Where to stay in Munich – First time, Oktoberfest and more options
Back in time, I lived in this beautiful city for 4 years. I am now back for another year. Why? You can guess it. I love it.
I know this city very well, and if you ask me where to stay in Munich, I have a simple answer.
The best place to stay in Munich is Altstadt, or the old city centre, full of character, where it is a pleasure to get lost in the maze of tiny lanes, and typical German buildings in all kinds of architectural styles, from neo-gothic to baroque.
In saying that, there are more options, in fact, the Altstadt may now work so well for families looking for nearby parks, or the young generation looking for some nightlife, surprisingly lacking in the city centre.
In this guide, you will read about the 7 best areas to stay in Munich, with hotel tips on where to stay, including a few apartment options.
I cover here everything you need to know, and be sure it comes from a local with a traveller view
The best? It’s all updated, no old stuff.
Ok, it’s time to get deeper
Table of Contents
- 1 Best areas to stay in Munich – In a nutshell
- 2 Altstadt – Best place to stay in Munich overall
- 3 Lehel – Where to stay in Munich for a quiet time
- 4 Gärtnerplatz and Sendlinger Tor – great area for an eclectic stay
- 5 Hauptbahnhof – Where to stay in Munich on a budget
- 6 Maxvorstadt – The best place to stay in Munich for nightlife
- 7 Schwabing – Best area to stay in Munich for a cool and boutique getaway
- 8 Haidhausen – Best area in Munich off the beaten path
- 9 Where to stay in Munich – FAQ
Best areas to stay in Munich – In a nutshell
Munich is quite a spread-out city, however, most of the attractions are in the centre (Altstadt) or around. In fact, the best areas to stay in Munich are quite close to each other.
Moreover, the excellent Metro network (U-Bahn) is so efficient that you can move around with no issues or problems, even at night.
And if you are visiting for Oktoberfest, lucky you – I may add – write down the name of this station, Theresienwiese (U4 or U5).
This is where you need to get off, or on, after a long day of celebrations.
Here below is a map with all the best neighbourhoods to stay, or visit, in the city if you are travelling with a family and kids, as a couple for a romantic and boutique stay, a weekend of nightlife and of course for the Oktoberfest and the famous Christmas markets.
My last recommendation, if you visit Munich in winter, try to stay as close as possible to the U-Bahn station.
It can be quite cold in the city, especially between December and February, well below 0 Celsius.
- Altstadt: this is, with no doubt, one of the best places to stay in Munich, if not the best, especially if you are travelling for the first time in the city. There are lots of attractions around, plenty of beautiful architecture to admire, old lanes and boutique squares and the pedestrian Neuhauser Strasse (between Marienplatz, the heart of Munich, and Karlsplatz) that gets literally full of people in the afternoon for a walk. It’s probably the most expensive area to stay in, unfortunately, but there is no more central location than Altstadt.
- Lehel: located between the city centre and the English Garden. This residential area is one of the most peaceful neighbourhoods in central Munich. It is within walking distance to Altstadt, there is a U-Bahn station, and it’s a stone away from the English Garden, the biggest city park in Europe to have some fun, including playgrounds and river surfing.
- Gärtnerplatz: south of the Altstadt, this is one of my favourite places to spend the night in Munich. There are a ton of bars and restaurants to have a great time. The main square in the area is Gärtnerplatz, where in summer many young people get together to have a drink. There are also a few clubs, but more in the direction of Sendlingertor where you can also find bars popular with the local LGBT community.
- Hauptbahnhof: this is the central station area, probably not the most beautiful part of the city, however, I would keep it in mind if you are looking for budget hotels. It is the cheapest area to stay in central Munich, and only 2 stops away from Marienplatz (U-Bahn). It is also very handy if attending the Oktoberfest.
- Maxvorstadt: the University area of Munich, which explains the great young vibe you can experience in the neighbourhood. There are plenty of bars, pubs and restaurants to spend the night, till the small hours of the morning.
- Schwabing: a few years back was the place to be for nightlife. It has changed so much. What is still the same is the great location, next to Englisch Garden, and the lovely architecture all around, a true bohemian quarter. There are still plenty of bars and restaurants, but not for a crazy late night. They are more boutique size, more for a couple’s getaway than a bachelor party. And so romantic, too.
