Munich Nightlife

Munich’s nightlife is as excitingly bipolar as everything else about this city, with choices ranging from a knees-up in a traditional beer hall to sharing the dancefloor of an über-contemporary club with many of the country’s biggest celebrities, or enjoying a world-class cultural evening enjoying the classical works of great German composers such as Wagner.

The area around Münchener Freiheit in Schwabing is the best-known nightlife district, with innumerable bars, cafés, restaurants, jazz venues, dance clubs and crowds of students and youthful revellers. In recent years, a large number of hip new bars have opened up on the streets radiating out from Gärtnerplatz, while the Glockenbachviertel, just south of Sendlinger Tor, is the main focus of the gay scene. Haidhausen offers a more alternative scene.

Munich also boasts an impressive cultural pedigree. It is significant that the head office of the German cultural organisation, the Goethe Institut, is based here. Munich was a major centre for the arts during the 19th century, under the patronage of Ludwig I and II, and at the beginning of the 20th century, it found itself at the forefront of the new Expressionist movement.

Munich Found (www.munichfound.de) has English-language listings, while Prinz (www.prinz.de) is its German-language counterpart. The best general source for tickets is München Ticket (tel: (089) 290 1897; www.muenchenticket.de), which has counters in the tourist information office in the Rathaus, Marienplatz, as well as in Residenzstrasse and Arnulfstrasse (near the Hauptbahnhof).

Bars in Munich

Alter Simpl

Another bar in Munich with a reputation, this time for its bohemian ambiance and historic literary connections. Of the many excellent bars on Türkenstrasse, this is the one once frequented by literary giants like Herman Hesse and Thomas Mann. It still feels infused with a buzzing, low-key intensity, and food and drink is served until late, keeping the brain nourished for those alcohol-fuelled intellectual debates.

Türkenstrasse 57, Munich
Tel: (089) 272 3083.
Website: www.alter-simpl.com

Beer Garden Augustiner Keller

Dating back to 1812, this beer garden is the oldest in Munich and still serves the genuine traditional experience in all its delightful, clichéd glory. The big draw here originally was the famous "beer bull" yoked to cart beer barrels up from storage in the cellar. Although the bull is long gone, the beer garden looks exactly as it was back then. The local Augustiner beer is also still served here, and enthusiastically consumed.

Arnulfstrasse 52, Munich
Tel: (089) 594 393.
Website: www.augustinerkeller.de

Schumann’s American Bar

With a reputation in Munich much akin to the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice, and equally startling prices to match, this is worth a drink just to say you’ve been. A now iconic institution, located in a street teaming with ultra-chic boutiques, Schumann’s cocktails have been delighting the rich and famous here for over two decades. They’re potent, but chances are you’ll be out of cash before you’re too far gone.

Hofgarten, Odeonsplatz 6-7, Munich
Tel: (089) 229 060.
Website: www.schumanns.de

Clubs in Munich

Baby

The name really says it all. This is Munich’s latest confection to lure the city’s brightest and richest, hippest and most beautiful young things – and they love it. Music is electro-based and complements the venue’s 1980s-themed retro look. Always busy, but if you can get past the door, good times are sure to follow.

Maximiliansplatz 5, Munich
Tel: (0160) 9090 0224.
Website: www.babymunich.com

Optimolwerke

This leviathan dedicated to dance hedonism is situated in the remains of what used to be the Kunstpark-Ost, an old industrial area turned legendary rave-party oasis. No less than 14 clubs (including Munich’s most fashionable techno venue) under one roof offer very different vibes and guarantee a bug night for everyone who can stamp to a beat.

Friendenstr. 10, Munich
Tel: (089) 450 6920.
Website: www.optimolwerke.de

The Atomic Café

For a more intimate club experience in the centre of Munich, you won’t do much better than this. Don’t be fooled by the 1960s vibe, this venue is a meeting place frequented by the city’s youngest trendsetters, as well as some big-name DJs when they’re passing through town. Musical diet is imaginatively poppy, and the regular all-night party is always fizzes.

Neuturmstrasse 5, Munich
Tel: (089) 228 3054.
Website: www.atomic.de

Live Music in Munich

Backstage Club

Despite the intimate name, this is actually a multi-venue complex comprising three clubs, a theatre and a cheap and pleasant beer garden. The large stages in the well set-up clubs host bands from across the globe, and if you’re looking to catch the latest international indie and rock acts as they’re passing through Munich, then this club will be your best bet.

Wilhelm-Hale-Strasse 38, Munich
Tel: (089) 126 6100.
Website: www.backstage.eu

Mr B’s

If you like your live music served in a cosy, intimate and friendly setting, and more to the point, it’s got to be jazz – then look no further than Mr B’s, the tiny but ever-popular jazz-bar run by ex-New Yorker Alex Best. Just a couple of tables and a stage, but a whole lot of heart - plus great live jazz every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Herzog-Heinrich-Strasse 38, Munich
Tel: (089) 534 901.

Nachtcafe

Filling a comfortable gap in the market between the thumping techno clubs and the sloshing beer gardens, this late-night bar in Munich attracts an older more sophisticated crowd, who thoroughly appreciate the classy blue, jazz and soul acts that regularly take to the stage here. There’s also a smart/casual door policy.

Maximiliansplatz 5, Munich
Tel: (089) 595 900.
Website: www.nachtcafe.ygg.de/sub/nachtcafe/nachtcafe.php

Classical Music in Munich

Gasteig

Munich’s rich musical heritage is dominated by the figure of composer Richard Wagner, and his successors Richard Strauss and Carl Orff, who were born here. As such, Munich boast three world-class orchestras, the Münchner Philharmoniker, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Bayerisches Staatsorchester. The Gasteig Kulturzentrum is home to the Münchner Philharmoniker, but all can be found giving outstanding classical performances here.

Rosenheimer Strasse 5, Munich
Tel: (089) 480 980.
Website: www.gasteig.de

Nationaltheater

This stately building opened in the early 19th century is in fact an opera house originally constructed to specifications laid out by Richard Wagner. Located on Franz-Joseph-Platz, it is now the home of the Bavarian State Opera and the Bavarian State Ballet, both of whom perform here throughout the year.

Max-Joseph-Platz 2, Munich
Tel: (089) 218 501.
Website: www.staatstheater.bayern.de

Theatre in Munich

Deutsches Theatre

If you’re looking for some more easygoing popular entertainment in Munich, then this venue will undoubtedly deliver with its calendar of internationally popular hit shows and musicals. You can enjoy global favourites such as Hair and Grease, or even check out a Bavarian version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show!

Werner-Heisenberg-Allee 11, Munich
Tel: (089) 5523 4211.
Website: www.deutsches-theater.de

Münchner Kammerspiele

Widely regarded as one of Germany’s most important theatres. Contemporary plays and classics from German giants such as Goethe and Brecht and international playwrights ranging from Shakespeare to Goldoni are performed here. The theatre season in Munich lasts from early October to the end of July.

Maximilianstrasse 28, Munich
Tel: (089) 2339 6600.
Website: www.muenchner-kammerspiele.de

Neues Residenztheater

Built in 1945 on the site of the original Cuvilliés Theater, a historic building where Mozart once premiered his work, but one which tragically failed to survive WWII, this new theatre still displays many of the beautifully painted wood carving saved from the original, and still makes a splendid setting in which to enjoy a range of classic and contemporary German works of drama.

Max-Joseph-Platz 1, Munich
Tel: (089) 218 501.
Website: www.bayerischesstaatsschauspiel.de

Edited by Tina Banerjee
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