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Munich, Berlin, or Vienna?

Our family (including two college age boys) would like to spend a week next summer in Munich, Berlin, or Vienna. Our preference is to get to know one city well rather than moving about. We would appreciate hearing which city people love and what they would reccomend in that city. Thanks.

Posted by
1854 posts

Have been to Berlin and Munich, not Vienna (yet!). I would recommend Berlin. The history makes it, I think. Bavaria is lovely, but Berlin has so much going on and still doesn't feel overwhelmed with tourists, as Munich can.

Posted by
8849 posts

Having been to Vienna and Berlin, I'd say Berlin due to its extraordinary 20th century history, its multitude of cultural attractions--in duplicate since each side of the wall had its museums, orchestras, etc. Finally there is the fabulous food court on the top floor of the Ka-De-We Department Store which makes the one in the Paris Galeries Lafayette look like our local Kroger.

Posted by
389 posts

I always loved the history of the Habsburg empire, and Vienna was the first big European city I visited. Unless you have that kind of special interest, I would agree with Berlin as the most "exhilarating" city in the German-speaking world. Munich is quite nice, but was actually one of the less memorable big cities I visited in Europe.

Posted by
12040 posts

With two college age boys? Berlin, Berlin, Berlin and a little more Berlin. I'm not a night owl but even I couldn't help notice all the young adult night life in that city.

Posted by
31622 posts

Barry, Any of the cities you mentioned would be great! Which city to choose will probably depend on the overall interests and preferences of your group. IMO, the best overall choice would be Munich. Not only is it a wonderful city with lots of interesting sites, but more importantly it's a good "home base" for day trips. Here are some examples..... > Munich - Deutsches Museum (16 kM of exhibits), Hofbrauhaus, Walking Tours, Marienplatz, etc. > Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles - an easy day trip. > Dachau - also an easy day trip, if you're interested in the history. > Salzburg - a beautiful city with an interesting history, especially for Mozart fans. > Berchtesgaden - Some interesting history, including the Eagle's Nest, Dokumentation Centre and Salt Mine. These are only a few of the possibilities. You might find it helpful to have a look at the Germany Guidebook, as that not only has lots of information on sightseeing, but also good suggestions for Hotels, restaurants, etc. Good luck with your decision!

Posted by
988 posts

Vienna was my first and you know they say about your first. It's my favorite city. I'm in Love with it and hope to spend a year there someday. There is so much to do and it is a truly beautful city. IMO it has everything.
On the other hand, from what I hear from friends and my daughter - Berlin is a really happening place. Might be a better choice for teenaged boys. Regardless of that, you need to do research to make an informed choice. Watch Rick's episodes on Hulu.com. There are two on Vienna and one each for Munich and Berlin. That will give you a better insight.

Posted by
13383 posts

Hi, If you had to choose one and only one for a whole week, I would definitely say Berlin out of the three. Vienna is my 2nd second choice. I like Munich too, its charm and culture, but compared to Berlin and Vienna, it's provincial. Leave out Berlin, then I'd take Vienna with its enchanting and haunting atmosphere over Munich any day.

Posted by
8301 posts

Put my vote down for Berlin. For a family with 2 college age guys, it is the best choice. Tons of stuff to see and do, way more than Munich, and a lot more exciting. I do suggest visiting Trip Advisor to read the reviews on the best and most interesting walking and bike tours to go on, cause then you get the most enjoyable and memorable trips. A huge variety of themed tours are available, from 3rd Reich, to Cold War, to Jewish Culture or underground Berlin. Berlin has so many different museums to satisify any taste imaginable too. Prices range from 10-15 euro p.p. with most of the tour companies. Visit Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Go view Potsdam - the German Versaille, take a cruise through the Spree Forest, and you can even visit Dresden as a day trip.

Posted by
2829 posts

Three cities offer a different experience each. I'm usually not kind on making authoritative recommendations like A instead of B because each city might appeal to a different crowd and set of preferences. This being said, for sure Berlin is cheaper, way cheaper than the other two, and offers a wider array of summer fun. If your kids are likely to get by themselves alone for some time, Berlin might appeal to them because there are many things to do, day and night time, as Berlin has a rep of being a rendezvous for college students in Europe as well.

Posted by
51 posts

I prefer Berlin and Vienna a lot over Munich. In Munich I enjoy the museums (Deutsches Museum, Antikensammlung , Egyptian M., Ethnographic M., 3 Pinakotheken) I usually spend several days in them (when I visit my friends in Munich). But apart from those I find it not very appealing. The Hofbräuhaus is in my humble opinion one of the biggest tourist traps on this planet, I would never even get close. Bavarian beer is mediocre to lousy compared to beers from Frankonia, Thuringia or Saxony (or even Czech republic). And Hohenschwanstein is an even bigger tourist trap. Nymphenburg, Hohenschwangau, Herrenchiemsee are really nice.
The mountains and lakes are close which makes Munich a good base for day trips. Berlin is fabulous. Museums, nightlife, culture - so much of it. Endless options. And the surroundings are wonderful, Sanssouci, the lakes and forests to the north (Rheinsberg area), Spreewald - perfect for a temporary escape from the bustle. Vienna (been there only once for a week). - I loved it. Plenty of stuff for the museum fanatic (who I am admittedly). Belvedere, Schönbrunn are great. Lots of culture of every kind. Of course all this is my very humble personal opinion.

