city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Münster is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the northwest of Germany. It is considered to be the cultural centre of the Westphalia region. Of its 315,000 residents (2019), more than 50,000 are students.

Prinzipalmarkt with St Lambert's church



Münster was founded as a monastery in 794 by the Frisian missionary Saint Liudger to aid Charlemagne's campaign to gain control over the Saxons. The city's name is derived from the word "monastery" which can be seen from its Latin name of Monasterium. In 805, Münster was made a bishopric and, in 1170, it obtained its town rights.

For centuries the city and its surrounding (the Münsterland) was ruled by powerful prince-bishops who were religious leader, political ruler and supreme judge at the same time. During the Middle Ages, Münster was a member of the Hanseatic League, becoming a prosperous trade city; the proud patrician houses on Prinzipalmarkt give evidence of this era. In 1534 and 1535, Münster was ruled by the radical Protestant sect of Anabaptists led by the Dutch preacher Jan van Leiden who crowned himself priest-king of the "Kingdom of Zion", expecting an imminent end of the world. The movement was brutally suppressed by the Catholic Church and their leaders tortured, executed and put into cages that were hung on the city's highest steeple (the cages can still be seen hanging on the St Lamberti Church's tower).

Oath of the Westphalian Peace treaty in the Münster city hall

In 1648, the Westphalian Peace treaty was negotiated and signed coevally in Osnabrück and at the Rathaus (city hall) of Münster (envoys of the different parties were constantly riding between the two cities back and forth), marking an end to the Thirty Years' War. This peace treaty gave rise to the modern concept of state sovereignty which is known as the "Westphalian order" among international law scholars. The city is proud of this heritage, claiming the slogan of being "the city of Peace".

In 1815, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster was annexed by Prussia and Münster became the capital of the Prussian province of Westphalia. Since then, it has been dominated by administrative and judicial institutions, professional services and trade, while industry never played a big role. The city has long had a reputation of being deeply "black", i.e. Catholic and conservative (while most cities in North Rhine-Westphalia were dominated by the working class and were considered strongholds of socialism and thus "red").

Münster University was founded in 1773, but it was closed down by the Prussian government in favour of the newly-founded University of Bonn. It was however re-established by German Emperor William II in 1902 who also conferred his name to it (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität). Since then, the number of students has massively grown. Nowadays, the University and the Münster polytechnic (Fachhochschule) have about 50,000 students in total—a significant share of them being international students—who have given the city a much more liberal and diverse outlook, contrary to its traditional image.

Since Westphalia was merged into the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Münster has lost its capital role to Düsseldorf, but the city of just over 300,000 inhabitants still hosts several administrative institutions, courts of justice, insurance and trade companies and, first and foremost, educational institutes. It is home to high-tech startups. To many Germans, Münster is a household name because the popular crime series Tatort which is regularly watched by more than a third of the German TV audience has a number of episodes set here known for their tongue in cheek humor (unusual for Tatort otherwise) and the "unlikely couple" of Prof. Karl Friedrich Boerne, a coroner, and Frank Thiel a carless bike-driving cop with a hippie father. While many of the episodes are actually shot elsewhere, popular landmarks still feature prominently in many episodes.



A well-known saying in Münster is "Either it rains or the church bells ring. And if both occur at the same time, it's Sunday." Its rainfall is close to the average rainfall in Germany. The perception of Münster as a rain-laden city comes from the above-average number of rainy days with relatively small amounts of rainfall. The winter in Münster is fairly mild and snowfall is unusual. The temperature during summertime meets the average in Germany.

Tourist information


Get in


By train

  • 1 Hauptbahnhof. Münster has decent train connections from the rest of Germany, mainly towards the north and south. There are hourly intercity services from Hamburg, the Ruhr and Cologne; intercity services from Frankfurt call every two hours; while other destinations are served more sporadically, with some as far-flung as Salzburg in Austria. Regional services are pretty good and provide hourly direct connections to most of the federal state. The central station (Hauptbahnhof) is to be found as Münster(Westf)Hbf in DB's booking system. Münster also has train connections to the Netherlands, thanks to frequent service to and from the city of Enschede. Flixtrain serves the city.    

