Berlin or Munich: Which Should You Visit?

Berlin and Munich are two of the largest and most important cities in Germany. But these two cities are very, very different, and choosing which one to visit can be a difficult decision to make.

Berlin is the capital, a city that has been at the forefront of events throughout the 20th century, and more often than not has come out on the wrong side of history.

This is a city that was destroyed in World War II, only to be divided for decades. It’s emerged from the ashes, however, and modern Berlin is a compelling mixture of old and alternative.

Munich is the Bavarian capital, smaller than Berlin but not lacking in history. This is traditional Germany, and the city has more of a classic German look and atmosphere than you’ll find in Berlin. And, of course, Munich has Oktoberfest!

There are many great things to see and experience in both cities. To help you decide which to visit, we weigh up the pros and cons: should you visit Berlin or Munich? That’s the ultimate German travel question!

Highlights of Berlin

Berlin is one of the most fascinating cities in Europe, because the German capital always seems to find itself at the forefront of European events.

Berlin is the location of the German government, it’s where you can find the Berlin Wall that divided the city for decades, and it’s home to some of the most liberal and alternative neighbourhoods in the country.

When the wall was pulled down, over thirty years ago, Berlin began its evolution into the city you find today. At first, squatters moved into derelict buildings in the east, then they were joined by artists and creatives, and the city was soon reborn. Today you’ll find one of the most multicultural and diverse capitals in the world. Berlin is certainly one of the most interesting and lively cities to visit in Germany.

Where to Stay in Berlin for the First Time

Highlights of Munich

Munich is found far to the south of Berlin, and it could not be more different.

The Bavarian capital is equally as historic as Berlin, but it doesn’t have the same Cold War history and was never at the front line of events between East and West in the last few decades.

Munich mostly survived World War II, and whereas Berlin is gritty and alternative, Munich is easily the more aesthetic to look upon. It’s Baroque and Old World, and it’s beautiful. And that’s before you count all the incredible sights outside of the city, including stunning nature and Bavarian castles.

Today is one of the most important cities in Germany, home to big companies such as BMW and Siemens, and a hub of technology and innovation.

Travel Costs of Munich vs Berlin: which is more expensive?

When it comes to traveling, the cost disparity between Berlin and Munich can have a significant impact on your budget. Despite Berlin being the capital city, Munich boasts a higher standard of living, resulting in a higher cost of travel.

If you’re traveling on a budget or backpacking, Berlin is the way to go. You’ll find more affordable options for accommodation, including hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs. Plus, eating out and enjoying local food and drinks won’t burn a hole in your pocket. In contrast, Munich tends to be pricier for travelers.

So if you’re on a budget or backpacking, then you’ll want to stick to Berlin, where your money will go much further. While, if you’re looking for a more luxurious vacation, though Berlin has outstanding offers, Munich might give more elegant or romantic options.

Prices of Accommodation in Munich vs Berlin

Whether you choose Munich or Berlin, both cities offer a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and ensure a memorable stay.  Below, you’ll find the average price for well-located and well-rated places to stay in both cities. Click on the links to search for the prices on the date of your trip.


• Backpacker: A bed in a dorm room in the city center can cost you from £15. Check out all the best hostels in Berlin.

• Budget-friendly: Berlin is known for its affordability. Guesthouses, private room in hostels and cheaper hotels and apartments can cost as low as £45 to £85 per night for two guests.  Click here to browse budget-friendly accommodations and find the best deals.

Mid-Range Hotels: For a blend of comfort and style, Berlin offers a good selection of mid-range hotels and flats. Prices for 3-star or 4-star hotels cost from around £75 to £150 per night for two guests. Click here to explore all the mid-range hotel options.

• Luxury Hotels: Berlin also boasts luxurious hotels that provide upscale experiences. Prices for luxury hotels in Berlin can vary, but they generally range from £150 to £400 per night for two guests. Have a look at the top luxury accommodations available.


• Backpacker: A bed in a dorm room in the city center can cost you from £20. Check out all the options. 

• Budget-friendly:  Guesthouses, flats and budget hotels rates will cost you between £60 to £100 per night for two guests. Click here to browse the best budget-friendly options in Munich.

• Mid-Range Hotels: If you’re looking for a comfortable and stylish stay, Munich has a wide range of mid-range hotels. Prices for 3-star or 4-star hotels typically range from £80 to £100 per night for two guests. Explore all the best mid-range hotel options here.

