Set in the heart of Europe, with great living standards and one of the world’s best football teams, Munich has a lot going for it. With high-powered industry symbolised by car giant BMW and beer hall bonhomie during the Oktoberfest, it’s a city of two halves.
Recession? What recession? Munich’s economy has been powering along for the past 15 years, with GDP growth outstripping most of the rest of Germany since the start of the 21st Century.
Bavaria’s capital has always been an industrial powerhouse. The city is home to Europe’s largest manufacturing company, Siemens, which employs tens of thousands of locals. The company has such sprawling operations in Munich that one of its districts is called Siemensstadt. Lighting manufacturer Osram is headquartered here, as is truckmaker MAN – and then there’s BMW. GE’s main European research centre is also in the city.
Hundreds of media companies – from mainstream giant Random House Bertelsmann, to specialists like C H Beck – have headquarters in the city, making Munich a world centre for publishing. Finance is another key plank of the local economy, and insurance companies Allianz and Munich Re call the city home.
It’s not all work, work, work though. The city was named fourth best in the world for quality of living in the past three Mercer Quality of Living rankings. The Oktoberfest probably helps with that, but the Alps are not far away and its historic areas have been well maintained or restored after WWII.
Munich is also a university city, with a student population approaching 100,000 and a host of scientific research institutes. Biotech in particular is a fast-growing area of research in the city.
Munich attracts its fair share of major exhibitions and conferences. For example, early June sees the city’s Messe München host the Intersolar exhibition, the world’s leading event for solar technologies.
Munich is one of Lufthansa’s main hubs and is connected to Heathrow by up to seven flights each day – operating from the swanky new Terminal 2. British Airways has up to six flights a day using A320/321s to Munich from Terminal 5.
Once you arrive at Munich Airport – seven times winner of Skytrax’s best European airport award – two train lines connect to the city centre. Trains run every 10 minutes and the journey lasts 40 minutes. Simply take the S1 via Neufahrn or the S8 via Ismaning and Ostbanhhof. A day ticket for public transport, including the airport link, costs approximately €6.20, and getting around on the comprehensive network of U- and S-Bahn trains is easy, quick and good value.
Meanwhile, expect to pay around €50 for a taxi to the centre. Again, journeys take around 40 minutes.
With all that industrial heritage, you’ll want to explore the city’s car culture. Schedule a visit to the futuristic BMW Welt museum – it features more than 100 of the marque’s most beautiful models and you’ll also see vehicles from BMW-owned Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and Mini. It’s open every day and a guided tour costs €13. Find it next to the company’s iconic piston-shaped tower in the Olympiapark area.
After classic European art? The Alte Pinakothek at Barer Straße 27 has one of the most important collections from the 14th to the 18th centuries and includes key works by Rubens, Dürer, Cranach and Bosch.
Munich has some really classy hotels. There is the famous Bayerische Hof, a classic old-school hotel with a perfect location, and the Mandarin Oriental, with great service and funky tower rooms. But you’ll also find some real treasures that are a little different. The Laimer Hof is a family run 19th century converted villa in the Nymphenburg district. The rooms are classy and comfortable and are incredible value from just €65; this is a city where average business hotel rates are around €150.
Restaurants tend not to remain open for centuries unless they do something right. Spöckmeier at Rosenstraße 9 has been around in various incarnations since 1450 and you won’t find a more traditional a Bavarian Gasthaus. It has its own in-house butchery and serves amazing sausages, roast liver and suckling pig in beer. Another Bavarian classic is Tattenbach on the street of the same name: a great place to sink a few Augustiners.
Something very different is Last Supper, owned by a couple of modern-era punks with an eclectic taste in design and with purposely rude service. Not your normal Bavarian experience but the food, despite limited menu choices, is amazing. For a memorable dinner, head to Restaurant 181 in the Olympic Tower, which has great sunset views over the city.
Beer then. There are the grand beer halls like the Augustiner-Keller but you might want to try something a little different. The Forschungsbrauerei at Unterhachinger Strasse 78 in the city’s south east still does things old school, without any automation.
To know a city well, you need to know the people who make it tick. Follow these social media influencers from Munich:
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