Munich’s nightlife is as disparate as everything else about this city. Any given night might involve a knees-up in a traditional beer hall, a stint on the dancefloor of an über-contemporary club, or an immersion in the 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 and dance clubs. Hip bars are plentiful 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’s 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 today the legacy lives on with quality live music and theatre performances.
Arts in Munich (www.artsinmunich.com) has English-language listings for cultural events, while Prinz (prinz.de/deutschland/) is a German-language alternative. The best general source for tickets is München Ticket (tel: (089) 5481 8181; www.muenchenticket.de), which has counters in the tourist information office in the Rathaus on Marienplatz, as well as in the Hauptbahnhof and in the Gasteig Cultural Centre on Rosenheimer Strasse.
Bars in Munich
Beer Garden Augustiner Keller
Dating back to 1812, this beer garden 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 much as it was back then. The local Augustiner beer – considered by many Bavarians to be Munich’s best – is enthusiastically consumed.Address: Hauptbahnhof, Arnulfstrasse 52, Munich, 80335 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 594 393.
Dating back to 1888, this Munich institution famously drew cultural heavyweights such as Kandinsky, Ibsen, Strauss and Thomas Mann, and it remains a busy meeting point for locals. Long opening hours mean that it's as likely to attract those in search of coffee and cake as those in search of a few slow beers. There's also a formal restaurant on site. The whole thing has been substantially redecorated since the days in which royalty dropped by, but it still remains an enjoyable spot.Address: Odeonsplatz, Brienner Strasse 1, Munich, 80333 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 242 8750.
Not to be confused with the more famous Hofbräuhaus, although it’s run by the same state-owned brewery, the Hofbräukeller occupies the cellar of a neo-Renaissance building and offers a rich atmosphere for downing a stein or two (accompanied, naturally, by all the traditional Bavarian beer snacks). It’s a little out of the town centre and generally draws more locals than it does tourists, which says much about its historical, down-to-earth appeal. Over the summer, there’s a beer garden shaded by chestnut trees.Address: Haidhausen, Innere Weiner Strasse 19, Munich, 81667 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 4599 250.
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.Address: Hofgarten, Odeonsplatz 6-7, Munich, 80539 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 229 060.
Clubs in Munich
Drawing in the crowds on Friday and Saturday nights, Gecko ticks most of the boxes for an upmarket modern nightclub, courtesy of its contemporary design, on-trend dance music and great, late night atmosphere. The venue actually hosts two separate areas, the Main Club and the smaller Rose Club, meaning different tastes are catered for. Its strapline bills the club as being for “Munich’s Wildest Party Animals”, but it’s a little more stylish than that might suggest.Address: Maximiliansplatz, Maximiliansplatz 5, Munich, 80333 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 5999 8999.
Live music in Munich
Despite the intimate name, this is actually a multi-venue complex comprising of three clubs, a theatre and a cheap and pleasant beer garden. The large stages in the 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.Address: Hirschgaten, Reitknechtstrasse 6, Munich, 80639 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 126 6100.
If you like your live music served in a cosy, intimate and friendly setting, and more to the point, you love your jazz - then look no further than Mister B’s. This tiny, but ever-popular jazz bar, run by ex-New Yorker Alex Best does a fine line in cocktails, although its main appeal is as a music venue. The bar itself comprises just a few tables and a stage, but it’s got a whole lot of heart, and there’s live jazz every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.Address: Ludwigsvorstadt, Herzog-Heinrich-Strasse 38, Munich, 80336 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 534 901.
Classical music in Munich
Munich’s rich musical heritage is dominated by the figure of composer Richard Wagner and his successors Richard Strauss and Carl Orff, all of whom were either born here or worked at length in the city. It’s little surprise, then, to find that Munich boasts 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 three can be found giving outstanding classical performances here.Address: Gasteig, Rosenheimer Strasse 5, Munich, 81667 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 480 980.
This stately building opened in the early 19th century and was commissioned by the Bavarian king of its day, who wanted to create a venue in the image of the Odéon in Paris. It’s been rebuilt twice since, having been destroyed by both fire and war, but it retains a very elegant neoclassical feel in its current form. 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.Address: Altstadt, Max-Joseph-Platz 2, Munich, 80539 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 218 501.
Dance in Munich
Theatres in Munich
If you’re looking for some more easygoing, popular entertainment in Munich, then this venue is generally a solid bet with its calendar of internationally admired hit shows and musicals. You can expect global favourites such as Hair, Grease and the like and you may even be lucky enough to see the Bavarian version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The theatre itself has been open since the 1890s, so its credentials are already well proven.Address: Karlsplatz, Schwanthalerstrasse 13, Munich, 80336 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 5523 4444.
Münchner Kammerspiele is 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. There are various spaces to pick from, the most prominent of which is the Schauspielhaus on Maximilianstrasse. The main theatre season in Munich lasts from early October to the end of July. Performances here are almost exclusively in German.Address: Altstadt, Maximilianstrasse 26-28, Munich, 80539 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 2333 7100.
Built in 1945 on the site of the original Cuvilliés Theater, a historic building where Mozart once premiered his work but one which sadly failed to survive WWII, this new theatre still displays many of the beautifully painted wood carvings saved from the original. Being set within the grand environs of the Residenz (Royal Palace) itself, it still makes a splendid setting in which to enjoy a range of classic and contemporary German works of drama.Address: Altstadt, Max-Joseph-Platz 1, Munich, 80539 Munich
Telephone: +49 89 2185 1940.