Second Christmas Day

During all these holidays (except for the Saturday during the Easter Break, and December 24th) all stores are closed. In some of them, even museums are also found closed, so my advice is to check on the attraction official website their opening times during these holidays.

Sundays: stores are closed on Sundays, however, bakeries open until 1pm, gas stations and their convenience stores remain open, restaurants, museums, and it’s possible to find supermarkets still open at the airport and at the hauptbahnhof.

Mondays: some attractions and restaurants might close on Mondays, check in advance if where you’re planning to go will be open.

Events

Carnival (February/March)
Known as Fasching, even though it’s not a public holiday, Munich’s carnival is celebrated on the city’s streets on a Monday (Rosenmontag), when people dress up in costumes and dance.

Auerdult
A traditional festival (volksfest) that happens 3 times a year (because fun festivals are never enough) at the Mariahilfplatz in the Au neighborhood. The event is for the whole family, with food and handcrafts stalls, as well as a theme park. Here is when the festival happens throughout the year:
Maidult: April – May
Jakobidult: July – August
Kirchweihdult: October

Click here for more information.

Spring festivals

Starkbierfest (March)
Each year, the month of March is marked by the Starkbierfest, or Strong Beer Festival, located at the city’s breweries at Nockerberg in the Au neighborhood of the city. Breweries celebrate the occasion with music, regional food, and of course, beer! Check out this year’s dates.

Frühlingsfest (April and May)
Located on the same place where the Oktoberfest happens, the Munich’s Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival) is incredibly fun for adults and kids. It is a much smaller event than the Oktoberbest, but it’s enough to give you the taste of the famous event. Check out this year’s dates.

Summer festivals

Tollwood Sommerfestival (June and July)
This famous summer festival happens each year at the Olympic Park. With famous bands, fireworks, handcrafts, stalls with local and international food and fair trade products, Tollwood is a fun event for those living and visiting the city. Check out this year’s dates and opening times.

impark Sommerfestival (August)
Once Tollwood is over, there is still some time to enjoy the rest of the summer at the Olympic Park with the impark Sommerfestival. With Ferris wheels and other rides, games, food stalls, water activities, and famous bands, it’s one of the coolest festivals in Munich throughout the year.

Oktoberfest (September and October)
The most famous and largest event happening in Munich, the Oktoberfest attracts people from all over the world, and transforms the city. On contrary to what many think, the event does not happen throughout the month of October only, it begins on the 3rd weekend of September and ends on the first weekend of October. Stay tuned not to miss this year’s dates.

» Tips for the Oktoberfest you find here «

Christmas Markets (last weekend of November to December 24th)
The most beautiful time of the year in town, when in every corner you find a small or a big Christmas Market, locally called Christkindlmarkt/Weihnachtsmarkt. There are around 19 of them spread out in every region of the city, each with a different theme, events and opening times. Find out more about the Christmas Markets in Munich.

Christmas Markets, Munich

Cinema

Up for a movie while in Munich but don’t understand a word of German? These are my favorite movie theaters playing the original versions:

CINEMA Munich
Museum Lichtspiele

 

Where to stay in Munich

Hotel room

Pixabay

I have made a personal selection of a few hotels under the categories 5, 4 and 3 stars in Munich to give you some inspiration on where to stay in town:

5 Stars

Bayerischer Hof
Rocco Forte The Charles Hotel
Louis Hotel
Mandarin Oriental
Hotel Königshof
Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski

4 Stars

Platzl Hotel 
CORTIINA Hotel
Das Nikolai Hotel
Leonardo Royal Hotel Munich
Leonardo Hotel Munich City South
Anna Hotel

3 Stars

Motel One München-Olympia Gate
Motel One München City Süd
Bavaria Boutique Hotel
Holiday Inn Express Munich City
Hotel Mirabell
Leonardo Hotel Munich City Olympiapark

Or you can stay in an Airbnb and feel like a local. Here is a discount of 35 Euros for first time bookers 

 

Getting to Munich

Blacklane

Arriving by Train/Bus

If you’re arriving by train, the Hauptbahnhof will be your last stop. From there is pretty easy to get around the city, as connections to the city bus, trams, S-Bahn and U-Bahn are very good, and there are plenty of taxis nearby. Look for the city’s map, head to the information point or if you already know where to go, find the closest machine to get a ticket to the public transportation. For more information, visit the Hauptbahnhof official website.