• Luxury Hotels: To indulge in a luxurious getaway, consider staying at one of Munich’s luxury hotels. Prices for luxury hotels vary with rates typically ranging from £200 to £600 per night for two guests. Check out the top luxury accommodations available.

Keep in mind the accommodation prices in Munich can double during the Oktoberfest.

Sightseeing: Berlin or Munich

Berlin and Munich both have a huge amount of sights and tourist attractions to see. But both are quite different in what they offer.

Things to Do in Berlin

Berlin is a city that embodies history like few others in the world. In its city center, you’ll find iconic landmarks such as the Museum Island (to save money I recommend buying the welcome card which includes all 5 museums + public transport access), the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews, the Topography of Terrors, and Checkpoint Charlie.

These sites bear witness to the profound impact of World War II and the turbulent Cold War era, during which Berlin stood divided between East and West. To learn more about the history, it’s worth taking a guided walking tour around all these sites.

Speaking of this division, there are still sections of the Berlin Wall that can be visited today. At the East Side Gallery, you can admire beautiful and politically charged artwork adorning the remnants of the Wall. Additionally, the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse offers an open space where you can immerse yourself in stories and visuals from that era.

For those interested in experiencing the vibrant and multicultural side of modern Berlin, exploring Mauerpark is a must. Every Sunday, this park hosts a lively flea market that attracts visitors from all walks of life.

Another area worth exploring is Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg neighborhoods, which boast a myriad of bars, restaurants, art galleries, markets, and nightclubs. These neighborhoods are a vibrant hub of creativity and offer an exciting blend of cultures, providing a glimpse into the alternative side of Berlin.

A good tip is to get the Berlin pass, which includes your travel around Berlin, whilst getting you into best museums and attractions for free.

Things to do in Munich

Munich, on the other hand, has more of an array of historic architecture to offer. The capital of Bavaria blends history, culture, and modernity, from its majestic buildings to its renowned beer gardens.

In the Old Town, you can stroll through the beautiful, Baroque streets of Munich (or maybe take a bike tour around the area). Marienplatz is the heart of the city, where you can marvel at the magnificent Town Hall, and other historical buildings. The city is also home to several world-class museums and art galleries, such as The Alte Pinakothek for art and the Deutsches Museum for science and technology.

No visit to Munich is complete without indulging in its beer culture. The city is famous for its beer halls and beer gardens (you can take a tour around the most important ones), where locals and visitors gather to enjoy a stein of Bavarian beer. The most famous beer hall is the Hofbräuhaus, which has been serving beer for over 400 years and offers a lively atmosphere filled with traditional music and hearty Bavarian cuisine.

And while Munich may not be known for its coastal location, it still offers a unique surfing experience right in the heart of the city. Located along the Eisbach River in the English Garden, a man-made standing wave known as the Eisbachwelle attracts surfers from near and far. Watching the surfers showcase their skills is a testament to Munich’s vibrant and unexpected recreational offerings.

Of course, Munich has its darker side too, if that’s what you are interested in seeing. You can visit Dachau Concentration Camp on the outskirts of the city, which was the first such camp to be set up by the Nazis. There’s more too, but compared to Berlin, this side of history isn’t quite as visible.

If you’d like to discover more about the history of how Munich became the “Capital of the Nazi Movement”, there’s a fully guided tour that takes you to the sites and explains the history.

Another positive for Munich is the surrounding Bavarian countryside, much of which is an idyllic, rural dream. The iconic Neuschwanstein Castle looks like it’s been taken out of the stills of a Disney movie, while the Linderhof Castle is not quite so dramatic but equally as compelling a historical sight.

Food: Berlin or Munich

Berlin and Munich both have a huge range of restaurants and eateries, and being modern, diverse cities, you can find both German and international food in both.

Munich is known for its Bavarian classics and if you’re looking for real, authentic food – how you imagine German food to be – then this is the city to visit.

Of course, you can enjoy plenty of great beer alongside some enormous pretzels, but more than this, Munich does Bratwurst like nowhere else. That’s because the famous German sausage originated in Munich, and you’ll be able to order it with a full side of sauerkraut and mashed potatoes for even more deliciousness.

