I was invited by Münster Marketing to explore the beautiful city of Münster in Germany. Even though I am from Germany, I had never been before so everything was super new to me. And so I jam packed my Münster itinerary to see what’s a must if you’re into art and culture.
**** This post was commissioned and came to be thanks to the support of Münster Marketing and Stadthotel Münster. ****
Münster Travel Tips Q&A
When is the best time to visit Münster?
That depends on what season you like. Prettiest are late spring, early autumn and of course summer. During the summer holidays, you will see tourists, but most students will have left, leaving the city much emptier, particularly on Sundays. It’s so wonderfully quiet!
How to get around Münster?
The old city centre, you can easily walk. It takes less than half an hour to cross it. The preferred way to traverse Münster in Germany is by bike. It used to be the country’s bike capital and is determined to win that title back.
Therefore, expect many bike trails (marked in red, with bike symbols and red signs) everywhere and bikes on roads and, at times, shared pavements. You can rent bikes at the train station, which is 8€ per day. Helmets aren’t provided and aren’t commonly used.
The best option for rainy (and lazy) days is public transport. There’s an extensive network of local buses takin you around and out of town. Check the online routemaps and timetables.
For a short visit, I recommend the MünsterCard, which includes a rental bike and public transport. So you can freely decide what to use or if you want to try both. It’s a great deal as you also have entrance to the main museums of Münster. Get it online here.
Is there good Wi-Fi in Münster?
You might have heard it but Germany has been a bit slow to jump on the free public Wi-Fi train. Luckily, Münster has established a central city Wi-Fi in key locations, such as the town hall. There are cafes with internet access as well and of course your accommodation should also have it.
Where to Stay in Münster?
The city centre is walkable and contains the key sights of Münster. Therefore, – and particularly if it’s your first visit – staying close is recommended.
I opted for the Stadthotel Münster, which is not even a five minute walk to the Town hall and St Paulus Cathedral. It’s stylish and with comfortable beds and excellent breakfast.
There are other hotels and smaller BnBs around town for different price ranges. As it’s a student city, you also have a good selection of youth hostels.
Saturay – Old City Centre
Old Cathedral and Market
As soon as you arrive, head over to the fabulous weekly market in front of Münster Cathedral St Paulus. It’s only open on Saturdays and Wednesdays and a wonderful introduction to Münster. In total there are more than 150 stands.
As a result, you can see rows upon rows of fresh produce. Get your regional veggies, cheese and meats here or just admire the sheer orderliness of this market.
While you’re here, look at the cathedral too. There’s quite some good stories to be told about it. First, it was built in odd way, blending the then kinda outdated Romanian style (in honey-coloured sandstone) with the trending Gothic style (the more weathered, blackened stone).
Walk to the Western side and you might be surprised by the arrangement of 12 round windows in the shape of a shower head. Of course, there’s religious symbolism behind it: they represent 4 baptists and 12 apostles of Jesus.
Locals were very much against this modernisation as in their stead used to be the main (and impressive) entrance. If there’s no sermon going on inside, step inside and really take in the beautiful mosaic church windows of Münster Cathedral.
Afterwards, continue your walk across the small bridge and the city river (more a tiny streamlet) called Aa.
Fun fact: That’s an old local word for water. You’ll now be facing the Überwasserkirche, meaning “Over Water Church”. Take this quite literally as you’ve crossed the water to get to the church.
You might notice that the roof of the church tower is missing. The story behind this is that the Baptists destroyed it as they thought it wasn’t in line with bible texts. Too elaborate and trying too hard to be close to heaven. Presumptious! So they just cut it.
St Lamberti Church
The Baptists have had quite the rocky rollercoaster history in Münster. Taking over the city by convincing the religious citizens that bishops and the Catholic church had been too frivolous and self righteous in interpreting the bible.
They took over the power, completely rid women of any little rights they had and nearly starved the city to death when the bishops besieged the city. When their predicted apocalypse didn’t happen, the people were mad and the bishop tortured them to death.
