Munich’s Old Town – also known as Alstadt – is, in essence, the heart of the city. Known around the world for its beautiful architecture and vibrant culture of beer halls, it is also the place to be for exploring Munich’s buzzing nightlife. The area was heavily bombed during the Second World War but, thankfully, many of the buildings have been rebuilt or restored.
There is much to explore in the Old Town, but these three sites are certainly among the must-sees.
Richard Strauss Fountain
This intricate statue created in honour of the composer’s famous ‘Salome’ opera is often not high on an itinerary of the Old Town, but it would be remiss to ignore its beauty and cultural significance. At over 18ft high it’s certainly hard to miss, but a closer inspection reveals the detail in the carved relief of the column as it spells out six scenes from the opera. Water from a bowl sitting atop the statue flows continuously downwards, representing the Dance of the Seven Veils, from Salome.
Marienplatz can lay claim to being the heart of not only the Old Town, but of Munich itself. Meeting place, site of the Town Hall, buzzing café and restaurant precinct, and tourist attraction all rolled into one vibrant historic square, it’s like a mini slice of Munich life served up on a cobblestoned plate.
If you’ve got a head for heights you can take a trip up the Neues Rathaus tower for stunning views over the city and out to the Alps, or if you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground you can join the hordes of tourists at 11am, 12 noon and 5pm to enjoy the daily spectacle of the famous Glockenspiel heralding the time with its delightful display of bells and figures. For lovers of the literary, the Hugendubel bookstore is fabulous, even if just to browse (although they also have an extensive English section), and you can wind down with a coffee and strudel at the quaint Café Glockenspeil.
Today it’s a buzzing, bubbling mass of market stalls, eateries, traders, tourists and locals, but even back in the 1700’s, when it was established, the Viktualienmarkt quickly became known as ‘the stomach of the city’. It is huge, aromatic and somewhat overwhelming, but that is half the fun!
Divided into six sections (yes, there is some method to the madness), the colourful produce stands form a guard of honour as you jostle your way through, soaking up the sights, sounds and smells. Go hungry and enjoy as many different delicacies as you can – and then take the rest home with you. If you can’t decide, at the very least try the goulash, sauerkraut or giant sausages and wash it all down with a local beer.
A visit to Munich’s Alstadt affords a wonderful insight into the spirit of Germany!
How to Get to Munich
Munich Airport services passengers from all over the world with a huge network of international and domestic flights. Situated around 28 kilometres from the city centre, a shuttle transfer from the airport to your accommodation will generally take around 30 minutes, slightly more at peak times. Shuttle Direct offers fast, convenient shuttle transfers from Munich Airport on either a shared or private basis, allowing you to arrive at your accommodation in the city or surrounding areas relaxed and ready to begin your holiday.
Where to Stay
Pension Lugano – For central budget accommodation in Munich, the Pension Lugano has all you need for a comfortable stay. Close to city transport and just minutes from Munich Main Station, Pension Lugano’s rooms offer a great value option in a central location. Within a short walk of major attractions including Marienplatz Square and the site of the city’s famous Oktoberfest festival, there is an onsite bakery and a host of restaurants and cafes close by.
Arthotel Munich – With its pop art inspired décor and fabulous central location, the Arthotel Munich makes the perfect base for exploring the many attractions of the city. Rooms are spacious, soundproofed and well facilitated, with air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, cable TV and minibar. The Arthotel Munich’s location in the heart of the city offers direct transport links to the airport and major attractions, and it is just a short walk from the site of the Oktoberfest festival.
Hotel Königshof – Experience Munich in style with a stay at the luxurious Hotel Königshof. Situated in the heart of the city on the famous Karlsplatz Square, the spacious rooms and suites are beautifully appointed with classical décor, Sky TV and modern bathrooms. The hotel features an in-house spa centre with sauna, hot tubs, Turkish steam baths and masseuses. The onsite Michelin-starred Königshof Restaurant offers gourmet cuisine and there is a chic piano lobby bar.