“Of one thing there is no doubt: If Paris makes demands of the heart, then Munich makes demands of the stomach.” ~ Rachel Johnson.
Ever wondered what the secret is to having the most enjoyable trip possible? Welcome to my “Be Invisible” series – your ultimate guide for how to avoid looking like a tourist on your next adventure and guaranteed to boost your entire travel experience.
Bursting with helpful tips and tricks, I’ve asked locals from particular cities around the world to share their insider knowledge on the best ways travellers can become “invisible” when visiting their city and enjoy it like a local. If you’re ready to challenge travel stereotypes, overcome language barriers and embrace what I like to call invisible tourism, you’ve come to the right place!
|This guide to what it’s like living in Munich was written by Norman from Années de Pèlerinage. The best way to see Munich is by being an invisible tourist, so I’m very excited to share his top Munich travel tips for how to save money here when travelling. These do’s and don’ts in Munich for tourists also provide a great insight to German culture and values to help you make the most of your visit.
If you’re planning a trip to Munich, these tips for visiting from a local’s perspective will help you have a more enjoyable experience and know what to expect before you go. Read on for more!
This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
10 tips about living in Munich to make your visit non-touristy
Munich is one the most visited cities in Europe. Bavaria’s capital is also one of the most diverse and interesting destinations on the continent, though as a local I might be a bit biased. I’ve been living in Munich for almost 20 years and grew up very close to famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
No matter the time of day I explore my city, I see hordes and hordes of tourists running behind a raised red umbrella, intently listening to their tourist guides through their earplugs.
The tourist industry in Munich is quite efficient, and they really know how to tease out as much as they can. Which is somewhat funny, because as a local my contact with tourists, other than in the pedestrian area, is quite limited. They usually don’t visit the exhibitions I visit, they don’t dine at the restaurants I frequent, and they don’t shop where I do. It sometimes feels a bit like a parallel world.
Now, I want to be honest with you: I don’t want to tell you how to blend in, because that’s probably not why you came to Munich in the first place. We eat sushi, pizza and kebab, watch Netflix after we come home from work, and we only tour our famous castles when relatives from overseas come to visit. Instead, I wanted to provide you with 10 tips for how to save money in Munich and enhance your experience almost like a local.
When you are visiting a touristy place like Munich, you really can’t escape being one. The second you are not wearing traditional lederhosen when attending a maypole festival, you are marked as a tourist or foreigner (and for locals, everyone not born in Bavaria is a foreigner). But you can avoid the common tourist traps and you don’t need to overpay for your experience. So, let’s get started, eh?
1. Do buy the Munich Card but skip the Munich Pass
My hometown is an amazing place. There are just so many things to do in Munich. Like almost every other major city in Europe there are special discount passes for tourists. Now, as an experienced traveler, you probably already know that those passes are often overpriced. Munich is no exception to this rule and you should ignore the advertisements asking for your hard-earned money.
The Munich Pass is 39.90€ for an adult and one day. As unlimited public transport for a day is 7.20€ , you’d have to save 32€ on entrance fees to make things work. The typical entrance fee is around 7€ . So, you’d have to visit 5 castles & museums day, which is quite unrealistic, except you are rushing through my hometown without looking left or right.
A three-day ticket is 79.90 euro and in some rare cases, this can save you a dime or two. But as a general rule of thumb, it is way too expensive. BUT, there is also the Munich Card for 11.90€ per day. It also included free public transport (remember, 7.20€ per day) and a discount of around 30% for most museums and castles. So, if you are visiting 3 places in one day, it usually pays off to get it.
2. Do make use of the fantastic bakeries around every corner
Germans love bread. It’s usually what we eat for breakfast and dinner. In Bavaria, there is even a fourth meal called Brotzeit (translates as “bread time”) which is a little snack either around 10 am or 3 pm. Much to nobody’s surprise it involves bread, sausages, cheese, and butter.
