Contrasts give Bavaria’s state capital its special charm: the people of Munich are proud to be Bavarian and maintain their traditions. At the same time, Munich has a reputation for being a cosmopolitan city, with 6.2 million people living in its metropolitan area. Most of them are pretty happy about this, too: according to the Quality of Living Rankings in 2019, Munich achieved third place on the list that rated quality of life around the world. A large part of Munich’s image as a city where people know how to live and celebrate is certainly due to its major tourist attraction: the Oktoberfest.
“O’zapft is!” is what the Mayor of Munich says every year when inaugurating the world’s largest folk festival by cracking open a barrel of beer; locals also call the festival “Wiesn”. The festival has been held on the Theresienwiese open space from the middle of September until the beginning of October since 1810. It is celebrated in about 40 festival tents nowadays, with local breweries serving their original Munich beer there. The State Premier of Bavaria traditionally receives the first “Mass”, the local expression for a litre mug of beer. After this, the beer is served to the visitors, who most recently numbered about 5.7 million. Using the traditional toast “Oans, zwoa, gsuffa!”, most of the visitors, who wear traditional dirndl dresses or leather shorts, enjoyed an unbelievable 5.6 million litres of beer in 2022. Those who like things even more traditional can make a detour to the “Oide Wiesn”, where attractions such as merry-go-rounds, stands grilling fish on a stick or ox roasted on a spit encourage people to experience the ‘olde worlde’ version of the Oktoberfest.
Even if most of the (international) visitors travel to the city because of Oktoberfest, Munich is an attractive destination all year round for people with very different interests and budgets. Those who are visiting the city for the first time should start their discovery tour at Marienplatz with the New and Old City Halls. This is where you discover the city’s true character, at the centre of the old town. One of the largest bell chimes in Germany rings out every day at 11 a.m. and midday as well as at 5 p.m. too between March and October. Major sporting clubs also hold their championship celebrations on the balcony of the City Hall. The charming Christmas market attracts people during Advent, for which the New City Hall provides an impressive backdrop with its Neo-Gothic façade. Other architectural highlights are of a religious kind: the Gothic cathedral and city parish church called “Zu Unserer Lieben Frau”, known as the “Frauenkirche”, is Munich’s landmark par excellence. It also sets the standard for heights, because no other building in the inner city area may protrude above the 100-metre-tall church towers. Munich’s oldest parish church, known locally as “Old Peter”, provides another literal ‘highlight’ and its tower rewards all the visitors who are fit enough to climb to the top with one of the best viewing points over the city.
Munich boasts outstanding museums and collections for all lovers of art and culture – and two of them are just a few steps away from the Old Town. One of the most important art galleries in the world, the Alte Pinakothek, displays European paintings dating back to the 14th - 18th centuries. Those who are looking for even greater variety will find four museums, which are independent of each other, within the Pinakothek der Moderne building: the modern art collection of the Bavarian State Painting Collections, the New Collection of the Munich Design Museum, the Architecture Museum of the Technical University of Munich and the State Graphic Collection. Nymphenburg Palace, an all-embracing art form comprising the castle and parklands and the summer residence of the House of Wittelsbach, is located just 20 minutes from the city centre. After visiting the Palace Museum, the Carriage Museum with its collection of different coaches and the world-famous Nymphenburg Porcelain Collection, the park provides plenty of opportunities for relaxation in a country-like setting. The Palace Gardens in the symmetrical French style are located below the magnificent flight of steps; the English landscape park next to them fascinates visitors with its small streams, artificial lakes, statues and different park castles.
There is one sports club that represents the city like no other: Bayern Munich Football Club is the record-breaking champion team in men’s football and has been playing in the top German league (Bundesliga) without any interruption since 1965. With its approx. 300,000 members, it is also the largest sports club in the world. And the superlatives continue at the football stadium in the north of the city, the Allianz Arena: with space for 75,000 fans, a good atmosphere is guaranteed. Attending a game is therefore a fitting way for football fans to round off their visit to Munich.
An extended shopping marathon in the centre of Munich provides the counterpart to the top sporting performances. Neuhauser Strasse is one of the most important shopping streets – and Kauferingstrasse is home to a large number of retail outlets. Both of them are ranked among the five most popular shopping streets in Germany. Maximilianstrasse is a particularly fashionable shopping street with international luxury retail companies, especially in the fashion and jewellery sectors. It is also worthwhile strolling along it to admire its architecture. The street is unique in urban development terms and combines Neo-Gothic and Neo-Renaissance elements with the Maximilian style dating back to the time of King Maximilian II (1848 – 1864).
