You have your flight, you have your passport, and you have your lederhosen or dirndl. The only thing missing for your first trip to Munich is a place to stay!
If you talk to anyone who lives in Munich, they’ll tell you that Germany’s third-biggest city actually feels like a village. Which is why the locals have affectionately given the city the nickname “Millionendorf” or village of a million people (although it’s more like 1.5 million people).
Choosing where to stay in Munich is easy, and first-time visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to cool neighborhoods. Want to stroll down the charming cobblestone streets in the Altstadt? How about mingling with Germany’s trendy student community in Maxvorstadt? Perhaps you’d rather sample the exciting smells and flavors of the diverse Ludwigvorstadt area? No matter what you’re interested in, we’re here to help you find the best place to stay in Munich.
And if you’re on a budget, don’t forget to check out the best hostels in Munich too!
The Best Neighborhoods in Munich
Altstadt – the Best Neighborhood for First Time Visitors
If it’s your first time exploring the beautiful city of Munich, then you’ll likely want to stay in the Altstadt or Old Town. As one of the most scenic parts of the city, Altstadt is a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, historic churches, and stunning Baroque and Rococo-style buildings.
Munich’s most notable attractions can be found here, including the magnificent town hall in Marienplatz, the Alter Peter church (pay to walk up to the top for jaw-dropping views of the city), and the bustling Viktualienmarkt. It’s very walkable, with most sites being just a 15-20 minute walk from one another.
As with most historic city centers in Europe, Altstadt can be overcrowded and expensive. But its central location makes it a great jumping-off point for exploring the best things Munich has to offer.
What to do in Altstadt
- Admire the architecture of the Neues Rathaus (new city hall) at Marienplatz.
- Shop for fresh produce, meats, and spices at Viktualienmarkt.
- Enjoy traditional Bavarian food and music at the infamous Hofbräuhaus.
- Climb the oldest church in Germany, Peterskirche at Rindermarkt, for sweeping views of the city.
- Visit the iconic double-towered Frauenkirche.
- Shop down Munich’s busy pedestrianized shopping streets, Sendlinger Str and Kaufinger Str.
Maxvorstadt – the Best Neighborhood for Museums
Just north of Altstadt sits the vibrant student neighborhood of Maxvorstadt (the prestigious universities of Ludwig Maximilian University and the Technical University of Munich are located here). It’s also home to quite a few art galleries, museums, and cultural institutions, including the world-famous Pinakothek Museums and the Glyptothek.
Because of the large student population, Maxvorstadt is a great place to go for affordable restaurants, bars, and boutique shopping. The streets are always a buzz – especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
What to do in Maxvorstadt
- Spend the day boutique shopping down Schelling Str.
- Get your fix of classic, traditional, and contemporary art at the Pinakothek art museums.
- Indulge in Bavarian cuisine at Alter Simpl, a famous Bohemian spot frequented by artists and writers.
- Sunbathe on the manicured lawns at Königsplatz.
Schwabing – the Best Neighborhood for Foodies
Once the center of Munich’s artistic and bohemian culture, Schwabing is a charming neighborhood bursting with creativity. And while it has become more gentrified and family-oriented over the last few decades, it still retains a fun atmosphere that attracts artists, intellectuals, and, of course, foodies.
The dining scene here is diverse, with numerous Bavarian pubs, trendy cafes, and hip restaurants. It’s also just a short walking distance to the English Garden, so it’s easy to grab a pizza or a couple of sushi rolls for a picnic.
What to do in Schwabing
- Walk around the spectacular English Garden or grab a drink in a beer garden.
- Hang out at an outdoor coffee shop along the popular Leopold Str.
- Watch the surfers (even in the winter!) at Eisbachwelle.
- Talk a stroll through Nordfriedhof, a beautiful cemetery for WWII victims.
- Photograph the 18th-century Siegestor gate at dusk.
Glockenbachviertel/Gärtnerplatz – the Best Neighborhood for Nightlife
Sandwiched between Altstadt and the Isar River, Glockenbach and Gärtnerplatz are two of the coolest neighborhoods in Munich. During the day, the streets are busy with boutique shoppers, Aperol sippers, and bunch lovers. But when the sun sets, people flock to the numerous cocktail lounges, pubs, and trendy bars for a fun evening out. Both neighborhoods have a strong LGBTQ+ community, so you’ll be welcomed with open arms anywhere you go.
On a nice day, the picturesque square in Gärtnerplatz is the place to see and be seen. Grab a couple of beers and enjoy the energetic atmosphere with the rest of the locals.
What to do in Glockenbach and Gärtnerplatz
- Grab a beer and hang out in the sun on the banks of the Isar River.
- Order fancy cocktails at Zephyr Bar, The High, or some of our other favorite cocktail bars.
- Catch. a live jazz show at Vogler’s Jazz Club.
- People watch in the flowery garden at Gärtnerplatz.
- Go for a stroll on Museum Island and stop by the Deutsches Museum.
Au-Haidhausen – the Best Neighborhood for Families
Hop across the river and explore the opulent neighborhood of Au-Haidhausen! The tree-lined streets and beautiful buildings make it one of the most popular (and expensive) areas for residents. The area has everything – bars, restaurants, theaters, art galleries, shops, music venues – but without the mass crowds of tourists like you’ll find in Altstadt.
It’s a great option for families, as there are many parks and open spaces that are kid and stroller-friendly. Make sure to spend the afternoon at a cafe in the adorable French Quarter or shopping for produce at the market at Wiener Platz.
What to do in Au-Haidhausen
- Go stargazing at the Bavarian Public Observatory Munich.
- Check out the impressive Art Nouveau collection at the stunning Villa Stuck gallery.
- Go shopping for Bavarian snacks and gifts at Wiener Markt.
- Catch a performance by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra at the Gasteig event center.
- Marvel at the charming 18th-century houses along the picturesque Preysing Str.
Bahnhofsviertel – the Best Neighborhood for Budget Travelers
If you’re on a budget, then Bahnhofsviertel is the perfect place to stay for a few days in Munich. This eclectic neighborhood is just south of Hauptbahnhof (the main station), making it easy for travelers who arrive by train or bus. It’s also one of the most diverse areas in the city, with many affordable Turkish, Chinese, Thai, and Middle Eastern shops and restaurants.
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many big sights or attractions here. But you can easily walk to Altstadt, Maxvorstadt, and Theresienweise (for Oktoberfest!), so it’s a great alternative to the many pricier neighborhoods in the city. And it’s where you’ll find some of the cheapest hostels in town.
What to do in Bahnhofviertel
- Catch a musical performance at the popular Deutsches Theater.
- Grab a Turkish kebab and handmade baklava at one of the many shops along Landwehr Str.
Schwanthalerhöhe/Westend – the Best Neighborhood for Oktoberfest
While Munich has an excellent public transportation system, Schwanthalerhöhe and the Westend are two of the best areas if you’re in town for Oktoberfest. These neighborhoods surround the iconic Theresienwiese park, which hosts the annual festival every September and October. Therefore, you can just step outside the door to be in the middle of all the beer-drinking action!
Keep in mind that hotel prices during Oktoberfest are exponentially high, so it’s crucial that you book far in advance if you’re planning on coming. That goes for all neighborhoods in the city – not just in the Westend or Schwanthalerhöhe!
What to do in Schwanthalerhöhe and the Westend
- See what’s happening at Theresienwiese – home of Oktoberfest, Tollwood, Spring Festival, and many flea markets.
- Climb to the top of the Bavaria Statue (you can go inside her head!)
- Enjoy a cocktail at the outdoor Gans am Wasser cafe.
- Stroll through the beautiful Westpark.