Munich, Germany’s third-largest metropolis, is a city of tankards and tech, artworks and eccentricity. It's generally a safe place to visit and few travelers have problems.
While you can get by using common sense and street smarts, following our tips will make your trip to Munich go even more smoothly.
Bring euros in cash
Although many places in Munich accept cards, smaller stores, market stalls and local food shops such as bakeries and butchers still run on cash. You may also encounter coin-only ticket machines on public transport. To avoid having to make a hasty tram exit or missing out on an irresistible baked good, it’s best to have some euros in your pocket at all times.
Reserve ahead at restaurants
If you want to eat at a particular restaurant during your trip, it's worth booking a table before you travel. Whether local favorites, such as Broeding, or big names, such as Tantris and EssZimmer, popular eateries fill up fast. This is especially the case on Friday and Saturday nights, meaning you could get turned away if you don't have a reservation.
Be aware of store closing times
Germany has strict rules on business operating hours, and most stores are closed on Sunday. For locals, Sunday is a day for rest or for spending time with friends and family. For basic groceries, you can head to gas stations and kiosks, as well as supermarkets in major train stations and at the airport, all of which are excluded from this regulation. These places are also open later in the evening during the week, when other shops must close by 8pm. Some bakeries and museum gift shops are also open on Sunday.
The same opening hours apply to public holidays; if a holiday falls on a Saturday, stores will be closed all weekend. If retail therapy is on your vacation agenda, make sure you plan accordingly.
Pack clothing for all kinds of weather
The weather in Munich can change quickly and requires a diverse selection of accessories. Hot summer afternoons can bring sudden downpours or thunderstorms, while crisp winter mornings often call for gloves and sunglasses. Check the forecast before you travel and pack for all eventualities.
Get acquainted with the local German accent
Munich is a thoroughly international city, and you'll often be able to find somebody who speaks English, but some German phrases will help you get by in places that are less frequented by tourists. In some spots, you may be greeted with a strong local accent. Note that "Servus" and "Gruß Gott" are more common greetings than "Hallo" or "Guten Tag" in some areas.
Respect the green man
It’s not unusual to see people waiting patiently at pedestrian crossings in Munich, even in the absence of traffic. Jaywalking is illegal in Germany and can result in a (small) fine; however, this rule is hardly needed considering the local respect for regulations. Those who dare to cross when the light is still red should reckon with judgmental glares, indiscreet muttering or perhaps some stern words from others patiently waiting at the side of the road – particularly when children are around.
Get ready to announce your tip to the whole table
In bars and restaurants, the bill will be brought to the table and this is where you pay – tip and all. Before handing over your cash or card, you'll need to work out the full amount you wish to pay (rounding up to include a tip of around 10%) and announce this total to the waiter and anyone else in earshot. Tips are typically rolled into the bill; money left on the table after paying may not reach the staff.
Be ready for a mark-up when buying drinks
If a grocery store bill or a round of drinks seems more expensive than you anticipated, this could be because of the Pfand (deposit). In places such as beer gardens or Christmas markets, a few euros are normally added per glass to encourage you to return your empties to a designated area once you’re finished. Deposits are often returned in exchange for a token handed out when you pay.
In grocery stores, kiosks and drinks shops, a smaller deposit often applies to bottles and cans. To get your money back, you can return emptying containers to the same store or others that accept them. Some shops have machines that scan the empty bottles and give you a receipt to take to the cash desk for reimbursement.
Be diligent about buying tickets on public transport
Rather than employing ticket barriers at stations, Munich’s public transport system relies on stringent spot checks. These are often carried out by groups of plain-clothed staff, and riding without a ticket on buses, trams and trains can result in hefty, non-negotiable fines. You can find full details of the fine system on the Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund (MVV) website.
When traveling, you should buy a ticket at the earliest opportunity, either at the station or, if that’s not possible, from an onboard machine as soon as you get on. Sometimes you’ll still need to validate (entwerten) your ticket after you purchase it. Look out for the little blue boxes in stations or on public transport that you can use to stamp your ticket.
Ding ding! Watch out for speedy cyclists
Munich has an excellent and well-used system of bike lanes, and you can download maps online. These lanes are either located on the side of the road or on part of the sidewalk. In the latter case, it is quite easy to accidentally wander into the space allocated for bikes, but this is highly inadvisable.
Many cyclists, especially those on e-bikes, travel at high speeds and may not be able to stop in time. Family bikes with boxes for children, in particular, have quite some weight behind them. Luckily, all bikes are required to have bells by law, and riders aren’t afraid to use them – if you hear a ding, move out of the way quickly!
Yes, you can drink the water
The beer is excellent, but the tap water is good too. Indeed, it pays to rehydrate if you've had a big evening on the Bavarian beer and the tap water in Munich is fine to drink and can help with hangovers!
Munich is generally safe, but stay streetwise
Munich has a reputation for being a safe place to travel, and few travelers have any serious problems. Indeed, in some neighborhoods, it is not uncommon to spot bikes left unlocked or see notes pinned to lampposts optimistically inquiring about the whereabouts of missing phones or precious jewelry.
Having said that, Munich is still a big city, and you should watch your bag and pockets in busy areas and transport hubs. Take care at night and avoid poorly lit spaces or parks if you are alone.
If you leave something on public transport, you have a couple of ways to try and locate your belongings. In the west of Munich, you can swing by the Munich Transport Company (MVG) Lost and Found Center (Fundbüro), where many lost items end up. Alternatively, you can try locating your items before you come via their online search function.
If things go really wrong…
If you get into serious trouble in Munich, dial 110 for the police or 112 for all emergency services. The police are generally friendly and helpful and often speak English.
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