Munich and Frankfurt are two of Germany’s most well-known cities for different reasons. Munich is one of the country’s best beer towns, with a wealth of historical sites that give the city a fairy-tale-like vibe. While Frankfurt dazzles you with its impressive skyline and its eclectic mix of allures.
Given their varying draws, one of these beautiful cities is a better fit for your vacation. But to figure this out, you’ll have to get to know them more.
A city often overshadowed by the capital city, Munich demands a closer look before you pigeonhole it as the second capital of Germany. It’s known for being a powerhouse in the beer scene, and the home of the world-famous Oktoberfest. But with all its other allures, you’ll quickly figure out why Munich is the crown jewel of Bavaria.
Munich is the intoxicating marriage between old-world tradition and vibrant modern life. Castles and other historical monuments coexist here with futuristic buildings. The city’s art scene thrives with timeless pieces and celebrates contemporary and street art.
And despite being a large city, it retains much of its small-town charm. Spoiling you with a plethora of choices from its museums, beer gardens, stores, and more, Munich’s eclectic mix of allures is why so many fall in love with it.
What Makes Munich Unique?
Fairy-Tale-Like Historical Sites
Though a large city, Munich is brimming with history on every corner. With a wealth of historically significant sites, you’re never too far away from a chance to enrich your trip to Munich. And with a wide array of historical landmarks in Munich, you’re spoiled for choice on how you want to travel back in time.
Play pretend as you wander through an enchanting castle. Munich has five fairy-tale-like castles in the city alone and much more on its outskirts.
Linderhof Castle is an extravagant structure styled in French architecture. It screams luxury for its incredibly detailed decorations both on its exterior and interior. With a lush park around it that features statues, ponds, and fountains, this castle looks like it’s straight out of a storybook.
You can also walk through a square that has been the center of Munich since 1158.
The Marienplatz Square is an iconic sight in Munich that’s served the locals for many years. Fringing this medieval square are lavish gothic buildings and detailed stone gargoyles. But the star here is the memorial statue of the Virgin Mary, which commemorates the end of Swedish rule in the city.
This square has served the community for many years with markets, tournaments, and public gatherings. Today, it’s a bustling tourist attraction that also hosts Munich’s Christmas Market.
Perhaps you’d like to walk among the royals in a luxurious palace?
Among the city’s most impressive structures is the Munich Residenz. This used to be the home of the monarchs, the Wittelsbach family, who ruled Bavaria for over 700 years. Wander through hundreds of rooms and get a glimpse of the lavish life they used to live.
Stroll around the king and queen’s rooms, and marvel at the palace’s dedicated church, and even its own theater.
Museums of All Kinds
Munich is a bustling cultural hub, evident in its eclectic collection of museums. And when it comes to this draw, Munich wins both in quantity and quality. With over 80 museums in the city ranging from cars to art and even to potatoes, there’s something for everyone’s interest here.
Art lovers will spend hours marveling at the artworks in Lenbachhaus. This museum holds an impressive collection of 20th-century art by the Expressionist group, Der Blaue Reiter.
If you’d rather see urban art, the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art is a celebration of street art. The first of its kind in the country, exhibitions here feature big names such as Banksy.
Car enthusiasts will have an unforgettable time in Munich, as it’s the cradle of BMW. The world-famous BMW museum features the company’s first models to the latest ones. Whether you like cars or not, the museum’s futuristic technology and high interactivity will make for an exciting trip.
If you’re an adventurous nature lover, the Alpine Museum will deepen your appreciation for the Alps. It covers both the scientific and aesthetic aspects of the Alps year-round. But they also set up temporary exhibitions for other topics, such as climate change.
To further learn about Munich’s history, make your way to the NS Dokuzentrum. More than a museum, it’s a place of remembrance for the rise of national socialism in the city.
It stands at the site of the former Nazi headquarters, the Brown House. It details the socialist’s ideology through various media, aiming to give visitors something to reflect on.
A Modern City With Countryside Charms
Despite being the third largest city in Germany, Munich feels small and intimate. It may be due to its lack of skyscrapers or its reputation as a highly walkable and bike-friendly city. But no one can deny that its wealth of natural wonders also plays a big part in this.
Munich is an incredibly green city with a plethora of lush public parks to choose from. And with mountains and lakes nearby, nature is right at your doorstep in this bustling city.
