Munich City Guide


Much More than Oktoberfest!

Munich (München in German) is the capital city of the German state of Bavaria. It lies only about 30 miles north of the Bavarian Alps and is home to about 1.4 million residents.

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Three Munich landmarks: the Frauenkirche (left), the Olympic TV Tower (center, background), and the Rathaus (city hall, right). PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

Some Munich History
The earliest records mentioning Munich date back to 1158. Munich got its start and its name as a stop along the Salt Route (Salzstraße) at a toll bridge (where the Ludwig’s Bridge is today) that crossed the Isar River near the site of a Benedictine monastery. The city’s German name, München, is derived from the word Mönch (munich in Old High German), which means monk. A monk is also depicted on the city’s coat of arms. Munich was officially chartered as a city in 1175.

The Wittelsbach dynasty ruled over Munich and Bavaria from 1180 until 1918. Henry the Lion (Heinrich der Löwe) of the House of Welf (Guelph) had the bridge built. In 1180, his Wittelsbach successor, Otto I, became Duke of Bavaria. In 1806, after Napoleon abolished the Holy Roman Empire, Munich became the capital of the Kingdom of Bavaria, which remained a separate nation, only becoming part of Germany (Prussia) in 1871.

MUNICH HIGHLIGHTS

Transportation
Munich (airport code: MUC) is a major European air hub, with many international and national flights. This makes it easy to reach the Bavarian capital by air from anywhere in the world. (See airport photo below.)

The city is also very accessible by rail and auto. Nine rail lines and six autobahns converge on the greater Munich area.

Within the city, there is very good public transportation — with S-Bahn (commuter rail), U-Bahn (metro, underground), streetcar and bus lines connecting the city’s districts, the suburbs, and the airport. (See photo below.)

MORE at THE GERMAN WAY
Public Transport in Germany
Getting around locally via S-Bahn, U-Bahn, bus, and tram
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A tram in the Munich suburb of Grünwald. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

See our Hotels and B&Bs page for Munich hotels.

hotels in munich


Scenic Sights and Attractions
Munich is the cultural, economic and political capital of Bavaria. Best known for Oktoberfest (see “Theresienwiese” below), Munich is much more than that. Among its chief attractions are…

  • Marienplatz | Munich’s main square, right in the middle of the inner city, is surrounded by the imposing new town hall (Neues Rathaus), churches, shops, and other buildings.
  • Frauenkirche | Munich’s Church of our Lady stands within a short walking distance from the Marienplatz. It is an architectural icon of the city.
  • Peterskirche (Alter Peter) | St. Peter’s church stands on the Petersbergl, a small hill said to be the original site of the town of Munich. From the church tower you have a wonderful view of the Marienplatz and the city. You’ll have to climb a lot of stairs, but it’s worth it!
  • Viktualienmarkt | This colorful, historical farmer’s market is just around the corner from the Marienplatz.
  • die Isar | The Isar (EE-zar) river runs through Munich and provides swimming and other water sports in season.
  • Karlsplatz (Stachus) | This square is more round than square. It is located between the main Munich train station (Hauptbahnhof) and the Marienplatz. Nicknamed the “Stachus,” it is the gateway to the pedestrian zone that leads to the Marienplatz.
  • Olympiaturm + Olympiapark | Munich was the site of the 1972 Olympics. The Olympic Park and the Olympic TV Tower can be reached by U-Bahn (U3), bus (173) and tram (20 or 21). Web: Olympiapark (English)
  • Oktoberfest | Despite its name, Munich’s big beer fest begins in September. Besides the beer theme, Oktoberfest is more like a US state fair, complete with carnival rides. More…
  • Schloss Nymphenburg | The baroque summer residence of the Wittelsbach royal house, Nymphenburg Palace was once outside of Munich. “Mad” King Ludwig II (Neuschwanstein Castle) was born here. Now the palace and its beautiful park are in the western part of the city. (Tram line 17.)
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Munich’s airport is a major hub for many international and domestic airlines. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo

  • Bavaria Filmstadt | When there were still two Germanys, Munich was West Germany’s Hollywood. Still active today for both cinema and TV, the Bavaria Film studios are located in Geiselgasteig, 10km (6 miles) south of the city. English guided tour (in season) daily at 1:00 p.m. The 25 tram to Grünwald stops right at the studio entrance. Web: Bavaria Filmstadt (English)
  • The Hofbräuhaus | Munich’s famous beer garden and restaurant is not the only one in the city, but it is the most famous. Web: Hofbräuhaus
  • Der Englische Garten | Created in 1789, the “English Garden” is Munich’s “Central Park” (but larger than the New York park), a nice place to relax and take a break from sightseeing. Have a beer or some tea at the Chinese Pagoda (Chinesischer Turm). There’s also a Japanese teahouse and garden at the south end of the park.
  • Deutsches Museum | Munich’s vast German Museum offers a large exhibition of science and technology from all over the world. Besides the main museum on Museum Island, there are two more branches for cars and transport (Verkehrszentrum) and aircraft (Flugwerft Schleissheim).
  • Theresienwiese | This large fairground, the site of Oktoberfest (which begins in September), is located southwest of the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). It is also the site of the large Bavaria statue.
  • Art museums | Munich is home to several notable art museums: the Alte Pinakothek (classic art), the Neue Pinakothek (modern art), and the Neue Staatsgalerie (modern art). Web: Museums and Collections in Munich

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