Long Germany layovers: 6 hours in Frankfurt, overnight in Munich
June 29, 2019 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Traveling with three teenagers (16, 14, 12) from US to Athens this weekend on Lufthansa and we have long layovers each way — 2pm to 8:30pm Tuesday in Frankfurt and 9pm Monday to 9am Tuesday in Munich. We’ve never been to Germany (and don’t speak German), but we hate to spend more time than necessary in the airport, or in the case of Munich, sleep away our time in a hotel.

I think we’ve got Frankfurt sorted — take the train, maybe go to to Liebeighaus? Though we’d take other tips, as well as a sense of how long to leave to regain entry to Frankfurt.

Munich is more of a question mark, though. I don’t know what I would do with three kids after midnight in any of the US cities I know well, so maybe there is not reasonable non-airport/hotel option. But I’d love to hear it if there are. And if they aren’t, what are our prospects for snoozing overnight at the Munich airport?
posted by blueshammer to Travel & Transportation around Munich, Germany (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would check if there's a hotel nearby with a pool open till late(r). Not that much time to do anything if you plan to sleep as well and be at the airport by 7 AM or so.
posted by zeikka at 8:52 AM on June 29, 2019

I would stay at a hotel at Munich airport. I’m sure you can google that... But (much to our continual despair) the train into Munich proper is long and tedious.
posted by catspajammies at 9:28 AM on June 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Munich airport is not actually *in* Munich; it's in Halbergmoos/Franzheim. The closest larger village is Freising. I loved visiting Freising when we lived in Munich but I don't think there's much to do there after 9 pm and before 9 am.

The train from the airport to central Munich takes about 45 minutes, one way. Unfortunately, I think your best bet is to get a hotel at the airport or close to it, and rest up for the remainder of your trip.
posted by cooker girl at 10:09 AM on June 29, 2019

Best answer: I'm a frequent traveler to the Munich Airport and lived in Germany for twelve years.

There's a Holiday Inn Express right on the other side of the Airport. It's at Freisinger Str. 94, 85445 Oberding. You can book online at the IHG website. Rooms should be about 100-120 Euro a night. They have really comfortable rooms (you'll need two. The "two double beds in a room" like in the US isn't a widespread thing in Germany.) If you walk down the sidewalk across from the hotel, to the south, there is a great little Italian restaurant called "Il Casale". GREAT food and atmosphere. They are open until 1030pm on Monday night. Take an Uber from the airport to the restaurant, then (I will assume you will only have carry-ons), walk to the Holiday Inn Express. The HIE also has a nice lounge/bar area that caters to the frequent traveler/family crowd that is open late. Your teens will be welcome there.

The HIE has a 24 hour shuttle to the airport that takes about ten minutes. Staff all speak English. For a 9AM flight out of Munich, you will board at 8:15. Give yourself an hour and a half to check in and make it through security (most flights to the US leave in the morning, so it's busy on a weekday).

There's also a Ramada by the HIE (if that's your thing), but I never stayed there. If you want to stay super close to the airport, there's a Hilton that's co-located. Rooms are a little pricier, but they are nice. You will literally be able to walk from your room to the security checkpoint. Usually more for a business clientele, so your dining options will be limited.

If you REALLY want to be a night owl, you can take the train into Munich proper. It's about a 30 minute ride, but you won't see much on a weeknight. If you do, walk the pretty downtown and check out the Old City Hall by night. To be honest, that's pretty much it for 10pm in Munich on a Monday night.
posted by Master Gunner at 10:10 AM on June 29, 2019 [10 favorites]

I just checked. Sorry, I guess they DO have rooms that have two doubles. I never stayed in one, sorry.
posted by Master Gunner at 10:15 AM on June 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hmm, are you sure six hours is long enough to leave the airport in Frankfurt? You’ll likely be groggy and grumpy from your flight and will need to be at your gate a couple of hours before it leaves. Security can be a bear.

I’d explore the airport and find a spot where your kids can curl up and nap. If you’re starting your vacation, why push it?

If your kids are super high energy, laid back, experienced international travelers, maybe you’ll be fine. My kids (who are experienced international travelers) would be pissed if I pushed them to rush around a transfer city for a few hours.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:23 AM on June 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Family activities in Munich late Monday night are going to be close to non existent. All shops and museums are going to be closed by the time your plane lands. The restaurants will be closing by the time you make it into Munich proper. You could try to find a cinema that shows original language English films or at least subtitles and see a late screening. But from some time around midnight public transit will be operating at a bare bones service until like 5am. So unless you plan to spend a lot of time walking around in the dark* you may want to check into an airport hotel and grab dinner and rest up.