- Haidausen: this is a residential area of Munich that is off the beaten path. I lived here for a long while and I loved it. Lots of boutique bars, little garden areas, and hidden cafes that are hard to find even by the locals LOL. It is a quiet area after all and you won’t be in the heart of Munich. For this reason, I would suggest a stay here only on a 2nd or even 3rd visit.
Let’s get now down to more details for each neighbourhood, with the best, and worst, of the area.
Altstadt – Best place to stay in Munich overall
Altstadt is the best place to stay in Munich for:
- sightseeing and first-time visitors works just perfect
- the most characteristic area of Munich, with plenty of history around
- short stay (2 days or less) as you won’t spend time in transportation, you will be straight in the centre of the action
- nice local German pubs within easy walking distance
- a great vibe, especially on a sunny day (Viktualienmarket Market is a must-visit)
- best shopping
- most expensive area for accommodations
- lack of green areas for the little ones (but 15 minutes from either the Englisher Garten or the Isar River)
- not much nightlife
Altstadt is German for “Old Town” which is exactly what Munich’s historic district is.
Walking in Altstadt is like having a stroll in a medieval village with the numerous neo-gothic buildings and the beautiful cobblestone pavements.
Bear in mind, though, that the capital of Bavaria was heavily bombed during WWII
Many buildings that you will see around you, were actually erected after the Second World War, with the same exact design as the original building.
In saying that, this is the best part of Munich to do some sightseeing, it will not disappoint you.
It is home to many attractions, including the world-famous Marienplatz, the heart of the city, where you will find numerous stalls, the town hall, shops and a few German pubs and cafes.
This is most definitely a popular area to stay in, and surely to visit.
And if you are planning for a long stay and looking for a fitness centre, check out Prime Time Fitness. This is my gym, hands down a great spot for some weights or aerobic exercise.
Here are 3 accommodations that you will love in the area
This is one of the best hotels in Munich, right in a stunning position, in Viktualienmarket Market, one of the areas with the best vibe in the Bavarian capital.
This is more of a 4-star hotel with a 3-star hotel price, with beautifully decorated rooms, a warm service and a view of the market (see photos here).
The U-Bahn and S-Bahn in Marienplatz are just 2 minutes away.
The Haus im Tal is right in the city centre and just a stone away from most of the attractions of Altstadt.
The rooms have been recently redesigned with a modern hotel touch, flat-screen TV and wifi is reachable everywhere.
You can decide to go for more spacious rooms with a kitchenette too.
The Hotel Am Markt is the bargain in Altstadt, right in the centre of the action, in a historic building, with a lovely cafe/bar in the basement which is so popular with drinks on a sunny afternoon, the perfect place to be.
Hidden on a corner of Viktualienmarket, it is located right in a boutique square, which makes it even more interesting.
The service and the modern rooms are just perfect, although small. Again, the price is a real bargain.
What to see, eat and drink in Altstadt
There are plenty of tourist attractions around the Old Centre.
An iconic attraction in the area is the world-renowned beer hall Hofbräuhaus München.
This restaurant/pub serves authentic Bavarian cuisine, which you get to wash down with some of the best brews in the world.
If you love beer, then this should definitely be on your list of must-visit spots.
And if you ask me, yes, it is a touristy place, but still a beautiful characteristic one.
The Viktualienmarket is also the go-to place on a sunny day, with plenty of seating areas and lots of people enjoying their own time having a drink.
You might get lost around the small lanes, but that is all part of the experience.
In addition to Hofbrauhaus, Altstadt is also home to numerous other amazing restaurants with Haxnbauer being a particular favourite among locals and visitors alike.
Their meat dishes are to die for whether you go for a steak or a more traditional stew.
You can find also lots of bars and pubs including Tobacco. This fancy cocktail bar is ideal if you want a laid-back night out after a fun day of crossing items off your bucket list and overworking your camera.
Another popular spot with the local expats is Killians Irish Pub. This one has more of an upbeat feel to it with the live music and vibrant décor.
