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July 2003

Sight Reading

Three of the best travel guides on Munich

Often called a “large village” by its inhabitants, Munich does indeed have an intimate, small-town feel to it. One can gain a good overview of Munich in just a weekend; the enthusiastic sightseer, on the other hand, may spend weeks reconnoitering the city of 1.3 million. There is a wealth of travel guides devoted to the Bavarian capital, and Munich Found has selected the three to review that we believe most accurately describe Munich, while catering to travelers of differing tastes.

Eyewitness Travel Guides***
by Izabella Galicka and
Katarzyna Michalska

Focusing on a “show” rather than “tell” policy, this guide boasts roughly 300 glossy pages full of colorful photographs and detailed maps of the city and its environs. The book divides Munich into districts, covering each area individually, from the Old Town (South) to the University District. Major sights are marked on area maps and outlined at the beginning of each chapter. The descriptions of noteworthy buildings, museums, palaces and churches are arranged street by street and are accompanied by detailed illustrations and visitor checklists. “Must-see” sights are starred. At the end of the book is a section listing hotels, restaurants/food (including an explanation of the various types of beer), shops and markets. However, the list is not particularly comprehensive and the emphasis of this guide is more on culture than cuisine and creature comforts. It is an indispensable companion for the knowledge-thirsty sightseer, but for visitors who just want to relax and take in a few of the major sights before quenching another kind of thirst in a sunny beer garden, the many pictures, maps and garden plans in the Eyewitness guides may be off-putting. Either way, readers of this volume will no doubt agree on one thing: Munich may have the feel of a village, but it would take years to experience all that it offers!

by Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince

The Frommer’s guide is a comprehensive volume filled with useful facts about Munich, with a bias towards the financially challenged traveler. It is well organized, and arranged so that visitors can pick and choose what they want from each section. The book begins with an introduction on Munich that includes favorite experiences and sights. Subsequent chapters focus on topics such as “Planning Your Trip,” “Getting to Know Munich,” “Munich after Dark” and “The Bavarian Alps.” Each of these chapters is subdivided into sections, thus “Exploring Munich” includes pages on “Munich’s Soccer Craze,” “Suggested Itineraries” and “Saving on Sightseeing”. Quite a few pages are devoted to three suggested walking tours (The Historic Center, West of Marienplatz and Schwabing), as well as descriptions of day trips to locations outside the city. The guide is full of simple maps and includes floor plans of a number of well-known buildings. The sections covering food and accommodation are divided into price categories, which is very helpful for those on a tight budget, and the information on each restaurant/hotel is up to date and honest. The authors of this volume call a spade a spade, which is exactly what a good guidebook should do.

Lonely Planet****
by Jeremy Gray

This guide has a basic, across-the-board appeal to visitors of Munich. If you aren’t sure which guide to buy, you won’t go wrong with this one––it is small, easily digestible and gives travelers all the information they need to get a good sense of the city. After the informative opening chapter detailing Munich’s history and culture, there is a lengthy section entitled “Facts for the Visitor,” including such topics as tourist office information, currency, embassies, communication, opening hours and public holidays. The book then delves into Munich life, with a first page devoted to highlights and free entertainment. After reading through “Things to Do and See” (which includes museums and several walking tours), “Places to Stay,” “Places to Eat” and “Entertainment,” the average visitor will, no doubt, feel more than satisfied by the range of material, though the length of each description is limited to a couple of lines. The Lonely Planet guide is a standard, dependable guidebook and recommendable as a basic traveler’s companion to this land of beer and bratwurst.

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