Munich is the capital of the federal state of Bavaria; it is Germany’s third largest city and is among the most prosperous cities in Europe. It is located on the river Isar, and lies on the elevated plains of Upper Bavaria, around 50 km north from the Bavarian Alps at about 520 m above sea level. The city’s weather is greatly influenced by the proximity of the Alps, which brings in cold winds and precipitation.
Germans find Munich a desirable place to live as it is located within easy driving distance of the Alps, Italy, the Mediterranean, the Czech Republic and Austria. It is rich in culture and architecture, is surrounded by beautiful countryside and has the biggest beer culture in the world. However, Munich does not want to be renowned just for beer, its museums are even better than those of Berlin. It is the art center of Germany where many famous artists lived or worked. Munich was, unlike Berlin, meticulously rebuilt after WW II and in no way shows the damage it has suffered.
Munich has a continental climate, but the influence of the nearby Alps ensures that rainstorms can come often and unexpectedly. Summer lasts from May to August and sees high temperatures and plenty of thunderstorms. Winter lasts from December to March, with temperatures around or below zero. The coldest month is January with an average of -1 degree Celsius. There is snow at least a couple of weeks during the winter. The weather is influenced by two winds: Föhn is the warm south-westerly wind from the Alps and can blow during any season. It causes a considerable rise in temperature but this only lasts for a couple of days. The Alpenstau wind from the Alps in the north-west causes unusually low temperatures, rain and sometimes snow, mostly during spring and summer. The warmest month is July, the coldest is January and the wettest is June.
January average temperature -1 deg Celsius, 46 mm rainfall February average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 43 mm rainfall March average temperature 4 deg Celsius, 48 mm rainfall April average temperature 7 deg Celsius, 56 mm rainfall May average temperature 12 deg Celsius, 89 mm rainfall June average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 109 mm rainfall July average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 99 mm rainfall August average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 99 mm rainfall September average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 69 mm rainfall October average temperature 9 deg Celsius, 48 mm rainfall November average temperature 3 deg Celsius, 56 mm rainfall December average temperature 0.5 deg Celsius, 48 mm rainfall
Munich International airport is located 29 km to the north-east of the city center.
It is the second largest in the country, right after Frankfurt, and handles connections to all domestic airports as well as most international airports.
The airport is connected to central Munich via commuter train (S-Bahn), lines S1 and S8. The ride to the central station takes 40 minutes. The services operate throughout the day and most of the night. Taxis and buses are also available. Buses bring you to the main train station. A train ride takes 20 minutes.
Munich is one of Germany’s main transportation hubs and has good connections to most the rest of Germany and major European cities. Trains arrive at the main station located in the city center.
Germany has excellent roads, however during peak hours, at weekends, or at peak seasons they tend to get congested. This especially happens during the ski season.
If you visit Munich only for one day the best option is a ‘Park and Ride’ car park.
The public transport is very efficient and consists of U-bahn (subway), S-bahn (suburban train), trams, and buses. Marienplatz is the main station for U-bahn and S-bahn trains, which operate from 5:00 am – 1:00 am. Night services include trams and buses which operate on main routes within the city.
The city is well equipped for bicycles. With over 200km of bike trails it is one of the best options to explore the city.
Address: Alte Römerstraße 75, Dachau Access: S2 (Dachau); Bus 722(Gedenkstätte) Open: daily: 9:00 am-5:00 pm Disabled access.
Located 20 km from Munich, the city is known worldwide for the infamous Dachau concentration camp. It was here that the first large scale concentration camp in Germany was introduced, and it served as a prototype and model for the others that followed.
It was built in 1933 by only weeks after Hitler came to power, and was used by the Nazi regime to suppress opposition and eradicate them. Over 200,000 prisoners from 30 countries were imprisoned in Dachau, 30,000 of which were killed and thousands more died because of the conditions in the camp.
The Dachau concentration camp has been preserved and now stands as a memento of the horrors endured here. The former workhouse now displays a permanent exhibition of Dachau’s history; a memorial for the victims stands at the front of the camp. The barracks, where prisoners were kept, have also been preserved. To the northwest lies the crematorium where over 30,000 people were incinerated. A visit to Dachau is an experience you will never forget.
Address: Marienplatz 8 Access: S1-S8, U3, U6, Bus 52 (Marienplatz)
Marienplatz is the heart of the city. It is surrounded by impressive buildings of historic prominence. The most imposing is the Neo-Gothic Town Hall dating from the 19th century. The tower features the famous Glockenspiel. It has 43 bells that chime at 11:00 am, 12:00 am, 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm, accompanied by figures dancing a medieval dance and depicting historical scenes from Munich's past.
In the middle of the square stands Mariensäule – a statue of the Virgin Mary after which the square was named. Other points of interest on the square include the Frauenkirche – Munich 15 th century cathedral and the Toy Museum in the Old Town Hall.
The square was once a vibrant market selling salt and grain, today it is a favourite tourist spot.
Located about 8 km from the city center the palace was a summer residence of the Wittelsbachs, the Munich aristocracy. It was built from 1664 onwards in several phases. Altered several times according to the taste and wishes of its different owners, it is now the biggest Baroque castle in Germany.
