Münster isn't that well known as a city trip destination like Berlin, Cologne and Munich are, but I know from visiting places like Düsseldorf and Karlsruhe that the “smaller” German cities often hold pleasant surprises for those who do decide to visit them. During my Münster citytrip, I discovered that there's also plenty to do in this German city.
When foreigners hear the name “Münster”, they often think about the Christmas market or the cheese, but the cheese doesn't even come from the city of Münster in Germany. No worries, though, because there are plenty of things to do in Münster, Germany.
During my three days there, I met three different sides to the city…. and none of them were made from milk.
Green Münster City
Münster is a green city. Not a the-toilet-paper-is-recycled green city, but a place where you can find small patches of green in little alleyways and tucked-away squares. As is the case with my former hometown Leuven, Münster's city center is surrounded by a ring road.
Only in Leuven, that belt consists of a busy two-lane road while in Münster it's formed by a car-free promenade sheltered from sun and rain by a row of trees on each side.
This promenade isn't just being pretty either. It's heavily used by people walking their dog, students on their way to the university, people going for their daily run and cyclists. In fact, there are bicycles everywhere in Münster and this fascinated me because Leuven has had a “bike issue” for quite some time now.
The city doesn't want people to park their bikes just anywhere on the street, but at the same time, there aren't nearly enough parking spaces to put them away in an orderly fashion.
In Münster, however, bikes were everywhere and yet they never were in the way and not once did I notice anyone being annoyed by their presence. Granted, Münster is six times as big as Leuven with only three times the amount of locals, but still, I think there might be some lessons for us to be learned there.
Back to Münster being a green city! Münster also has its own botanical garden. I wasn't blown away by it, but it's free to enter and lies within the gardens of the Schloss or palace, so you can easily combine the two.
Out of the three days I spent in Münster, it rained for two. But that third day the sun came out and I took advantage of the free bike that came with my hotel booking to go for a ride.
Right outside Münster's promenade, starts the Aasee or Lake Aa. You can learn how to sail on the lake, rent a pedalo or simple walk or cycle the path that runs all around the lake.
I chose to do the latter, as I also wanted to visit the Mühlenhof and the Horse Museum. Both sites are located two minutes cycling or a few more minutes walking from the lake.
The Mühlenhof is an open air museum that takes you back into the past. It's like a smaller version of the Vogtsbauernhof in the Black Forest, founded “to collect, preserve and exhibit buildings and objects illustrating rural life in the Münsterland and its neighboring regions”.
Five hectares large and showcasing 22 buildings, it can easily be visited in an hour or less.
Mühlenhof Open Air Museum Münster
There's a bicycle and car parking lot right by the entrance.
Check the website for up-to-date opening hours and prices.
The Horse Museum
The Horse Museum or “Westfälisches Pferdemuseum” is located inside the Allwetterzoo, Münster's zoo. I found it very interesting as horse riding and breeding make up such a big part of Westphalia's culture and the museum gives a good overview of the historical evolution of those two activities, while also shedding light on the use of horses as “beasts of burden”.
However, it's a bit of the pity that you can't visit the museum without entering the zoo. The €16.90 (in summer) or €12.90 (in winter) day entrance fee is a bit steep if you just want to visit the Horse Museum. If you go in the afternoon, though, you can get the afternoon price which is €9.90 (in summer) or €7.90 (in winter).
Sentruper Strasse 311
There's a large parking lot in front of the zoo. When you've purchased your entrance ticket, follow the path right to get to the Horse Museum.
Check the zoo for up-to-date opening hours and prices.
And with the Horse Museum, we move to a second kind of Münster: historical Münster.
Historical Münster City
Münster was founded in the 8th century and traces of its history can be found all over the city. There are the many churches, each with their own stories, there's the Münster Dom, a real Münster must-see with its beautiful astronomical clock, and there's the famous Prinzipalmarkt.
That last spot, however, isn't really old. The original Prinzipalmarkt was bombed to pieces during the Second World War and rebuilt afterward. It's a bit like what happened to Dresden's Altstadt.
On Prinzipalmarkt, in the Historisches Rathaus, I visited the Friedenssaal. This is where, in 1648, the peace treaty between Spain and the Dutch Republic (a precursor of what would later become the Netherlands) was signed and the Eighty Years' War ended.
I learned a bit more about that war in Münster's free Stadtmuseum, where historical objects and models tell the tale of the city from its foundation until the present day.
Check the website of Stadt Münster for up to date prices and opening hours.
History can also be found at the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur Münster, where works of art cover the Middle Ages, the Old Masters, Modernism and Contemporary Art. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions.
