Munich

Munich has a lively night scene ranging from beer halls to bars to chic clubs. The fun areas for a night out are in Altstadt, Isarvorstadt (Gärtnerplatz and Glockenbachviertel are arguably the best in the city), and Schwabing around Schellingstrasse and Münchner Freiheit. Regardless of their size or style, many bars, especially
Munich has a lively night scene ranging from beer halls to bars to chic clubs. The fun areas for a night out are in Altstadt, Isarvorstadt (Gärtnerplatz and Glockenbachviertel are arguably the best in the city), and Schwabing around Schellingstrasse and Münchner Freihei
Munich has a lively night scene ranging from beer halls to bars to chic clubs. The fun areas for a night out are in Alts

Munich has a lively night scene ranging from beer halls to bars to chic clubs. The fun areas for a night out are in Altstadt, Isarvorstadt (Gärtnerplatz and Glockenbachviertel are arguably the best in the city), and Schwabing around Schellingstrasse and Münchner Freiheit. Regardless of their size or style, many bars, especially around Gärtnerplatz, have DJs spinning either mellow background sounds or funky beats.

However many fingers you hold up, just remember the easy-to-pronounce "Bier bitte" ("beer please") when ordering a beer. The tricky part is, Germans don't just produce one beverage called beer; they brew more than 5,000 varieties. Germany has about 1,300 breweries, 40% of the world's total.

In Munich you'll find the most famous breweries, the largest beer halls and beer gardens, the biggest and most indulgent beer festival, and the widest selection of brews. Even the beer glasses are bigger: a Mass is a 1-liter (almost 2-pint) serving; a Halbe is half a liter and the standard size. The Hofbräuhaus is Munich's best-known beer hall, but you are more likely to find locals in one of the English Garden's four beer gardens or in a Wirtshaus (tavern).

In summer, last call at the beer gardens is around 11 pm. Most of the traditional places stay open until 1 am or so and are great for a few hours of wining and dining before heading out on the town. Most bars stay open until at least 3 am on weekends; some don't close until 5 or 6 am.

Munich has dozens of beer gardens, ranging from huge establishments that seat several hundred to small terraces tucked behind neighborhood pubs; the rest of the beer gardens are a bit farther afield and can be reached handily by bike or S- and U-bahn. Beer gardens are such an integral part of Munich life that a council proposal to cut down their hours provoked a storm of protest in 1995, culminating in one of the largest demonstrations in the city's history. They open whenever the thermometer creeps above 10°C (50°F) and the sun filters through the chestnut trees that are a necessary part of the scenery.

Everybody in Munich has at least one favorite beer garden, so you're usually in good hands if you ask someone to point you in the right direction. You do not need to reserve. No need to phone either. If the weather says yes, then go. Most—but not all—allow you to bring your own food, but if you do, buy your drinks from the beer garden and don't defile this hallowed territory with something so foreign as pizza or a burger.

There are a few dance clubs in town worth mentioning, but the larger the venue, the more difficult the entry. In general, big nightclubs are giving way to smaller, more laid-back lounge types of places scattered all over town. If you're really hankering for a big club, go to Optimolwerke in the Ostbahnhof area. Otherwise, enjoy the handful of places around the City Center.

Munich also has a decent jazz scene, and some beer gardens have even taken to replacing their brass oompah bands with funky combos. Jazz musicians sometimes accompany Sunday brunch, too.

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  • 1. Augustiner Keller Biergarten

    Maxvorstadt | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    Among the largest (5,000 seats), and Munich's oldest beer garden, Augustiner Keller is one of the more authentic beer gardens, with excellent...Read More

  • 2. Biergarten am Viktualienmarkt

    Altstadt | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    The only true beer garden in the center of the city, and therefore the easiest to find, is the one at Viktualienmarkt. The beer on tap rotates...Read More

  • 3. Hofbräukeller am Wiener Platz

    Haidhausen | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    This is one of the city's midsize beer gardens but undoubtedly one of the best. Its location off Wiener Platz makes it attractive enough, plus...Read More

  • 4. Jazzbar Vogler

    Isarvorstadt | Music Clubs

    The Jazzbar Vogler is a nice bar with jam sessions on Monday nights and regular jazz concerts. ...Read More

  • 5. Jazzclub Unterfahrt

    Haidhausen | Music Clubs

    Unterfahrt is the place for the serious jazzologist, though hip-hop is making heavy inroads into the scene. ...Read More

  • 6. Kilian's Irish Pub and Ned Kelly's Australian Bar

    Altstadt | Bars/Pubs

    Just behind the Frauenkirche, Kilian's Irish Pub and Ned Kelly's Australian Bar offer an escape from the German tavern scene. Naturally, they...Read More

  • 7. Königlicher Hirschgarten

    Nymphenburg | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    Out in the district of Nymphenburg is the huge Königlicher Hirschgarten, Munich's largest beer garden, with 8,000 seats. It's also a family...Read More

  • 8. Seehaus im Englischen Garten

    Schwabing | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    The Seehaus im Englischen Garten is on the banks of the artificial lake Kleinhesseloher See, where all of Munich converges on hot summer days...Read More

  • 9. Alfonso's Live-Music Club

    Schwabing | Music Clubs

    At tiny Alfonso's, the nightly live music redefines the concept of intimacy. ...Read More

  • 10. Alter Simpl

    Maxvorstadt | Bars/Pubs

    Media types drink Weissbier, Helles, as well as Guinness and Kilkenny, at the square bar at Alter Simpl. More than 100 years old, this establishment...Read More

  • 11. Backstage

    Neuhausen-Nymphenburg | Dance Clubs

    The Backstage is mostly a live-music venue for alternative music of all kinds, but there's also a chilled-out club and a beer garden. Purchase...Read More

  • 12. Bar Centrale

    Altstadt | Bars/Pubs

    Around the corner from the Hofbräuhaus, Bar Centrale is very Italian—the waiters don't seem to speak any other language. The coffee is excellent...Read More

  • 13. Biergarten am Chinesischen Turm

    Schwabing | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    The famous Biergarten am Chinesischen Turm is at the five-story Chinese Tower in the Englischer Garten. Enjoy your beer to the strains of oompah...Read More

  • 14. Goldene Bar

    Lehel | Music Clubs

    Everything glows golden at this aptly named bar within the Haus der Kunst. Despite its 75-year-old wall paintings, it's very hip....Read More

  • 15. Hirschau

    Schwabing | Brewpubs/Beer Gardens

    The Hirschau, pleasantly located in the Englischer Garten, has room for 2,500 guests, and it's about 10 minutes north of the Kleinhesseloher See. ...Read More

  • 16. Holy Home

    Isarvorstadt | Bars/Pubs

    For a New York City–style, corner-bar-type experience, check out Holy Home. A hip local crowd frequents this smoky hole-in-the-wall that books...Read More

  • 17. Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski

    Altstadt | Bars/Pubs

    The Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski's talented bartenders offer sparkling wines, whiskeys, and an entertaining range of cocktails. Live piano...Read More

  • 18. Mr. B's

    Ludwigsvorstadt | Music Clubs

    The tiny Mr. B's is a treat. It's run by New Yorker Alex Best, who also mixes great cocktails and, unlike so many other barkeeps, usually wears...Read More

  • 19. Muffathalle

    Haidhausen | Dance Clubs

    One of the best live venues in the city, this club housed inside a historic power station puts on up-and-coming bands as well as ones on their...Read More

  • 20. Night Club Bar

    Altstadt | Bars/Pubs

    The Bayerischer Hof's Night Club Bar has live music, most famously international stars from the jazz scene, but also reggae to hip-hop and everything...Read More

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