*I mean, if that is your family’s idea of an adventure there are plenty of safe areas to do that but it seems a miserable way to spend the night
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2019

You won't reach downtown Munich until 10pm at the very earliest, probably more like 11pm. Nothing will be open on a Tuesday night. Sorry. Stay at an airport hotel (or check Sleeping at Airports).
posted by caek at 10:55 AM on June 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

language in Munich won't be a problem as long as you talk to younger (<40) folk. I've been several times and in general everyone was friendly and helpful.
posted by evilmonk at 11:18 AM on June 29, 2019

I had a similar layover in Munich last month. It's not enough time to do anything worth doing, sorry to say. We stayed overnight at the Munich Airport Novotel, which was about 10 minutes from the airport. There's a bus that goes between the airport and the hotel every fifteen minutes. I don't recall if the Novotel has double rooms or not; I was traveling with four people and we got two rooms, two people to a bed. I thought the rooms were reasonably priced given the convenience.
posted by yasaman at 11:56 AM on June 29, 2019

I'd advise leaving way more time than you think you need for the airport in Frankfurt. It is weirdly laid out and poorly signed, and my experiences there mainly involve being lost and yelled at, including a slightly surreal experience where my husband and I and a party of nuns from Brazil were all lost and yelled at together, and where we had to go through security checkpoints at either end of a blank hallway with absolutely nothing in between. (The Munich airport, by comparison, is well labeled and friendly.)
posted by LadyOscar at 9:47 PM on June 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really like Master Gunner's advice for Munich, above. A dinner at a nice restaurant will give you a feel of German culture. And I always like a nice sleep in a real bed.

About Frankfurt, I agree with everyone that it is a terrible, and huge and labyrinthine airport. I would worry about going into town. But there is actually a thing to see at the airport, which I would definitely take teens to (because I'm the geeky mum and they hate me when I do it and are grateful later when it comes up at school): the Luftbrückendenkmal, Monument to the Berlin Airlift. Last time we had layovers in Franfurt (both ways), we couldn't take it, because of plane delays eating up our layover time so we literally had to run from one gate to the next. With my mum in a wheelchair.

Enjoy your stay in Greece, though, it's a wonderful place.
posted by mumimor at 5:49 AM on June 30, 2019

Response by poster: Master Gunner, I will be doing precisely that, and will tell them at Il Casale that you sent me.

Re: Frankfurt — I appreciate everyone’s cautions about trying to leave the airport. So let me lay out a practical itinerary, in the event that anyone will still be seeing this thread:

Arrive at 2pm.
Assume I don’t make it to the airport metro station until 3pm.
24m metro ride + 13 min walk to Liebieghaus, call it 3:45.
Leave at 5, 45 min back, call it 6 pm.
Depart at 8:30 pm.

I’m happy to pay the metro prices and Liebieghaus admission to give the family a Frankfurt experience, and I think they’d prefer to say that they were in Frankfurt vs. the airport.

But if FRA complexity or some other obstacle makes this a dubious plan, I’m very happy to hear it.

(Would also be happy to get a note about a nosh on that walking route from Frankfurt Hbf to Liebieghaus.)
posted by blueshammer at 10:05 AM on June 30, 2019

You never know when FRA complexity hits you. It's a large and pretty confusing airport. I would just chill there with a beer and some good food and wait it out.
posted by Namlit at 11:19 AM on June 30, 2019

I’d also not really recommend leaving Frankfurt airport with only 6 hours or so, but the timetable you’ve set out doesn’t look too bad. I would suggest that you make some sort of limit - if you’re not at the train station by say 3:15, then forget it.

By the way, the ticket machines for the S-Bahn tickets are not particularly user friendly and the ticket system can be hard to understand. (Every time I buy a ticket at the airport I have to help at least 2-3 people navigate the machines.) You’ll want a Group Day Ticket to Frankfurt city which costs €16.60. (By contrast an adult single is €4.95) It’ll cover up to 5 people anywhere between the airport and the Frankfurt zone all day on local transport (not IC/ICE trains). You can get them at the machines with green on them rather than the ones with red. (Though I think there may be an actual RMV ticket counter at the airport train station.)

The area around the Hbf that you’d be going through to get to the Liebighaus is not really the best part of Frankfurt. Unless you’re really interested in sculpture, given that you only have an hour or so, you may be better off changing to the U-Bahn (U4/5) to Dom/Römer and having a walk around the new Altstadt including the town hall and the Cathedral. It’s right on the Main river as well.
posted by scorbet at 3:35 PM on June 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

My recollection is that in Frankfurt, you have to collect your checked luggage bag and bring it back through security. So that might mean you'd have your bags with you. It's a large, confusing airport.

You've given yourself an hour to land and clear customs (which you don't have to do if you're just transferring) and get to a metro station. That seems optimistic.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:52 PM on July 1, 2019

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