Lehel – Where to stay in Munich for a quiet time
Lehel is the best place to stay in Munich for:
- a quiet time in the city
- family stay with small kids
- couples looking for a peaceful stay, far from the touristy areas
- a medium/long stay
- practical position, 10-15 minutes walk from the Altstadt and 5-10 minutes the English Garden
- local feeling and vibe, you will be part of the local life more than a tourist
- nice boutique shops
- not as many accommodations, usually hard to find a room or an apartment
- no nightlife
- not a wide choice of restaurants, cafes, or bars. You would have to walk to the central area for that
Lehel is part of Munich’s old town district and was together with Altstadt the first borough in the entire city.
If travelling with small children, you will enjoy the parks and playground in the Lehel area and the Englisher Garten. The most popular of these is the Spielplatz am Eisbach.
Kids will have a lot of fun playing on the swings and slides and once they are all worn out you can enjoy a peaceful picnic on the grass.
In addition to being home to so many awesome attractions, the generally quiet and calm ambience of Lehel makes it ideal for small children and toddlers.
You will get to enjoy peaceful sightseeing and lovely family walks away from the hustle and confusion of other tourist-ridden parts of town.
From Lehel, you can also easily visit the Deutsches Museum, the most beloved museum by children and adults alike.
This is a technology museum with plenty of hands-on exhibitions and interactive displays.
Lehel is also a great option if you are planning a breakaway with your partner in a peaceful part of the city, still close to all you need.
It is also conveniently close to the city centre for some fun shopping in the Bavarian craft stores.
A great restaurant to check with your family for a meal is the Ratskeller München, in Marienplatz
It has the feel of a classy castle meal and would be a great way to treat your kids to something special after a day of exploring.
This boutique hotel in the heart of Lehel is just the perfect spot for a romantic stay.
Set in an old 1800s building, the Splendid-Dollman has well-designed and furnished rooms, with plenty of space for a short or long stay.
They have also a small garden in the backyard that has to be the quietest place in the city. Still, you are a short walk from the heart of Altstadt, Marienplatz
Clean, spacious and well looked after. The Pension Mona Lisa is a no-frills accommodation with an affordable price in the heart of Munich.
It’s certainly not a boutique stay, but the rooms have one of the lowest costs in Munich. They have also family rooms.
Tip: when you book the room, ask for the 2nd floor or higher. The first floor is just above the restaurant and it can be noisy.
Planning your next breakaway?
Gärtnerplatz and Sendlinger Tor – great area for an eclectic stay
Gärtnerplatz and Sendlinger Tor are the best places to stay in Munich for:
- an eclectic stay, with a diverse choice of bars and restaurants, with German and foreign cuisine.
- walking distance to the Altstadt (5-10 minutes)
- couples looking for a cool stay
- great vibe and cool nightlife of bars and restaurants
- limited choice of accommodations
- 10 minutes walk to the closest U-Bahn station
- not the best value for money
Gärtnerplatz and Sendlinger Tor are two very eclectic parts of town where you will find all sorts of characters, from young hipsters to mature thrill-seekers.
Sendlinger Tor is also the heart of Munich’s LGBT community.
In summer, it seems as if most of Munich decides to meet and have a drink in Gärtnerplatz. Such a great vibe.
In winter, have a walk along Klenzestrasse or Reichenbachstraße to check out the bars and the boutique shops.
This is probably the coolest place to stay in Munich, although it comes at a price, also because there are not many options.
From Gärtnerplatz, you are within walking distance (10 minutes) from Marienplatz and even less from Viktualienmarket.
The closest U-Bahn station is 5-10 minutes away
The Deutsche Eiche is a 3-star hotel with a luxury hotel service and a 5-star rooftop terrace.
It is so well positioned, right metres to Gärtnerplatz, Viktualienmarket and Eataly, the Italian little world with a restaurant, a winery and a market.
Add the friendly stuff and the lovely breakfast served on the rooftop terrace to make the Deutsche Eiche one of the best choices in Munich.
