Munich, located in the South of Germany, is the capital of Bavaria and the gateway to the German Alps. München, the city's native name, is derived from the Old German word Mönche ("monks") and traces back Munich’s origins as a Benedictine monastery in the 8th century. Today, Munich is famous for its interesting mix of traditional Bavarian culture, modern living, and high tech industries.
Contemporary architecture goes hand in hand with grand avenues, first-class museums, and baroque palaces. They are a salute to Munich’s royal past: Bavaria was ruled for more than 750 years by the kings of the Wittelsbach Dynasty.
- 1.2 million inhabitants
- Third largest city in Germany (after Berlin and Hamburg)
- Located 30 miles North of the German Alps
- The river Isar runs through Munich’s city center
Munich’s International Airport, Franz Josef Strauss Flughafen, is the second busiest airport in Germany after Frankfurt. In 2009, Munich Airport was voted 2nd "Best Airport in Europe" and fifth-best in the world.
Located 19 miles northeast of Munich, the airport is very well connected to the city: Take the metro S8 or S2 to reach Munich's city center in approximately 40 minutes.
You'll find many sights and museums in the historic heart of the city, most of them within short walking distance from one another. Munich also has an excellent public transportation system (MVV), with modern and clean subways, trams, and buses.
What to See and Do
Although Munich was damaged in World War II, the Old Town of the city has been carefully restored to its original splendor. A great starting point to explore Munich’s architectural gems, museums, and parks, is Marienplatz, the cobblestoned square in the heart of the Old Town.
Hotels and Hostels
Munich offers plenty of accommodations, from cheap and modern hostels, which offer dorms as well as private rooms, to charming guesthouses, and luxurious hotels. If you plan to visit Munich during Oktoberfest, make sure to reserve your room up to six months in advance and be prepared for higher prices.
The highlight of Munich’s festival calendar is its annual Oktoberfest, which pays tribute to the history, culture, and cuisine of Bavaria. The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Today, the largest beer festival in the world attracts over 6 million visitors annually, enjoying music, Oktoberfest parades, rides, and food and drinks in 16 different beer halls.
Munich's cuisine is often regarded as quintessentially German; think sausages, potatoes salad, and sauerkraut, all washed down with a handcrafted beer. Some delicacies you should try in Munich include Weisswurst, white veal sausage with whole-grain, sweet mustard (only served until 12 pm), and a Leberkaes Semmel, a slice of meatloaf on a roll.
Munich’s two main pedestrian shopping streets are right in the center of its Old Town, starting at Marien Square. On Kaufingerstrasse und Sendlingerstrasse, you'll find everything from international department stores, to family-run specialty shops. Maximilianstrasse is known for its high-end luxury boutiques and designer stores. Foodies should not miss Munich’s largest open-air farmers market, Viktualienmarkt, which has been held 6 days a week since 1807.
Munich Day Trips
There is so a lot to see and do in Munich – but it is also worth taking a day trip to explore the city’s surroundings. Bavaria’s green and lush landscape is dotted with quaint towns and has plenty in store for travelers who love nature. From hiking in the majestic Alps, and swimming in mountain lakes, to driving down the scenic Romantic Road, Bavaria offers many great destinations.