How to Get from Munich Airport to the City Centre: Step by Step!

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Getting from Munich Airport to the City Centre is (understandably) one of the first big challenges that greets any visitor upon arrival to Munich. 

I remember my first time four years ago when I touched down in the city, a giant suitcase full of crap I didn’t need, ready for my six month exchange. I thought maybe I’d take the train to save a few bucks, but as I exited Arrivals, I had no idea what to do or where to go, what ticket I needed, or even how to get to the station…. so in true Christina fashion, I panicked, sobbed internally, and flung myself into a budget-decimating taxi.

But getting to the city center from Munich airport isn’t actually all that difficult. It takes a little while, and isn’t the cheapest thing to do, but with a little assistance and pointing out of the obvious, anybody can do it. So in this guide, I’m going to walk you through (step by step) the different options you have when it comes to getting from Munich airport to the city center. Most importantly, I will be giving you a breakdown of the tickets that you need to buy at the station, because it can be a little confusing.

So, what are the different ways you can get from Munich airport to the city center? Below I’ll present three options: taxi (most convenient, but expensive), the Lufthansa Express (sometimes cheapest, and most comfortable) and taking public transportation (my preferred method). 

Looking for more Munich travel tips? Click here to read my full Munich travel guide

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OPTION A (Most Convenient!): Take a taxi or private transfer

Let’s start with the obvious: taking a taxi or private transfer.

It’s of course not the cheapest option, but it’s by far the most convenient, and quickest too when you’re away from peak hour traffic.

You can expect a taxi ride from Munich airport into the city center to cost about 50-60 euros, depending on where going. If you have a lot of heavy bags, are coming off of a long-haul flight, or are travelling with a family, etc., then getting a taxi might be worth it as taking the train is still quite expensive anyway (11.60 per person one way, or 24.30 for a group day ticket up to five people). I know that arriving in a new city can be stressful, certainly with big bags or family in tow, so I think paying extra for ease of mind can be worth it.

For extra convenience, consider booking a private transfer with Welcome Pickups. They guarantee English-speaking guides who pick you up right at Arrivals (you even get a photo of your driver sent to you beforehand!). This might be a good use of money if you’re feeling especially stressed about visiting Munich for the first time, because German taxi drivers are quite hit and miss – some speak great English, whereas others are grumpy and do not. You also save time by not having to wait at the taxi rank and get someone to assist you right away. They’re marginally more expensive than a regular taxi, but you get a lot of bonus perks like personalized pick-up, guaranteed English-speaking guides, etc. Click here to check reviews and availability.

NOTE: If travelling during peak hours (e.g. 8am-9am, or 5-6pm), I would consider taking public transportation just because traffic can be really brutal during these hours!



OPTION B (Cheap and Comfortable!): Take the Lufthansa Express Bus to Munich

If your final destination is the Munich Hauptbahnhof (Central Station), the Lufthansa Express Bus might actually be your cheapest option. A one-way ticket is only €10.50 per person (compared to €11.60 for the S-Bahn train ticket) and €17 roundtrip. They also offer free WiFi (which the trains do not) and overall the journey would be more comfortable than taking the train. Lufthansa Express buses leave from 4 stops at the Munich airport every 15 minutes, and the journey takes 25 minutes to Munich Schwabing and 45 minutes to Munich Central Station.

So the main pros are comfort, free WiFi and a marginally lower cost than buying single one-way train tickets.

BUT, the cons of taking the Lufthansa Express are that if you need further public transportation to get to your accommodation, that is not included in the cost of your ticket, so you would need to pay additional for the cost of the U-Bahn, bus or tram that you take. You are also at the mercy of traffic, which could add onto your commute time. I personally live 3 U-Bahn stops from the Central Station, so I never take the Lufthansa Express because I would then need to pay for an U-Bahn ticket.

Tickets are cheapest if you buy online in advance (I think it’s 1 euro extra when you buy from the driver). Tickets can be purchased on GetYourGuide or on the official Lufthansa Express website.

NOTE: Once again, during peak hours (e.g. 8am-9am, or 5-6pm), the train might be a better option because of traffic.



OPTION C (My Preferred Method!): Take public transportation from Munich Airport to the City Center

Last but not least, the most common option though is to take the train from Munich Airport into the city center. Depending on the ticket you buy, you should expect to pay around 11.60 per person (the standard rate for a one-way single ticket), but you can save a little dough by buying day tickets or group tickets, which I’ll explain below.

