Bargaining is not acceptable anywhere or at any time in Munich.
Dangers & Annoyances
During Oktoberfest crime and staggering drunks are major problems, especially around the Hauptbahnhof. It's no joke: drunks in a crowd trying to make their way home can get violent, and there are around 100 cases of assault every year. Leave early or stay cautious – if not sober – yourself.
Strong and unpredictable currents make cooling off in the Eisbach creek in the Englischer Garten more dangerous than it looks. Exercise extreme caution; there have been deaths.
Fast-moving bikes in central Munich are a menace. Make sure you don't wander onto bike lanes, especially when waiting to cross the road and when alighting from buses and trams.
The Munich City Tour Card (www.citytourcard-muenchen.com; one/three days €12.90/24.90) includes all public transport in the Innenraum (Munich city – zones 1 to 4, marked white on transport maps) and discounts of between 10% and 50% for over 80 attractions, tours, eateries and theatres. These include the Residenz, the BMW Museum and the Bier & Oktoberfestmuseum. It's available at some hotels, tourist offices, Munich public transport authority (MVV) offices and U-Bahn, S-Bahn and DB vending machines.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
Homosexuality is widely accepted in Bavaria, but the scene, even in Munich, is tiny compared to, say, Berlin or Cologne. LGBT travellers will experience no hostility though. There are websites aplenty, but most are in German only. Try www.gay-web.de or, for women, www.lesarion.de. The Schwules Kommunikations und Kulturzentrum in the city centre is a gay information agency. Lesbians can also turn to Le Tra.
Southern Germans are a pretty rigid bunch, with elderly people in particular expecting lots of set behaviour and stock phrases. It's easy to make a mistake, but the following should help you avoid red-faced moments.
- On the phone Always give your name first when you are making a call or receiving one. Not to do so is seen as impolite.
- Greetings Begin every new interaction with locals with a hearty Grüss Gott, the southern German for hello (in the rest of Germany it's Guten Tag).
- Touchy subject It's probably best to avoid conversations about Munich's role in the rise of the Nazis, especially with older people.
- Punctuality When meeting up, punctuality is appreciated – never arrive more than 15 minutes late
- At the table Tucking in before the ‘Guten Appetit’ starting gun is fired is regarded as bad manners. When drinking wine, the toast is ‘Zum Wohl’, with beer it's ‘Prost’.
No matter how long or short your trip, make sure you have adequate travel insurance covering you for medical expenses and luggage theft or loss, and against cancellations or delays of your travel arrangements. Check your existing insurance policies at home (medical, homeowners etc), since some policies may already provide worldwide coverage.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
As across the rest of Europe, internet cafes are generally a thing of the past. Wi-fi is widespread and often free. Most public libraries offer internet access to nonresidents. Check www.muenchner-stadtbibliothek.de (in German) for details.
ATMs abound in the city centre, though not all take every type of card. All major credit cards are widely accepted.
Reisebank Best place to change and withdraw money at the Hauptbahnhof.
You could get through an entire trip around southern Germany without giving a single tip. Few service industry employees expect them these days, though most still appreciate a little extra when it comes their way.
- Hotels Generally €1 per bag.
- Pubs Leave a little small change for the barman.
- Restaurants Round up the bill to the nearest €5 (or €10) if you were satisfied with service.
- Taxis Round up to the nearest €5 so the driver doesn't have to hunt for change.
- Toilet Attendants Unless a price list states exact rates, €0.50 is about right.
Banks 8.30am–4pm Monday to Friday, limited opening Saturday
Bars and Clubs 6pm–1am minimum, some clubs open until 6am or 7am at weekends
Shops 9.30am–8pm Monday to Saturday
Post office For additional branches, search www.deutschepost.de.
Germany's postal system prides itself on its efficiency and reliability.
Businesses and offices are closed on the following public holidays:
- Neujahrstag (New Year’s Day) 1 January
- Heilige Drei Könige (Epiphany) 6 January
- Ostern (Easter) March/April – Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday
- Maifeiertag (Labour Day) 1 May
- Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day) 40 days after Easter
- Pfingsten (Whitsun/Pentecost) mid-May to mid-June – Whit Sunday and Whit Monday
- Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi) 10 days after Pentecost
- Mariä Himmelfahrt (Assumption Day, Bavaria only) 15 August
- Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Day of German Unity) 3 October
- Weihnachtstag (Christmas Day) 25 December
- Sankt Stephanstag (Boxing/St Stephen’s Day) 26 December
- Smoking A ban on smoking applies in all Munich's indoor public spaces. However, public-health messaging doesn't seem to have sunk in across the Bavarian capital, and the smell of cigarette smoke is still common. Smoking areas right next to non-smoking areas are common. You'll rarely see anyone pulled up for lighting up where they shouldn't.