The interior has interesting frescoes in the main hall. The famous 'Schönheitengalerie' or Gallery of the Beauties should not be missed. It contains 36 provocative portraits commissioned by Ludwig I, depicting the most beautiful women of his time.
The park surrounding the palace is a pleasant place to visit, especially in summer. It is a fusion of French and English landscaping techniques. There are pavilions, a porcelain museum, a collection of Ludwig’s fancy coaches, and modern Europe’s first swimming pool.
Disabled access. The museum, situated in a large neo-classical building, houses one of the most important collections of European art dating from the 14 th to 18 th century. Among the almost 1000 paintings on display are Flemish and Dutch masters as well as Italian masters such as Titian and Botticelli.
The collection of German masters and the Rubens gallery are also a must-see.
The church is the city's main landmark and a must for visitors. The two towers, built in 1525, are said to be the precursors of the Renaissance style. The church itself was built in 1468 by the Gothic architect Jörg von Halsbach. The building itself is imposing and large but symmetrical and simple. The interior is mainly Gothic, except for the altars refurbished in 18th century in Baroque style.
The huge museum encompasses 55,000 square meters and has 8 floors. The museum concentrates on the history of development of technology and natural science. You can explore human development in anything, from coalmining, to automobiles, to aeronautics, to musical instruments – the list is endless. There are presentations taking place throughout the day. Check the notice-board at the ticket booth for details.
The English Garden is a 900-acre park close to the city center and one of Europe’s largest urban parks. The numerous ponds, shaded paths and brooks provide a perfect relaxing escape from the city. It has jogging tracks, bridle tracks, a river, a boating lake and an area for nudist sunbathers. There are also four beer gardens: Chinesischer Turm, Seehaus, Hirschau, and Aumeister. The park also features a Japanese tea house where traditional Japanese tea ceremonies can be attended.
The Wittelsbach ruling family erected this royal palace in 1385 when the old palace, Alter Hof, had become too small. The palace grounds include many courtyards, fountains, a chapel, antiquarium and a medicine room. On the palace grounds you can marvel at the crown jewels and Egyptian treasures. The complex includes Residenz Theatre in baroque style and Herkulessaal concert hall.
Munich cuisine is quite heavy as it consists mainly of meat and potatoes. The ‘white sausages’ or Weißwürst are traditionally served for breakfast along with some sweet mustard and fresh pretzels. Another specialty is Leberkäs , a Bavarian grilled sausage usually served with potato salad. The most characteristic soup is Leberknödel Soup with dumplings made of bread, liver and onion. Other traditional dishes are roast pork with bread or potato dumplings, and pork leg with cabbage.
Traditional Bavarian dessert is Apple strudel or Auszogene – fried pastry shaped like a donut. You can find these dishes art Munich’s nmerous beergardens. Munich is famous for its breweries, and the white beer – Weizenbier- is a Bavarian specialty.
Address: Am Platzl 9 Open: daily: 9:00 am – 24:00 Access: S1-S8, U3, U6, Bus 53 (Marienplatz)
Disabled access Munich’s best known beer hall serving traditional Bavarian food and beer. Entertainment is provided by Bavarian music and in the summer a live performance every night.
Date: last two weeks in September Web: www.oktoberfest.de Location: Theresienwiese Access: U3, U6 (Goetheplatz); U4, U5 (Theresienwiese); S1-S8 (Hackerbrücke)
The first Oktoberfest was held on October 12, 1810 as a celebration of the marriage between Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen. All citizens of Munich were invited. Today the feast has developed into the world’s largest beer-drinking party. It attracts around 6 million visitors each year. Numerous huge tents are put up by Bavarian breweries where beer is served and traditional Bavarian bands play. Additional entertainment is provided by fun parks and stalls selling German food.
Oktoberfest is opened by the Mayor of Munich with the customary tapping of the barrel at the foot of the statue of Bavaria on Theresienwiese, at noon.
The carnival season in Munich extends over two months during which numerous parades, street parties and masked balls take place. The festival starts with an official coronation of the carnival Prince and Princess on Marienplatz. The carnival reaches its peak on Shrove Tuesday when most of the celebrations take place including the ‘dancing of the market women’ on Viktualienmarkt. Everyone puts on a fancy dress costumes and comes to party on Viktualienmarkt where food and drink stalls are plentiful.
Date: December 1-23 Location: Marienplatz
The annual Christmas market from the end of November to Christmas Eve has stalls selling various handicrafts and Glüwein (mulled red wine.) A huge Christmas tree takes centre stage and everything is lit up with Christmas lights and decorations.
Musical events take place every night at 5:30 pm on Marienplatz.
This month-long festival is the most prestigious musical event in the city and classical music enthusiasts from around the world come here to listen to the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bavarian State Opera Festival. There are also two open-air performances on the square in front of the opera house, both of which are free of charge.
This is one of the oldest breweries in Munich where beer is served in typical 1-liter mugs. The waitresses are dressed in traditional Bavarian dresses and the music is played by traditional Bavarian ‘oom-pah’ bands. You can also taste some of the traditional German food served here like various sausages, liver dumplings and potato soup.
