Munich is an ancient centre of the arts and science, but is perhaps best known for its Oktoberfest. The beer festival that was first held in 1810 to mark the union of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese, is world famous, but there is so much more to Bavaria's capital city than tankards of beer.
Bombed during the Second World War, Munich was rebuilt meticulously. Top tourist sights include the Englischer Garten, one of the world's largest public parks. Marienplatz, in the city centre, with its gilded statue of the Virgin Mary, is dominated by two town halls - old and new. In the tower of the New Town Hall, the Glockenspiel (or carillion) depicts two events from Munich's history (a royal wedding and the Coopers' dance) each day while its 43 bells sound out folk tunes. The birthplace of Ludwig II (1845-1886) is the splendid Nymphenburg Palace, and the grand Ludwigstrasse is one of Munich's four royal avenues.
The city is well-located for German and Austrian ski resorts. Cheap flights to Munich land at Munich Airport, a hub for Lufthansa, Germany's national airline, also served by Air Berlin, a major low-cost airline.
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Summers are warm and with thunderstorms. July and August are the warmest months with temperatures in the 20s (Celsius). Winters are cold with light snowfalls and temperatures dropping below zero December through February.Munich’s proximity to the Alps causes some unusual weather fluctuations. Southwesterly winds can bring warm Föhn conditions a few days a year in autumn and winter. Conversely, in spring and summer northwesterly winds can bring Alpenstau, causing unseasonably low temperatures, rain and even snow.
When to fly to Munich
May through September is the peak tourist season for Munich. October picks up again with the Oktoberfest crowds. The pre-Lenten celebration of Fasching (Carnival) is also very popular.
April through May and September through October are good times to visit, and the weather is pleasant.
November to March is cold and overcast, but there are few, if any, tourists in town. This is a good time to seek Munich flights to take in the cultural activities.
Getting around Munich
Munich is easy to get around without putting a strain on your wallet. Commuter trains run all around the city and to the suburbs as well. Buses and any of the Mercedes taxis can get you around town. The S-Bahn (subway) stops at all the city’s highlights and runs from 5am to 1am. If you’re out late, hop on an all-night train or bus. If you’re travelling in one direction, you only need one ticket for any kind of transport system.
Munich insider information
- Oktoberfest takes place in late September and early October. A costume parade – which started with the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria – processes from Maximilian Street to the Oktoberfest and there is the Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries, which is the official start of the celebration.
- Nymphenburg Palace, the summer palace of the Bavarian Elector, is set in formal gardens. Look out for the paintings commissioned by Ludwig I to prove that commoner women were just as attractive as aristocratic ladies.
- The "English Garden" is Munich's largest urban public park and offers a lot of attractions including the beer garden at the "Chinesischer Turm".
- Don't miss the jewel-like Amalienburg, a single-story hunting lodge built for Princess Maria Amalia.
- BMW Museum – one for petrolheads. The "time horizons" exhibition takes you from the historic BMW sports car through legendary prototypes, to futuristic automobiles and motorcycles. The museum also explores subjects such as alternative propulsion methods, recycling and traffic management.
- New Herrenchiemsee Castle (Neues Schloss Herrenchiemsee) is Ludwig II’s new Versailles. The palace has more than 20 state rooms (the Ambassador's Staircase, the Great Hall of Mirrors and the State Bedchamber). The palace park is also reminiscent of Versailles.
- Konigssee is a 10km long emerald-green mountain lake, considered the pearl of the Berchtesgadener Land. Some of the best views of Bavaria can be enjoyed here.