A web of cobbled lanes, medieval squares and soaring church spires, the city-centre Altstadt is picture-postcard Munich. Some of the most luxurious fashion and food shops, restaurants and hotels in Munich cluster here. All streets lead to Marienplatz where the neo-Gothic Town Hall's glockenspiel chimes. Follow hungry locals south to the bustling Viktualienmarkt food market. North of Marienplatz is the twin-towered Frauenkirche, the extravagant Residenz Palace and the fabled Hofbräuhaus beer hall. Slightly west lies the Hauptbahhof or main train station.
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In the north-east corner of the Altstadt is genteel Lehel, an intriguing mix of narrow lanes dotted with 19th-century buildings and consulates. Bordered to the east by the River Isar and to the north by the English Garden, the district hides some of Munich's top sights like the artefact-packed Bavarian National Museum, the State Museum of Ethnology and Archaeological Collection. Restored Art Nouveau villas and easy access to the Messe Munich Trade Fair make Bogenhausen, north-east of Lehel, an attractive choice of where to stay in Munich.
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A short stroll south of the Altstadt, upbeat Isarvorstadt draws Münchners to its theatres, cafes and see-and-be-seen lounge bars. Crossing the Isar River brings you to working-class turned cutting-edge Haidhausen. It’s crammed with restaurants, bars, sights and cultural centres like the redbrick Gasteig Centre where the Munich Philharmonic perform. The French quarter around Pariser Platz, the interactive German Museum and the graceful Art Nouveau Müller'sches Volksbad pool are a short amble from transport hub Rosenheimer Platz.
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Swing north of the Altstadt to Munich's cultured Maxvorstadt, a 19th-century district starting at the monumental Odeonsplatz square. The star attraction is the Kunstareal museum quarter. The twin Pinakothek galleries showcase artworks from Rembrandt to Magritte. Further north is fashionable Schwabing, where students, artists and young families mingle in pavement cafes, boutiques and bookshops. It's home to the Ludwig Maximilian University and the poplar tree-lined Leopoldstrasse boulevard. Here, Jonathan Borofsky's Walking Man sculpture looms large. Continue north to reach the Olympic Park and BMW World museum.
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Immediately west of the Altstadt lies Laim, a laidback residential neighbourhood. The district extends north to the leafy Hirschgarten's 8,000-seat beer garden and deer enclosure, and the baroque Nymphenburg Palace. South of Laim and a speedy S-Bahn ride from the centre is low-key Sending. Münchners wander the oriental gardens in lake-dotted Westpark. Both districts sidle up to the Theresienwiese, the hallowed grounds of the stein-swinging, thigh-slapping Oktoberfest in late September.
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