Munich or Berlin: Which German City to Visit?

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by Hope Brotherton


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Planning a trip to Germany will require holidaymakers to make some tough choices, and one of those will be choosing which city to visit. Many first-time travellers to the country will be debating whether to explore Munich or Berlin before anywhere else.

While Berlin is Germany’s trendy capital, Munich offers visitors a deep sense of Bavarian history and German culture. The stark contrast between the two cities will leave tourists torn over where to headfirst.

If you’re struggling to decide, read our guide all about the key differences between Munich and Berlin to figure out where to stay on your next (or very first) German adventure.

Munich

Situated in the south of Germany, Munich is the capital of Bavaria. For three weeks every autumn, Munich plays host to the world-famous Oktoberfest. During this time, the city comes alive with both revellers and locals looking to indulge in traditional German food and a Wiessbeer – or several – inside one of the festival’s beer halls.

Even though this event only takes place for a few weeks, it’s the traditional culture, history and food and drink that keeps tourists flocking back to Munich again and again.

New Town Hall in Munich
New Town Hall in Munich

Accessibility

When deciding between a stay in Munich or Berlin, you’ll be thinking about how accessible they both are for tourists to travel into and around.

For international travellers, arriving at Munich International Airport is a breeze and Munich Central Station is well-connected for those arriving by train from other nearby European cities – you can view train schedules here.

The city itself is highly easy to navigate through the use of the city’s extensive public transport network. To hop around the city easily, make the most of the U-Bahn and S-Bahn as well as local buses and tram links.

In Munich’s historical centre, tourists will be able to visit the large majority of key attractions on foot because many are within a short walking distance of one another.

However, if you’re looking to adventure further afield and explore the Bavaria Alps or spend the day gazing up in wonder at the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein, you might want to hire a car.

In order to reach these must-see destinations, hiring a car takes the stress out of navigating long and winding journeys on public transport. You can browse options on Rentalcars.com which compares prices across several companies.

That being said, these excursions are doable without hiring a car, so the choice is up to the individual tourist.

Munich Hauptbahnhof
Munich Hauptbahnhof

Affordability

It’s a well-known fact that Munich is one of the most expensive cities in Germany. Those who live in the Bavarian capital will be well aware of the high living costs, but these higher price tags often trickle down into the pockets of unsuspecting tourists too.

Budget travellers would do well to avoid Munich when the Oktoberfest is in full swing. If your only travel dates are during that period and you are debating between Berlin vs Munich, then Berlin would better serve a budget traveller.

This is because prices in Munich will skyrocket and some tourists will struggle to see the main attractions or book a table in a restaurant.

Generally, Munich is a pricey place to visit all year round. If you’re on a tighter budget, make the most of combination tickets and museum deals if you can. Holidaymakers counting the coppers should avoid taxis and challenge themselves to navigate the tube network instead.

Several of Munich’s palaces come with a whopping price tag, so skip the insides entirely and wander around their luscious grounds for a great of fresh air.

While Munich can be affordable for everyone, with a few budgetary tricks, it’s certainly a city where a deep pocket wouldn’t go amiss.

Things to do in Munich

The Bavaria capital has a lot of activities, museums and other cultural attractions all waiting to be explored.

Munich is home to hundreds of years of history and visitors heading to the city should aim to make a beeline for the city’s old town. There you’ll find Munich’s new town hall (Neues Rathaus).  This Neo-Gothic building is a striking structure on Munich’s skyline.

The new town hall is situated in front of the Marienplatz, a 12th-century square teeming with history, including the famous Marian column, and a Christmas market in the winter months too.

A short walk away and you’ll find yourself at St Peter’s church – the oldest church in the city, The church is situated atop of a small hill, so it’s well worth the climb up the church’s 299 steps to reach the top and take in all the views. 

St. Peter's Church
St. Peter’s Church

To escape from the hordes of the old town, make the most of the city’s green spaces by taking a walk through Englischer Garten. This sprawling park is one of the largest city parks in Europe. If this is a little out of your way, then there’s also the Olympic Park, too – another great place to stretch the legs.

It’s a city packed full of art galleries too, including the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, the Pinakothek Der Moderne and the Lenbachhaus. Munich is also home to a couple of museums including the Deutsche Museum (not to be missed) and the BMW Museum.

When you visit Munich, you’ll find that it certainly has a lot to offer. But no trip to the city would be complete without heading to the Hofbrauhaus. This is the city’s famous beer garden and hall where tourists and locals alike grab a beer and a pretzel after a long day.

Englischer Garten
Englischer Garten

Where to Stay in Munich

Hotel MIO – This comfortable hotel in central Munich is a great option for mid-range travellers. They have a range of modern amenities and there’s also breakfast available each morning.

Platzl Hotel – For those after a luxury stay in Munich, you’re sure to love this plush hotel close to the Hofbrauhaus Brewery. They have a range of rooms and suites along with amenities like an on-site gym and spa, bar and restaurant.

Euro Youth Hostel – As one of the top-rated hostels in the city, solo or budget travellers are sure to love this spot. They have both dorms and private rooms available and there is an on-site bar and breakfast available each morning.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Munich!

Marienplatz town hall and Frauenkirche in Munich
Marienplatz town hall and Frauenkirche in Munich

Berlin

Germany’s capital city lies in the north of the country. It’s where political history is waiting to be unearthed on every corner. It’s where street art comes alive with important messaging. It’s also where world-famous museums and their previous artefacts reside.