You can still see the cages in which their corpses were publicly hung from St Lamberti Church. At night, an art light installation projects their tormented souls into the iron bars. Speaking of the Evangelist church, you need to visit as well. Step in but also step back and gaze up at the tower.
Down by the side, you can make out a stone plate with an engraving depicting a man blowing into a long horn. That’s the watchman. He has been protecting the city for centuries by patrolling the St Lamberti tower, looking for potential invading enemies and city fires.
The St Lamberti Tower is the highest tower in the city centre and to this day, the position of watchman has been preserved, unlike many other European cities. For the first time in forever, it’s a woman and quite the talented one.
I was lucky enough to be invited up on the tower, which is a rare exception and tourists cannot go. It’s about preserving and living tradition, not catering to tourists.
Though some say that the reason why the watchwoman cannot play in Tuesdays is due to lesser tourist numbers. She herself said it’s due to statistically less likely occurrences of enemy invasions and fires.
When you’re in town on any day, except Tuesdays, you can hear her toot the horn in three directions (West, South, North, never East) from 9pm to midnight.
She does it every half hour and regardless of weather or season. It’s become quite the institution and she’s often among the first people to notify the fire department of fires.
There are tons more stories she can tell and you can read a few of those on her blog. I sat down with her, 300 steps above the city in her small office.
If you want to hear even more stories and historical tidbits about Münster City, I highly recommend joining a local guided tour. You can’t reserve your place online but have to step into the respective offices or get your ticket at the tourist information or town hall. It’s included in the MünsterCard.
I attended a tour by K3 and it was super insightful and funny. Totally loved hearing stories portrayed in such a lively way and with hilarious (and sometimes sad) anecdotes. Tours are about 60 to 90 minutes.
You can stroll the streets some more and check out the many shops. Some are high street, others more independent. Around the famous Prinzipalmarkt are the more expensive, high end stores. Smaller stores are around the Kiepenkerl Square.
Did you know that the Prinzipalmarkt was the inspiration for Peters Square in Rome? After all, he pope, then a cardinal, used to live in Münster for 5 years.
Also, Kiepenkerl translates to “hoodie guy”, which was the local term for travelling farmers who wore blue capes with yellow scarves and traded all kinds of produce and gossip/news.
Towards the evening, relax your feet in the parks and botanical garden of the Palace. In summer, you might attend an open air movie screening there or a music performance. Always check what’s on in Münster Germany in the event calendar.
Where to eat in Münster’s City Centre
Is it lunchtime yet? Take a seat in the Gaststätte Stuhlmacher. It’s a traditional German restaurant with a classic interior and hearty, typical dishes.
I tried the regional potato soup Westfälische Kartoffelsuppe, which was delightful. Super creamy, with crispy sausage slices and firm potato pieces. Recommended!
Should you feel just a little puckish, go around the corner to the café/bakery Pain & Gateau. Their quiches are super tasty and filling, and their cakes and tarts look way too good to just walk by without having a slice.
How about Asian fusion? Go to Royals & Rice, which has fresh interpretations of Vietnamese cuisine. I had the curry coconut soup and mango lassi and loved both. The prices are cheaper if you come during lunch time rather than in the evening.
Should you only want a drink in a hip setting, go to Fyal. It’s colourful, very hipster and loved by the student community. Walls are plastered in expressive art and dozens of stickers, the sitting benches had rainbow colour pillows on them and there’s a cosy basement area too.
For evening fare, try either the Mocca d’or or Fiu restaurant in a sheltered side alley with hanging vines. They serve Italian cuisine with fresh pasta, though the latter didn’t seem to have pizza. But the filled ravioli were tasty.
Speaking of students, you may want to check out the first restaurant/café opened by students for students in Germany. It all started with a jarring article in the countrywide university magazine that labeled Münster as awfully drab. Stay away, it said in its heading: Cavete (Latin).
And so some students made sure to step up and fill the demand, crowdfunding the place and calling it Cavete. It’s located in a formerly very undesirable area, which hosted unwanted minorities who developed their very own creole language to scam snobby towners. Sadly, it’s been a dead language since WWII.
Now, the street is THE place to sip your beer in the evenings. Good thing, the main beer brand headquarters are located just across the alley and you can sample the Pinkus beer everywhere now.
