How To Get Around Munich
Munich is a bustling city located in Germany and is the capital and most populous city in the state of Bavaria. Munich also happens to be one of Europe’s most popular cities and serves as a global hub for tourism, culture, education and finance. The German city is also known for its world-class museums, range of cultural attractions and the iconic Oktoberfest even held here every year. Additionally, Munich is consistently ranked as one of the best places in the world to live in.
Because of the standard and quality of living in the city, it’s really no surprise that the Munich public transport system is impressive and easy to navigate, even for first-time visitors. The Bavarian capital boasts a wide-ranging network of subways, commuter trains, buses, trams and other forms of transportation that will take you anywhere you want to go.
With a population of over 6 million people, coupled with the thousands of tourists visiting daily, it might initially be overwhelming to find your way around Munich. If you’re looking for the best way to navigate the city, check out our comprehensive guide on how to get around Munich.
Out and about on a day excursion? Don’t forget to look for a luggage locker in Munich where you can safely store your backpacks and extra gear to lighten the load.
Munich International Airport
The Flughafen München is Munich’s main airport and is an international airport serving Upper Bavaria. It is ranked the second busiest airport (according to passenger traffic) in Germany, just next to Frankfurt Airport, serving nearly 50 million passengers every year. The airport also serves as the primary gateway to Munich and surrounding areas, such as the Bavarian Alps.
Named after Franz Josef Strauss, a former Bavarian minister and president, the Munich Airport is situated near the town of Freising, just around 29 kilometers northeast of the city center. There are plenty of ways to get from the airport to the Munich city area via public transport; the most popular option would be the S-Bahn (Lines S1 and S8), which takes around 45 minutes and stops at the Munich central station. Another option is to take the Airport Bus, which runs every 20 minutes and brings passengers right to the city center.
How to Get Around Munich by Train
If you're looking for the best way to explore Munich, the best option would be to travel by train. There are two train networks in Munich that are extensively used by both locals and tourists – the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn.
The U-Bahn is the city’s underground train system and is the most commonly used mode of transportation in Munich. With eight lines going through over 100 stations, the U-Bahn primarily serves the city center and inner suburbs and has stops in almost all of the city’s key areas and tourist destinations.
The U-Bahn trains have an interval of every 5 minutes during rush hour or approximately 20 minutes during non-peak hours and in the evenings. U-Bahn runs every day from 4:00 AM up until 1:00 AM on weekdays and until 2:00 AM on weekends and public holidays.
Meanwhile, the S-Bahn represents the above-ground suburban trains that go through central Munich up to the suburbs and outlying districts. In operation since the 1970s, the commuter train network is composed of more than 150 S-Bahn stations across eight S-lines. The S-Bahn is the popular choice for travelers coming to the city via the Munich Airport and those looking to take day trips to locations outside of the city. Check out Munich Central Station while here, to see the neoclassical architecture.
The S-Bahn trains have an interval of anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes during regular hours and 10 minutes during peak hours. The S-Bahn operates from 4:00 AM up to 1:00 AM during weekdays and all night during the weekends; the only exception is the S-line linked to the airport, which runs 24/7.
Passengers may buy one of the many tickets (Single ticket, stripe ticket or multiple-day ticket) to both the U-Bahn and S-Bahn from people-manned ticket booths found in the stations, from a ticket machine found across Munich or through the designated mobile applications (MVG for U-Bahn or Deutsche Bahn for S-Bahn). Tourists who purchased any of the all-inclusive cards (i.e. City Tour Card, Munich Card and Munich City Pass) can use the U-Bahn and S-Bahn for free.
How to Get Around Munich by Tram
One of the most interesting ways to get around Munich is by riding the tram. Dating back to 1876, when it initially ran using horse-drawn vehicles, the historic tram network of Munich remains to be one of the best and most efficient ways to travel around the city. The tram is a great option for people who are looking to go to areas that are not covered by the trains (e.g. Maximilianeum Bavarian parliament and the Pinakothek art galleries).
At present, the trams network consists of 13 daytime and 4 nighttime lines, passing through a total of 165 tram stops across Munich. These daytime lines run every day from 4:45 AM to 1:30 AM while the night lines operate from 1:30 AM to 4:30 AM. Similar to the other modes of public transportation in the city, tickets to the trams can be bought in the stations or through ticket machines across Munich.