As a result, you will find a bakery quite literally around every corner when living in Munich. Whenever you are hungry, you can stop there to buy a little sandwich or pastries for a euro or two. Most of them sell a small selection of warm snacks as well. Leberkässemmel (a kind of meatloaf served with mustard in a bun) is a local favourite, but you will find vegetarian options as well.
Rischart, Pfister, and Backspielhaus are the best bakeries in my opinion, and I would try to stay away from anything that is called “Backstube” (which means it’s not a proper bakery, but just a shop with buys frozen industry bread from a wholesaler). There really is no need to sit down in one of the tourist restaurants in the pedestrian area.
NOTE: Dönner Kebab is also a very popular snack among locals and you’ll find the tiny Turkish restaurants almost everywhere as well.
3. Don’t take the Hop-on-hop-off-bus tour except…
Munich has an excellent public transport system that will get almost anywhere. You can get a day ticket for said 7.20€, so there is absolutely no need to book the hop-on-hop-off bus tour for 15€ or more – except if you want to get the proper tourist feeling and like to waste money.
There is one caveat: If you want to do a tour of Nymphenburg palace and the Olympiapark and you don’t mind the premium, then it’s probably the fastest way to explore the northern part of the city. Other than that, download the app of the Munich public transport (MVV-App) and you are more than fine on your own. No need to chase the other tourists from bus stop to bus stop.
4. Do visit the public museums on Sunday
Munich is home to more than 70 museums. It would be a shame not to visit some of these world-renowned galleries like the Alte Pinakothek, the Bavarian National Museum or the Museum Brandhorst.
Now, here is one juicy tidbit for you: People living in Munich know most of the public art museums are only 1 euro on Sunday. As a result, things will be a bit more crowded, but as there are so many museums to choose from, it’s usually nothing you will notice all that much.
NOTE: Museums in Munich are closed on Mondays!
5. Do buy a BayernTicket for your day trips
Munich is one of the most livable cities in the world. Not only because there is so much to do and see in the city itself, but because you can do more than 20 epic day trips from Munich. This is exactly the reason why I recommend staying in my hometown for a couple of days. It takes 2 hours or less to see amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites like Salzburg, Bamberg, or Regensburg by train.
And here is the cherry on the icing: The German Railway Service offers a special discount ticket called BavariaTicket or BayernTicket in German. For 25€ you get unlimited rides on the regional trains and buses for one day.
TIP: If you are traveling in a group, things get even better as each additional group member only has to pay an extra 7€ . Lots of people will buy a tour to Neuschwanstein Castle (which is usually around 50€ per person). Instead, do it like the locals and go by train for a fraction of that price.
6. Do use the night buses
For whatever reason, Munich is probably the only metropolitan area in the world where the subway service is not available at night. Between roughly 1 and 4 am you are grounded. Or are you?
Actually, there is no need to get a taxi home, because there are special night buses that run every hour. There are also night trams and the suburban trains (S-Bahn) also run – at least the mainline. It’s a great way to save money after a long night out partying or when you stayed a bit too late at a bar.
7. Do bring your own food when visiting a beer garden
Munich is famous for its beer garden. In the 16th century, we actually invented them – by accident. Back then the big breweries had to build special beer cellars on the outskirts of Munich near the river Isar so they could continue brewing beer during the summer months. This was done to reduce the fire risk in the city and provide the means for the cooling system (glacial ice was harvest in winter and stored in the deep cellars).
Very soon a thriving gastronomy industry developed around them threatening the smaller breweries and restaurants in the city. So, the Bavarian prince-elector Maximilian I had to pass a bill prohibiting the sale of any food in those beer gardens. Ever since you are allowed to bring your own food to every beer garden.
So, why is this important? You will find an amazing food market in the city centre called Viktualienmarkt (3 minutes away from the central square). What I recommend you to do is stroll over the market, buy whatever catches your interest and then sit down in the beer garden directly next to it. This way you get to enjoy your favourite local delicacies and a nice fresh beer – cheaper and better than in any restaurant nearby.
TIP: I also love the beer garden in the middle of the Englische Garten (our biggest landscape park), but it will be a bit more touristy there. Still, in summer it’s hard to beat those lovely scenic surroundings.