Berlin is the more multicultural of the two cities, and that’s demonstrated in its foodie scene. Berlin is known more for its doner kebabs and currywurst than it is for traditional German food or fine dining. You can find almost any cuisine in Berlin however, from Indian to Central Asian, so you’re never going to go hungry in the capital.

Weather: Berlin or Munich

The weather doesn’t vary that much between Berlin and Munich throughout the year, but generally speaking, it’s Munich that does have the better climate.

Because it’s located further south, Munich has higher temperatures and summer tends to last longer than in Berlin. Winters are bitterly cold in both cities though, and you’ll need to wrap up warm by December. Munich sees thunderstorms in summer too, whereas Berlin will catch most of its rain in autumn.

Nightlife: Berlin vs Munich

Berlin will always take top place when it comes to nightlife in Europe, because this is a city that rarely sleeps.

Berlin has a huge alternative scene and for years, since the fall of the wall, that’s helped to fuel the city’s nightlife. Some of the biggest and best clubs in the world are found here, and any day of the week you’ll easily stumble across a party, even if you aren’t looking for one.

Munich, however, is slightly more refined, and the city isn’t quite as highly regarded by partygoers, except when it’s Oktoberfest.

Munich is more about casual drinks, nights out at the pub and, of course, drinking plenty of Bavarian beer while you indulge in traditional German dishes.

Festivals: Berlin or Munich

Both cities have a lot to offer when it comes to festivals, but for most people, it’s always Munich that’s going to take the festival crown!

Bavarian traditions die hard in Munich, and the city has retained many of its unique and quirky cultural events, many of which date back centuries.

Of course, the best event of them all is Oktoberfest, and this huge three-week beer festival is a reason on its own to visit Munich. Many of the best Munich events take place in summer, but in winter, the city hosts classic German Christmas markets that attract visitors from across the world.

Berlin also has fantastic festivals, however they aren’t quite as long-standing or nearly as traditional as the festivals you will find in Munich.

Due to its iconic alternative scene, Berlin is best known for its music festivals, and all through the year you’ll find huge events on and around the city – although of course, summer is when things are really happening!

Being the capital, Berlin is a great place to be on historic occasions, and the city celebrates and remembers such occasions as German Reunification Day and other important dates in the calendar with public events.


Travelling Around: Berlin or Munich

No doubt, Berlin offers a multitude of attractions and activities, making it a city where you can easily spend five days and still have more to see and do. Additionally, its surroundings provide opportunities for day trips to places like Potsdam, renowned for the Sanssouci Palace, as well as numerous lakes and forests, adding to the appeal.

However, when considering the surrounding areas, Munich undoubtedly offers a more captivating experience. The reason lies in the fact that Munich provides easy access to charming villages and picturesque landscapes along Germany’s Romantic Road. This iconic route stretches from Würzburg to Fussen, home to the renowned Neuschwanstein Castle, and includes treasures like the enchanting Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Furthermore, Munich’s proximity to the Alps allows for unparalleled access to breathtaking mountain scenery, vast lakes, and stunning natural landscapes. The majestic peaks of the Alps offer a captivating backdrop and provide opportunities for outdoor adventures and exploration.

How to Travel to Berlin AND Munich

Berlin and Munich aren’t the closest cities. The distance between them is close to 600 kilometres. Still, it’s not too far and if you have a week or longer then you can definitely see both cities and perhaps even enjoy a day trip or two as well.

Train travel is the fastest way between both cities, with the ICE trains taking between three and four hours. To get cheap train fares though, you need to book in advance.

If you’re driving, you can stop off along the way at different tourist attractions, like Nuremberg, Bamberg, and Leipzig.

Without stopping, on the fast Autobahn, you could drive from Berlin to Munich in six hours.

Of course, bus travel is the cheapest option, but also the longest, with most routes taking eight hours.



What’s the ultimate decision, Berlin or Munich?

We can’t decide! They are both so different and so unique, and your decision will depend on whether you want classic Bavaria or alternative Berlin!

How long do I need for each city?

You can see the highlights of both cities in a long weekend, but don’t forget just how much there is to see. You’ll only scratch the surface, although you’ll have a great time. Stay longer and you’ll be able to dig deeper and really immerse yourself in the cultures of Berlin and Munich.

Is it easy to travel between Berlin and Munich?

Yes, if you have time then you can easily see both. Check out our travel directions above.

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