Wondering where to stay in Munich? Germany's third biggest city but often overshadowed by the tourist favourite Berlin.
Munich is highly underrated and has an incredible amount to offer in terms of culture and history while being a vibrant city boasting exciting nightlife, shopping, and stunning architecture.
Of course, you can't hear Munich and not associate the city with the famous Bavarian Oktoberfest which draws thousands of beer enthusiasts from around the world every year but even outside of this fun time, the amount of craft beer establishments in the city is staggering.
In the historic heart of the city Altstadt you'll find most of the architecture and museums that Munich is famous for.
The eclectic neighbourhoods of Isavorstadt and Schwabing are bursting with exciting shops, bars, and restaurants - the grand scenes of Munich blend seamlessly with everyday life here in the city.
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Where to stay in Munich [2020 Guide For First Time Visitors] - Contents
Where to stay in Munich
Munich is a particularly big city, divided into twenty-five administrative zones that are then split into mini neighbourhoods each with their own atmosphere and things to do.
Luckily, in terms of the major attractions, shopping, and restaurants in the city most of the action is situated within the seven main districts we've written about below.
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With the excellent public transport in Munich, it's never difficult to get from one neighbourhood to the next and most of the tourist attractions are within walking distance to each other.
Whether you want to embed yourself in the thriving art scene present here or get lost in nature or awe-inspiring architecture, there's a district for you in Munich.
Munich Neighbourhood Map
Busy, central, old city area close to most of the attractions
One of the most popular areas to stay in Munich and ideal if you're only in the area for a few days, this is the historic old city and it's absolutely beautiful.
Think medieval buildings and expansive squares connected with charming cobblestone streets to wander.
Why stay in Altstadt
Any culture enthusiasts visiting Munich will love it here, around every corner are iconic buildings and architectural gems to visit, including the State Chancellery, Altes, Neues Rathauses, and the expansive Hofgarten.
Unsurprisingly, it's one of the more expensive districts in the city, but definitely worth the stretch, if it's within budget since you can walk most places and take advantage of the great transport links from here to the rest of the city.
Altstadt is also a great spot to stay in if you're on a euro trip and have limited time in Munich.
Once you're done exploring, you can try the many tasty beers at Chinesischer Turm, the second largest beer garden in the city and enjoy the always merry atmosphere.
Visit Munich's leading shopping spots like the open-air market Viktualienmarkt and the pedestrian shopping street Kaufingerstrasse and check out the independent boutiques and shops.
Things to do in Altstadt
- Spend an evening at the 16th-century brewery Hofbräuhaus for food, beer, and live music
- Get to Marienplatz, the heart of the city, at 11 am to see the painted mechanical figures of the carillon (the fourth largest in Europe) re-enact famous events in the city's history - it's quite a show!
- Visit Peterskirche at Rindermarkt, the oldest church in Munich with a famous bell for an incredible view of the whole city
- Create a picnic from the various food stalls in Viktualienmarkt and take it to Hofgarten
- Spend an afternoon (you definitely need a couple of hours for this one) at Alte Pinakothek, one of Europe's most famous art galleries
- Drink at Hofbräuhaus, a busy state-run beer house dating back to the 16th century
Where to stay in Altstadt
Intellectual university area with a buzzing nightlife scene
The cultural hub of the city centre extends way beyond Altstadt.
Why stay in Maxvorstadt
Maxvorstadt is the neighbourhood in between the Altstadt and the suburbs and is a hub for museums, art, and luxury shopping.
Known locally as ‘the brain of Munich' due to its proximity to the university, the city's young intellectuals gather here meaning there's always something fun or interesting going on in this neighbourhood, from live music to talks, and theatre.
The nightlife scene here is electric with a plethora of beer houses, bars, rock clubs, and international cuisine to choose from in the Schellingstraße area.
You can also walk to most of the city attractions including those in the old town.
You can very much choose your budget in Maxvorstadt as there's a wide range of budget and luxury options with a shopping and restaurant scene to match.
Things to do in Maxvorstadt
- Head to Amalienpassage for glamorous boutique shopping
- Dance the night away at Bob Beaman, one of the biggest clubs in Munich
- Admire famous European artworks at the Alte Pina Kothek
- Tour the Lowenbrau brewery which dated back to the 14th century and try some beers
- Enjoy a film at the local movie theatre Cinema, a beautiful space that screens English language films
Where to stay in Maxvorstadt
Hip yet affordable area with great nightlife
Just south of Munich's main station is the vibrant hipster neighbourhood of Ludwigsvorstadt.
Often synonymous with the three week Bavarian festival of Oktoberfest, as most people choose this central district to stay in to be close to the famous Theresienwiese beer hall.
Why stay in Ludwigsvorstadt
If you are in Munich during October, it's definitely a good idea to book accommodation early, particularly in this area.
It's an affordable and desirable neighbourhood with a multicultural, youthful vibe and is popular with those in Munich who enjoy the nightlife.
Not just an area for craft beer and cocktails, however, you'll also find fantastic restaurants (particularly middle eastern), notable museums, and galleries.
Within Ludwigsvorstadt is the Glockenbachviertel area which boasts a range of artisan cafes, bars, and independent shops to explore and it's also within walking distance of Isarvorstadt, a charming local area with a strong LGBTQ scene.
This is a pretty area are very popular for street photography - for many people, this is their favourite area of Munich.
It's a hip, affordable downtown area with good transport links to travel around the rest of the city.