What to see, eat and drink around Gärtnerplatz and Sendlinger Tor
In a nutshell, this is the hip and fun part of town and if you want to party then here are a few suggestions on where to go:
- Jaded Monkey: This is a popular watering hole in the area and is celebrated for the almost artistic nature of their bartender’s creations. The boutique little pub features unique décor, live music and an overall great vibe that you will definitely want to be a part of.
- Bar Rendezvous: This small gay club in the heart of the district has a wide selection of alcoholic drinks, party vibes and a fun layout, it is ideal if you want to interact with the LGBT community in Munich.
- Pacific Times: probably my favourite in the area. It is a bit pretentious and the food may be a touch expensive but the cocktails are great as well as the barman. Awesome spot to finish the night, open till 1 am
Hauptbahnhof – Where to stay in Munich on a budget
Hauptbahnhof (Munich Central Station) is the best place to stay in Munich for:
- a cheap stay
- close to the Oktoberfest (usually the last week of September and the first week of October)
- well-priced food (mostly Turkish)
- next to the Central Station and the S-Bahn, to go to the Airport
- the area is not very inspiring, the buildings have mostly a 70s design
- 15-20 minutes walk to the Altstadt (but only 2 stops away by U-Bahn)
- not the safest area (by Munich standards, but very safe otherwise)
The secret to having a low-budget stay in Munich without compromising on your experience is staying as close to the Central Station as possible.
In the Haupbahnhof area, you are pretty much guaranteed quick and easy access to any part of the city you might want to visit.
Actually, the whole Ludwigsvorstadt neighbourhood is ideal for budget travelling.
This is not only because it is right next to the main station but also the fact that it is one of the cheapest places to stay in all of Munich with its numerous accommodation options.
Despite the guaranteed low price tag on the trip, you will get to enjoy a truly authentic cultural experience from the bars and Turkish fruit shops to the numerous restaurants with wide-ranging menus.
And these extra luxuries come at the same pocket-friendly prices.
Here are two amazing value hotels that you should consider
The Maison Schiller is located within a 10-minute walk from the Altstadt, the Central Station and Theresienwiese, where they hold the Oktoberfest. Such a great location.
I love the interior design, so well thought after, with a beautiful mix of colours and wall-paper.
The rooms are not super spacious but they are so cosy.
This is another amazing deal to book, if still available.
I love the German Alps inspired interior design. You will really feel like in the mountains, but you are actually a stone away from everything in the city.
The garden area in the backyard will make you thinking you are on a ski trip
What to see, eat and drink around Hauptbahnhof
There are many affordable restaurants in the area.
Münchner Stubn is a great option if you want something classy, but not too expensive.
They serve a wide variety of meals borrowing from a variety of cuisines, including Bavarian and Italian.
For a more laid-back experience,California Bean would be ideal.
They serve breakfast and brunch in a quaint little establishment decked out in colourful ensembles that create an amazingly vibrant mood. Plus, their food is really amazing.
Maxvorstadt – The best place to stay in Munich for nightlife
Maxvorstadt is the best place to stay in Munich for:
- great young vibe around with many cafes and inexpensive restaurants
- close to the Munich Art District and the university
- not really within walking distance to the Altstadt. 10 minutes by Ubahn
- not a good value area for accommodations, best for just a visit
With its status as a university district, Maxvorstadt is home to Munich’s youngest and most vibrant souls.
This means that the night scene can get pretty wild and rowdy.
Accommodation availability is really scarce and not good value either.
For the above two reasons I would not recommend staying in Maxvorstadt, however, I highly suggest at least spending a night there.
Here are 3 of the best bars in the area you should definitely try out.
- StammBar: This spot is perfect for both daytime and nighttime fun. Their main attraction is the beer garden where you can also bring your own food to munch on as you enjoy your perfect surroundings. Sausages and salty chicken is also available
- Tumult: This is a basement club known for the punk rock theme in everything from the music to décor. It is perfect for a night out with some friends with their many entertainment options including live music and bar games.
- Deluxe Munich: If you want to party the night away then this is the spot for you. They are open until 4 am. and will keep you up and lively all night long with amazing live and DJ music.
