Destinations

10 reasons why Munich Airport is the best in Europe

It's modern, airy - and plenty more besides
It's modern, airy - and plenty more besides Credit: ALAMY

We all know that Singapore Changi is the world’s best airport. Bored? It’s got two free 24-hour cinemas, a swimming pool, and computer consoles for playing video games (it goes without saying the Wi-Fi is offered without charge – since 2002). Need to relax? There’s an open-air cactus park, a butterfly garden housing 1,000 species, and a six-metre waterfall.  

The hub has won more than 500 awards, and recently topped the annual World Airport Awards, organised by Skytrax, for the fifth consecutive year.

Asian airports dominate the website’s annual gongs. Just behind Changi comes Tokyo Haneda, while South Korea’s Incheon International, Hong Kong, and Centrair Nagoya also make the top 10.

But there is one place flying the flag for Europe.

Munich comes fourth overall, has been named the continent’s best airport for 10 of the past 12 years, and is one of only a handful in the world to be given a five-star rating by Skytrax (Changi, Seoul, Hong Kong, Hamad International in Doha, Nagoya and Tokyo are the others). Here are a few reasons why…

1. It has its own brewery

Taking the ritual of pre-flight boozing to new levels is the Airbräu, Munich Airport’s own on-site brewery. To soak up the beer there’s sausage and sauerkraut, while live music occasionally provides entertainment. Just pray you don’t spot your pilot propping up the bar.

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2. Flights (usually) leave on time

Not swayed by lovely refreshing lager? Far more important we’ll admit, given that its main job is to fly travellers from A to B, is punctuality. And by that measure Munich is one of the world’s finest – according to OAG.com, 87.71 per cent of flights leave on time. Of the world’s larger airports, only Toyko Haneda can trump it.

For the record, Copenhagen is the most punctual medium-sized airport, and Osaka the top small airport.

3. Wi-Fi is totally free

We take free airport Wi-Fi for granted, but it’s shocking how many still charge for access, or only offer a limited period free of charge (at Gatwick, for example, travellers get 90 minutes, at Stansted it’s just 60). Munich’s online generosity, since 2014, has known no limits.

4. There’s surfing of a different variety

Munich Airport was home to the world’s biggest man-made standing wave last October. Surf & Style, an annual gimmick, lets fliers show off their surf skills (or lack thereof). It even hosts a pro contest.

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5. Plus a giant slide – and mini-golf

The airport’s Visitors Park features a playground and a mini-golf course, as well as attractions for aviation enthusiasts, such as historic aircraft you can step on board and explore.

There are grand plans to expand the playground too, with the construction of five distinct “zones” (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America) housing new climbing frames and swings.

6. It’s well connected

Admittedly, it’s not the most convenient airport in the world, lying as it does some 40 minutes from Munich city centre by train. But departures are frequent (every 10 minutes) and cheap compared to UK standards. Singles are €8.80 (£7.60); the Heathrow Express? £22.

7. They have a Christmas market – and an ice rink

Winter in Germany is nothing without a traditional Christmas market – and in Munich the festive fun starts before you leave the airport. Santa lands every winter to oversee 50 markets stalls hawking mulled wine, gingerbread and all manner of hand-crafted tat. Last year there was even an ice skating rink and 300 real Christmas trees.

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8. It’s easy to navigate

Slightly less exciting than roasted chestnuts and egg nog, but no less useful, are the airport’s interactive InfoGates, detailing everything from the location of shops (there are more than 150) to flight information and  railway timetables.

The connection time between Munich’s international and domestic terminals, meanwhile, is just 30 minutes (Heathrow’s is more than an hour), thanks to a combination of clear signs, a sensible layout and efficient security screening.

9. Introducing the Napcab

Need to catch 40 winks – or just fancy some privacy? These nifty cabins, found in three locations at the airport, can be hired for as little as €10 an hour. They contain a bed, a desk and music can be chosen to suit your tastes.

Sleeping quarters in Munich Airport Credit: ALAMY

10. It’s airy – and has plenty of seats

Telegraph Travel’s Adrian Bridge, a regular visitor to the city, praised the airport’s “light, airy and spacious” feel – in stark contrast to the ageing options in the German capital, Berlin.

Skytrax, meanwhile, gives Munich Airport five stars for the location of taxi and car rental services, the quality of its flight information screens, customer services, and – crucially – the availability of seats.

BONUS: It’s the gateway to Munich

Let us not forget the real reason you’re at Munich Airport – to visit the Bavarian capital itself. Let Janette Griffiths, writing for Telegraph Travel, reel you in. “Some in Munich call it “Toytown” because many of the grittier elements of urban living – litter, dirt, crime – seem to be absent. And it’s true, Munich does rank highly in the “quality of life” surveys but, for me, Toytown is a misnomer that belies the city’s character and sense of drama, glamour and romance. 

One of the world's loveliest skylines Credit: MAGANN - FOTOLIA

“There’s a square in the heart of the city where the Bavarian capital reveals something of its true nature. It’s not the glorious Marienplatz, with its old and new town halls – 19th-century neo-Gothic alongside 15th-century buildings that might be a set from Die Meistersinger. Rather, you need to walk a few blocks along the Residenzstrasse to the Odeonsplatz. And even though this was a city that helped nurture Wagner and his genius, in this square it’s as if you have walked into a scene from an Italian opera.

“The ornate exuberance of the square’s baroque Theatinerkirche is in striking contrast to the Feldherrnhalle (the scene of Hitler’s unsuccessful “beer hall putsch” in 1923), a grandiose loggia copied from the Renaissance Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. Across the square is the Renaissance façade of the massive Residenz Palace complex. Boulevards of elegant shops and galleries lead out of the square, and in fine weather people linger at café tables under the trees in the neighbouring Hofgarten.

Cheers to Munich Airport Credit: KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND

“For me, much of Munich is summed up right here: like an Italian opera, the square conveys and allows for an almost Latin drama, as if it were looking longingly across the Alps to Italy. And, indeed, on a clear day you can see the Alps as you gaze across the red-tiled rooftops of one of the loveliest skylines in Europe.”

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