Whenever I fly to Ancona (Italy), I have to change planes in Munich. And it is now my most favourite airport in Germany. But only recently I realised that it is the second biggest German airport when it comes to transport passengers. Very interesting, especially since I do not really like my home airport Frankfurt, which is just too big and where I cannot refrain from thinking that the airport managers are a bit overstrained. Often I have to walk a lot to get to my gates.
Not so in Munich. Even though the flights to Italy with Air Dolomiti involve bus transfer to the planes, it always seems to very efficient and excellently organised.
Ok, the hard facts are that Munich’s airport, named Franz-Josef Strauß Airport (after the famous Bavarian politician) is in operation since 1992. It is located approx. 30 km NE of the city, easy in reach with public transport (streetcar/Straßenbahn S1 and S8, 45 min from main station). It has two terminals, T2 being the one where Lufthansa and Star Alliance flights are being checked. As of today, 110 airlines fly regularly into and out of Munich, 230 destinations worldwide being served. The airport has two runways, the third one will most likely not be built, as a result of a citizens’ decision mid June 2012.
Terminal 2 is a very convenient airport, with only a short part without transport bands/ moving walkways, as opposed to Frankfurt where long distances have to be walked, especially strenuous when one has to catch another flight.... In the middle of the terminal the food and shopping stores are located, often quite pricey.
But in case one wants to save some money, here are my suggestions:
* get your free coffee (several varieties including hot chocolate) from one of the Lufthansa self-serving machines, which are quite abundant here and I found them always filled and functioning (as opposed to Frankfurt!). Don’t worry, even if you are not a Lufthansa or Star Alliance passenger: these machines are for everyone,
* in “Little Italy”, or “Spazio Italia” in the lower level (L3), the prices are very reasonable and good food is being served too. Although it is only snacks. But for my double caffè macchiato plus croissant plus San Pellegrino Limonata I paid only 6,60 Euro in August 2012 (Limonata: 3,10, croissant: 1,80, caffè macchiato: 1,70). This level is located down the escalators just behind the mini Allianz-Arena.
Location of Munich Airport on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., August 2012 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)
Munich's Franz Josef Strauss Airport (Airport Code: MUC) is located about 35 km (20 miles) to the north of Munich. In addition to being a hub airport for Lufthansa, the airport is used by many international carriers and budget airlines. Air Canada flies directly to Munich, as do the US carriers United, Delta, and US Airways.
If you're staying in Munich and want to rent a car, keep in mind traffic is quite bad. Even if you're planning a car tour of Europe starting with one or more overnights in Munich, you might want to wait to rent the car until your Munich stay is over. Similarly, if you plan to spend your final evening in Munich before flying home, consider turning in the rental car on arrival in Munich and using public transport to get to the airport.
The Lufthansa Airport Bus is a possibility, stopping at the Nordfriedhof U-Bahn station (U6) and the Hauptbahnhof, costing EUR 10.50 1-way (EUR 5.50 per child) and EUR 17 round-trip. The buses depart about every 20 minutes, and are scheduled to take approximately 25 minutes to get to Nordfriedhof, and 40 minutes to get to the Hauptbahnhof (travel time varies depending on traffic).
My recommendation to get downtown, however, is to take the S-Bahn. The S-1 and S-8 depart alternately about every 10 minutes. Travel time downtown is 40-50 minutes, depending on where you're going.
Costs: Railpasses (e.g. Eurail, Selectpass, German Rail Pass) are valid on the S-Bahn only (i.e. not the U-Bahn, trams, or buses), but require use of a travel day on a flexi pass -- a bad value unless you're taking a train well outside of Munich the day you arrive. A 1-way ticket costs EUR 10.40 with cash (a bit less with "non-cash" options -- see the website for details), but for just a bit more (EUR 11.20), you can buy a "Single Tageskarte Gesamtnetz," which covers the trip plus all of Munich's S-Bahns, U-Bahns, trams, and buses for the rest of the day. An even better deal for 2-5 travelers is the "Partner Tageskarte Gesamtnetz," which costs EUR 20.40, the same as two 1-way tickets alone, and covers the transit system for the whole day for up to 5 people traveling together. You can purchase tickets at the DB ticket booths or at the easy-to-use ticket machines (the ones at the airport even take credit cards!). Remember to validate your ticket in the machines marked "E" before you board. (NOTE: When you purchase a Tageskarte Gesamtnetz at the airport, sometimes also known as an "Airport-City-Day Ticket," you no longer need to cancel the tickets, but you must use the ticket on the same day you buy it.)
"Munich Airport" is located 30 km north of Munich, Germany and is a hub for Lufthansa and Star Alliance partner airlines.
It lies nearby the old city of Freising and is named in memory of politician Franz Josef Strauss.
The Munich Airport Centre (MAC) is a shopping, business and recreation area that connects the two terminals. The older Central Area which was originally built as part of Terminal 1, hosts a shopping mall and the S-Bahn station. The newer MAC Forum built with Terminal 2 is a large outdoor area with a tent-like, partly transparent roof. Next to it is the airport hotel managed by Kempinski.