Wandering around Munich, you’re always surrounded by nature. With tons of green pockets to choose from, it’s easy to see why Munich is famous for its greenery.
Right at the heart of Munich is a sprawling, emerald-clad land known as the English Garden. This 18th-century park is the best way to experience Munich’s natural beauty.
The English Garden is larger than New York’s famous Central Park. So you can just imagine the wealth of natural attractions that fit here!
Right within the park are beer gardens that offer a vast array of beers and snacks. Dotting the area are bodies of water from lakes to streams, and there’s always a meadow nearby for picnics.
What’s more unusual is that you may even find crowds of surfers in the park. The Eisbachwelle River runs through the English Garden. And for over 40 years, surfers have flocked here to ride the waves.
If you’re looking for another place to cool off, then Munich offers other options. Why not try to head to a lake at the foot of a mountain instead?
What sets Munich apart from other German cities is its proximity to the amazing Alps. Just take a train and you’ll be there in a jiffy!
You can explore the enchanting Bavarian Alps year-round. Wander through meadows, and forests, and take a dip in the rivers. Get a kick of adrenaline at ski resorts or explore quaint meadow-side villages.
In Munich, you’ll have tons of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature!
Endless Exhilarating Events
Munich is a fun-loving city that’s always looking for excuses to celebrate. Every month of the year, Munich has an exciting event to entertain you. Combine this with a sea of energetic crowds and Munich entertains you no matter what time of the year you visit.
Attracting millions of tourists each year is the world-famous Oktoberfest. This is the city’s best-known event, loved by both locals and tourists.
The Oktoberfest lasts for 16 to 18 days, showcasing the best brews by renowned Bavarian factories. Filling the city with a cheery vibe, you’ll find people dressed in lederhosen, tons of delicacies, and booth games to add to the fun! Though this may be the ultimate Munich experience, it’s not for everyone. And for some, this doesn’t give you the authentic side of Munich.
Thankfully, the city has tons more events to cater to everyone’s interests.
The Tollwood Festival is another energizing event to look forward to, and it happens twice a year. There’s the winter edition and the summer one. But no matter which one you go to, the Tollwood Festival assures endless fun.
Entertain yourself with various music shows and circus performances. Munch on some amazing street food and buy some crafts and jewelry at stalls!
Munich is a world-famous beer town, thanks to its Oktoberfest. But this event isn’t the only time you experience the city’s fascinating beer culture. Munich has countless beer gardens across the city that spoil you with an array of beer choices.
Beer gardens here range from calm, outdoor spaces to lively and rowdy spots. It’s not uncommon for crowds here to sing along with a band to an upbeat German tune. With over 60 beer gardens at your fingertips, you’ll find no shortage of spots to host your beer-fueled day.
But along with beer comes great food. These beer gardens and halls also pack local delicacies to go with your beer!
And if you’re not a fan of beer, you can always go on a gastronomic adventure in Munich. With hearty traditional food at every corner, Munich won’t let you go hungry. Food portions here are generous too, think of sausages the size of your plate and pretzels that are even bigger than that.
Grab a plate of a traditional Bavarian sausage called weisswurst. This white sausage consists of minced veal and pork bacon, packed with flavors of onions, parsley, lemon, ginger, and cardamom. These sausages are often made in the morning without preservatives. So look for them before lunchtime as it’ll be tough to find one in the afternoon!
Schnitzel is another must-try local favorite. You may find them all over Germany, but they’ll never taste like they do in Munich! This dish consists of fried breaded pork or veal then served with a spätzel and a side of potatoes, fries, or salad.
A Retail Therapy Paradise
A major attraction that entices people from all over Germany and Europe to Munich is its exciting shopping scene. Munich spoils those with deep pockets with tons of luxury brands to choose from. But it also thrills bargain hunters with quality products that are easy on the pocket, along with generous discounts from stores!
Maximilianstrasse is among the best shopping streets in the city. This elegant promenade is the go-to of fashionistas visiting the city. Home to big-hitter international brands, it’s the cradle of all things fashionable.
Fringing this long street are luxury brands, such as Valentino and Gucci. Flanking these high-end stores are jewelry shops, five-star hotels, art galleries, and more, adding to the street’s lavish vibe. But if those aren’t in the cards for you, this street also offers secondhand designer goods for a more affordable price.
If you’re not a fan of high-end shopping, make your way to the street of Neuhauserstrasse. This is one of the city’s oldest streets, lined with independent shops that are easier on your budget. With offers ranging from the trendiest finds to antique goods, there are tons to splurge on here.
