Your Trip to Munich: The Complete Guide

•••  Chira Chirakijja / TripSavvy

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 during the eighth century. Then, Bavaria was ruled for more than 750 years by the kings of the Wittelsbach Dynasty.

Today, Munich is famous for its interesting mix of traditional Bavarian culture, modern living, and high-tech industries. This city's unique contemporary architecture goes hand in hand with grand avenues, first-class museums, and baroque palaces. Of course, Munich is perhaps most famous for its annual Oktoberfest and its rollicking beer halls.

Get the most out of your trip to Bavaria's heartland with this guide, full of tips on where to stay, how to get around, must-try foods (and beers!), and more.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to VisitMunich shines during the spring months, when you'll find great weather and an event calendar packed with festivals and concerts.

Language: German is the main language spoken in Munich, but English is taught in schools and visitors will encounter many English speakers. Many restaurants have English menus available.

Currency: Germany is a member of the European Union and therefore uses the Euro. You can find currency exchanges at many large transit hubs, such as the Munich Airport and the Heimeranplatz station.

Getting AroundMost popular sights and museums are in the city's historic center, which is easily walkable. Should you need to go further afield, Munich's public transportation system, the MVV, is excellent, with modern subways, trams, and buses. 

Travel Tip: Oktoberfest is the star of Munich's event calendar, drawing more than six million visitors each year. As the largest beer festival in the world, visiting during Oktoberfest requires a bit of planning — make your travel arrangements well in advance.

Things to Do

For travelers looking for traditional Germany, Munich is it. Whether you're after biergartens or world-class museums, the city has no shortage of things to do. Stroll around Marienplatz, the city's central square, have a beer at Hofbrauhaus, and spend a sunny afternoon in English Garden, Munich's largest park, to experience a few of the best things the city has to offer. 

  • Müncheners love beer, so no visit to the city is complete without popping in to Hirschgarten, the world's largest beer garden, for a pint. 
  • The Pinakothek der Moderne is the country's largest modern art museum, boasting works from the genre's greats, like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
  • Dachau, one of the first concentration camps of Nazi Germany, is a short trip outside of the city center. A visit here is both horrifying and moving. 

There is also no shortage of free things to do in Munich and the city is extremely kid-friendly, with plenty of activities for the whole family. 

What to Eat and Drink

If you're looking for traditional German food, Munich is the city for it. Bavarian fare is everywhere here, from schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) to sauerkraut and potatoes. Weisswurst, or white sausage, is a must-try. Made with minced veal and pork, the sausage is seasoned with parsley and other spices. The aptly-named Bratwurstherzl is a popular spot both for weisswurst and other regional specialties, like sauerbraten with potato dumplings and spaetzle.

Of course, given that Munich is a major city, it's not all meat and potatoes here. The city is home to a plethora of international-inspired eateries too, like Nomiya, a yakitori bar-meets-beer hall, and Hey Luigi, a casual Italian restaurant. 

Hofbräuhaus is Munich's most famous beer hall and the largest in Germany, with seating for 5,000 revelers. A visit is a must, but the city is home to other unique beer halls, like Weisses Bräuhaus, where they brew their own wheat beer, and large beer gardens, where you can sip your brew under the shade of ancient trees. 

Where to Stay in Munich

Munich is divided up into 25 different municipalities (called Stadtbezirke). Altstadt is among the most popular, as this is where many popular attractions, including Viktualienmarkt and Marienplatz are located. If luxury shopping is on your itinerary, you'll want to stay close to Old Town’s Maximilianstrasse. Au is another popular neighborhood. This cozy quarter is home to the Paulaner am Nockherberg beer festival each year.

Most hotels are located in the city center and with walking distance of the main train station, although a few great options are a bit further out. Hotel Laimer Hof, a 25-minute train ride from the city center, is among the city's best rated, with 23 quaint rooms. In the heart of the historic center, CORTIINA, a TripSavvy Editors' Choice Award winner in 2018, is located a stone's throw from Old Town Hall and St. Peter’s Church. 

See our recommendation for the best hotels in Munich here.

Getting There

Munich’s International Airport, Franz Josef Strauss Flughafen, is the second busiest airport in Germany after Frankfurt. The airport is frequently rated as one of the best in the world. Located 19 miles northeast of Munich, the airport is also very well connected to the city: Take the metro S8 or S2 to reach Munich's city center in approximately 40 minutes.

The city is well connected to trains and other forms of public transportation, so unless you're planning on exploring Bavaria extensively, renting a car is not necessary. The city is also served by Uber and a bike share. 

Culture and Customs

While service is included in the bill, generally waiters are tipped 5 percent for good service.

Many Germans speak English, but learning a few words of German — how to say hello, thank you, and goodbye, for instance — is a courteous gesture.

If you visit Munich's English Garden, you should know that nudity is allowed in designated areas. The practice isn't as common as it once was, but it is a defining feature of the park. 

Money Saving Tips

  • Many of Munich's best attractions, like the Glockenspiel and Frauenkirche are free.
  • While the Residence, a former Bavarian palace, isn't free, roaming the vast gardens and impressive courtyards.
  • In lieu of more expensive restaurant meals, shop at Viktualienmarkt for local and fresh produce, snacks, and other artisan goodies.
  • Companies like New Europe offer free Munich walking tours. You'll start in Marienplatz and cover many of Munich's most famous attractions, including the Church of St. Peter and Höfbrauhaus. 
  • Oktoberfest is free! But accommodations can be pricey for this massive celebrations, so book in advance.
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