As its the hub, u can get many connections to other parts of Germany and also Europe, just check the last minute desks on the second level which u can grab a promo rate for ur next flight .. :)
If you need to, you can store luggage at the airport. Cost (as of April 2013) is between EUR 2.30 and EUR 7.50 (depending on size) for the first 3 hours, between EUR 3.80 and EUR 10 per piece for up to 24 hours, then between EUR 2.80 and EUR 8.50 for each 24-hour period thereafter.
I've used this airport many times in the last 2 years, on trips to the Ingolstadt area of Bavaria - about 45 minutes by car from the airport.
Arrivals have always been easy and fast. Same with departures.
Most of my trips have been on easyJet, so using terminal 1. Checkin is in the "Z" area, 1 floor below the others, in the middle section of the building. It is quick and painless - I have an easyJet Plus card which means a dedicated check counter. £100 p-a, so good value.
Passport control can be a little slow, depending on other flights leaving about the same time. Usually it is quite bearable.
Departure zone C - used by easyJet - has the Atlantic Lounge, which I can use (free of charge) by dint of my Diners Club card. TV, newspapers, drinks, snacks and comfortable seats all help to make the trip start well. £30 p-a for the card, so with about 12 flights in a year it's worth it for the coffee alone.
Access by car to the airport is very easy, and you can drop off right at the terminal door.
Train access is by the S-Bahn from the city centre - no mainline trains. They run every 20 minutes from the Hauptbahnhof (and other city centre stations). That's where you'll get a mainline train connection.
Probably we shall start with the beginning and the beginning for us was the landing on the Munich Airport…
It was nothing special with the airport but once out of the airport we have understood why Germany is so “German”.
Even the airplanes are special, the seats are new and everywhere you’ll find real leather and the best quality materials.
All is clean, all is well organized, all is built to last and all is built around people.
The entrance to the airport is covered, the parking are there, train station is there, the rent cars are there, taxi station is there either.
And, as even my 8 years old sun discovered, you can easily see the richness of the place EVERYWHERE.
It is about a 15-18 mile drive into the Inner Ring Road from the airport, located off A92 autobahn. If traffic is not heavy , the time to get to the Inner Road would be about 25-30 minutes; but from there to get to the center of the city, it may take another 20+ minutes.
The airport is laid out very well to find your way around. The issue is the size takes a lot of walking to get to the rental car pick up, or other transportation from the gates
I flew over to Munich on the 17.10 Lufthansa flight from Heathrow. Flight took 1 hr 50 minutes.
Unlike some of the other cheap airlines, Lufthansa does a decent flight with a coffee and sandwich thrown in.
Then I took the regular shuttle bus into town €10,50 single or €17.00 return.
The bus was a 45 minute journey, dropping us off close to the hotel at the main Hauptbahnhof railway station.
Munich airport has often been ranked as one of the top 10 airports in the world, and one of the top 3 airports in Europe. In fact, in 2010 it has been chosen as the best airport in Europe. Of all the airports in Europe, I've been to Budapest, Paris (many times), Frankfurt and also Munich, and I can say that I find Munich very traveller-friendly and welcoming. :)
Transiting was a breeze. The airport is well-signposted in English and German. Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners (such as Singapore Airlines) operate out of Terminal 2. I flew on Lufthansa from Shanghai to Frankfurt, with a transfer in Munich. Unfortunately the stopover was only for about 3 hours in the early morning, and I didn't have the luxury of extending (was on work) so I couldn't leave the airport to enjoy the wonderful sights of Munich. However I enjoyed what I saw of the airport transit area and based on that experience would love to go back again!
The duty-free shop was reasonably good in its selection of perfumes, alcohol and also European and German souvenirs such as beer, sausages, chocolate etc. Since it was a couple of weeks before Easter, there were pretty Easter-themed chocolate souvenirs on sale when I went. I can't be sure, but they might look better than they taste. ;)
Souvenirs, snacks, drinks, magazines and books can also be found at the convenience stores. I finally found my postcards here, and the friendly staff will also sell stamps. If you want to post the postcards, one of the staff kindly offered to help me with that (just give the postcards to her after you're done writing them) and the postcards reached me fine. Figure on about 1.5-2 EUR for a postcard, and 1 EUR for postage.
There're plenty of places to eat, what I saw in the early morning were mainly cafes which open around 0500 to 0600. For a sample of prices (I took photographs of the menu at Dallmayr Bistro), figure on about 6.5-15 EUR for a breakfast set, 5-7 EUR for a sandwich, 2-3 EUR for a pastry/croissant, 2-6 EUR for a coffee/tea -- prices quoted exclude taxes. However I wanted to save my money and eat on the plane, so I didn't get the chance to try anything.
