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Your essential guide to where to stay in Munich

Booked flights but don’t know where to stay in Munich? Choose from our pick of the best neighbourhoods in town

By Eliza Apperly and Huw Oliver |
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Munich cityscape
Photograph: Shutterstock

From its innumerable stellar museums and galleries to the buzzing inner-city surf spots and biergartens that overflow in summer, Germany’s southern metropolis serves up a winning combination of culture and good cheer.

The whole city really is rather lovely, so if you’re still undecided as to where to stay in Munich, we don’t blame you. To get you started, here’s a quick summary – then you can start whittling down your choices. Looking to admire historic squares and churches? Munich’s Altstadt, with its parade of renaissance, Baroque and neo-Gothic buildings, could become your home away from home. If art’s your bag, try the Maxvorstadt and its world-famous Pinakothek trio, the Haus der Kunst and Museum Brandhorst, which are all within walking distance of one another. For a more laid-back vibe beyond the tourist drags, increasingly desirable Schwabing overflows with top-notch cafés and bistros, while LGBTQ+ friendly Glockenbach undoes some of Munich’s stiffer Bavarian buttons with some of the city’s best cocktail joints and clubs. Want to know more? Read on for our complete guide to the best places to stay in Munich. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Munich

Where to stay in Munich

Altstadt street scene
Photograph: Shutterstock

Altstadt

Visit the place where history, culture and shopping collide in Munich: the Altstadt. Any trip to the Old Town will reveal the city’s grand past, owing to impressive buildings and their accompanying squares. Like Marienplatz, for instance, the central square shadowed by the towering neo-Gothic town hall. Or Odeonsplatz to the north, which is flanked by the immaculately landscaped Hofgarten and the 19th-century revival architecture of the Bayerische Staatskanzlei (Bavarian state government office). Another marvel worth noting is the brilliantly ornate Residenz, which once housed the Bavarian royal family and hosted performances from Mozart. Not to mention all the shops, restaurants, bars and other attractions on offer.

STAY

For a spacious, modern, effortlessly stylish stay, head to Hotel Louis, which also has an in-house Japanese restaurant. To save your pennies for sightseeing, try Mercure’s simple, clean and affordable central Altstadt outpost.

EAT

Kick off the day at Munich’s most famous food market, Viktualienmarkt. Take a steady stroll around the stalls selling fresh and local produce, with specialities including bread, speck, Schweinshaxe (ham hock) and mushrooms foraged nearby. You’ll also find Tian, a high-quality vegetarian restaurant. And if you want to feel like a royal, head to Brenner in the former stables of a royal palace.

DO

If our teaser about the Altstadt’s miraculous architecture wasn’t enough to whet your appetite earlier, let us elaborate. The buildings in the Old Town take in a wide range of periods and styles, from the Gothic, domed Frauenkirche to the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps (Michaelkirche). There’s also history in bounds, so venture down to Marienplatz, where you can see sites that played a key role in the failed attempt of the Munich Putsch of 1923 – Hitler’s attempted coup. Plus, on the northern end of Marienplatz is the Glockenspiel in the town hall, a cuckoo clock dating to 1908. With two or three shows daily (depending on the season), this clock depicts the city’s history in 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures.

If you only do one thing...

Clamber to the top of St Peter’s for breathtaking views across Altstadt. But be warned: there are 299 steps to conquer.

Maxvorstadt street scene
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Maxvorstadt

Home to two universities and many of Munich’s world-class museums, the Maxvorstadt is a lively cultural hotpot just north of the Altstadt. It’s here you’ll find Munich’s outstanding Pinakothek trio – the Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek and Pinakothek der Moderne – as well as the modern and contemporary Museum Brandhorst, the historic Haus der Kunst and Munich’s belated, but excellent, Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. Further down the Leopoldstraße, you’ll find the elegiac Siegestor, before the streets give way to trees and rolling meadows in the vast, gorgeous Englischer Garten.

STAY

Superbly placed for Königsplatz and the Pinakothek trio, Ruby Lilly promises a pristine night’s sleep in its minimalist, soundproofed rooms with box-spring mattresses, luxurious bed linens and blackout curtains. The Ruby bar and café serves light Italian dishes and drinks round the clock, including an organic breakfast of fresh fruit, wholegrain cereal and bread from local bakery Mauerer.

EAT

For a low-key brunch or lunch with panoramic city views, make your way to the café in the Vorhölzer Forum at Munich’s Technical University. No longer the insider tip it once was, it still offers great vibes and, on a clear day, views out to the Alps. For a more sophisticated, old-school atmosphere, Halali is Munich’s restaurant of choice if you fancy traditional, typically game-based dishes.

DO

Get yourself a day pass to the Pinakothek art museums and dip in and out of one of the best collections of European art history in the world. Star turns include Albrecht Dürer’s Self-Portrait with Fur-Trimmed Robe (Alte Pinakothek) and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers (Neue Pinakothek). Across the square, the Brandhorst Museum brings bold contemporary architecture to a largely classical district, as well as major works by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter and Damien Hirst.

If you only do one thing...

Get a beer at the Augustiner-Keller, flagship beer hall of one of Munich’s oldest breweries. Its beer garden, with seating for 5,000 beneath shady chestnut trees, is arguably the best in town.