To get a more traditional shopping experience, Sendlinger Strasse and Tal are your best bet. These streets are full of traditional bistros and pubs to fuel your shopping spree. And they are the places to be if you want to bring home Bavarian souvenirs or costumes!
Frankfurt shines with glass and steel, thanks to its skyscraper-filled cityscape. Modern and bustling, its look and feel back up its reputation as Germany’s financial capital. But at a closer look, you’ll find that the city is full of character with a lot more to offer.
From its multifaceted art scene to its culinary delights, Frankfurt is a tourist powerhouse too. Top that off with countless attractions, amazing shopping districts, and more, and you’ll want to visit the city again.
What Makes Frankfurt Unique?
Where Old-World Meets Modern Eye Candy
It’s only in Frankfurt where old-world, half-timbered buildings are only a few minutes from the tallest German tower. The city suffered tremendous damage during the war, losing much of its infrastructure. But some buildings survived, and after rebuilding itself, Frankfurt’s architecture is as varied as it comes today.
So Frankfurt may not be the charming, fairy-tale-like German town you think of. But being the country’s financial capital, it has a more modern feel. Dotting the city are shiny skyscrapers, which are quite an odd sight in Germany, giving you a nice change of scenery.
There are tons to see and do in a city where the old meets the new. And if you want to hunt for the most impressive buildings in Frankfurt, here are some you shouldn’t miss—
Among the few historical landmarks that remain in Frankfurt is its Old Town. This was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but it’s been meticulously restored to its former glory.
Around the Old Town are the iconic half-timbered houses of old-world Germany. With detailed house emblems and sandstone ornaments, the Old Town is picture-perfect.
The Old Town is the home of the Römerberg, the historical square of Frankfurt. It served as the city’s main hall for over 600 years. Here you’ll find other must-see sites such as the St. Paul Church, St. Nicholas Church, and the Römer City Hall.
For some modern masterpieces around the city, two stand out the most.
At the 140-year-old PalmenGarten, a botanical garden, lies a modern greenhouse that doesn’t fail to wow. Inside the Tropicarium Greenhouse is an extensive collection of lush flora. Completing its majestic feel is the angular facade of the Tropicarium, which reflects the water lily pond nearby.
With its fluidlike, curvy glass and steel facade, the MyZeil is a showstopper. Its wave-like roof draws in natural light to illuminate all six levels of retail space in the building. An iconic feature of the MyZeil is the vortex sitting above the entrance.
Exciting Shopping Scene
At MyZeil, you’ll be hitting two birds with one stone. You get to admire its bold architecture at first, but once its vortex sucks you in, you’ll find yourself in a sprawling shopping center.
MyZeil sits on Frankfurt’s main shopping street, Zeil. But if you need a dose of retail therapy, you’re not limited to this area alone.
So if you want to escape the mainstream offers at the Zeil, you’re in for a treat. Frankfurt has many retail pockets across the city, tempting you to go on a shopping spree at every corner.
Another shopping district is Sachsenhausen, the city’s most fashionable shopping spot. Head over to Brückenstrasse, a street with a small yet lively creative shopping scene to indulge your inner fashionista. Also in the area is Schweizer Strasse, where you’ll find the latest styles and tons of cafes to relax between breaks.
If you’d rather bring home some food products, look no further than the famous Kleinmarkthalle. This covered market is home to over 150 stalls, offering an eclectic mix of goods.
Locals flock here to do some daily shopping, such as grabbing some fresh food and wine. But you’ll also find other delights here, such as wild geese, porcini, and radicchio. You can even taste some local specialties here such as cheese and pastry.
Further spicing up Frankfurt’s shopping scene is its wide array of weekly markets. These aren’t only exciting spots for shopping but also serve as meeting places to grab a bite of local delicacies.
The Schillerstrasse market is famous for its extensive range of fresh produce and local goods. There’s also the Genussmmarkt, where you can bring some Rheingagau wines and Turkish delights home.
A Museum Lover’s Haven
Frankfurt’s museums give you a taste of the city’s rich history and multifaceted art scene. Frankfurt is so much a lover of culture and arts that it has one district that’s dedicated to 11 institutes. And outside of this area, you have tons of lesser-known hidden gems to discover.
