European Munich0Germany0Travel0Guide

· First Things First
· Where to Stay
· Getting Around
· At Your Hotel
· Around Munich
· Must See
· Maybes
· Maybe not

First Things First

If all you know of Munich is limited to a dim memory of a Hofbräuhausfrau serving up one too many biers, then you missed everything except Oktoberfest! Originally established as a consequence of disputes about the collection of custom fees in the Middle Ages, Munich, the capital of the German state of Bavaria, is known as the "village of a million inhabitants" because of its blend of cosmopolitan energy and village-like intimacy.

Germany is a member of the Eurozone, the group of countries that uses the Euro currency (€). Prices below are expressed in U.S. dollars for convenience; check the rate of exchange prior to arrival in Europe. German is the most common language. English is widely spoken in large cities and touristed areas, but otherwise carry your phrase book with you and listen for the Bavarian pronunciation of certain words.

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Where to Stay

Munich's Bavarian charm is as popular as ever. This old German favorite has yet to lose it's appeal, thus hotel space can be difficult to come by. The traditional high season runs through the summer (June, July, and August) however the city continues to draw large crowds into the business convention month of September. October brings Oktober(fest), then follows the internationally acclaimed Christmas markets, which bleed into the massive New Year's celebrations at the end of the year. During these busy months try to avoid stumbling into town without planning ahead... unless you plan on going camping! Once you've made your reservations, expect excellent hotels that conform to the traditional star rating as well as fantastic Bavarian hospitality and, in most cases, a nice down comforter on your bed almost the entire year. The subway system (see below) is excellent and most of Munich is manageable on foot. We recommend booking a hotel that is located in the Alstadt, or near Hofgarten or Marienplatz to be right in the heart of the city.

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Getting to Your Hotel

...From Frans Josef Strauss International Airport
Munich's airport is connected to the center of town by the S-Bahn, Munich's urban-suburban subway and train system. Trains leave the airport every 20 minutes, and a ticket costs about $9.

...From Munich's Hauptbahnhof (Central Train Station)
Since the station is connected to the U-Bahn (the strictly city-center portion of the subway), your best bet is to hop on the clean, swift trains. If you've had too much sausage already and need a ride in a Mercedes, taxis are outside both the airport and the train station, but are quite expensive.

S- and U-Bahn schedules and tickets are available at many kiosks and shops as well as at tourist information offices located throughout the city and at the airport and Hauptbahnhof.

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At Your Hotel

Pick up a free city map and other helpful information. City information can usually be obtained in hotel lobbies or from the front desk.

Check in, freshen up, and, with your bags unpacked, your room key in your pocket, and some euros to spare, you're all set to join in the Fest that is Munich.

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Most tourists find Müncheners a little schizophrenic. Locals here are busy and rushed and stressed during the day, but as soon as the sun sets and the Steins are lifted, that same person who growled at you on the bus is now begging you for a polka and teaching you drinking songs. During the day, it's a real city, with real people going about their daily lives. However, at night these same people let down their hair, and lift up their bier mugs. It becomes the Munich of legend. There is much to see and do in this old-fashioned town, so we've compiled a list of the top sites to visit if you're short on time. We've also included some sites of lesser importance, but of great interest, and finally a little warning against places that you're better off skipping.

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Must See:

Bratwurst or Weisswurst: For every one American who walks around with a bottle of spring water there are 10 Müncheners with a sausage on a roll. Try the short, fat Weisswurst or the long, skinny Bratwurst. If meat ain't your beat, a warm, salty pretzel is just as acceptable.

Oktoberfest: If you happen to make it during late September and early October, you should experience this incredible, city-wide celebration of beer. But there's more to it than just beer: there's food, polka, and beer, too.

Marienplatz: Home to Munich's famous Glockenspeil (part of the equally entrancing Frauenkirche) and Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall). Nearby is the most prestigious and upscale shopping in town along the Maximilianstrasse. All of this is best enjoyed with a beer and a snack.

Englischer Garten: Enjoy the picnic spots and beer gardens of Munich's huge "central" park.

Alte Pinakothek: Nearly 1,000 paintings and other works make up one of Europe's most important art collections. Many artists were members of the Danube School. Admission's about $9, good for the whole day, but check with the tourist office about less expensive hours and free time.

Antikensammlungen: "If I had a Euro for every Greek vase..." This is the place to go for pottery buffs and lovers of other ancient artifacts.

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Residenz: At about $5, the former home of the Bavarian kings is a bargain on the to-do list. Since it was lived in for about 500 years, until 1918, it houses a vast collection of art and is home to a wide selection of architecture.

Schloss Nymphenburg: This is a must, but only if you can afford the 35-minute trip out to the park. The Baroque palace and parks are reachable by the U-Bahn to Rotkreuzplatz then Tram 12 toward Amelienburg.

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Maybe not:

Hofbrauhaus: This area is heavily touristed. It's not authentic Munich, however the place does have great food and beer. You'll meet a great number of people, but the chances of running into a local are slim. On the flip side, you'll find the Fraus serving up savory, giant sausages and lots of beer!

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