As a capital city, it oozes cool, with an abundance of trendy nightclubs, music venues and concerts letting performers take to the stage each and every day. The city is also teeming with delicious restaurants that serve global cuisine (fussy eaters welcome).

Berlin is a place that will certainly have tourists spoilt for choice. If you’re deciding whether to visit Berlin vs the Bavarian capital, Berlin is the place that will have a little bit of something for everyone.

Accessibility

Just like Munich, Berlin is a highly accessible city. Berlin Brandenburg Airport opened its doors a few years ago and welcomes passengers from all over the world. The city’s central station also has great connections for passengers arriving by train or interrailing across Europe.

Tourists exploring Berlin won’t even need to think about hiring a car. That being said, Berlin is a big, sprawling city, and it cannot be explored just by walking around.

The best way to explore the city is to purchase a travel pass that includes journeys made on Berlin’s extensive train and tram network.

While some of Berlin’s attractions are clustered together. For example, Berlin’s cathedral and the museums on Museum Island, or the Brandenburg Gate is a short walk away from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, these clusters are often far away from one another.

Walking between sites would take far too long, so save your feet and grab a travel pass for your city break.

Even though Berlin might be too sprawling to explore on foot, tourists can also hire a bike for as little as €5 each day.

The U Bahn in Berlin
The U-Bahn in Berlin

Affordability

Any city break in Western Europe is likely to lean on the more expensive side of any budget, especially in comparison to popular Eastern European destinations. While it isn’t the most expensive city to visit in Germany, prices in Berlin can require a bit of cash to explore every twist and turn well. 

On average, a visit to Berlin will cost around €55 to €170 per person per day. Affordable accommodation can be found for as little €25 a night in the form of hostels, while luxury hotels will cost much more. Given this scope in pricing, there will be a bed that meets everyone’s budget.

Like with Munich, tourists are advised to make the most of Berlin’s combination passes – these are especially great if you’re on a budget but want to see several famous landmarks or museums.

Eating cheap (and well) is easy in Berlin. Street vendors selling Currywurst and Doner kebabs are perched on every corner – there you can grab a substantial meal for as little as €5. 

Homeless faces in Berlin street art
Street art in Berlin

Things to do in Berlin

When you’re deciding between Berlin and Munich for a city break, it’s worth thinking about what you’re going to do while you’re away on a city break.

A first-time visit to Berlin is an incredible experience. It’s a city that certainly packs a punch, but in order to be left in awe there are a number of attractions you won’t want to miss including a stroll through the Brandenburg Gate, a visit to the glass dome of the Reichstag and a climb up the TV tower.

Other famous landmarks worth visiting include Berlin Cathedral, Berlin’s East Side Gallery, the Holocaust Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie. Berlin is home to several palaces too including Charlottenburg Palace and Bellevue Palace, both of which are exquisite.

Visitors to the city could easily spend a day exploring all that Museum Island has to offer. This UNESCO World Heritage site houses some of the world’s best museums including the Pergamon Museum and the Neues Museum.

A trip to Berlin wouldn’t be complete without gorging on some of the city’s diverse food options, and making sure you take a bite of currywurst from one of the local street vendors.

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
The Famous Brandenburg Gate

Where to Stay in Berlin

Shulz Hotel Berlin Wall – Situated in the hip Freidrichsten neighbourhood, this mid-range hotel is well-located for exploring the East Side Gallery and other top sites in Berlin. They have a myriad of clean, bright and comfortable rooms available, and a restaurant and bar on site.

Hotel Q! Berlin – Those looking for a luxury option in the German capital are sure to love this hotel. Located in the Charlottenburg neighbourhood, they have a range of lovely rooms available, lots of amenities (including a spa!), and a fantastic location for exploring the city.

Downtown Apartments Mitte – For those who would like the amenities of a hotel but the convenience of their own flat in the German capital, then you’re sure to love this aparthotel. They have a range of lovely, fully furnished apartments located in Berlin’s Mitte neighbourhood that can suit all kinds of groups.

Sunflower Hostel – If you’re travelling solo or on a tight budget, then this hostel is an excellent choice. They have a range of both dorm and private rooms, a central location, and have breakfast available each morning. There are also good common areas to meet other travellers.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Berlin hotels!

Checkpoint Charlie sign
Checkpoint Charlie sign

Munich or Berlin: The Verdict

If you’re tossing up a trip between Munich vs Berlin, then we don’t blame you, because both have a lot to offer.

Munich should be your city of choice if you enjoy exploring old churches, beautiful fairytale castles, and you’re looking to experience a traditional slice of German life. It’s an affluent city too and feels safe wandering around the city during the day and heading out to dinner in the evening.

However, if this doesn’t sound like a trip you’d enjoy, then head to Berlin.

In comparison, Berlin is an intoxicatingly young city. While it’s packed with famous landmarks and powerful museums, it also has a busy nightlife with exciting clubs opening all the time, concerts and gigs playing every day of the week and much more.

That being said, if you’re interested in political history and street art, a holiday to Berlin will be the trip for you.

It’s impossible to city whether Berlin or Munich is better than the other because both offer something alternative depending on the type of city break you’re after. Whichever city you choose, you’ll have a fantastic time enjoying what Germany has to offer.

Are you choosing between Munich and Berlin? Have any questions about either city? Let us know in the comments!

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Hope is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Birmingham, England, she is passionate about budget-friendly travel and incorporating greener and more eco-friendly travel into her adventures. She keeps returning to Italy but loves to travel around any European country.

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