Munich or Frankfurt: Which German City to Visit?

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by Paola Drexler

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When planning a trip to Germany there are always a few must-see big cities at the top of your bucket list, but sometimes the circumstances don’t allow you to see them all. So out of all the beautiful cities, you might be wondering whether to visit Munich or Frankfurt.

While the two cities are different from each other, they are both loved for those differences. Whether you’re looking to experience a more traditional German city or a strong financial capital or even if you don’t know which side you’re leaning towards, we’ll help you decide which city is right for you.

In general, Munich is an excellent choice for those looking for a classical Bavarian experience and proximity to fairytale-like castles. On the other hand, Frankfurt is an excellent choice for those trying to stick to a tighter budget and who are looking to spend time in a modern German city.


As the capital of the state of Bavaria, Munich is not only popular for its traditions, beer and culture but also for its widely known Oktoberfest celebrations.

The city is located north of the Bavarian Alps and has the River Isar flowing through it. Something you may have not heard before is that Munich is also known as the “Home of the Monks” because of its long history that is believed to date back to 750 CE with the Benedictine monastery in Tegernsee.

Munich skyline
Munich skyline


If your first destination is Munich and you’re flying into the city, your closest airport will be the Munich Airport which is less than 40 km from the city centre. From the airport to the city, you can rent a car, take a train or get a ride with a private transfer.

Munich also has great train connections from other nearby cities such as Salzburg, Cologne or Dusseldorf so it is easily accessible by international train as well. You can view train schedules here.

Once you’re in the city you can walk to most attractions, immersing yourself in the city on your own or on a walking tour.

When you get tired of walking or for further destinations, you can purchase a CityTourCard Munich for unlimited public transportation rides and discounts around the city for only €17.50 per person for 24 hours.

Depending on the length of your stay the price varies per day and you can save the more days you pay for.

Munich Hauptbahnhof
Munich Hauptbahnhof


Munich is one of the most expensive cities in Germany both from a cost-of-living standpoint and also from a tourism perspective. In general, it can also be more expensive to visit than cities like Berlin and Hamburg and also Frankfurt.

Although Munich is more expensive than Frankfurt, most cities have seen an increase in living costs due to inflation and the pandemic. When travelling in Munich, you might notice the higher prices, but it’s still possible to travel there on a budget.

Average prices in Munich tend to be a bit more expensive than those of Frankfurt for tourist activities, with everything from a meal in a restaurant to accommodation being a bit more inflated. And, in general, if you’re trying to figure out a key difference between Frankfurt and Munich, you will find Frankfurt to be a cheaper city.

Of course, you can splurge on food at fancy restaurants, which can increase your spending significantly, or you can also eat delicious street or market food and even buy snacks at a grocery store.

Although Munich is generally expensive, you can still visit it on any budget size. So if you’re not any closer to deciding between Frankfurt or Munich, let’s explore what Munich has to offer.

St. Peter's Church
St. Peter’s Church

Things to do in Munich

As far as German cities go, Munich is very traditional, safe and just what you would expect a German city to be like. The city prides itself on its traditions, beer, food and huge Oktoberfest.

There are countless places to visit in Munich and it makes for an excellent stand-along vacation destination.

On the Marienplatz, you’ll find it full of both tourists and locals alike. The square was founded back in 1158 and has been the heart of the city not only because it’s a gathering place but also because it is the meeting point of most of the significant streets in the city. If you’re visiting in the winter, you can join in the holiday celebrations at the Christmas market in the square.

At this popular square, you’ll find the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, which is Munich’s New Town Hall and the mesmerising clock display that with its 32 life-sized figures and 43 bells tells little stories to those stopping by to admire it.  You can book a walking tour of the area if you want to learn more about the history.

In the area, you’ll come across St Peter’s Church which is home to many historical valuables along with a great view of the city from the top of the church tower. From the church, you will find the Viktualiemarkt or Victuals Market, which at its ripe age of 200 years old is the oldest farmers market in Germany.

Many visitors come from all over to experience Bavaria’s traditions at the famous old beer hall Hofbräuhaus where you’ll get some of the best food in the region like mouthwatering Bavarian sausages, pretzels, beer, sauerkraut and fried potatoes.

It’s also rich in history, with its brewery opening in 1589 and public admissions in 1828. It’s an excellent cultural experience. You can book a beer and food tour to learn more!

