How to get to town when you arrive for the first time at Munich airport
If you are so rich that you do not worry about getting little change from your hundred Euro note when you take a taxi ride to the centre of Munich then you can stop reading this now. Likewise, if you are staying at one of the business hotels that includes a free airport transfer service in the price.
For the rest of us, the good news is that the cheapest, easiest and arguably the fastest and most comfortable way into the centre of Munich is by train.
What you need to know is this:
The train is the S-Bahn. That is the Schnell Bahn or Fast Train though fast in this context means not as slow as the U-Bahn and it will take just over half an hour to reach the town centre. From the arrivals areas, you just need to follow the signs marked S.
Luggage trolleys are available for free in the baggage halls and you can wheel your trolley all the way to the platform (there is a lift) and you can leave it there.
You need to buy and validate your ticket for the train before you enter the platform. There are a lot of different types of ticket. You can read about them all here. There is a ticket desk in the main airport building. You cannot miss it, the S-Bahn platforms are one level down and the ticket desk is located between the escalators and the lift. There are also automated ticket machines next to the desk.
Apart from the early hours of the morning, there is a train every ten minutes. Every train that leaves from the airport goes to the city centre. They run on two different routes but if you want the centre, either will do just fine. If you have a map, you will see that the trains are the S1 and the S8. The S1 is marked in friendly reassuring Cambridge Blue on the maps whereas the S8 features an aggressively waspish black and yellow stripe.
One thing to notice is that the S1 line splits in two a couple of stations before the airport. That does not affect you if you are heading to the centre as you just get to spend an extra couple of minutes at Neufahrn while they add an extra bit on to the train. In the other direction, it is important to get on the correct half of the train of you will end up in strange place called Freising in which the main option for employment is as a taxi driver to take dumb tourists to the airport after they got on the wrong part of the train.
That will all get you into the town centre. Getting on from there is up to you but if you have a lot of heavy luggage, you might like to consider riding the S-Bahn to either the Ostbahnhof or the Hauptbahnhof and taking a taxi from there. That is still a lot cheaper than taking a taxi all the way from the airport. If you do that, make sure that you follow the signs in the station to the taxis as there are lots of exits from both stations and they do not all have a taxi rank.
On the way back to the airport from the city, the S-Bahn is again the best choice. The S1 and the S8 will both get you there but you need to remember that as well as heading to the airport. half of them will be coming back from the airport and you do not want to get on one of those. Make sure that you board one labelled "Flughafen" and you will be all right.
Ever since I first came to Munich, there has been talk of a new, fast train out to the airport. Sometimes, the talk is of a down to earth "express S-bahn" that will simply not stop at all of the other stations between the town and the airport. Those obsessed with the latest in high tech will be pleased to know that the Transrapide - Germany's very own maglev wonder is also promised from time to time though at the moment it is out of favour because the money is all going to be spent on a third runway instead.