If relying on public transportation to get from Munich airport to the city, then you’ll be catching the S-Bahn (the Suburban Railway) which connects central Munich with… well, the suburbs.

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Both the S1 and S8 offer routes from Munich Airport into the city center that take about 45 minutes. Each one comes every twenty minutes, meaning trains into the city are only ten minutes apart. If your final destination is the Munich Central station, then just hop onto whichever train comes first. While the S8 is marginally faster, the way they’re timed, it never makes sense to wait for the next S8 unless your stop isn’t serviced by the S1 route.

Taking the S-Bahn is the way I usually get from Munich Airport to the city center, mainly because it’s the most cost-effective. The downside is of course that it’s not very quick, and still rather expensive (welcome to Munich though!)



STEP BY STEP: How to take the train from Munich airport into the City Center

STEP ONE: When you land, no matter which Terminal you’re in, look for any signs featuring a green circle with a white S. This is the symbol for the S-Bahn (the train you need), so follow those signs. From Terminal 1, this can be a pretty long walk, but just keep following the signs which will bring you to the ticket machines.

STEP TWO: From Terminal 1, following the signs will eventually lead you to a DB ticket machine area inside the airport (you’ll pass some shops and a Victoria’s Secret on the way!). Stop here to buy your ticket.

From Terminal 2, the signs will lead you outside to the fun undercover area between terminals. There are some ticket machines just before the exit of the terminalhere, but the line-ups are often long. If there’s a crowd of people trying to buy a ticket inside the terminal, just keep walking to the station as there are machines on the platform. Once outside, in front of Terminal 1, you’ll see some escalators going into the ground. This will bring you to the train station, and there will be ticket machines at the bottom there on the platform.

STEP THREE: To buy your ticket, tap on the British flag to get service in English.

STEP FOUR: The “München Flughafen (Munich Airport) bit will already be filled out, so all you need to do is enter your destination stop. If you don’t know what stop you need, Google Maps is quite accurate in Munich, so enter your accommodation address into Google Maps, tap the button for public transport, and it will tell you which stop you need to get off at. Enter that stop name (bearing in mind the stops are written in German, so München HBF would be the Central Station, München Ost would be the East Station), etc.

STEP FOUR: Once you have entered your destination, tap to the next screen and select WHICH ticket you want. This can be confusing, but here’s a simple breakdown:

If you only plan to use the Munich public transport system ONCE today, and you are travelling on your own, get a “Single Journey” ticket.

If you plan to use the Munich public transport system multiple times today, and you are travelling on your own, get a “Single all-day ticket“.

If you are travelling with two adults, and you plan to use the Munich public transport system multiple times today, get the “Group all-day ticket“. Otherwise, if you only plan to use the public transport system once today, it is actually still cheaper for you to both just get one “Single Journey” ticket.

If you are travelling with 3 adults or more, then you should always just get the “Group All-Day Ticket“.

If you plan to use public transportation extensively and will be doing a lot of sightseeing around Munich during your trip, consider buying a Munich City Pass, which is very expensive but also includes admission to dozens of Munich’s top attractions. Click here to check reviews and prices.

Avoid the Stripe Ticket. The savings are minimal and they are very very confusing for tourists, even locals, and you get fined like crazy if you stamp them wrong. My friend lived here for three years and even got fined one day for having stamped it wrong her whole life lol, so yes, no stripe ticket!

PS: Unless you are buying a ticket in advance for a future trip (which I wouldn’t recommend as that gets confusing, and it’s not cheaper), then MAKE SURE the “Issue with Validation” option is selected at the bottom. It should be highlighted automatically, but double check. When this option is highlighted, your ticket will be printed and automatically validated. This is important because just having a ticket is not enough in Munich, it needs to be validated properly or you will still get fined.

Trust me when I say the ticket checkers in Munich are ruthless and playing the ‘confused tourist’ card will not work here. On this airport train, I’ve seen it all: I’ve seen them fine a sobbing American girl who had the right ticket, but just stamped it wrong, I’ve seen them fine a smiley old Australian man who had the wrong ticket but offered to buy the right one on the spot. They said no, and demanded the fine….. in cash. Cash which he didn’t have. So they wanted to boot him off at the next station to find an ATM. NO JOKE! The ticket checkers are REALLY really really inflexible people, so make sure you have the right ticket, and validate it if you need to.

… but if you have the “Issue with Validation” highlighted, you’re good.

