Munich, Germany's third largest city and a bustling, business-friendly metropolis, has a laidback atmosphere that makes it a top European short break destination. Locals call it a 'Millionendorf' or 'village of a million people'. With its carefully preserved architecture and safe, clean streets, the Bavarian capital is regularly ranked among the world’s most liveable.
Munich is compact and easy to explore, with many beautiful buildings clustered around central Marienplatz with its neo-Gothic city hall and chiming Glockenspiel. Art-lovers make a beeline for the Kunstareal museum quarter, home to the Alte, Neue and Moderne Pinakothek museums (www.pinakothek.de) along with the Brandhorst modern art gallery (www.museum-brandhorst.de); together they form one of the most comprehensive art collections in the world. For a museum of the non-art variety, the Deutches Museum (www.deutsches-museum.de) is the world's largest museum of science and technology with hands-on experiences for children and adults.
Energetic families can book a tour of the Olympic Stadium’s rooftop (www.olympiapark.de) for great views of Munich's cityscape. Take a day trip to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof castles, built by the 'fairytale king' King Ludwig II, to see the inspiration behind Disneyland's castle – these magnificent 19th-century castles are among Bavaria's most photographed attractions. Or just soak up Munich's unique atmosphere by joining students, families and artists strolling among the cafés and art nouveau buildings of hip Schwabing, known for the Weisse Rose anti-Nazi resistance movement, which arose at Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich.
Tired from sightseeing in Munich? Refuel and refresh at a traditional beer garden such as Zum Franziskaner (www.zum-franziskaner.de) or Augustiner-Keller (www.augustinerkeller.de). Order a Weisswurst (white sausage - invented in Munich in 1857) and giant pretzel to accompany your Masskrug (1 litre beer tankard) of Weissbier (white beer). For a lighter, more vegetarian-friendly meal of Asian noodles and soups, DuDu (www.dudu-restaurant.de) is an authentic Vietnamese restaurant with outdoor seating. To treat yourself, book a table at Dallmayr (www.dallmayr.de), a sophisticated Munich restaurant worthy of its two Michelin stars.
Beer gardens are a fun, relaxed place to mingle with locals, but Munich nightlife has a lot more to offer. Milch und Bar (www.milchundbar.de), bathed in deep red light, is one of many stylish bars in Munich. Find other trendy clubs and bars in Haidhausen, also known as the ‘French Quarter'. Housed in a waterworks building from 1837, Muffatwerk (www.muffatwerk.de) is a multicultural venue with an exciting programme of parties and events.
The quintessential Munich event is Oktoberfest (www.oktoberfest.de), a 16-day beer festival with 6 million attendees and 7 million litres of beer. Dress up for the occasion with a traditional Bavarian costume: Dirndl (for women) or Lederhosen (for men). You can get modern versions in this season's colours from Angermaier (www.trachten-angermaier.de), whose store on Rosental is right near the Viktualienmarkt daily market. (Top tip: this colourful food market has some of the best sausages around: look for the bratwurst stall with the longest queue.) If you're seeking the dizzying heights of chic German style, blow some of your holiday budget on a luxury leather accessory at Antonetty Lederwerkstatt (www.antonetty.de).