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Glockenbach street scene
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Glockenbach

With a string of characterful bistros, bars and clubs, Glockenbach is Munich’s nightlife hub, as well as the heart of the city’s LGBTQ+ scene, centred along the Müllerstraße. Still close to the city centre but set apart from the tourist traps, it’s a great choice for those looking to drink, dance and get a top-notch coffee the next morning. The Glockenbach Werkstatt is an exemplary community centre with a lively programme of jazz, music, poetry slams and more, plus a friendly beer garden.

STAY

Design newcomer Flushing Meadows promises spacious, well-lit rooms with classy mid-century furnishings, bright textiles and contemporary artworks. Its rooftop bar is particularly popular for aperitifs and sunset views.

EAT

The excellent Wirtshaus Maximilian puts a fresh spin on the classic Bavarian bistro with a bright, pared-down décor and innovative twists on regional and Alpine dishes. Neighbourhood favourite Cooperativa combines no-nonsense Mediterranean flavours with beer hall-style cheer, while upscale Colette is a stylish contemporary brasserie by top German chef Tim Raue, offering a first-class take on classic French dishes and well-priced lunch menus.

DO

Explore Glockenbach’s nightlife in style with a tour of some of its finest cocktail joints. Try magical concoctions at the acclaimed Zephyr Bar, highballs and hip hop at The High, or Southern flavours at rhythm, blues and whiskey joint Zum Wolf.

If you only do one thing...

Get yourself a coffee or ice cream at Del Fiore, kick back in the brightly-flowered Gärtnerplatz and watch the Glockenbach world go by.

A fountain in Haidhausen
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Haidhausen

Sometimes called the ‘French quarter’, tranquil Haidhausen is one of Munich’s prettiest neighbourhoods. Flanking the east bank of the Isar, it’s home to some lovely local cafés and, at the Gasteig, a rich programme of classical music and culture. Haidhausen’s real boon, however, is proximity to the river, with lovely walks out to the Flaucher on your doorstep. Quieter than other districts, it’s ideal for those who appreciate R&R as much as they do sightseeing. 

STAY

Hotel Prinz München offers chic, comfortable rooms, an ample breakfast buffet and in-house bike rental.

EAT

In a 19th-century building on a quiet street, the cosy, convivial Preysinggarten serves tip-top Mediterranean dishes with decent vegetarian options. Its courtyard terrace is particularly lovely for a sunny Sunday brunch, but do book in advance. For coffee and cake, try Café Bla.

DO

Head south-west along the river toward the Flaucher, a leafy bathing area just a half-hour walk out of town. Remarkably clean considering how close it is to the city, it’s particularly enchanting in summer, with hordes of happy Münchner sunbathing, swimming, playing guitar, kicking back with a beer or ‘grilling’.

If you do just one thing...

Swing by the quirky Villa Stuck, once home to Franz von Stuck, one of Germany’s avant-garde pioneers and a prominent member of the Munich Secession collective. The villa features a number of his works on the wall, as well as an impressive Art Nouveau collection.

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Schwabing street scene
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Schwabing

Once a bohemian enclave and former stomping ground of Lenin, Hitler and Kandinsky, the northern neighbourhood of Schwabing has become the apogee of urban affluence and one of Munich’s most desirable districts. Great for those seeking a laid-back spot away from the well-trodden city centre, it boasts several great cafés, restaurants, bars and boutiques along its main boulevards, Leopoldstraße and Hohenzollernstraße, as well as proximity to the Englischer Garten. Bigger than New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park, this is Munich’s green pride and joy, a vast, informally landscaped space of undulating lawns, bike trails and rippling tributaries of the Isar.

STAY

In a converted water mill, the Gästehaus Englischer Garten is an old-fashioned and tranquil Munich enclave, with simple, comfortable rooms and a garden where breakfast is served in summer. It’s an easy walk to both the Englischer Garten and Schwabing’s bars, shops and restaurants. Book in advance and ask for a room in the main house.

EAT

Top of the Schwabing charts – and price range – is Tantris, Munich’s most famous restaurant which has proudly held onto its Michelin stars since 1974. Soak up the cult 1970s décor, choose from a five-course ‘dégustation’ menu or eight-course ‘gourmet’ version, and savour the likes of king prawns with ravioli and star anise cream, or venison medallions with wild mushrooms and sweet chestnut puree. It’s all delicious, but expect a bill well into three figures. For much more wallet-friendly cuisine, enjoy laid-back pizza on a leafy terrace at Passaparola or fine Afghan food at Lemar.

DO

The Englischer Garten is one of Munich’s greatest pleasures. Go for a run, a leisurely stroll, a skate, a sunbathe or even a swim in one of the remarkably clean streams running off the Isar. In the evening, make your way to the vast and jovial beer garden at pagoda-style Chinesischer Turm, or buy your own bottle and take it up to the Monopteros for a gorgeous sunset view.

If you only do one thing...

Stroll through the garden down to the Eisbachwelle, Munich’s incongruous (but must-visit) surfing hotspot.

And here’s where to get your drink on...

Bars and pubs

The 12 best bars in Munich

With the world’s biggest beer festival, beer cellars galore and the best beer gardens on the planet, Munich has an enviable reputation for… well, yes, that drink we call beer. There is, however, so much more to the city’s bar scene than that.

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