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Munich Travel Guide

About Munich

Located in southern Germany north of the Bavarian Alps, on the River Isar, Munich is Germany's third largest city, its most visited after Berlin, and a city that seems to revel in its contradictions.

Sitting on the fringes of the snow-capped Bavarian Alps, multi-layered Munich is a city that revels in its contradictions. It’s Germany’s most visited destination after Berlin, but it presents two very different faces to the world.

The first is that of a modern metropolis, driven by technology and innovation, somewhat characterised by the likes of BMW (whose high-tech HQ is a big visitor attraction) and FC Bayern Munich, the hyper-successful football team whose 21st-century stadium looms on the city outskirts like some gargantuan spacecraft.

The second is that of a deeply traditional town, best known for the beer-swilling rumpus of Oktoberfest but defined year-round by dirndl-wearing waitresses, gingerbread architecture and the defiantly German strain of warm hospitality known as Gemütlichkeit.

Fittingly, among the flashy new boutiques and atmospheric old bierkellers (beer halls), the local citizens are at ease with this mix of cosmopolitan consumerism and old-world customs. The immense new, energy-efficient Siemens HQ is being built on a central square that still hosts a medieval Christmas market – that rather says it all.

This means finding yourself stuck for something to do is unlikely. Munich’s history is a chequered thing, ranging from neoclassicism to Nazism, but that makes it a fascinating place to explore. There are modern art galleries and glitzy nightclubs (the city being one of the original homes of disco), medieval churches and dynastic palaces, riverside cafés and historic theatres.

Its museums play home to some genuinely world-class collections of art too, not least at the three superb Pinakothek galleries, set in neighbouring buildings and each showcasing different periods of art history.

The most famous part of the Munich skyline is still the 15th-century Frauenkirche, famous for its twin 100m-high (328ft) towers, and it’s possible to climb to the top for far-reaching views over the city.

The Residenz, or royal palace, is another big draw, giving visitors a complex of different rooms and gardens to explore. In many ways, the palace provides a neat analogy for Munich as a whole: it’s prominent, not averse to opulence, and somewhere to delve into year-round.

Key facts

Population:
1,378,000
Latitude:
48.139668
Longitude:
11.575787

Featured Hotels

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Mercure Hotel München Altstadt

This formulaic chain hotel in Munich, located between the Marienplatz and Stachus squares, is an affordable option right in the heart of the Old Town. The 80 standard rooms provide simple accommodation but are comfortable, clean and secure. The Mercure Alstadt offers Wi-Fi access, covered parking (a rarity in central Munich) and basic catering, within a short walking distance of all the historic attractions of the city centre.

Fleming's Hotel Munich-City

Part of the Fleming’s chain of accommodation and restaurants, Hotel Munich-City is centrally located, just a short walk from the Hauptbahnhof. Its contemporary flair is pared down with straight-lined furniture, while its 112 rooms come with glass cube bathrooms. The restaurant downstairs gives the diner décor a French brassiere twist, and its spa and fitness area boasts a Finnish sauna and aroma steam bath.

Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski

Possibly the best appointed of all the luxury hotels in Munich, with its imposing 19th-century facade dominating a long stretch of the city’s most fashionable boulevard, Maximillianstrassse, in the heart of Munich. The hotel mixes traditional opulence with a contemporary twist, and the 230 rooms and 67 suites are accompanied by indoor pool, solarium, sauna and spa. The hotel has had famous guests like Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor and Konrad Adenauer. 

The Charles Hotel

This Rocco Forte purpose-built luxury hotel is in the same stable as Berlin's opulent Hotel de Rome and the Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt. Unashamedly expensive, but guaranteed to provide every possible comfort, The Charles Hotel in Munich was designed by Olga Polizzi. It is located centrally, close to Königsplatz and all Munich's historic city centre attractions. It offers 132 large rooms, extensive meetings facilities and a fully equipped spa and bathing complex.

Creatif Hotel Elephant

Like someone knocked an array of paint pots over, this cream-walled hotel goes crazy with the bright colours elsewhere, but it works wonderfully. Rooms are basic, but all have ensuites and TVs, and each is dotted with retro furniture. You can’t miss the place from the outside as it’s sprayed with countless colours. Breakfast is included.

Motel One Munich-City-West

Located in the western part of Munich, but with good connections to the Old Town, Motel One Munich-City-West brands itself as a ‘boutique mote’, offering functional contemporary and stylish surroundings at budget prices. Rooms are compact but modern in design, and services such as Wi-Fi internet access are available, while drinks and snacks are on offer 24 hours.