Taxes & Refunds
Value-added tax (VAT) is a 19% sales tax levied on most goods and services. It’s possible for non-EU visitors to claim a refund of VAT paid on goods on departure (at airports).
- International access code: +49
- Local city code: 089
- Domestic and international numbers can be dialled direct. When dialling within the same town, omit the city code.
- When calling from abroad, omit the 0 from the city code (+49 89...)
- The prefixes 0190 and 0900 indicate premium rate numbers, which cost a fortune to call. All 0800 numbers are free to call.
- Mobile phone numbers start with prefixes 016 and 017.
Phones from other countries work in Germany but if they contain a non-EU SIM they attract roaming charges. Local SIM cards cost as little as €10.
- Mobile phones operate on GSM 900/1800. If your home country uses a different standard, you’ll need a multiband GSM phone in Germany.
- If you have an unlocked multiband phone, a prepaid rechargeable SIM card from a German telecom provider will always work out cheaper than using your own network. Cards are available at any mobile-phone store (eg T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus or O2) and will give you a local number without signing a contract.
- If you have a SIM card from anywhere in the EU, you will be charged the same in Germany as you are at home (or wherever the SIM is from).
- Men's toilets are marked 'Herren' (or just 'H'), the ladies' 'Damen' (or just 'D').
- Public toilets in Munich are almost non-existent. Instead use facilities in department stores, railway stations, markets, beer halls and other public places.
- Toilets are rarely free, and those at large railway stations can charge a silly €1 to spend a penny. At some facilities payment is by donation, thus you pay as much as you like. At others there's a price list.
- Sanifair toilets charge €0.70, but you receive a €0.50 voucher to spend in the establishment in which it is located. This type of facility has spread in recent years from motorway service stations to other places such as department stores and train stations. Many jump the low barriers.
- Toilets are normally clean, well maintained and not of the squat variety, though some are of the slightly off-putting 'reverse bowl design', not common in the UK or US.
Travel with Children
(Tiny) hands down, Munich is a great city for children, with plenty of activities to please to with even the shortest attention span. There are plenty of parks for romping around, swimming pools and lakes for cooling off, and family-friendly beer gardens with children's playgrounds for making new friends.
- Deutsches Museum
Many of the city's museums have special kid-oriented programs, but the highly interactive Kinderreich at the Deutsches Museum specifically lures the single-digit set.
- Tierpark Hellabrunn
Petting baby goats, feeding pelicans, watching falcons and hawks perform or even riding a camel should make for some unforgettable memories at the city zoo.
- SeaLife München
For a fishy immersion, head to this new attraction in the Olympiapark.
- Paläontologisches Museum
Dino fans will gravitate here.
- Museum Mensch und Natur
Budding scientists will find plenty to marvel at in this museum within the Schloss Nymphenburg.
The Spielzeugmuseum is of the look-but-don't-touch variety, but kids might still get a kick out of seeing what toys grandma used to pester her parents for.
- Münchner Marionettentheater
The adorable singing and dancing marionettes performing here have enthralled generations of wee ones.
- Münchner Theater für Kinder
This theatre offers budding thespians a chance to enjoy fairy tales and children's classics in the style of Pinocchio and German children's classic Max & Moritz.
This wacky toy shop near Schloss Nymphenburg sells everything from penny candy to joke articles and wooden trains.
Need to Know
- Many museums and castles in southern Germany offer free admission for under-18s.
- Children pay a flat rate of €1.40 on public transport.
- Kids are allowed into pubs and beer gardens.
Travellers with Disabilities
Generally speaking, Munich caters well for the needs of the Behinderte (disabled), especially the wheelchair-bound. You’ll find access ramps and/or lifts in many public buildings, including train stations, museums, theatres and cinemas. New hotels and some renovated establishments have lifts and rooms with extra-wide doors and spacious, accessible bathrooms. Nearly all trains are accessible, and the city's buses and U-Bahns are becoming increasingly so. Seeing-eye dogs are allowed on all forms of public transport.
Many local and regional tourism offices have special brochures for people with disabilities, although usually in German. Good general resources include the following:
- Deutsche Bahn Mobility Service Centre (0180 651 2512; www.bahn.com) Train-access information and route-planning assistance.
- German National Tourism Office (www.germany.travel) Your first port of call, with inspirational information in English. Click on 'Travel Barrier Free'.
- Munich for Physically Challenged Tourists (www.munich.de) Searching the official Munich tourism website will produce gigabytes of info on everything for travellers with disabilities, from Oktoberfest to local clubs and organisations to special ride services.
- Natko (www.natko.de) Central clearing house for enquiries about barrier-free travel in Germany.