Schwabing – Best area to stay in Munich for a cool and boutique getaway
Schwabing is the best places to stay in Munich for:
- a boutique stay
- cool bars and restaurants, just off the main Ludwigstrasse
- within walking distance of the English Garden, where you can have a nice morning walk or run
- a stroll between the beautiful Art Nouveau buildings
- far from Altstadt. around 10-15 minutes by Ubahn
Schwabing for the last several decades has been considered Munich’s bohemian haven.
It gained this reputation after securing its status as the ideal hideaway for artists whether painters, sculptors or even writers.
This has only been reinforced by the establishment of prominent arts and performance schools like the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München.
All these factors merge to create an almost palpable youthful energy that will make your trip worth remembering.
True, the high price of the accommodations in this neighborhood has pushed out the artists however, the vibe is still there.
Here below is one of the best value boutique stays in Munich.
The Hotel La Maison seats between the English Garden and the central Ludwigstrasse, right next to the biggest European urban park and a few cool bars and restaurants
The accommodation itself with surprise you with its creative dark design.
This is one of the best boutique stays in Munich, for its interior and location too.
What to see, eat and drink around Schwabing
You need to interact with the locals and there are no better places for this than the Schwabing bars and eateries.
One of the most popular food spots is L’Osteria. This Italian place might seem out of place surrounded by all the craft beers and sausages but it fits right in the ever so eclectic Schwabing.
The ambience is to die for but it is their pizza that keeps customers coming back.
Another popular restaurant in the area is SEEHAUS im Englischen Garten.
This is a pub/beer garden that every self-respecting beer fanatic should make a point of visiting.
The iconic eatery serves local cuisine that you get to enjoy as you sip the most amazing beers, right in front of a small lake.
Finally, if you are just in the mood to catch some drinks then you should try out Mirror Munich Bar.
This is a super sleek spot with ultra-modern décor that will make you feel like you are sipping your craft cocktails on some fancy future spaceship.
Haidhausen – Best area in Munich off the beaten path
Haidhausen is the best place to stay in Munich for:
- an off the beaten path experience, very unlikely to find any tourist around
- easy access to the Ostbahnhof Train Station
- couples looking for a quiet stay
- local feeling and vibe, you will be part of the local life more than a tourist
- nice nightlife of bars and restaurants that work for mature travellers
- limited choice of accommodations
- far from Altstadt, around 5-10 minutes by U-Bahn, 20-30 minutes walking distance
I lived in Haidausen for 4 years and I enjoyed it so much.
The buildings are mostly over 100 years old, with lots of historic properties.
It is the hidden gem of Munich, with lots of bars and restaurants that work great for a mature clientele, but not really for the young crowd.
You will feel more part of the city than on a trip.
In saying that, it’s not the most practical neighbourhood to stay. You would always need to take some form of transportation to the attractions that you have on your bucket list.
Keep also in mind that this part of the city is slightly more elevated than Altstadt.
For this reason, I suggest using an e-scooter or e-bike to get around, besides the U-Bahn, but probably not a push-bike.
A hotel here may be very practical if you plan to take a train from Ostbahnhof in the early morning.
Formerly Design Hotel Stadt Rosenheim, this boutique hotel is well positioned in a historical Paris-style building, next to Ostbahnhof, a few great bars and restaurants and the big Ferris Wheel Hi-Sky München.
This is a family-run boutique hotel with luxurious and cosy rooms and great service.
What to see, eat and drink in Haidhausen
Haidausen has a more mature crowd and, as a result, it has a more laid back, albeit very active, night scene.
If you are in the area and in the mood for a fun night out, here are the top two bars you should check out.
- Barroom: This cocktail bar has a pretty laid-back vibe with the ambience provided by the perfect combination of dim lighting and wood décor themes. They make amazing cocktails including exotic options you might only ever get to try there.
- EscoBar: This spot is ideal if you want to do more than just drink the night away. The bar doubles up as a Tex-Mex restaurant. So you can grab a bite as you keep up with an ice-cold drink on the side.
Saigon Deli is now my favourite Vietnamese place in Munich. I love the interior and the food is just so tasty and yummy. Go there for the lunch specials when you will end up paying around E10 for a main.