Sunday – Museum Day
For that day, I would use the MünsterCard, which allows you to see 16 of the most iconic landmarks and activities. You can freely take advantage of the hop on hop off bus, bike rental or public transport with it.
Museums typically open at 10am and your first stop should be the Friedenssaal in the old town hall. It was here that the five year negotiations were held that brought a peaceful conclusion to the 30 and 80 Year Wars. That was a major feat back then!
During WWII when it became clear that the city didn’t stand a chance and wouldn’t stand long, the entire chamber was dismantled and hidden away. The town hall was bombed and later rebuilt, along with it the preserved chamber.
Please note that in Germany museums are closed on Mondays and shops/supermarkets are closed on Sundays.
Are you into arts? Then the Picasso Museum is an absolute must! It has the largest collection of the famous French artist Pablo Picasso and is right in the city centre.
Next is the LWL Museum für Kunst und Kultur, an art and cultural history museum. You could spend days in here, the collection is so extensive. So better pick a topic or join a guided tour to not get overwhelmed and run back and forth.
Literature museums and gardenscapes
If the weather allows and you feel fit, take out a bike and make your way up to the Haus Rüschhaus and Castle Hülshoff. Both were residences of the now famous authoress Annette von Droste zu Hülshoff. She produced novels, poems and wasn’t so well received during her lifetime. Her works were rather bleak and dramatic.
Now, you can visit two of the residences of the noble born writer. The museum of Rüschhaus can only be visited with a guided tour, which takes place a few times a day. So be sure to arrive in time. The gardens of either residence are free to visit.
Monday – Relax in Nature
After two extensive days sightseeing in Münster, you deserve a break, while still enjoying some of the best attractions in the city. One popular hangout spot is the lake Aa. Rent a boat, do some paddling on the water or read a good book by the shore.
Other than that, the city harbour (Münster Stadthafen) area looks very modern and there are plenty of hip places to dine out in. For Italian food, head to Pasta e Basta or just fill up on caffeine at Café Sieben. A particular foodie gem is the Hafenkäserei with its extensive cheese offerings and beer tastings.
Also by the Aa Lake, you can also visit the open air museum Mühlenhof Freilichtmuseum. Here, you’ll find yourself in a historical village setting complete with windmill and rolling hills. Entry is part of the MünsterCard as well.
A little further lies the zoo, which makes for a great family outing or if you simply want to see cute animals. The zoo’s speciality is that there are many pathways that are covered, allowing for a visit during any kind of weather.
For outdoor lovers, there are plenty of trails and hiking paths around the city. The easiest is following the shady green alleys in place of the former city walls.
You can combine also combine this with a short walk a little bit futher too. Try the 3 km long walking path Angelseitenweg that follows the river from Berler Kamp to the zoo.
Want to stay active and do it like the locals? Opt for renting a bike. This is included in the Münster Card as well. There are proper biking trails all over the town, so it’s easy to get around. And it’s the most scenic. This way, you can easily reach Haus Rüschhaus and Hülshoff Castle as well.
Are you into street art spotting? Then the other side of town, the Kreativkai and Kiesekamps area might be your jam. But then there are also crumbling houses and remains of factory walls, tagged and painted.
Besides the old city centre, you can visit other historic quarters, too. A great contender for a must see is Wolbeck in Münster. It belongs to the city since 1975 and had been a residence for prince-archbishop for more than 700 years.
It’s like being transported back into the Middle Ages with the beautiful architecture. In particular, check out the Parish Church St Nicolaus (Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus) and the Drostenhof in Wolbeck, which dates back to 1535. Note that the latter is not publicly accessible.
Are a few days in Münster enough?
Sadly, I only had three days in Münster and quickly realized I could have totally seen so much more! If you have a week inMünster, you can cover a lot of ground. There are options for trips in the vicinity as well, such as “rival” city Osnabrück.
In short, even though it seems like a small and more laid back city, there’s a lot to do here. Totally worth doing a little trip on its own here, just exploring what Münster NRW (North Rhine Westphalia, a German state) has to offer.
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