Posted by
123 posts

I've been with my mom to Munich and Vienna, and we loved Vienna. My mom just returned from Berlin and liked that even better. So agree 1. Berlin, 2. Vienna
3. Munich

Posted by
258 posts

hmmmm; totally subjective, of course, b/c love all 3 (!), BUT, if forced to choose, especially w/ college kids in tow, I'd go w/ Munich. Vienna is 1 of my favorite cities in Europe, but, perhaps, college kids won't appreciate the art, high culture, general atmosphere, etc., as much as the parents. Berlin IS fascinating for sure and would give you, and your kids, an amazing history lesson; such a histioric and significant city; while also very vibrant and modern at the same time, w/ so much to see and do. So, why Munich (in my humble opinion)? If it's your 1st time to Germany (and the kids' 1st time, too), I feel Munich offers that quintessential German experience. I think that what one finds there is what most of us think of as "German." It's such a pleasent, easy city to navigate, offers great parks, open spaces, musuems, churches, food, beer (!), etc. PLUS, it's a gateway to the Bavarian Alps. So, with a week there, you could spend most of it in Munich, but also do a side trip (day-trip or maybe over-night or 2) to see the alps, do some hiking, see the castles, etc. As much as I love Berlin, I just think Munich offers the best of all; culture, museums, art, music, in the city; and then the best of the outdoors in the neighboring alps (very easy drive or train ride to, say, Fussen, Garmish Partinkirschen, Neushwanstein castle, even Salzburg, Austria; only around 1.5 hrs by train from Munich). Bottom line; you can't go wrong w/ ANY of the 3 (some of my personal favorites in Europe!), but I just think Munich would give a family with college kids the most varied "German" experience. Let us know which you select!

Posted by
565 posts

I have not been to Munich. That being said, I really enjoyed Vienna, with its delicious pastries, fabulous beer and coffee, fine art, and exquisite music. But my heart belongs to Berlin. It is truly the heart and soul of the largest country in Europe. It's modern and cool, but there is plenty from the past to remind you that this amazing city came with a hefty price tag. Everyone will find something to enjoy in this massive city. College age boys will like the beer and intense nightlife. You will like the modest prices. And everyone will like the light (comparatively speaking) traffic and first-rate public transit. I wish I could go back right now. Enjoy a lamb kabab from Hasir for me. (Sniffle)

Posted by
9024 posts

"...It is truly the heart and soul of the largest country in Europe..." Of course the largest country in Europe (both size and population) is Russia;) But I digress, of the three Berlin is my favorite. As a Cold War/WWII history buff the related sites like Checkpoint Charlie, Jewish Museum/Holocuast Memorial, Topography of Terror, and former Sasi HQ make the city one of my favorites. Plus one gets the bonus of other first-rate attractions like the city zoo, and Museum Island as "icing on the cake". http://wikitravel.org/en/Berlin

Posted by
13520 posts

And if you exclude Russia, not all of which lies within Europe, you'll have to count France and Spain as much larger than Germany. I believe Sweden is up there too. But to answer the question----Berlin, hands down. I like Munich for the Deutsches Museum and "old world" charm. But one day there is enough, and then I head south to the mountains. Berlin has enough culture, history, and nightlife to keep you busy for a week.

Posted by
565 posts

You're right Michael. I should have said the EU, of which Germany is definitely the largest (in population).

Posted by
294 posts

Berlin. Have not been to Munich but I'd take Berlin over Vienna. Also enjoyed 1 night and day in Nurenburg.

Posted by
3031 posts

Berlin Berlin Berlin Berlin I mean, I love Vienna, but I think your sons will really prefer Berlin to Vienna. Munich would be a distant third. Yes, it's the most "German" of the cities, but I think I'd be bored after a couple of days unless I was really into doing all the museums. Munich does offer the best day-tripping locales though - Salzburg, Obersalzburg, the castles others have mentioned, etc - so that is something to consider. But to me, a week in Berlin sounds like heaven. If I had that long I could even make it over to Potsdam, see the zoo, all the stuff I haven't had time for yet because there's so much to do. I've been to Berlin 3 times in the last 6 months and the list of things I want to do and see there grows with every visit.

Posted by
441 posts

All this is subjective but I've spent a week in Munich and didn't want to leave. There are enough side trips to keep you busy plus the English Garden if you like picnics.

Posted by
11996 posts

All three are great places. All have excellent museums, altough Munich is probably third on the list. All have some interesting history, I'd put Vienna first (probably because 20th century history isn't particularly appealing to me, I like to go back at least a few centuries). For 20th century history, Berlin is first. On first blush I thought Munich, it's a nice city with plenty to do in the area, and much more within a reasonable radius from a home base. I also think the weather is the most reliable of the three. I totally agree with the comment about Hofbrauhaus being a tourist trap - but there are other brew pubs in town to visit. Neuschwanstein is also a tourist trap - but an iconic image of Germany and worth visiting once. Salzburg is beautiful and a short train ride from Munich. As far as the quality of beer goes, I usually drink the local brew when I travel and most say theirs is the best (so far Guinness in Ireland is tops in my book). The more I think about it, the more I lean toward Vienna - history, museums, culture are all first rate. As always, you need to base your choice on your personal preferences.