Those who enjoy being in natural surroundings will even find green oases for relaxation in the centre of the city. The Hofgarten, for example, a Baroque park with old chestnut trees, fountains and a pavilion dedicated to the goddess Diana, is the ideal spot for taking a breather during a sightseeing trip or a shopping tour thanks to its many park benches. The ‘English Garden’, which with its 375 hectares is larger than New York’s Central Park, encourages people to take extended walks or enjoy a picnic. Visitors should not miss paying a visit to the temple-like, circular Monopteros colonnade and the Chinese Tower. Surfers enjoy showing off their skills at the Eisbach Wave. Activities related to water attract people to other sites as well. It is possible to walk or cycle through Munich in what seems like countryside without any interruption along the river Isar. The Isar beach in front of Müllersches Volksbad (Munich’s Baroque indoor swimming pool) provides a real feeling of summer, but it also only takes about an hour to travel to Lake Starnberg or Lake Ammersee on the outskirts of the city.
Munich is naturally a modern city with eateries that reflect numerous different countries, with plenty of variety when it comes to food. Despite this, the culinary institutions tend to be Bavarian and therefore of a more traditional kind. What would a visit to Munich be like without a genuine beer garden, for example? The city has more than 60 of them to choose from. Or without seeing a brewery, first and foremost the world-famous Hofbräuhaus? The brewery dating back to the 16th century is particularly well-known because of the song entitled “In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus” (There is a Hofbräuhaus in Munich) and it offers a typically Bavarian pub setting. The main hall called Schwemme is the centrepiece; 1,300 guests can sit under its painted cross vaults and the company’s own bands play music there every day. “Munich beer”, which, by the way, is a protected geographical designation for beer brewed within the city’s boundaries, tastes magnificent here. Roast pork with dumplings, meat loaf, a pretzel (“Brezn”) or a genuine white sausage go down well with the beer. The Viktualienmarkt, a market that offers a huge spectrum of fresh and often regional products, ranging from fruit and vegetables to fish and meat and even food stalls at a site measuring 22,000 square metres, is another culinary highlight. Visitors should not miss this; after all, Munich’s largest market has been one of the city’s landmarks for more than 200 years.
Before setting off on your trip to Munich and particularly before visiting the Oktoberfest, it's good to familiarise yourself with the most common terms used in the Bavarian dialect. Our little glossary here is helpful so that you can keep up the conversation as a “Preiss” (a non-Bavarian):
|Hallo / Tschüss||Servus||Hi / Good-bye|
|Guten Tag||Griaß di||Hello|
|Guten Appetit||An Guadn||Enjoy your meal|
|Ein Liter Bier||A Maß||A litre of beer|
|Ein halber Liter Bier||Hoiwe||Half a litre of beer|
|Spaß||Gaudi (Steigerung: Mordsgaudi)||Fun (intensified form: loads of fun)|
|Ist in Ordnung||Bassd scho!||It’s OK|
|Verstehst du mich?||Hoast mi?||Do you understand me?|
|Ich mag dich||I mog di||I like you|
Whether you are going to the Oktoberfest or travelling at any time of the year: there are many songs that describe the very special attitude to life in the city. Here is a small selection by Munich residents or about Munich:
Munich not only has a strong standing as a cultural centre, but also economically and scientifically. The city is the headquarters for numerous large companies, significant research institutes and universities as well as many upcoming high-tech firms that operate in various sectors, including insurance companies and energy technology manufacturers. A network consisting of major automobile companies and supplier firms, which generate turnover amounting to approximately EUR 80 billion every year – that is to say, 80 percent of the turnover generated in Bavaria in vehicle manufacturing – is located in the metropolitan area. Munich’s metropolitan region is also one of the leading centres in the field of medical engineering. About 30,000 people work in the life sciences sector – i.e. in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical engineering and the health business.
Thanks to its pivotal location in Central Europe, the Greater Munich area has outstanding connections in every direction. Munich enjoys national and international links via the A8 motorway from Luxembourg to Salzburg via Stuttgart and the A9 motorway towards Berlin. There is a well-developed transport axis to southern Europe, particularly because of the city’s proximity to Italy, Austria and Switzerland. The route towards Innsbruck and over the Brenner Pass as far as South Tyrol handles the lion’s share of the goods traffic transported by road and rail between Italy, Austria and Germany. And when it comes to air freight, the city has the most efficient hub in the southern German region: Munich Airport.
The ‘transport logistic’ trade fair is the most important of its kind in the world for logistics, mobility, IT and supply chain management; it is held at the Trade Fair Centre Messe München every two years. The exhibition has a reputation for being the leading platform for international networking in the logistics sector. More than 2,300 exhibitors from over 60 countries and regions attended the event in 2019, for example. Approx. 64,000 visitors discovered more about services related to goods traffic and logistics as well as intralogistics, warehouse management systems, telecommunications and IT at the exhibition site, which measures 125,000 square metres. The equipment needed for goods traffic shipped by road, rail, ship and air is also one of the special topics. The world’s leading air freight exhibition, ‘air cargo Europe’, is also held as part of the ‘transport logistic’ trade fair. The doors will open again on 9 – 12 May this year – one of countless reasons to pay a visit to this major city in Bavaria.
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