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Categories: Europe > Munich


Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg and it is known as a city of revelers. But there is much more to Munich than Oktoberfest and the city's reputation as the beer-brewing capital of the world.

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Munich is many things to Germany. It's the country's high-tech hub (Silicon Bavaria), one of its film and publishing centers, the historical residence of Bavarian royalty, the headquarters of such corporations as BMW and EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.) and the city in which most German professionals routinely say they would like to live. And with beautiful gardens like those at Nymphenburg Palace, the Englischer Garten and Botanischer Garten, it's even easier to understand why.

Munich throbs with trendy shopping, grand churches, opulent palaces, vibrant music and art scenes. The Neue Pinakothek is home to paintings from some of the most famous impressionist painters like Goya and Van Gogh. The Alte Pinakothek houses old master paintintgs. There are many other opportunities in Munich to experience the rich arts scene in the many other museums there.

Outdoor recreation is abundant in Munich. Of course the famous Oktoberfest beer festival is outside, lasting three weeks in the early fall. The Oktoberfest season can be kind of hectic, but Munich in summer is much more relaxed. The city's zoo, Muncher Tierpark, is the first geo-zoo in the world, meaning the animals live in species-appropriate natural habitats and can be easily seen by visitors as there are no bars or fences in the way. Many parks, gardens, castles and palaces offer travelers even more opportunities to get out and experience the city on foot.

Quick Facts

  • U.S. travelers: 

    Valid passport needed for entry

  • Official language:

    German (English is widely spoken)

  • Official currency:


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Categories: Europe > Munich



Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg. It is undeniably a city of revelers, yet there's much more to Munich than Oktoberfest and the city's reputation as the beer-brewing capital of the world.

Munich is Germany's tech hub (Silicon Bavaria), one of its film and publishing centers, the historical residence of Bavarian royalty, the headquarters of such corporations as BMW, and the city in which most German professionals routinely say they would like to live. It boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in Germany.

Munich throbs with haute-couture shopping, grand churches, opulent palaces, vigorous music and art scenes, and an abundance of gourmet restaurants, beer gardens and popular nightspots. If Oktoberfest season is too hectic for you, try Munich in summer. There's nothing quite like enjoying a cold wheat beer in the cool greenery of the Englischer Garten. Whether you go to Munich for business or pleasure, you're bound to be exposed to a pleasant mix of the two.

Must See or Do

Sights—Street performers and the moving figures of the glockenspiel at Marienplatz; the opulent Residenz and Schloss Nymphenburg; the Frauenkirche and other churches in the Old Town.

Museums—Old master paintings at the Alte Pinakothek; the Goyas, Van Goghs and other impressionist works at the Neue Pinakothek; 20th-century art and design at the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Museum Brandhorst; blockbuster exhibits at the Haus der Kunst; Greek and Roman sculptures in the Glyptothek; the wonders of technology at the Deutsches Museum.

Memorable Meals—Divine set menus (with fiendish prices) at Michelin-starred Tantris; down-home schweinsbraten, blaukraut and knodel at Beim Sedlmayr; terrific steaks served by The Grill in the Kunstlerhaus; international cuisine and a fabulous view from atop the Olympic Tower at Restaurant 181.

Late Night—Live jazz at Jazzclub Unterfahrt and Nightclub Bar Bayerischer Hof; beautiful people and chic surroundings at P1; early-morning pastries and cappuccino at Espresso Valle Uno.

Walks and Recreation—Strolling along Schwabing's Leopoldstrasse or in the gardens of Nymphenburg Palace; bicycling, jogging or walking through the Englischer Garten; enjoying the unique silence at the Botanischer Garten; window-shopping in the Old Town pedestrian zone or on gilt-edged Maximilianstrasse; ice-skating at the outdoor track in Ostpark and, at Christmastime, at the outdoor rink at Stachus.

Especially for Kids—Tierpark Hellabrunn; the Bavaria Filmstadt tour; the Deutsches Museum's interactive exhibits; the puppet shows at the Munchner Stadtmuseum; the Circus Krone; winter outdoor swimming in the heated lazy river at the Nordbad.

Munich Travel Agents


Munich lies 50 mi/80 km north of the Alps. The Isar River flows through the eastern part of the city, near the zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn) and the Bavaria Film Studios, around the island housing the Deutsches Museum, past the parliament building (Maximilianeum) and finally through the lush greenery of Englischer Garten, the city's main public park.

Four massive city gates provide the general boundaries of Munich's innenstadt, or inner city. Two of the gates, Sendlinger Tor to the southwest and Isartor to the east, were once part of the medieval town wall. Karlstor, which today marks the west entrance to the Old Town, was part of Munich's second ring of medieval fortifications. (The Hauptbahnhof—the main train station—is a few blocks west of Karlstor.) A bit farther to the north of the Old Town is the 19th-century Siegestor (Victory Gate).

At the heart of the innenstadt is Munich's central square, Marienplatz, site of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) and the ever-popular glockenspiel in its tower. Many of Munich's landmarks—Frauenkirche, the twin-onion-domed medieval cathedral; the Residenz, former royal palace of the Wittelsbachs; the world-renowned Hofbrauhaus beer hall; and the city's popular open-air food market, the Viktualienmarkt—are within walking distance.