At the Glockenbachviertel, visitors can experience a trendy neighbourhood that does nightlife right and keeps you young at heart and spirit. You can take a stroll and explore the massive English Garden, including its beer gardens, waterfall and many other treasures in the park.

Englischer Garten
Englischer Garten

For those interested in Bavaria’s royal history, visiting the Residenz palace can give you a taste of what it was like to be part of the Wittelsbach monarchs. It is also possible to see an evening concert at the venue. Just a short 10-minute walk from the city centre, you can explore another magnificent Baroque palace, known as the Nymphenburg Palace.

The impressive palace can give Buckingham and Versailles a run for their money with its expansive gardens and stunning rooms. Nearby is also the Olympiapark München, which was created in honour of the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Roughly 110km outside of the city centre but totally worth the distance, you’ll find the world-famous and magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle. You can also book a guided tour here. If the castle wasn’t enough, which it is, you can visit a second castle called Hohenschwangau that is just as impressive and in the same area.

These castles can help you in deciding whether to pick Frankfurt or Munich to visit, but additional activities in Munich include museum trips to Alte Pinakothek or Deutsches Museum, visiting Midnightbazar for some night flea market adventures and catching a wave surfing at the Eisbach in the English Garden.

If you’re in Munich in the middle of September or early October, you can join in the celebration of Oktoberfest, but all year round you will find fun ways to enjoy the city. 


Where to Stay in Munich

Hotel MIO – This mid-range hotel is perfect for those looking for a comfortable stay in Munich. They have a range of rooms on offer, a great location and an option to include breakfast in the mornings.

Platzl Hotel – Those after a luxury option while visiting the Bavarian capital will love this hotel location near the Hofbräuhaus Brewery. They have a range of plush rooms on offer and other amenities like an on-site gym and spa, bar and restaurant for guests to enjoy.

Euro Youth Hostel – Budget and solo travellers will love this highly-rated hostel in the centre of Munich. Offering both dorms and private rooms, there are great self-catering facilities and common areas, including an on-site bar.

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


As one of the top financial capitals of the world and located along the Main river, Frankfurt is referred to as Germany’s “Mainhattan.” Frankfurt is rich in culture and history, no matter how much damage it endured through wars, it has rebuilt and now has the perfect balance of old and new to share with visitors.


As one of the largest flight hubs, Frankfurt is a popular gateway into Europe or often a nice layover stop on your way to other destinations. The city is accessible through most modes of transportation, whether you prefer to drive, fly or catch a ride, it’s easy to get to it and get around.

When flying into the city, Frankfurt Airport is the closest and best option. However, there are a few alternatives including Hahn, which houses many budget airlines. If you don’t mind travelling an additional one hour by train or more than two hours by car, Cologne and Stuttgart are the next closest airports.

From the airport, the city centre is about a 20-minute ride with a tram or car away so you can decide to take a train or bus, rent a car or a private transfer to the city.

For those travelling from another European city, Frankfurt is easily reached from most cities by train. The Frankfurt Train Station is perfectly located in the city’s centre so whether you’re coming from Hamburg, Berlin or Munich you can get to Frankfurt. You can view train schedules here.

Getting around the city is also no problem since many of the main sights of interest are near each other and you can hop on a bus or tram to reach the ones further out. You’ll soon find out that the German transport system is one of the best to use and pretty straightforward.

You’ll have the option to buy single-ride tickets at most stations, or you can purchase a Frankfurt Card to use on trains and buses. The card also comes with additional perks like free entry or discounted prices to city attractions and even to certain restaurants in the city.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof


Regarding affordability between Frankfurt vs Munich, Frankfurt takes the win since we’ve established that Munich is known for being the most expensive city in Germany.

If you’re looking for a budget trip, you can stay at a hostel or private room instead of a hotel. You’ll notice that in Germany hostels and hotels are nearly the same thing.

For transportation, you can save some cash if you purchase the Frankfurt Card. You can also choose to explore on foot which is free and allows you to really experience all the city has to offer.

To save money, you can buy basic foods at a grocery store, that are either pre-made or easy to cook at your accommodation. Another fun and affordable alternative is simply strolling the various markets and getting delicious takeaway snacks like a Frankfurter sausage with bread or fries.