Traditional culture plays an important role in Munich. Classical music is one of its most prominent aspects. There are three important orchestras in Munich: The orchestra of the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Münchner Philharmoniker and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Visit the Nationaltheater, the Staatstheater in Gärtnerplatz or the Prinzregentheater for outstanding productions of opera, and ballet.
For the more modern genres of music explore the old noodle factory, Kultfabrik. This ex-industrial area has been converted into a disco and pub zone. You will find a party going on every night in on of its many clubs.
The area of Munich had been settled in Roman times but in the 8 th century Benedictine monks established a monastery here. The city was established in 1158. It grew around St.Peter's church, next to a bridge over the river Isar. The salt road went past the settlement and so, in order to benefit from the trade, the old bridge at today’s Oberföhring was demolished and a new one built closer to the city. Trade moved here and Munich was born. Two decades later, in 1175 Munich was officially granted city status and fortified.
In 1255 Munich became the residence of the Duchy of Bavaria-Munich and in the next century it expanded and was given monopoly over the salt trade from Ludwig the Bavarian. The trade flourished and Munich grew and in 1503 it became the capital of the Duchy of Bavaria. This prosperity was interrupted by three attacks of the plague which hit the town between 1349 and 1499 and as a result sewage and sanitation had to be improved. In the 16 th century Munich became a center of counter-reformation and of renaissance arts. Splendid buildings were erected, among which Michaelskirche, Residenz and the Bavarian State Library.
During the Thirty Years’ War Munich was surrendered to Sweden. From 1705 to 1714 it fell under the Hapsburg rule cut short by a bloody uprising. In 1742 the city again found itself under Hapsburg rule. Napoleon re-established German royal hierarchy and enlarged Bavaria, making it a kingdom. In 1818 it was the first German state with a written constitution and Elector Max Joseph became the first king of Bavaria.
In the 19 th century Munich was connected to the rest of the country and continent by railway, it also acquired trams and electrical lighting. The Technical University of Munich was founded in 1868. In 1930 the first television was showcased in the Deutsches Museum. Many scientists and inventors worked in Munich at that time. The city was also an artistic and literary center. Henrik Ibsen, Richard Wagner and Strauss, among others, lived and worked here. Bavaria ’s last king was Ludwig II who, after being declared mentally unfit, died in suspicious circumstances. So Bavaria was included in the German Reich in 1871.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
At the turn of the century Munich had the best electric lighting anywhere in Europe; it had over 500,000 inhabitants and was an important artistic hub. The city was home to such artists as Kandinsky, Marc, Klee, Strauss, Ibsen, Rilke and Mann.
After the outbreak of WW I in 1914 Munich almost starved to death as the Allied blockade led to fuel and food shortages in Germany. After the war the city was a hotbed of political unrest. In 1918 Ludwig III and his family fled the city, which was on the verge of revolution. The Communists took over the city in 1919 after the first premier of Bavaria was murdered. Bavarian Soviet republic was established. On May 3 rd , 1919 the Republic was brutally deposed by the militarist Freikorps.
In 1923 Hitler and his supporters staged the Beer Hall Putsch in an attempt to seize power and end the Weimar Republic. They failed and Hitler was imprisoned, however in 1933 the Nazis came to power again and took over Germany. Just weeks after Hitler’s ascension to power Dachau concentration camp was established. The operation Reichskristalllnacht in 1938 sealed the fate for Munich’s Jews.
During the WW II the city was heavily bombed. Over the period of five years Munich was hit by 71 air raids. At the end of the war half of the city was in ruins. In 1945 the American occupation of Munich began. After the war the city was meticulously restored. The population soon grew to over 1 million and the city became a hub for companies such as Siemens, BMW, MAN, as well as a centre of culture and fashion.
In 1972 Munich hosted the Summer Olympics, but the event was marked by tragedy as 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
In 1992 Munich’s new airport was inaugurated, and in 1998 Neue Messe, a new exhibition center opened. Today the city is a metropolis with the highest standard of living in Germany and combines big city life with provincial charm.
Shaking hands is the established form of greeting.
The myth about German punctuality holds true: try to be punctual or apologize if you are not.
When it comes to openness and directness, Germans can be both reserved and direct at the same time. They need some time to warm towards people, but they are known to speak their mind almost immediately. Keep in mind, this is not meant to be offensive at all.
Dinners and invitations: try to be punctual and bring a small gift (flowers or a bottle of wine).
In general Munich is a very safe city. However, during Oktoberfest there have been several reports of drunken related violence. So if you visit Oktoberfest try leaving early. Leaving the festivities early is therefore recommended.
Racist incidents do occur but are rare in Munich.
There is some pick-pocketing but it does not pose a very big problem; just take the usual precautions. Keep your valuables in a safe deposit box, and keep your wallet somewhere safe.
The best period to visit Munich is between May and September when the weather is warm and sunny. In winter, however, temperatures plunge below freezing and the sky is often grey. The wettest month is June but you can expect rain throughout the year. The cultural calendar is always packed with events so there is always something to see or do that does not rely on the weather.