I'm not a massive fan of art museums but spent well over an hour at the Museum für Kunst und Kultur Münster. I do have to say I especially liked the temporary exhibition and spent most of my time there, but this museum is a bit like an Ikea: it's so big that you'll spend quite a bit of time here even when you stroll through all rooms without stopping and standing still to study a piece.
It's up to you to decide what part of the museum fits your interests best but it's definitely one of the things to do in Münster.
LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur
Check the website for information about the collection, temporary exhibitions, up-to-date opening hours and prices.
Modern Münster City
From history and tradition to the present and changes. Münster might be a historical city, that doesn't mean it's standing still. In fact, in this are it again reminded me a bit of my hometown Leuven.
Walking around the city I could see that there's an upcoming movement of “hip things” that hasn't quite established itself yet, although it's clearly there. The first gourmet burger joints are opening alongside independent coffee shops and vegan restaurants.
At the same time, the harbor area is getting a facelift and has already become the nightlife hotspot, with restaurants and the famous Hot Jazz Club stretched along the waterside.
These developments make Münster a city to keep an eye on and I'm curious to see what it will look like five years from now. I'll be back.
Where to stay in Münster
Boutique: H4 Hotel Münster
I spent two nights at the H4 Hotel Münster City Center, just a short walk from the train station and right in the center of the city. The beautiful Prinzipalmarkt and the Domplatz are ocated at less than 10 minutes walking from the hotel and an additional benefit was the free bike hire that came with the room.
The H4 offers an elaborate breakfast buffet and spacious rooms with free wifi, a free locker, and a flat screen tv. No fridge and no tea and coffee supplies, as is usual in German hotels, but you do get free sparkling water.
Budget: H.ostel Münster
Located right on Marienplatz Square, this hostel is a fun option if you’re running on a tight budget. The dormitories all have a quirky design, with each bunk bed separated from the others by wood. They're a bit like sleeping pods, making it still feel private even if you’re sharing a room with nine others.
The air-conditioned dorms offer free WiFi and lockable containers for personal belongings. Linens are provided as well. The bathrooms at the hostel are large and stylish. In your free time, you can pass by the fun reception for information or hang at the cafe area.
Chain: Mövenpick Hotel Münster
Mövenpick Hotel is found right next to Lake Aasee and within walkable distance to the center of Münster. It’s really good value for a four-star hotel, with three restaurants, a sauna on the roof, and a gym overlooking the Old Town. The rooms have a contemporary feel with free tea and coffee making facilities, air-con, and free WiFi.
Luxury: Mauritzhof Hotel Münster
This is a great hotel that I’ve enjoyed staying at before. Prinzipalmarkt is only a ten-minute walk away, and it’s really easy to get to other city landmarks by foot. There’s an outdoor terrace, free WiFi and a good buffet breakfast. The rooms are stylish with muted tones and spacious bathrooms.
Apartment: Ferienwohnung Dörrie im Zentrum
A fantastic central location right near the railway station and a short walk to the cathedral, this apartment is cute and cozy, feeling like a real home-from-home. Kitchen facilities are not extensive, with a microwave, kettle and fridge, but it’s a great base from which to explore the city. Free WiFi is provided.
And that's it! I hope this post answered your question on what to see in Munster, Germany and has put you in the mood to go visit Munster too :-)
How to get to Munster
So where is Münster in Germany? Münster lies in Western Germany, in the Westphalia region, northeast of Cologne and Düsseldorf.
Münster has an airport, but as it's not too far from Belgium, I decided to go by train. I took the Thalys in Liège-Guillemins to Essen and should have switched there onto a regional direct train to Münster West Hbf, but because of an accident on the German railroads, I instead took a train from Essen to Hamm and then from Hamm to Münster.
On the way back, I took the train Münster > Essen and the Thalys Essen > Liège-Guillemins without issues.
You can also board that same Thalys at Brussels-Midi, if that's more convenient or if you'd rather not book a Thalys ticket, take a regional train from Brussels-Midi or Liège-Guillemins to Cologne and switch to another regional train that goes directly to Münster there.
Do check ticket prices first, though, as Thalys isn't necessarily more expensive and it's usually faster than taking two regional trains. It takes four to five hours to get from Brussels or Liège to Münster.
You can purchase your tickets at NMBS Europe and print them at home.
If you are flying into Münster from abroad, consider booking an airport transfer to avoid the hassle of finding your way to your hotel with all of your luggage.
Taxi2Airport is a safe choice. This platform offers 24/7 support in 10 languages and always finds you the cheapest transfers among their verified taxi partners. It also gets a rating of 9/10 on Trustpilot with more than 14,000 reviews.
Book your airport transfer here
To look up flights, use Skyscanner. This platform shows flight prices for various airlines and also allows you to set alerts so you get notified when prices go up or down.
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I made my Münster city trip on behalf of Münster Marketing. As always, what you read here is a report of my experience containing my sole opinion.