From timeless art to natural history to specialty museums, Frankfurt has an answer to every tourist’s interests. And if you’re planning to fill your vacation with museum trips, buying a Museumsufert Ticket is worth it. This is your key to Frankfurt’s artistic side, as it allows you access to 38 museums across the city.
There’s no better place to start your museum escapade than the Museumsufer. This area is home to a wide array of world-class museums that fringe both sides of the Main River. From here, it’s easy to hop from one museum to another depending on what you want to see.
At the heart of Museumsufer is the famous Städel, the city’s top art museum. Entering here, you’ll witness fine art’s long and fascinating history. Städel houses over 700 years’ worth of art under its roof that dates back to 1815.
Städel is home to the most important German art collections. But you’ll also find various European art here from several countries.
This museum focuses on Renaissance, Baroque, and early modern art. Some pieces go as far as the early 14th century too.
Several of history’s big-hitter artists’ works grace the Städel. This includes artworks by Botticelli, Vermeer, Picasso, and Monet. Contemporary artists are in the mix too, with works from renowned artists such as Isa Genken and Gerhard Richter.
Feast on Scrumptious Food
The food scene in Germany is famous for its hearty meat-based cuisine and beer. But Frankfurt isn’t as crazy about beer, instead, the city’s all about apfelwein (apple wine). More than that, the city’s local eats offer more variety to tickle your tastebuds.
If the way to your heart is truly through your stomach, Frankfurt will easily do the job. From the famous Green Sauce to the Frankfurter Kranz, you’re bound to find something to rave about here.
No trip to Frankfurt is complete without dining out and sipping on some apfelwein. Head to the Sachsenhausen district, where you’ll find no shortage of these cider taverns.
Apfelwein is an alcoholic drink with an aftertaste that comes from apples. It doesn’t usually have yeast or added sugar. But you’ll find a wide range of variety here to fit your palate, from floral to earthy tones to sweet and dry.
Combine a glass of apfelwein with the city’s traditional dishes and you’ll have an unforgettable experience.
When you think of German. cuisine, your mind may go to meat, cheese, or sausage. So it’s no surprise that grabbing a bite of Frankfurter Sausages is a must in the city. These sausages are distinct from their other cousins in a few ways. These are longer, lightly seasoned, and slim, with the filling completely made from pork. It’s then boiled for a few minutes and then smoked to add a touch of smokiness.
Another must-try is the famous Green Sauce. The sauce consists of seven herbs, such as parsley, chives, and garden cress. To add flavor to the sauce, it’s blended with sour cream, yogurt, quark cheese, or mayonnaise.
This dish is then topped with hard-boiled eggs and boiled potatoes and then served. Simple yet hearty, the contrasting flavors are what the locals rave about.
A Plethora of Ways to Unwind
Frankfurt may be Germany’s bustling financial hub, but it also offers a wealth of options for you to unwind. From picnics in lush parks to taking a scenic cruise, you’ll find plenty of ways to relax in Frankfurt.
Escaping the hustle and bustle of the city is easy when Frankfurt has tons of gardens to choose from. The best-loved of them is Palmengarten, a massive and windy park with many attractions. The famous Tropicarium and the Goethe Garden are within the park for you to explore.
Across the park are playgrounds, lakes, exhibitions, and musical events. You can also rent a pedal boat and glide across the glistening waters of the lake.
If you want to soak up the scenery of the city from a new perspective, go on a river cruise down the Main river. This is the best way to get a spectacular view of Germany’s most impressive skyline.
For the ultimate relaxation experience, head over to the spa town in Wiesbaden. This romantic village is full of spas, luxury treatments, and more, to make you feel rejuvenated.
If adult-only entertainment is more your speed, Frankfurt has a bustling red-light district. Lined with the trendiest bars in the city, Bahnhofsviertel is the place to be for an electrifying night.
Which Is Better – Munich or Frankfurt?
Munich is a better destination if your priority lies in exploring tons of historical sites. Munich has enchanting castles, historical churches, and more, that Frankfurt cannot offer you.
Apart from that, Munich is the choice for beer, party, and nature lovers.
Meanwhile, go to Frankfurt if you’re more interested in art, food, and shopping. While Frankfurt pales in comparison to Munich in historical sites, it makes up for its eclectic mix of offers.
Go on a boat cruise, unwind at a spa town, have fun in the red-light district, and more.