A lively pedestrian area runs from Marienplatz westward toward Karlsplatz (also called Stachus). Odeonsplatz, a short walk north of Marienplatz, marks the beginning of the boulevard Ludwigstrasse, which turns into Leopoldstrasse north of the Siegestor. This is also the beginning of Schwabing, an artsy student quarter. Two other popular districts, Haidhausen and Bogenhausen, lie on the east bank of the Isar. The Gartnerplatz and Glockenbachviertel, south of Viktualienmarkt, have also developed into a trendy area of Munich.


The city was officially founded in 1158 by Heinrich der Lowe (Henry the Lion). In 1255, Munich began its long history as the home of Bavarian royalty when the Wittelsbach family, dukes of Bavaria, settled in the city. In 1504, the city was named the official capital of the Duchy of Bavaria. However, several brief periods of foreign occupation followed: In 1632, during the Thirty Years War, Munich was ruled by Gustav II of Sweden, and the Hapsburgs of Austria ruled the city 1705-14 and 1742-44.

Beginning in 1745, Duke Maximilian III Joseph began shaping the Munich we know today. He founded the city's academy of science and built the Cuvillies Theater and the Nymphenburg Porcelain Factory. In 1806, Munich became the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, and its rulers set about leaving their mark on the city. In the first half of the 1800s, King Ludwig I commissioned the Glyptothek and the Alte Pinakothek, in which the Wittelsbachs' important artworks were displayed. Nymphenburg Palace was also expanded on his orders. The eccentric King Ludwig II, a professed "Munich hater," spent his time building outlandish castles outside of the city, among them Neuschwanstein. His life and mysterious death in 1888 remain a popular part of Munich folklore.

In the early 20th century, Munich saw the potent beginnings of National Socialism. Adolf Hitler's failed beer-hall putsch ended in bloodshed at the Feldherrnhalle south of Odeonsplatz in 1923. However, by 1933, the Nazi party was in full command, and the concentration camp in nearby Dachau went into operation. In 1935, Hitler named Munich "Die Hauptstadt der Bewegung" (Capital of the Movement). He ordered the building of the Haus der Kunst, which opened in 1937 with the exhibit Degenerate Art, aimed at skewering the works of 'un-German' artists. In 1938, the infamous Munich Treaty (an Allied attempt to appease Nazi aggression) was signed there. By the end of World War II, much of Munich was destroyed.

Reconstruction and restoration of the city took place over the following decades. The 1972 summer Olympic Games, which were held in Munich, were supposed to be a celebration of the city's rebirth. However, when 11 members of the Israeli team were murdered by Palestinian terrorists, the host city again found itself associated with tragedy. The 1980s and 1990s saw the rise of Munich as an international center for technology, media and insurance. Today, the city attracts a large number of tech companies and serves as a center for Germany's fashion, art and cinema industries. Munich is also one of Germany's most popular tourist destinations, and every year in late September, Oktoberfest attracts about 6 million visitors.


Munich got its name from a small band of monks who settled the area in 1050. It was originally called "zu den moenchen," which means "by the monks."

The quality of a Munich mayor is measured by the strokes he needs to tap the first barrel of beer at Oktoberfest.

The Englischer Garten has a public section for nude sunbathing (these areas are designated with signage that says "FKK").

According to local legend, stroking the lion's nose in the front of the Residenz brings good luck and prosperity.

The Kocherlball is an annual event celebrating a tradition from the beginning of the 20th century, when maids and servants met once a year before sunrise to get together and dance and sing before they went back to work.

The 12,000 staff members of the Oktoberfest work crew bring revelers about 2.3 million gal/9 million L of beer each year.

In January 1821, when the Munich Opera burned down, it was so cold that all fire-fighting water froze. The king then ordered the fire brigade to use beer from the nearby Hofbrauhaus instead—in vain, unfortunately.


The Isar River that runs through Munich is not deep enough to host anything much larger than a floating raft; however, river cruises are available from the city of Passau, which is located 120 mi/194 km northeast of Munich. Passau can be reached via car or bus on the A92 autobahn, or via train (about a two-hour ride).

The cruises vary in destination and duration, but most travel on the Danube river. A sample cruise is from Passau to Budapest, Hungary, then back to Passau, stopping in Linz and Vienna, Austria, as well as Bratislava, Slovakia, before stopping in Budapest.

If you'd prefer something more traditional, take a leisurely ride down the Isar on a flossfahrt, a traditional log raft dating back to 1200 when they were used for transporting goods. Each raft seats about 60 passengers plus a small band to provide some entertainment, a few umbrellas for shade, snacks and of course, beer. Rafts run from May to mid-September and must be booked in advance. Rides are 5-7 hours long and can be reached from the nearby town of Wolfratshausen. From Munich Hauptbahnhof, you can take the S-Bahn (S7). The ride is about 40 minutes; by auto, take autobahn A95 towards Garmisch, exit at Wolfratshausen (approximately 30 minutes).

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