If you're lucky enough (like me) to fly and transit on Star Alliance airlines, you'll be pleased to find that you can enjoy free cups of coffee, chocolate, milk or tea (or even just hot water) at the beverage stations in the transit area of Terminal 2. The options on the self-service machines are only in German, good luck figuring them out. ;) If you're an English-speaker and go to cafes frequently, most of the names won't be too difficult. It took me some time to figure out that "Heisse Schokolade" is hot chocolate (it was easier when I heard another traveller beside me reading it out!), "Milch fur Tee/Kaffee" will give you hot milk and "Heisse Wasser" is hot water. As for tea, you can have your pick of green, Ceylon (English), fruit and vanilla. There're plenty of paper cups, serviettes, sugar and stirrers available. If you read German, there're also a lot of newspapers and some magazines available for free, I forgot if there were any English-language newspapers but I think so.
I found toilets a little scarce in the transit area -- had to walk a little far from where I was to get to one. Either that, or the signs didn't direct me to the nearest toilets. In any case, I found the toilets to be very clean, reasonably spacious and with enough cubicles.
I find at Munich and Frankfurt airports that passengers generally do the check-in process with the self-service machines (great for saving on labour). If you run into problems, then go to the staff standing around and try to get them to help. After choosing your seat and printing out your boarding pass, go to the check-in counters if you have any luggage to check-in, otherwise you can go directly to your boarding gate. At the boarding gate, you can scan the boarding pass at a "ticket gate", if everything goes well (ie you're not trying to board the wrong flight at the wrong place), the gate will open and you can walk down to your plane. Being a rather new traveller with non-Asian airports, I was very pleasantly surprised as this method is much more efficient and easier for travellers who might not be able to communicate with airport ground staff. Of course, that's assuming you know what these "ticket gates" are and how to use them!
The trip from the airport to the city centre in Munich is very straightforward. Take the S-bahn S1 or S8. The trip crosses 4 ticketing zones, so if one is puzzled at the ticketing machine (with all the small prints), just pressed the small orange rectangular button with a 4 on it (if you are going to the city centre). the machine will ask for 9.20 euro (price is correct April 2009), it takes euro notes and will give change.
There are many options for getting into Munich after you arrive at the Airport. The best value looks like the S bahn, lines 1 and 8 head into the centre.
The ticket machines are located downstairs in the centre of a shopping mall area.Takes cash and gives change.
Many options as far as tickets to go for. Consider the Partner one which allows up to 5 people, max 2 adults to travel within specified zones for the day.Ideal for a family but a couple can also use. Cost was 18 euros in March 2008.
We caught the Lufthansa bus from the airport to the central train station, Hauptbahnof in Munich. Our hotel, Eden Wolffe, was directly across the street. I made arrangements for the bus ahead of time online. It was very clean, comfortable and inexpensive. One tip: I printed out a colored photo of the bus I would be looking for online prior to my trip. It made it easier to spot and sort through all the transportation options quickly when we arrived. Had my kids looking for a "blue bus". Worked out great.
If your local airport doesn't offer direct flights to Munich, an alternative way of getting there is via Salzburg. (Thomsonfly operates very low cost flights from London Gatwick during much of the year.)
From Salzburg Airport, take a bus from directly outside the terminal building to Salzburg main train station (Hauptbahnhof). The journey takes 15-20 minutes and costs €1.80.
At the railway station you can buy a return ticket to Munich for €54. There are two trains an hour and if you get the faster one, the journey time is about 90 minutes. The trains are very comfortable and there is some nice scenery to enjoy en route.
When you arrive at Munich Hauptbahnhof it's easy to catch U-Bahn or S-Bahn trains to any area of the city.
The directions I received from a local on how to arrive to my hotel near city center (on Maximilianstrasse) from the airport was as follows:
Taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel is expensive - in the order of US $100 (as far as I have heard). The much more economical way to do it is to take the train called "S8" from the airport (the station is in the basement of the Terminal 1 building) to the 11th stop called "Isartor" (a 36 minutes train ride) and to take a taxi from there to your hotel. The only difficulty in going to town this way is buying the right train ticket at the airport: Do not even try the ticket vending machines, they are horrible. There are some real people around (sitting behind a counter in Terminal 1 right where you go down the escalators to the basement) who are selling tickets to those who are interested.
My commentary based on my experience:
I found that the S-Bahn was easy to use from the airport. The S-Bahn originates from the airport, so there's only one direction you can take. The key is just taking the right train. Only two trains service this airport (S1 and S8). Anyways, the signs are well posted, and you won't have a problem finding them.
The trains are comfortable, and I found them to have plenty of space for my luggage.
I did have problem finding the ticket people as my host recommended (because after re-reading his message, I went down the elevator before looking for the ticket people, and I should have looked for the people before I took the escalator down). However, the machines were not as bad as he said. The cost to go to town was 8.80 Euros. The machines actually took credit cards.
Based on actually doing this trip, I would say to get off at Marienplatz station (12th Stop). This stop is more central to the city center, and a nicer area to view when walking to your hotel. I decided to walk rather than take a taxi (although taxis seem to wait outside these stations).
Munich Airport has been named the Best Airport in Europe recently. A pretty fancy and modern looking airport and though i barely had time to really experience the hype about the efficiency, since i thought i was pretty late in arriving that day, it did seem a breeze going thru the formalities...