Munich is the capital of and largest city in the German state of Bavaria. It’s famed for beer and sausages, as well as ornate baroque and rococo churches. But Munich’s traditions co-exist with modernity—sleek cars, designer boutiques and residents who’ve moved to Germany from more than 180 countries.
The city is Germany’s leading insurance hub and its second-biggest banking hub. Munich is home to large publicly traded corporations, major private enterprises and skilled craft firms. Information and communication technology, automotive engineering, aerospace, life sciences, finance and media are growing sectors.
Getting to and from the airport
Munich Airport is about 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) north of downtown. S-Bahn lines 1 and 8 go directly from the airport to Hauptbahnhof (Central) Station; the ride takes about 45 minutes. A standard ticket is €10 (approximately US$13.77 with an exchange rate of €1 to $US1.38).
You also can catch the Lufthansa Airport Bus, which departs from the airport every 20 minutes. The bus stops at Schwabing North before reaching the Hauptbahnhof Station. A single fare costs €10.50, or €17 return. The journey should take about 40 minutes if traffic is light.
You’ll find a taxi stand outside the airport. When traffic isn’t heavy, the ride downtown will take 35 minutes and cost about €65.
Getting around Munich
Munich’s well-developed and efficient public transportation system is the best way to get around the city. Use the system’s online navigator to plan your journey and check your fare for the subway, local trains (U and S-Bahns), trams and buses. If you’ve got multiple appointments in different locations, it’s worth getting a day pass.
If you’re not going far, try renting a bike. The bicycle-friendly city has a bike lane network that stretches more than 1,200 kilometers (745 miles). There are plenty of rental companies, including Radius Tours and Bike Rental based at Central Station. Check out the bike route planner (German only), to plan your cycling route.
Where to stay
For luxury and upscale accommodation, try the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost (Bayerstrasse 12, Munich 80335; Ph: +49 (0) 89 599 480), Tryp Muenchen City Center (Paul-Heyse-Strasse 24, Munich 80336; Ph: +49 (0) 89 514 900), Hilton Munich City (Rosenheimer Strasse 15, Munich 81667; Ph: +49 (0) 89 480 40) or the Pullman Munich (Theodor-Dombart-Strasse 4, Munich 80805; Ph: +49 (0) 89 360 990.
Midscale options include the Mercure Hotel Muenhen City Center (Senefelderstrasse 9, Munich 80336; Ph: +49 (0) 89 551 320), the Novotel Muenchen City (Hochstrasse 11, Munich 81669; Ph: +49 (0) 89 661 070), or Worldhotel‘s The Rilano Munchen (Domagkstrasse 26, Munich 80807; Ph: +49 (0) 89 360 010). For a budget stay, check out the IBIS Muenchen City (Dachaner Strasse 21, Munich 80335; Ph: +49 (0) 89 551 930).
Things to see and do
Ralph Winkler, vice president of Sales for BCD Travel, lives in Munich and knows the city well. Here are a few of his recommendations:
The beautiful baroque courtyard of Hofgarten dates to 1613. Today it’s a public park that’s particularly majestic and lively in summer, when musicians serenade passersby. The Nymphenburg Palace, steeped in grandeur, offers a café with a stunning view of the gardens. (The café is closed this year from Jan. 7 to Feb. 28.)
North of Hofgarten you’ll find some incredible museums with world-class collections. The Alte Pinakothek houses well-known European masterpieces from the 14th to 18th centuries. Nearby, the Neue Pinakothek features a collection of 19th century art, including pieces from Van Gogh and Cezanne, and the Moderne Pinakothek offers works from Warhol and Picasso. If you have the stamina, grab a day pass for €12 and visit them all.
If you have time, Ralph suggests a half-day visit to the Dachau Memorial Site, built on the grounds of a former concentration camp. Here you’ll find a moving collection of historical photos, videos, relics and documents. The memorial offers guided tours.
Munich’s Olympia Park, site of the 1972 Olympics, offers guided tours and still hosts many sports and entertainment events. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even climb the roof and rappel back down.
A current craze in Munich is SightJogging, which mixes sightseeing and exercise. But it can be pricey; many tours cost more than €100. A walking tour will get you moving—albeit more slowly—for €8-20. Or stay off your feet by hiring a rickshaw in the city’s central square, Marienplatz. Your driver can point out places of interest as you ride through the city.
For a little relaxation, head for the Müller’sche Volksbad, a public swimming pool with magnificent decor, art nouveau baths and top-notch sauna facilities.
If you’re interested in shopping for luxury brands and haute couture, head for Maximilianstrasse, one of Europe’s most expensive shopping districts. If you’re hungry, try Viktualienmarkt, the city’s largest food market with more than 140 shops and stalls.
No trip to Munich would be complete without stopping at one of the city’s more than 180 beer gardens—especially in summer. Check out the Augustiner Keller on Arnulfstrasse, which has been around since 1812. It’s been awarded for staying true to tradition—in both beer and Bavarian cuisine. Another favorite is the Chinese Tower (Chinesischer Turm) in the city’s English Garden.
Where to eat
Germany is renowned for sausages. They’re eaten at meals and as a morning snack with sweet mustard, brezn (bread) and a large glass of Weißbier (wheat beer). The classic version is the white, boiled, Münchner Weisswurst. There’s also the spicy, grilled Nürnberger Rostbratwürste or the Wollwurst. Refresh your palate with a hot Rumfordsuppe, a soup made from barley and vegetables, or white asparagus. And leave room for a Bayerische Kartoffel, a Bavarian potato dish served with crème fraîche and chives.
Hofbräuhaus is a historic brewery and restaurant that’s served up Bavarian fare for more than a century. You’ll find house speciality sausages, as well as suckling pig, Wiener Schnitzel and roast chicken. It’s at Platzl 9, 80331; Ph: +49 (0) 89 290 1361 00.
Tantris, with two Michelin stars, is considered one of the best restaurants in town. Chef Hans Haas has been honored as Germany’s top chef. The menu changes and can include Dover sole with roast Jerusalem artichokes, scallops with cauliflower and a curry marinade, spinach-stuffed turbot or roast scallops with a mango and apple marinade. A three-course business lunch menu will set you back €80 euros (without wine). You’ll find it at Johann-Fichte-Str. 7, 80805; Ph: +49 (0) 89 361 9590.
For a meal with a view, head for the revolving Restaurant 181 in the Olympic Tower, 181 meters tall. Sample chef Otto Koch’s creative dishes like beef fillet with fried foie gras, green asparagus and truffle potato-beignets. After dinner, try the almond panna cotta with coconut milk, pineapple, pepper caramel and cranberry ice cream. You’ll find it at Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7, 80809; Ph: +49 (0) 89 350 948 181.