8. Don’t visit Hofbräuhaus unless you really want to
The Hofbräuhaus is a true institution in Munich. It has been catering to the needs and expectations of tourists for over two hundred years. There are traditional live bands every evening, and the building itself is actually quite lovely (definitely also check out the first floor). Actually, I have to admit that the beer is some of the best in the city.
The thing is, very few locals living in Munich ever go there (few of us ever go to restaurants in the pedestrian area, for that matter). But did you know there is a second place in the city where you can enjoy the famous Hofbräu beer? Go to Max-Weber-Platz (Subway U4 or U2) and you’ll find the Hofbräu Cellar.
In summer, you’ll find one of the best beer gardens in the city and the tourist to local ratio is probably 1:10. You should also be aware of the fantastic Augustinerbräu restaurants. Augustinerbräu is the only brewery that still uses wooden casks. It’s both the oldest and the best beer. They are so good they never even advertise.
TIP: The brewery was founded 1328 and they are still running, so it seems they are on the right track, eh? Hofbräu might be the most popular brand among tourists, but it’s neither the best nor your only choice.
9. Don’t just go to Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest is amazing and I won’t tell you not to go. There is a reason it’s the most popular folk festival in the world, and most locals living in Munich love it as well. I certainly never miss it, but you’ll probably enjoy it a bit more during the week. Weekends are usually extremely crowded.
But here is the thing: Oktoberfest isn’t the only festival in the city (or Bavaria) where you can enjoy our beer culture. In Munich, there is the Spring Festival (Frühlingsfest), the Summer and Winter Tollwood, and of course the famous Kocherlball (quite the insider tip for you here!). In summer, you can basically find a festival on every weekend in one of the cities close-by. Sankerwar in Bamberg or Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing are almost as big and just as amazing – but almost no international tourists.
So, why do I mention this? Oktoberfest is horribly expensive. A hotel room that normally costs a hundred euros per night will be three-hundred euros in those two weeks at the end of September. If you don’t mind the costs, definitely go, but I wanted you to know that there are some lovely and less touristy alternatives as well.
10. Do use the airport in Memmingen
Most people think Munich has just one airport, which is right and wrong at the same time. Living in Munich I can tell you it takes about 40 minutes to get from the central station to the Franz Josef Strauss Airport in the north of the city. But did you know that there is another airport very close to Bavaria’s capital?
Memmingen used to be an Airforce base, but it was converted into a commercial airport a decade ago. Now here’s the sweet thing: It only takes 1 hour and 20 minutes with the shuttle bus to get there from the central station. That IS about 40 minutes longer than to the main airport, but here are two important things you should know:
- Memmingen airport is tiny. So, usually, it takes less than 15 minutes from the parking lot to the gate. It might be a bit longer to get there, but you will be able to save a lot of time, nevertheless. By comparison: The same will take you roughly one hour at Franz Josef Strauss. It takes a bit longer to get there, but at the end you are still faster to the gate.
- In addition, tickets are usually a lot cheaper from Memmingen and a lot of budget airlines use this smaller airport. They don’t fly everywhere, but they got some pretty sweet inner-European connections, so it is worth a try!
|Norman has visited more than 50 countries and looks back on over 30 years of travel experience. When he is not reclining in the pool of a fantastic luxury hotel or exploring one of the most remote corners of this planet, you will find him writing about his experience on his blog. You can also connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.|
Cultural experiences to book in advance in Munich
Here are some cultural things to do in Munich you can book in advance to be prepared for your trip:
Ready to be invisible with these travel tips for Munich?
Now you’ve discovered secrets about what it’s like living in Munich by a local, perhaps you’re ready to make the trip! Why not take a look at the latest Munich hotel deals? Or if you’d like some more travel ideas and inspiration, here’s all my articles about UK & Europe to get you started.
Do you have any extra tips to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this instalment of my Be Invisible series! If you found this helpful, please share it or follow me on Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest or Instagram for more!
Until next time,
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