Things to do in Ludwigsvorstadt
- Shop hand-dyed dresses and painted fabrics at GalerieArtefaktMünchen
- Try one of the 150 blends of tea at Tushita Tea House
- Head to Niederlassung on Buttermelcherstrasse for excellent selections of craft beer
- Catch an opera or a musical at the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz theatre
- Take the Freddie Mercury walking tour around this district to visit his favourite hangouts and living place while he lived here
- Stroll along the scenic Isar river
- Visit the Gutfeeling record store for old-school music vibes
Where to stay in Ludwigsvorstadt
Authentic, local area with cosy cafes, independent shopping, and restaurants
Why stay in Isarvorstadt
Arguably one of Munich's best areas to stay in and it is also its most overlooked neighbourhood.
Isarvorstadt is a less touristy and more local area, with a quieter, more chilled atmosphere than the big, bustling areas that attract tourists all year round.
The beauty and the appeal of staying in a more residential area is that you get to live a more local life; you get the chance to experience Munich like a local.
You'll see off-the-beaten-path cafes, restaurants, and even theatres and bars that your average tourist won't see. And, if you choose to stay in this area, all of these more local flavours are at your fingertips.
In Isarvorstadt lies Munich's thriving gay scene, where all the city's best gay bars can be found.
Beyond that are two of the city's most beautiful features: Gartnerplatz, a gorgeous town square surrounded by some of the best local cafes and restaurants, and the theatre district, where you have your pick of a range of theatres at which you can catch a local performance.
Because of the lack of hustle and bustle, Isarvostadt offers a more honest experience of Munich, and it's certainly a better choice of location for families or those who prefer a bit of space.
Things to do in Isarvorstadt
- Try modern German food at Roecklplatz
- Be inspired by Science and Technology at the Deutsches Museum
- While away the hours at the 1,500 seat beer garden Bavariapark
Where to stay in Isarvorstadt
Quaint residential area with beautiful landscape, nightlife, and entertainment options
This interesting neighbourhood, located across the river from Altstadt, has over 1,200 years of history.
Once one of the poorest districts in Germany, it's now a beautiful residential area with quiet back streets and a quaint local vibe.
Why stay in Haidhausen
The architecture is traditional and colourful and you have the added benefit of being surrounded by lush landscape and riverbanks to stroll down making it ideal for families and anyone who wants a quieter time while in Munich.
As peaceful as Haidhausen is, it's certainly not without things to do - nearby Optimolwerke has a fantastic nightlife scene with plenty of bars, clubs, and local German restaurants to enjoy.
Families will also enjoy the numerous entertainment facilities Haidhausen which include skate parks, climbing walls, local swimming facilities, and parks.
The city centre is easily reached on the S-Bahn and U-Bahn making this a convenient, budget-friendly area that will give you a taste of local life in the city.
Things to do in Haidhausen
- Explore the galaxy at the Bavarian Public Observatory Munich or catch a stunning view of the city from the telescope
- Climb the walls of Boulderwelt Munchen Ost, an indoor climbing facility for all ages
- Relax in Maximiliansanlagen, a giant park that runs along the river
- Pick from a variety of foods at the concept kitchen Gast
Where to stay in Haidhausen
Tranquil, modern area with vast green spaces
Munich can be a hectic city but that doesn't mean there aren't pockets of tranquillity to be found and Nymphenburg is definitely one of those places.
It's further outside the city centre than the other areas mentioned but still very easy to get into the city centre via the tram or trains.
Why stay Nymphenburg
One of the major attractions in the city, Nymphenburg Palace is located here and there are more than a few gardens and green spaces to walk through, including a deer park.
There are fewer hotels in the area but everything is modern, family-friendly and generally, don't book up too quickly.
Although laid-back, there's plenty to do particularly if you love cosy cafes, beer gardens, local restaurants and shopping.
Things to do in Nymphenburg
- Visit the Nymphenburg Palace, one of the largest royal palaces in Europe
- Spend time in nature at the Nymphenburg Botanic Garden
- Indulge in some German beers at the city's biggest beer garden Königlicher Hirschgarten
Where to stay in Nymphenburg
Upmarket, an artistic area with large green spaces and shopping
North of the city centre, this highly desirable district is an eclectic microcosm of everything which makes Munich special.
While it's certainly one of the wealthier districts in Munich, it's also the artistic quarter and this combination makes for a dynamic area.
You can stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere while heading into quirky cafes, trendy bars, and enjoying a mixture of fine dining and local eateries.
Why stay Schwabing
Some of the most famous clubs in the city are here but also world-class museums and art installations. It's truly a place that appeals to all of the senses.
If you're looking for green spaces near the city centre than you're in luck, Schwaing also features one of Munich's most famous attractions the Englischer Garten.
Here you can enjoy over 900 acres of park filled with tea houses, an impressive pagoda constructed in 1790 named The Chinese Tower, and places to sit back and enjoy the view.
Although one of the pricier areas to stay, it's no wonder this ideal neighbourhood draws tourists' year after year.
Things to do in Schwabing
- Take a picnic and spend the day people watching in Englischer Garten
- Go shopping on Leopoldstrasse, one of Munich's main boulevards with featuring a mixture of boutiques and high street fashion
- Catch amazing views of the city and beyond from the neo-classical Greek temple Monopteros
- Taste food from one German's best chef at Tantris, fine dining at its finest
- Try surfing on the standing wave created on the Eisbach river near Haus der Kunst
- Dance away the evening at the infamous power plant club Freiheiz