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Munich: Orientation

Tourist information is available at the Franz-Josef-Strauss airport in the central area (tel. 089/97-50-00), as soon as you step off the plane. The information desk is open Monday to Saturday from 8:30am to 10pm and Sunday from 1 to 9pm. The main branch of the Munich Tourist Office, Fremdenverkehrsamt, at the Hauptbahnhof, Bahnhofplatz 2 (tel. 089/2-33-03-00; www.muenchen-tourist.de), is found at the south exit opening onto Bayerstrasse. It's open Monday to Saturday 9am to 8pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm. You can pick up a free map of Munich, and the Fremdenverkehrsamt will also reserve rooms for you. You will find another branch of the Munich Tourist Office at Marienplatz inside the Neues Rathaus, open Monday to Friday 10am to 8pm and Saturday 10am to 4pm.

City Layout

Munich's main rail station, Hauptbahnhof, lies just west of the town center and opens onto Bahnhofplatz. From there you can take Schɒtzenstrasse to one of the major centers of Munich, Karlsplatz, nicknamed Stachus. Many tram lines converge on this square. From Karlsplatz, you can continue east along the pedestrians-only Neuhauserstrasse and Kaufingerstrasse until you reach Marienplatz, which is located deep in the Altstadt (Old Town) of Munich.

From Marienplatz you can head north on Dienerstrasse, which will lead you to Residenzstrasse and finally to Max-Joseph-Platz, a landmark square, with the Nationaltheater and the former royal palace, the Residenz. East of this square runs Maximilianstrasse, the most fashionable shopping and restaurant street of Munich, containing the prestigious Kempinski Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Mɒnchen. Between Marienplatz and the Nationaltheater is the Platzl quarter, where you'll head for nighttime diversions; here are some of the finest (and also some of the worst) restaurants in Munich, along with the landmark HofbrȨuhaus, the most famous beer hall in Europe.

North of the old town is Schwabing, a former bohemian section whose main street is Leopoldstrasse. The large, sprawling municipal park grounds, the Englischer Garten, are due east of Schwabing.

Main Arteries & Streets -- The best-known street in Munich is the Maximilianstrasse, the most fashionable shopping avenue and one of the city's busiest east-west arteries. Other major east-west thoroughfares include Kaufingerstrasse and Neuhauserstrasse. Both are major shopping avenues in the core of the Altstadt's pedestrian zone. Two of Munich's great 19th-century avenues, Ludwigstrasse and Brienner Strasse, stretch toward the district of Schwabing. Ludwigstrasse was designed to display the greatness of the kingdom of Ludwig I and is bordered on both sides by impressive neoclassical and neo-Romanesque buildings.

Odeonsplatz, on the southern end of Ludwigstrasse, was established to celebrate the Bavarian kingdom. Leopoldstrasse begins on the northern side of Ludwigstrasse and continues through Schwabing. The last of the 19th-century boulevards to be constructed was Prinzregentstrasse, lying between Prinz-Carl-Palais and Vogelweide-platz. Along the Prinzregentstrasse at no. 7 is the residence of the prime minister of Bavaria.

Finding an Address/Maps -- Locating an address is relatively easy in Munich, because even numbers run up one side of a street and odd numbers down the other. In the Altstadt, "hidden" squares may make finding an address difficult; therefore, you may need a detailed street map, not the more general maps handed out free by the tourist office and many hotels. The best ones (containing a detailed street index) are published by Falk, and they're available at nearly all bookstores and at many newsstands. These pocket-size maps are easy to carry, with a detailed street index.

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