Frankfurt vs. Munich Tourism
Munich and Frankfurt are frequently visited by tourists. And while some of their draws overlap, the tourist experience they offer varies.
In both cities, there are tons of things to see and do so you can’t go wrong with either. Both have a wealth of museums, green spaces, and architecture to marvel at. They also have quite a varied night scene so you can continue the fun even at night.
But there are other factors you should consider as a tourist too.
If you’re traveling on a budget, Frankfurt is a cheaper destination across the board. A seven-day trip to the city only costs around 1153 USD per person. And for the same number of days, you’ll shell out 2708 USD in Munich.
Frankfurt also gives you more value for your money when it comes to accommodation. Frankfurt has a wider range of choices, and even double rooms with great facilities are only under a hundred dollars a night.
In Munich, you’ll find a stay that fits your budget. But for the same price, you’ll get a bigger room with more amenities in Frankfurt. Not to mention, accommodations are more pricey in Munich too.
Munich to Frankfurt Airport
While you have other transportation options, the best way to travel from Munich to Frankfurt Airport is by train. There’s a direct train line between the two, and the airport has a train station on the airport grounds. Not only is a train fast, but it’s also convenient and fairly priced too.
The distance between the two is around 189 miles (304 kilometers). And trains usually take around 3 hours and 39 minutes to complete this journey. Although faster trains can cut down the travel time to as short as 3 hours and 4 minutes.
Train ticket prices start at 81 USD, but you can score a cheaper deal if you buy tickets early.
With over 40 trains traveling between the two per day, you’re bound to catch one. The first train leaving Munich for Frankfurt airport departs at 3:32 AM. While the last train takes off at around 11 PM.
Distance From Frankfurt to Munich by Plane
The distance from Frankfurt to Munich by plane is around 190 miles (306 kilometers).
Which Airport Is Better to Fly Into – Munich or Frankfurt?
Both Munich Airport and Frankfurt Airport are among the most frequently visited airports in Europe. But tourists generally prefer Munich’s airport for convenience. Munich Airport is more compact, and because of its small size, it’s much easier to navigate.
The Frankfurt Airport is larger and better equipped to figure out a way to get you home if there’s a service disruption. But this airport is larger so you’ll need to walk long distances to get around the airport. To many, Frankfurt Airport can be confusing to navigate too.
Other than this, you need to consider that Frankfurt Airport is the busiest one in Germany. Munich is less crowded, but it’s still second on the list of the country’s busiest airports.
Munich to Frankfurt by Train
Over 40 trains travel from Munich to Frankfurt daily, making trains the top choice of travelers. But of those, around 20 of them are direct trains so you don’t have to make a change along the way.
The train travel time from Munich to Frankfurt usually tasks around 3 hours and 35 minutes. But faster services can complete the journey in as little as 3 hours and 10 minutes.
The first train on this route makes its way to Frankfurt at around 3:32 AM. And you can catch the last train departs at 11 PM.
Train ticket prices cost around 58 USD on average. You’ll get a better deal if you book your tickets in advance.
Distance From Munich to Frankfurt by Train
The train distance from Munich to Frankfurt is around 188 miles (303 kilometers).
Frankfurt Airport to Munich by Train
Traveling from Frankfurt Airport to Munich by train is easy as the airport has a dedicated train station. From the airport, make your way to terminal 1 and go down to level zero. Here’s where you’ll find the train station.
This journey has a distance of around 189 miles (304 kilometers). Trains usually have a travel time of around 3 hours and 50 minutes on this route. But if you choose a faster service, you’ll get to Munich in around 3 hours and 1 minute.
The first train on this route leaves the airport at around 12:56 AM. And the last train departs at around 10:30 PM. Direct trains are also available on this route so you don’t need to switch trains along the way.
On average, the train ticket price on this trip is around 54 USD if you buy one on the day. But you can get one for as low as 19 USD if you buy one in advance.
Frankfurt to Munich Drive
Driving from Frankfurt to Munich may take longer than taking the train. But this gives you more freedom to make scenic stops along the way so you can make the most out of your trip!
Driving via A3 and A9 will cover 245 miles (394 kilometers) and takes around 4 hours and 30 minutes to complete. Via A3 and A7, the driving distance is around 268 miles (432 kilometers) with an estimated travel time of 4 hours and 42 minutes. If you travel via A8, you’ll travel over 266 miles (428 kilometers) and this has the longest travel time at around 4 hours and 59 minutes.