Europe's 7th busiest airport is more than just a transportation hub. With 34 million passengers annually and 30,000 employees, it is a small city. Everything from a microbrewery to a full-service medical clinic sits under its massive glass and steel roof. This includes a full-service grocery store and a smaller mini-mart, two bakeries, over 215 retail outlets, 55 restaurants, myriad bars and cafes, a branch office for nearly every major bank, a post office, dry cleaning services and an Internet café. For the extra needy there is even a swimming pool and spa at the on-site, five-star hotel, a conference center, hairdresser, shoe-repair shop, daycare center and multi-denominational chapel.
Also serving the needs of its 'residents' is the Munich Airport Center (MAC). This open-air forum, covered with a 22,000-square-meter glass and high-tech polymer roof, is an enormous venue for concerts, events and even a beach volleyball tournament. It boasts an annual Christmas market replete with its own ice-skating rink in the 10,000-square-meter central forum.
Since its opening in 1992, Munich Airport (which is officially known as Franz Josef Strauss International Airport, after the legendary Bavarian minister-president) has developed quickly. In 2003, a second terminal was opened and Lufthansa and Star Alliance flights depart from there. There are also plans to open a third runway, but this is controversial among nearby residents, who fear that a new runway would mean more noise. All in all, the Munich Airport in 2007 posted a 10.5% increase in passenger travel, thanks in part to additional flights from low-cost carriers Air Berlin and germanwings and to new long-haul destinations with the hub carrier, Lufthansa.
The airport is located about 29 kilometers north of Munich, close to the towns of Freising and Erding. The best way to get to there is with the S-Bahn - the S1 and the S8 offer connections every 10 minutes throughout the day. From the main train station the trip takes about 40 minutes. Lufthansa also operates a bus which departs every 20 minutes from the main train station.
Taking a taxi is not recommended. Apart from an extremely high price of nearly 60 euros from the airport to the city center, the trip will also take upwards of one hour. Bavarian politicians dreamed of building a high-speed magnetic levitation train which would whisk passengers in just 10 minutes from the airport to the city center. But that controversial plan was recently stopped because of the 1.6-billion-euro price tag. www.munich-airport.de.