- Lifestyle & Sports
- 03 Mar 14
Muenster's combination of a far-reaching history, astonishing architecture, nature and a vibrant nightlife and cultural scene renders it a must-see for anyone visiting Germany.
Where exactly is it?
In western Germany, in the state of Nordrhein- Westphalia. Muenster is close to the Netherlands and borders the vast Ruhr conurbation encompassing Dortmund, Dusseldorf and other industrial centres. The actual city of Muenster has a population of about 300,000 including 50,000 students. Like any student centre, it’s vibrant and bustling, with no shortage of nightlife and entertainment options.
How do I get there?
Muenster has its own airport, but flights from Dublin only operate to Duesseldorf International, a pleasant 90-minute train ride away. Return flights are roughly €200; trains operate every hour, and day-tickets to Muenster often include bus rides through the city.
What language do they speak?
German, obviously. But most have also swotted up on other European languages during their schooldays. You’ll always find someone who speaks English or French. Sizeable Portuguese, Polish and Turkish communities live here too. Just be careful not to ask one of the elderly people for directions. Even if you learned some German in school you won’t understand the old dialect, called Low-German, widely used even today.
What’s the local beer like?
Muenster’s discerning tipplers swear by the city’s own brewery, Pinkus Mueller (pinkus.de). It’s located on Kreuzstraße near the appropriately- named Schlossplatz, and brews 10 types of beer from plain ale to German Pilsener. As with all German beers, purity is guaranteed and noxious hangover-inducing additives are conspicuously absent.
What’s the transport like?
Ruthlessly efficient. If the timetable says the train will arrive at twelve minutes past ten, it will arrive at exactly twelve minutes past ten. Late night transport is a breeze, with no shortage of buses and taxis.
What about food?
You’ll find a multi-cultural range of restaurants as well as local eateries such as Gasthaus Leve at Alter Steinweg 37 (gasthaus-leve.de) or the Kiepenkerl (grosser-kiepenkerl.de) chain, which serves a mean green cabbage with smoked sausage, smoked pork roast and boiled potatoes. You should also try delicacies like pumpernickel with meet sausages or ragout – an experience as quintessentially German as winning penalty shoot-outs against England.
What’s the nightlife like?
It’s based around two main areas, the first being the main station where many pubs, restaurants and clubs are located. The other hotspot is the Hafen or ‘Harbour Quarter’, which in addition to such fine eateries and drinkeries as Freiheit 26 on Hafenweg (freiheit-26.de) is home to the magnificent Wolfgang Borchert Theatre (wolfgang-borchert-theater.de).
Anywhere you go, you’ll encounter friendly locals who’ll point you in the right direction. Recommended spots include the Jovel Music Hall (jovel.de) and Sputnikhalle (sputnikhalle.de) close to the main station, where different bands perform during the week. Or find your Party Cloud 9 in Heaven, a club-restaurant with star DJs passing through (heaven-lounge. de). Want to stay in the city centre after your sight-seeing trip? Explore the bars around Juedefelderstrasse near Muenster University, which have live bands at the weekend.
When should I go?
Muenster is appealing at all times of year. A major highlight is the Shrove Monday procession, which marks the close of carnival season, wherein fun-loving Germans let their hair down by celebrating together in crazy costumes. When it’s warmer, enjoy the sun near Lake Aa with its many attractions – or, in winter, stroll through one of the five Christmas markets.
What are the touristy things to do?
The most important place to visit is the Old Town Hall. Most of the other attractions are just a stone’s throw away, like Muenster Cathedral and Lamberti Church with its impressive architecture and religious history. For a day out, Lake Aa offers superb walking trails along its shore and boat trips; back in town later, explore one of the theatres or attend a concert in Halle Muensterland.
Muenster is the most bicycle- friendly town in Germany. In that vein, a day-trip through the countryside is an excellent way to soak up the scenery and natural beauty. If the weather gods aren’t smiling, visit the Allwetter Zoo (allwetterzoo.de) near Lake Aa, which is famous for its white rhinos. You can also feed their Indian elephants with “little” treats such as loaves of bread, catch the penguins on their daily walk through the complex, and watch the sea lions doing their daily exercise.
What should I bring home?
A packet of Muenster’s pumpernickel and original gammon. You won’t find it anywhere else. And a bottle or three of Pinkus Mueller to share with your friends and let them know what what they’re missing!