A few years ago the tourist board in Munich, Germany's third largest city after Berlin and Hamburg, conducted a global survey to see what the city was best known for.

The answer, perhaps rather predictably was beer, Bayern Munich and the BMW - (or the Bayerische Motoren Werke if you want to use Germanic precision).

There is much more to the delightful, multicoloured and multicultural capital of Bavaria than these three things of course. It has highbrow art, it's high tech and has fabulous drinking establishments and restaurants.

And for those with a historical perspective, the fact that Munich was the birthplace of Nazism will not have escaped their attention.

Today however, Munich is the third most visited city in Germany and its popularity is still growing.

It's bustling, bright, welcoming and safe.

The city is deceptive. Much of its looks old, but it isn't. Most of it was rebuilt after the Allied destruction of the Second World War. While Berlin chose not to recreate the past when it started again after 1945, Munich took the opposite approach.

Indeed the only significant original structure still remaining is the beautiful Gothic Rathaus or City Hall, the centrepiece of Munich's main square, the lively and enchanting Marienplatz.

So the central heart of Munich is a cheek by jowl mix of the seemingly old and the relentlessly modern and is no less charming for that.

Other highlights of the central area are the stunning St Michael's Church and the nearby Frauenkirche, also rebuilt, with its two distinctive bell towers.

Further afield is the much visited Olympic Park (around 4km from the centre) built for the games of 1972.

A trip up the Olympic Tower affords a great panorama across the city and over to the Alps.

On the edge of the park and next to its huge production facility, sits BMW Welt (World) which is free to enter. But it's largely a glorified showroom and is a waste of an hour unless you're interested in cars.

Less than a hour by train from the central station (Hauptbahnhof) is Fussen, home to the fairytale castle of Neueschwanstein and its neighbour Hohenschwangau.

It was built by King Ludwig 2 who was declared mad shortly afterwards, went bankrupt and then drowned mysteriously in a lake. Disney's Sleeping Beauty castle is said to be modelled on Neueschwanstein and it is certainly stunning and worth the trip, as are the beautiful Schloss Nymphenburg and the English Garden.

More recent and darker history can be found in an excursion to the concentration camp of Dachau and in the city centre itself.

In and around Odeonsplatz area of Munich, the Nazi Party was formed and Hitler staged his unsuccessful Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. He was jailed, wrote Mein Kampf and eight years later was democratically elected Reichs Chancellor.

It took Munich decades to come to terms with its place in history as the birthplace of National Socialism.

No visit to Munich could possibly be complete (especially during Oktoberfest) without a few minutes inside the world's most famous beer hall, the Hofbräuhaus. Prost!


An ideal location for you trip to Munich is the four star Maritim hotel, a few yards from the central station. It has a range of rooms and suites, pool and sauna and excellent restaurant and bar.

You can fly conveniently to Munich from Southampton with BMI Regional on the full service 45-seat EMB145.