Munich owes its appeal to its unique atmosphere that allows the traditional and the modern, local color and cosmopolitan flair to coexist in harmony. The Bavarian capital is a leading business and media city where the banking and insurance sectors as well as high-tech companies and carmakers play a key role. The city is home to 250 publishing houses. With two highly respected universities, the academy of art, the music and drama academy and the film academy, the city is a thriving center for science, research and education. Since the 1990s Munich has worked to build its status as a trade fair location and air transportation hub. It has also earned a reputation as an environmentally friendly city criss-crossed with excellent bicycle paths.
Munich is internationally renowned for its vast range of diverse cultural offerings. The city has no fewer than 42 theaters, with the renowned Nationaltheater and the award-winning Kammerspiele at the top of the list. There are also 65 museums, numerous public and private collections and a vibrant gallery scene. The Deutsches Museum, the world's largest museum of science and technology, celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003. The three Pinakotheks, the Museum Brandhorst and the Egyptian Collection, still under construction at press time, form the core of an impressive museum quarter near the university. Top-level concerts can be experienced at the philharmonic hall at Gasteig, Bavarian State Opera and in the Herkulessaal in the Residenz.
Munich is a visitors' delight with its vast wealth of memorable sights, leisure time options and festivals. The locals indulge in their city's world-famous beer at the Oktoberfest and in the beer gardens in the balmy summer weather. Their passion for soccer finds an outlet at the games of FC Bayern, while they can enjoy other sports at the spectacular Olympic facilities from 1972. Elegant cafés, music clubs and bars keep party animals prowling. In the Englischer Garten, a vast park at the heart of the city, students, weekend athletes and walkers enjoy idyllic greenery. A more cultivated atmosphere is found in the grounds of the Nymphenburg Castle and the nearby botanical gardens. A rich calendar of cultural events such as the film festival and the opera festival draw international audiences. Other big attractions are concerts with major artists on tour, as well as Munich's excellent shopping opportunities for every budget. The nearby Alps and lakes make the city a popular starting point for skiers and hikers. Exciting European destinations such as Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Venice are just a few hours away.