Action is centred in the medieval Old Town (Altstadt), originally located within the old town walls, which have long ceded to a ring road. A pedestrian thoroughfare spans Karlstor on the west side (near the train station) and Isartor on the east side of the ring. Walk it in about 15 minutes, taking in the main shops and many of the major landmarks (more under Sightseeing). The circular Altstadt is only about one square kilometre, but this small area has enough shops, theatres, museums, historical sites, churches and beer gardens to attract 300,000 visitors a day.
One of the city's prettiest neighbourhoods and home to a number of buildings from Munich's jugendstil movement, a late-19th century style of architecture. The district skyline is dominated by the architecturally unique Hypo Hochhaus. The 114m skyscraper, which looks like a rocket geared for take-off, consists of three blocks of different sizes strung together by gigantic rings supported by four cylindrical towers. If you tire of staring up at such awesome structures, Bogenhausen also beckons with galleries, up-market shops and noble restaurants. Immediately north of Haidhausen, the district stretches up to Arabella Park, home of Munich's super-rich.
What used to be a refuge for vagrants, prostitutes and the mentally ill has smartened up over the last 25 years into a multicultural yuppie district boasting a pub and restaurant scene every bit as good as Schwabing's. Crammed with crêperies, delicatessens, stone-cobbled alleyways and artisan studios, this feels more like backstreet Paris than downtown Munich. House prices have recently rocketed with de-luxe flats and fashion boutiques springing up like wild mushrooms. Hardly a single building seems to have escaped the painter's brush. At the heart of the district is Rosenheimer Platz, a square close to both the Deutsches Museum and the Gasteig Cultural Centre. The latter is a giant glass-and-brick collossus, home to the classy Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. Close by, occupying almost a whole island on the Isar, is the Deutsches Museum, one of the world's largest museums of science and technology.
Chockablock with world-class museums, galleries and studenty pubs, this was Munich's first planned city expansion in the early 19th century. A cross between the Left Bank of Paris and New York's Greenwich Village, Munich's Latin quarter is similar to Schwabing, which it meets in the streets behind the university.
Just a few minutes from Marienplatz by U-Bahn, the old artists' quarter of Munich offers welcome respite from the heaving masses in the city centre. This popular district is home to the Ludwig Maximilian University and, hardly surprising, is a paradise for bookworms and café goers. Its streets abound with bookstores, record and antique shops, boutiques and pubs. A little farther north is Schwabing's main strip, Leopoldstraße. Crowding both sides of the bustling boulevard and its side streets are scores of cafés with outdoor seating, boutiques, bars and nightclubs. It's a great place to stroll on warm summer nights. The Englischer Garten, a huge city park, straddles Schwabing to the East.
Many of Munich's attractions lie outside the city centre and, thanks to a highly efficient urban train and underground system, are easily reached. To the North, for instance, lie the famous Olympiapark and the BMW car factory and museum. To the West lies the Nymphenburg district with its palace, park, botanical gardens and Hirschgarten, Europe's largest beer garden. Head South and you hit the Hellabrunn Zoo and the Bavarian Film Museum, where classics such as Das Boot and The Never Ending Story were shot.