For a cheap meal out, Pizzesco is also ideal. They make artisanal pizzas with the most exotic ingredients which turn an everyday lazy snack into a “fine dining experience”.
For an outdoor walk, you should definitely visit Maximiliansanlagen Park. This picturesque green space is just ideal for those sunny warm days.
You can also think of watching a movie at the Museum Lichtspiele, the only cinema with original language movies in this part of the city.
Where to stay in Munich – FAQ
Best place to stay in Munich for nightlife
Short answer: Maxvorstadt for a young crowd, Haideusen for a grownup clientele and Gärtnerplatz for the cool vibe
Long answer: Munich is one of Europe’s most popular party cities.
I mean these legends basically invented Oktoberfest and have some of the best craft beers in the world.
In addition to these better-known party attractions, the city has a pretty vibrant night scene.
Maxvorstadt, Haideusen and Gärtnerplatz, in particular, will allow you to truly appreciate this fact with their vibrant vibes and a never-ending list of clubs and bars to hit up.
Where to stay in Munich for Oktoberfest
Short answer: Theresienwiese and Hauptbahnhof areas are the places to be and stay during the Oktoberfest. Start your first drink as early as 10 am and finish your last by 10:30 pm. Two great accommodations are the Maison Schiller and Cocoon Hauptbahnhof.
Long answer: Oktoberfest is without a doubt the single most iconic beer festival in the world.
It is a celebration of good music, good company and most importantly; good brews.
The main event is held every year in Munich, the end of September, and is an explosion of colour and energy, unlike any other event in the region.
There are numerous tents selling everything from craft beers to souvenirs.
There are also numerous entertainment options to keep you and your group busy including fun-themed rides and live music.
If it has been on your bucket list and you are finally planning your visit then the best place to book your stay would be in Theresienwiese or close to Hauptbahnhof (the central station).
This will put you in the heart of all the action allowing you quick access to all the fun activities.
Where to stay in Munich for Christmas markets
Short answer: Altstadt, or the historical centre, is the best neighbourhood to stay in to appreciate the Christmas markets. You will be next to the biggest market in Marienplatz and close to other hidden ones. Three great accommodations are the Hotel Am Markt, the Haus im Tal and the Louis Hotel.
Long answer: Christmas in Germany is pretty magical but no one does it better than the people of Munich.
From immaculate decorations to cheerful festive music, there will be no dull moment in your entire trip.
The Christmas markets feature a variety of stands selling everything from mauled wine to handmade crafts for that last-minute gift shopping.
They take it a notch higher with traditions like the Krampus run and nightly group carolling which makes the experience a lot more personal.
Altstadt is the best area to stay in Munich for Christmas markets.
If you want access to numerous markets not just in the centre but elsewhere in Munich it would be best to stay close to the metro.
The weather can be quite cold in December and being close to a U-Bahn station means that you will not spend too much time out commuting.
Best area to stay in Munich with a family
Short answer: Lehel and Haidhausen are both great places to stay with children. They are very quiet and mostly residential. Lehel, in my opinion, works best, being close to Altstadt and the English Garden. Pension Mona Lisa is an affordable accommodation for a small family. Altstadt is busy, but still perfect for a family stay. Haus im Tal has great apartments, perfect for a stay with children.
Long answer: Munich is a great place to visit with kids mainly because of the numerous attractions and child-friendly facilities.
There are, however, two specific parts of the town that stand out as being ideal for this kind of trip.
One, Lehel, caters to the needs of small kids and the other, Haidausen, is perfect if you have your hard-to-please teens along for the trip.
In saying that, Altstadt would make everyone happy, parents and kids of any age.
Munich is overall a quiet city, and the city centre (Altstadt) does not have much nightlife anyway.
How to get around Munich
The public transportation system is just outstanding, with the U-Bahn and S-Bahn covering most of the city, and the busses and trams reaching what is left of.
Sharing options are also available widely around the city with scooters and bikes at every corner.
For day trips, I also suggest renting a shared car as an option.
You can read my full review on the SHARE NOW service, with all you need to know to book your car.
What if my hotel is far from the SBahn or UBahn?
Pre-order an airport transfer that will wait for you directly at the airport. So easy.