Munich is one of Germany's priciest cities to reside in, and it certainly has its fair share of swanky restaurants and grand hotels, but i am not saying you can't visit on a budget.
You'll require a decent stash of euros if you wish to tick off all Munich's world-class museums, but there are plenty of bargains available knowing where to look. From making the most of museum deals to discovering the very best places to choose a fast bite, here's how to explore Munich without breaking the financial institution.
Get clued on museum deals
Many of Munich's top museums reduce their entry fee to EUR1 every sunday – very good news for if you're looking for culture on a budget. The list of museums offering cheap Sunday entry includes Alte Pinakothek, Pinakothek der Moderne and Museum Brandhorst, although full prices normally make an application for special exhibitions. Many other cultural spots offer occasional free entry, including Haus der Kunst, which drops its entry fees around the first Thursday evening from the month. Arrive early to avoid an audience.
Take a town tour on public transport
You can certainly swap those touristy open-top sightseeing buses for regular trains and buses in Munich. One easy option is the number 100 bus (also a double-decker), which runs from Munich's central station to Ostbahnhof, passing many of the city's main sights on the way. Stops include the grand squares of K”onigsplatz, Odeonsplatz and Prinzregentenplatz, as well as some of the big museums.
A single fare for that inner city (Zone M) costs EUR3.50, and the ticket applies for two hours traveling in one direction, meaning you can visit and off if you're quick – of sufficient length to snap several photos, but probably not long enough to tour any of the museums.
Skip the palaces and go to the grounds
Bavaria is home to a fine assortment of castles and palaces, and many beautiful examples are available within the Munich city limits. Even though you need to pay to visit most of the buildings, accessibility grounds is generally free and still gives you a great introduction to the city's history. Don't miss the huge park surrounding Nymphenburg Palace in the western world of the city, with its swans, canal and Venetian gondola service throughout the warmer months.
Get excellent views of the city for some euros – and some hundred steps
For a low-cost grandstand view within the city, head to the city center and climb the tower of St. Peter's Church. For that price of EUR3 (US$3.40) and a small physical workout, you can go to the viewing platform towards the top of its 91m (299ft) tower. The reward for scaling 300-plus steps is an incredible panoramic view of the old town, the nearby city and -on a definite day – the distant Bavarian Alps.
Take your personal food to some Munich beer garden
Most beer gardens in Munich allow you to take your own picnic-style food so long as you purchase your drinks on-site. This rule goes back to some royal decree in 1812 that permitted breweries to sell beer straight to customers, but not food, to prevent conflict with local inn-keepers. Many people bring their entire Tupperware collection full of sides, while others just bring a few dips to eat with a giant beer garden pretzel. If you are hoping for a BYO meal, avoid places that seem like restaurants or have table service.
Don't visit during Oktoberfest unless you're here for the beer
Pulling in huge numbers of visitors each year, Munich's world-famous beer festival has a dramatic effect on accommodation prices and availability. If you don't plan to partake in the festivities, it's definitely better to avoid the city at this time – come a few weeks earlier or later, and you can enjoy the city with no crowds or elevated prices.
Experience Oktoberfest-like vibes without the mark-up
While it's certainly the biggest Munich celebration, Oktoberfest isn't the only folk festival in the city. The festival season begins in April and includes the locally popular Frühlingsfest (spring festival), held on the Oktoberfest site. You'll look for a similar helping of beer tents, Bavarian outfits and fairground rides, but you will find fewer international visitors and less chance of inflated hotel costs.
Stock up on local snacks for a wallet-friendly lunch around the go
Sampling some classic Bavarian snack foods can offer an inexpensive on-brand lunch. To find local favorites, head to among the city's many butchers' shops for any leberk”assemmel (meatloaf sandwich) or track down a bakery for a freshly baked butter pretzel. For a final calorie bomb, try a deep-fried schmalznudel (much like a donut) from the much-loved Schmalznudel – Cafe Frischhut.
Join locals for a cheap evening beer through the river
When it comes to imbibing the good stuff, Munich has from sophisticated cocktail bars to traditional beer halls. But when the weather's good, many decide to skip these pricy options and head to the Isar River with a few cold takeaway beers instead.
Spending an evening through the water isn't just a great way to cut costs, it is also a fun way to seem like a Munich local. As the sun sets, banks fill with people, many stopping for refreshments at riverside kiosks on the way; grab some take-out beer bottles from the supermarket and join them.
Spend each day around the block for free
It's not just the river where one can spend time and effort outdoors free of charge. Munich is home to many expansive green spaces, including Englischer Garten, certainly one of Europe's largest urban parks, and Olympiapark, constructed for that 1972 Summer Olympics. Both are good for exploring, exercising, picnicking or simply chilling out on a blanket on the grass.
On the southern edge of Englischer Garten, you will find certainly one of Munich's most unique attractions: an artificial river wave filled with talented surfers showing off their skills. Spectating offers endless free entertainment.
Investigate which transport ticket is best for you – and plan accordingly
Single fares on Munich's trains and buses are relatively expensive over a eventually travel pass or one week pass; download a fare chart from Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund (MVV) to compare costs. If you plan on doing 3 or more journeys in a day, it's worth buying a Tageskarte (day ticket), which is valid until 6am the next morning – you'll pay EUR8.20 (US$9.25) in total for downtown rides, when compared with EUR10.50 (US$11.85) 0r more for single fares.
It's also a wise decision to plan your itinerary so you've instances when you use plenty of public transport and times when you receive around on foot, which means you don't need a transport day ticket for each day's your vacation. Group tickets also offer good savings.
Check out alternative airports, but be aware of some time and total costs
Some low-cost airlines fly to airports elsewhere in Bavaria, for example Nuremberg and Memmingen, as an alternative to flying to Munich. You can then get to the Bavarian capital using trains and buses or airport shuttles. However, both will add time and costs to your journey, which might cancel out a few of the savings you've produced by flying low-cost. It certainly is worth calculating the entire door-to-door cost before you decide to book.
Daily costs in Munich
- Hostel dorm bed: EUR15 -30 (US$17 -34)
- Basic room for 2: EUR100 (US$113)
- Downtown public transport ticket: EUR3.50 (US$3.95)
- Coffee: EUR3 (US$3.40)
- Small pretzel: EUR1 (US$1.15)
- 1 liter beer in a beer garden: EUR8 -10 (US$9 -11.30)
- Dinner for 2: EUR30 -100 (US$34 -113)