The Germans themselves consistently rank Munich as the country's most livable city and once you visit you'll see why. With a relatively mild climate and sprawling parks and gardens the city has quite a different feel than most of Europe's other major cities. Munich is the capital of the southern state of Bavaria and is probably most famous for its yearly Oktoberfest celebration and its consistently successful football club, but there is obviously a lot more to it than that.

What to do

The city is centered around Marienplatz and its impressive old town hall. From there you can walk along the cobblestone streets and through the city's main shopping district to check out the famous Hofbrauhaus, which is touristy as hell, but still a very worthwhile scene on your first visit. Speaking of beer, Munich's world famous Oktoberfest actually runs for 16 days starting in mid September and ends on the first Sunday in October. It's a blast, but avoid visiting the city during that time if you aren't intending to imbibe because it gets crowded and expensive during the festival.

For a sample of the good life that the locals lead, head to the Englischergarden, which is very similar New York's Central Park, but this one has great outdoor dining in the center as well as a huge beer garden. Not far away is the BMW Factory and Museum, which is open for tours. Just on the outskirts of town you canvisit the Dachau concentration camp. It may not sound like fun, but it is as unforgettable as it is sobering and is highly recommended.

Munich has a compact center, but then spreads out quite a bit from there. Fortunately they have an excellent public transportation system, and it's also the sort of city you might consider renting a bike or taking an organized bike tour.

Getting there

Flights to Munich International Airport can be reasonable, but at times you might find a better deal by flying into larger Frankfurt Airport and then taking the train to Munich. The airport is not near the city center, but it is connected to the S-Bahn transport system so for a reasonable fee you can take that into the main city train station in about 40 minutes.

Where to stay

The area surrounding the main train station is filled with both hotels and hostels in all price ranges. It's a fairly safe area so it's not a bad place to stay, particularly if you are arriving in Munich by train. There are accommodations all over town, but in such a large city it's important to weigh price with accessibility to the things you want to see. A cheap hotel suddenly isn't such a bargain if it's 30 minutes outside of the city center.