NOTE: If you will be travelling farther afield today (beyond the city center of Munich) like going to another village or city, then get a Bayern Ticket, which covers you for regional trains all throughout the state of Bavaria for the day. I have a full guide on that ticket here.

STEP FIVE: Pay! They accept cards and cash.

STEP SIX: [If your ticket hasn’t been validated] MAKE SURE IT’S VALIDATED. There are blue boxes to stamp them before the escalators and on the platform, some are even lit up so you don’t miss them. To be honest, I’m so paranoid that sometimes I stamp my pre-validated ticket “just in case”. There are no fare gates on the Munich transport system – it’s very much honour-based and so you just get on with your ticket, and show it if inspectors happen to come on board.

STEP SEVEN: Go onto the Platform and look for your train (either S1 or s8). It’s pretty tough to screw up here because Munich Airport is the first/last stop, so any trains waiting WILL take you into the center and it’s impossible to go in the wrong direction. If you are just going to Munich Central Station (Hauptbahnhof), then just get onto whatever train comes first. When in doubt though, trust Google Maps as it is fairly accurate here. I’d advise ALWAYS to walk further down the platform and get into a car that’s far down as most people get in the front and it’s super congested and hard to find a seat.

STEP EIGHT: Sit back and enjoy the ride! There is space overhead for smaller suitcases but unfortunately no big racks for larger bags. If the train is crowded, I’d recommend putting any small bags up overhead to make room for other people to sit, as your fellow German passengers might side-eye you for taking up an entire section with all your stuff. Be sure to keep your ticket on hand if ticket inspectors come on. They don’t always check, but they often do, I’d say I’m checked about 50% of the time.

STEP NINE: Listen for your stop! The ride into Munich city center is about 45 minutes, so it’s long, and you’ll be stopping a lot at stops with fun, long German names. I’d recommend loading up Google Maps and following the blue dot so you have a rough idea of where you are and how much farther you have left to go.



From Munich Airport to the City Center: Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a taxi cost from Munich airport to the city center?

This depends on the time of day because of course your rates depend on traffic, but you should expect to pay about 50-60 euros for a taxi ride from the airport into Munich, sometimes going up as high as 80 euros in high traffic conditions.



Where is the Munich Airport Train Station?

The train station at Munich Airport is on the S-Bahn (Suburban Railway) so the station will be marked by a white S in a green circle. It is found underground below Terminal 1, with escalators both within Terminal 1 and outside in the open-air space between terminals in front of Terminal 1. Just look for the S-Bahn logo!



Which ticket is best value for me if I’m taking the Munich Airport train?

As I mentioned above, the ticket you buy to get from Munich Airport into the city center will depend entirely on how many people are in your travel party and how much you plan to use public transport for the day.

As stated above:

If you only plan to use the Munich public transport system ONCE today, and you are travelling on your own, get a “Single Journey” ticket.

If you plan to use the Munich public transport system multiple times today, and you are travelling on your own, get a “Single all-day ticket“.

If you are travelling with two adults, and you plan to use the Munich public transport system multiple times today, get the “Group all-day ticket“. Otherwise, if you only plan to use the public transport system once today, it is actually still cheaper for you to both just get one “Single Journey” ticket.

If you are travelling with 3 adults or more, then you should always just get the “Group All-Day Ticket“.



What is a Bayern Ticket and do I need it?

A Bayern Ticket (or Bavaria ticket) in English is a special ticket that gives you access to regional trains all day in Bavaria for a single price.

This is an amazing ticket to buy for day trips, or if you plan to travel around Bavaria and not just Munich. You wouldn’t need to buy this ticket if you’re simply commuting from Munich Airport to the city center, BUT if you are travelling further afield (say to Salzburg or Nuremberg or elsewhere), then buying a Bayern ticket might make sense. You can use the Bayern ticket on the S-Bahn for the train from the airport to the city, on public transport within the city (U-Bahn, buses, trams) and also for regional trains with Deutsche Bahn.

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Are there any special city cards that bundle transportation with attractions?

Yes there are! There are two cards like this: the Munich City Pass, which includes FREE admission to many of Munich’s top attractions in addition to access to the public transportation system, and also the Munich Card, which is cheaper but only includes DISCOUNTS to Munich’s top attractions. They are both quite expensive to be honest, but if you plan to do a lot of sightseeing during your time here, then it could potentially be worth it.



Any more questions about getting from Munich Airport to the city center?

I think this post was pretty thorough, but let me know in the comments if you have any other questions. Enjoy, and have a great trip to Munich!



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