Getting Oriented

In the relaxed and sunnier southern part of Germany, Munich (München) is the proud capital of the state of Bavaria. Even Germans come here to vacation, mixing the city's pleasures with the nearby natural surroundings—on clear days, from downtown the Alps appear to be much closer than around 40 miles away. The city bills itself as "Die Weltstadt mit Herz" ("The Cosmopolitan City with Heart"), but in rare bouts of self-deprecatory humor, friendly Bavarians will remind you that it isn't much more than a country town with 1.5 million people. Münchners will also tell visitors that the city is special because of its Gemütlichkeit (cozy atmosphere). With open-air markets, numerous parks, the lovely Isar River, and loads of beer halls, Munich has a certain charm that few cities can match.

  • Altstadt. Altstadt (Old Town) and its surrounding streets are a hub for locals and tourists alike. It's home to Marienplatz, the Rathaus, and Frauenkirche–-Munich's landmark church with two soaring towers–-as well as the Residenz and Hofgarten (royal palace and court gardens).
  • Lehel. East of Marienplatz, down toward the Isar River, is a maze of Altstadt's smaller streets. These run seamlessly into Lehel, which gently spreads out across the Isar. A highly sought-after residential neighborhood, Lehel is calm, pretty, and family-oriented, but is also chic and self-sufficient.
  • Ludwigsvorstadt and Isarvorstadt. These neighborhoods south and west of Altstadt encompass several smaller quarters, like Isarvorstadt’s Glockenbachviertel and Gärtnerplatz, two action-packed hoods with cafés, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs, as well as the world-famous Deutsches Museum. Ludwigsvorstadt is home to two of Munich’s most important landmarks: Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and Theresienwiese, where Oktoberfest takes place each autumn
  • Schwabing and Maxvorstadt. Maxvorstadt marks the northern boundary of Innenstadt (City Center). On the east side of Maxvorstadt is Ludwigstrasse, a wide avenue flanked by impressive buildings, running from the Feldherrnhalle at Odeonsplatz to the Victory Arch. A block west are Maxvorstadt's smaller streets, lined with shops and restaurants frequented by students. The big museums lie farther west. Schwabing starts north of the Victory Arch, where Ludwigstrasse becomes Leopoldstrasse. The Englischer Garten extends from Schwabing back down into the northeast part of Altstadt.
  • Au and Haidhausen. Across the Isar are fashionable Au and Haidhausen; these residential neighborhoods are conveniently located to Munich's Altstadt.
  • Outside Innenstadt. Although Ludwigvorstadt and Isarvorstadt begin in the City Center, they extend south and west beyond what is considered the Innenstadt borders. The western part of Munich, outside of the Innenstadt, is Nymphenburg, dominated by Nymphenburg Castle and its glorious grounds.

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