Frankfurt Opera House
Frankfurt Opera House

Things to do in Frankfurt

Being Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt is beloved for more than just its delicious sausages and culture. The city welcomes people from all over the globe and its resilience is admirable.

You’ll see this in the city’s architecture, for example in Altstadt. Although this beautiful part of the town was destroyed or damaged numerous times, it was rebuilt to its original form to continue to share Frankfurt’s history.

In the Old Town, you’ll find the iconic Römerberg, which translates to Roman Mountain although you’ll see it’s not a real mountain but rather high wooden houses.

Around Christmas time, the city’s Christmas market sets up right in front of the Römer and since the 15th century, it has been the home to Frankfurt’s city hall. You can book a guided walking tour of the Old Town to learn more about the history.

In the area, you’ll also find the “new old town” which looks similar to the Römer but a more modern version of it and is known as the DomRömer Quarter. When you reach it you might even experience some deja vu, but quickly you’ll notice the vibrant colours that contrast with the original Römer. The goal of the reconstruction of this square was to modernise the city and it accomplished just that.

Frankfurt Old Town
Frankfurt Old Town

Around the city, you’ll find significant little finance-related landmarks, like the Bull and Bear in front of the stock exchange and the Euro-Skulptur, or Euro sculpture located on Willy-Brandt-Platz. In this area, where the Innenstadt begins, you’ll also find the impressive Alte Oper building.

The old concert hall was built in 1880 and then rebuilt much larger in 1981 after the war. Nearby you’ll see the skyscrapers made of the Banking District, which adds to the uniqueness of the city where the old and new buildings mix perfectly to create the city’s stunning skyline. 

In the Hauptwache, you’ll immediately understand why they call it one of the most famous plazas when you see the skyline, St. Catherine’s Church, the Hauptwache building and how alive the city feels. Close by you’ll have a couple of the numerous lovely churches and museums Frankfurt has to offer, like St Paul’s Church and Goethe House.

For those looking for some time to shop, Zeil street is the perfect place for you. The Galeria Kaufhof is one of the largest department stores if you want to shop most of the well-known brands or you can continue on to the other shops along the shopping street.

To get a breathtaking panoramic view of Frankfurt, the Main Tower is the perfect place to go. From the viewing platform, you’ll get to see the whole city from above and if you get there at the right time you might even catch an incredible sunset.

There is still so much left to see of Frankfurt, for example on the other side of the Main you have Sachsenhausen and on both sides, there’s the Museumsufer, or Museum Embankment, as well as the Palmengarten just a little outside the still centre. If not now, then in the future, Frankfurt is definitely worth the visit.


Where to Stay in Frankfurt

Motel One Frankfurt-Römer – Mid-range travellers will love this hip hotel. Located in the old town, they have countless lovely rooms to choose from, an excellent central location and even have a hearty breakfast buffet on offer each morning.

Scandic Frankfurt Museumsufer – If you’re looking for luxury while in this modern German city, then this centrally-located hotel is a great option. Situated close to all the city has to offer, they have a range of lovely rooms available, several amenities and a fantastic buffet breakfast on offer each morning.

Aparthotel Adagio Frankfurt City Messe – Those looking for the convenience of staying in yur own flat with the amenities of a hotel will love this aparthotel in central Frankfurt. Located within easy reach of the city’s top sites, they have a range of apartments on offer and there’s even breakfast available in the mornings.

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

Modern Frankfurt
Modern Frankfurt

Munich vs Frankfurt: Which is Better to Visit

There’s a lot to consider when deciding whether to visit Munich or Frankfurt. Munich is best for those who want to delve deep into Bavarian culture, spend their days sightseeing and see historical attractions and castles.

If you’re on a strict budget and want to experience a more modern German city then Frankfurt might be the better choice. Frankfurt Airport is also a larger hub so it might give you better connections depending on where you’re coming from.

Both cities are amazing and unique in their own way, you can’t go wrong when picking either!

There are a lot of differences between Munich and Frankfurt, however, both are dynamic and diverse cities that are very much worth exploring in their own right.

Are you wondering whether to visit Frankfurt or Munich? Have any questions about either city? Let us know in the comments!

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Paola is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the state of Arizona in the USA, she lived in Germany before moving to the United Kingdom. Paola loves spending her free time travelling in Europe and sometimes ever further afield.

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