How to Get Around Munich by Bus
While the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn are undoubtedly the most popular options for public transportation in Munich, travelers can also take advantage of the city’s extensive bus network, which covers the main points of interest within the city center as well as areas in the outer suburbs.
What’s great about taking the bus to explore is that there are dedicated lanes as well as priority signaling for the public buses. While the number of routes can be a bit overwhelming, tourists that are planning to check out the city's top spots should only focus on the Line 100 bus route, which stops at all of the best museums in Munich.
The metro buses are operational daily from 5:00 AM to 1:00 AM, with buses departing in an interval of 10 to 20 minutes. Moreover, there are night buses operating in the city after 1:00 AM and cover most of the main routes going to the city center. There is also the “Express Bus”, which is ideal for those in a hurry as it only makes a few stops to popular locations. Tickets can be bought in the train stations as well as ticket vending machines scattered all over Munich.
How to Get Around Munich by Car
Driving is not really a popular choice when in Munich because traffic in the city can get really congested, especially during peak hours. Moreover, gas fees can add up and parking can be hard to find. However, having your own car during your stay does have its benefits as you will have more independence and control over your time and schedule.
Renting a car also makes sense if you have plans to go out of Munich and explore other nearby cities and rural areas in Bavaria. There are several options for renting a car; you can rent one as soon as you arrive at the airport or wait to get to the city center where you will find a number of car rental agencies.
How to Get Around Munich by Taxi
If you are in need of a more convenient, albeit expensive, way to get around the city, you might want to consider hailing a taxi while in Munich. The designated cabs, which feature a cream-colored appearance with a taxi sign on the roof, start at a common base price and charge an additional fee for every kilometer traveled.
The Bavarian capital has the highest density of taxis in the entire country, which means getting a taxi shouldn’t be much of a problem. In any case, you can call for a taxi service if you cannot flag one down. However, as aforementioned, traffic in Munich can be horrible so you will need to have a lot of patience should you decide to hire a cab to bring you around.
How to Get Around Munich by Rideshare
Another similar option for travelers would be ridesharing. Companies like Uber and Free Now are active in Munich, although they mostly just operate within city limits. To hire a rideshare car, you will have to go to a pick-up station or book online via the ridesharing company’s website or mobile app.
All in all, getting a cab or rideshare app is not really recommended in a city as busy as Munich; you are probably better off using some of the many public transport options available.
How to Get Around Munich by Bicycle
Cycling is not only a healthy and fun activity, it also happens to be one of the best ways to move around the state capital. Munich is one of Europe’s most bike-friendly cities and even locals prefer to cycle their way around the city; it’s also an excellent way to beat the traffic while doing some sightseeing.
The city boasts over 200 kilometers of cycle paths and bike-only lanes that can be utilized by cyclists. Distances between several points of interest aren’t that significant, so riding a bike is not really going to take its toll on you. There are a number of companies that are offering bike rentals for both long-term and short-term use; you can rent a bike for as short as 2 hours or even for weeks or months, depending on your needs.
If you like something a little less tiring, there are also electronic bikes available for rent. Returning your bikes is just as easy; you can simply leave your rented bike in one of the numerous stops around the S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations.
Can I Get Around Munich by Foot?
If you truly want to take your time and enjoy the beauty of a place, the best way to do so would be to explore it on foot. Despite its size, Munich is actually quite compact and it is easy enough to wander around without getting too tired. It also happens that some of the most famous attractions are all within striking distance from each other in the city area.
If you’re staying within the city center or in Altstadt, it would be best to do a walking tour of the area. For most travelers, the best starting point would be the Marienplatz, which is Munich’s most famous square and the beating heart of the state capital. From here, many attractions and iconic landmarks can be reached by foot, including the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady), the Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum), the English Garden, the Viktualienmarket and the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall).
To plan your walking tour, you can get a copy city's tourist map from tourist information centers located around Munich.
From Subway Stations to Buses and Trams
With the number of public transport options available to you, getting around Munich will be a breeze. Now that we've laid out the basics for you, you can start planning the best way to get around the city. You may go for a single mode of public transport or utilize a combination of two or more, depending on your plans for your trip. When you're done exploring Munich, you may want to consider checking out some hiking spots near Munich for the ultimate outdoor adventure.