In case you’re arriving by bus, your last stop will be at the Central Bus Station, ZOB (Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof München), which is not far from the Hauptbahnhof. From there it is also easy to get around the city, where you have good connections with the trams, city buses, and S-bahn. There is a paid parking lot, as well as stores and restaurants, where is possible to find machines to get a ticket for the local public transportation. For more information, check the ZOB official website.

Arriving by plane

Getting from Munich’s Airport to the center city

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how to get to Munich from the airport. There are many ways to take the journey, it all depends on how much you want to pay, if you’re in a hurry or got time, and how much effort you want to put. I have put together the best options below to help you with your decision:

Taxi
It won’t be the cheapest, it will cost around 60 Euros with no traffic.

Lufthansa Express Bus
A comfortable and practical option, with the best price. On board you have free Wi-Fi, plenty of space for your luggage, the drivers are very helpful and friendly, they are never full, departures are every 15 minutes, they are very on time, it only takes around 45 minutes to the Hauptbahnhof and 25 minutes to Schwabing. The price for an adult bought online is €10.50 and directly from the driver €11. Stops you find at Terminal 1 (area A and D), Terminal 2, and Munich Airport Center (MAC). For schedule and more information click here.

S-Bahn
You will find the S-Bahn station between Terminal 1 and 2, simply follow the signs of the white S with a green background. Tickets can be bought at the machines just in front of the arrivals of Terminal 2 or right next to the trains. Every 10 minutes, a train (S1 or S8, both stop at Hauptbahnhof) leaves to the center city, the journey takes about 47 minutes and a single adult ticket costs around €11.20. I know, the price isn’t so attractive.

However, I always recommend to buy the Airport-Day-Ticket, which allows you to get from the airport to the city, plus access to the city public transportation until 6am of the following day.

Car sharing
Car sharing has been one of the best things invented in the past years. It is a practical and comfortable way to get you from the airport to your accommodation’s door. If you are already registered with a car sharing company, you can take advantage of this practicality at Munich’s airport. A down point of this option is the airport fee you normally need to pay (around 20 Euros depending on the company) and that sometimes depending on the day and time of your arrival, you might not find any vehicle available.

Private transfers
Want to ditch all the stress? Are arriving in a peculiar time of the day? In a hurry? Private transfer is always an option to consider. I have previously used and highly recommend Blacklane, a German company that offers private transfers to and from airports in over 200 cities around the world, and that allows you to book a ride from their website and app. Everything works quickly, easily and comfortably.

Blacklane offers different categories of cars to meet your needs and budget at any time of the day. What’s great about it:

»You get a 15 minutes’ waiting time
»You will receive a message on your phone keeping you updated about your pick-up
»The driver will be waiting for you at the arrivals
»The tip is already included on the price
»You may cancel the ride up to 1 hour before your one-way ride for free
»You can accumulate miles with Miles & More
»The comfort to get from door to door stress free!

Check out their fares and locations, and find out how it works here.

 

From Munich’s Airport to nearby cities

Munich’s airport is well connected with regional buses, as well as intercity buses (surrounding cities of Munich). If you don’t have a private transfer, you can always book a regional bus in advance to take you to your final destination. The most popular bus company is Flix Bus.

 

Top day trips from Munich

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle

» Surrounding lakes (Starnbergersee, Ammersee, Tegernsee, Chiemsee, and others)
» Salzburg
» Innsbruck
» Regensburg
» Neuschwanstein Castle
» Nuremberg
» Rothenburg ob der Taub
» Königsee & Eagle’s Nest
» Garmisch-Partenkirchen
» Bayerischer Wald

 

»» Find here packing tips for Munich all year round, for men and women ««

»» Traveling with your dog to Munich? Don’t miss these recommendations ««

More tips for Munich you find here 

 

Anything else to be added to the guide? Recommendations are always welcome.

 

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An insider's guide to Munich

The information on this post will constantly be updated.