By plane

  • 2 Münster-Osnabrück Airport (FMO  IATA), +49 2571 94-3360. Münster's own airport has lost connections since Ryanair and others left. There are still several domestic flights and flights to warm weather destinations around Europe. It is a 40 minutes' bus ride from the city (buses S50 and R51, half-hourly during daytime, hourly in the evening, less frequent on Sundays and public holidays, €7.60). Taxis cost €50–60, make sure to negotiate a fixed fare.    

If flying from abroad, Düsseldorf Airport[dead link] (DUS IATA) is your most likely option. Direct flights land from most major European airports, interspersed with the occasional intercontinental flight. Trains take about 1 hour 40 minutes to Münster (on the RE2 line, hourly, €25). A taxi is likely to cost you €180 or more.

If low-cost carriers are your thing, another good option is Dortmund Airport (DTM IATA), which is a focus city for no-frills carriers such as Wizzair and Ryanair. Reaching that airport is easy; there are frequent trains from Münster to Dortmund Hauptbahnhof, which is linked to the airport by public transportation. The journey should take 1 hr 10 min. By car, the journey takes an hour, but can be longer if you end up stuck in traffic.

Frankfurt Airport is not too far away and making use of rail and fly may work out to be a good deal.

By car


By car, Münster can be reached by Autobahn A 1 from both the north and the south and Autobahn A 43 from the southwest. On Saturdays, traffic into the city becomes a nightmare, so park your car at one of the four free Park and Ride lots (located on the main axes into town and marked by P+R signs) and take the bus into the centre.

By bus

  • 3 Bus station.

Intercity bus lines are offered by Flixbus which is by far the biggest player in the market. Buses arrive at and leave from behind the train station.

Get around

Map of Münster

Münster is one of Germany's biggest cities by number of inhabitants without a light rail, tram or subway network and while short distances inside the central districts are easily walkable and bikable, cars tend to dominate trips from outlying districts or suburbs. There are of course buses, but those get stuck in traffic.

By bike


Münster has a lot of bikes which creates a really special atmosphere. The city is rather flat, and is home to about 50,000 students, so naturally traveling by bike and on foot are the key modes of transport. All sidewalks outside residential areas have a red-brick section reserved just for cyclists (walking on this section is a gaffe which may cause cyclists to ring their bell angrily!), and the entire city has a pedestrian/cycle path that surrounds it: The Promenade follows the route of the city's long-gone medieval walls, and it makes for a very nice walk, taking you past the lovely Aasee (a large artificial lake surrounded by a park). While both walking and cycling are perfectly safe, some cyclists drive at a rather brisk pace and don't expect people to cross cycle routes without looking and getting hit by them can leave you seriously injured.

If you plan to stay within the centre, you can easily get around on foot. If you're venturing outside, don't be afraid to hire a bike. Münster is said to be one of Germany's most bike-friendly cities (along with Erlangen, a town of similar size and a similar number of students), and bike paths are clearly marked and usually separated from other traffic. The best option for bike rental is Radstation:

  • 1 Radstation, Berliner Platz 27a (next to the train station), +49 251 484 0170. M–F 05:30–23:00, Sa Su 07:00–23:00. A huge bike parking lot that also rents bikes. Bikes are good quality, the location and the hours are very convenient. Electric bikes and tandems available. €8/day.

By bus


Münster also has an efficient bus system operated by the Stadtwerke[dead link]. Buses run between 05:00 and 01:00 on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends. Most lines run every 20 minutes, but lines tend to overlap which usually makes for a denser schedule. Due to the confusing city layout and numerous construction sites, the whole thing isn't altogether straightforward, which isn't helped by the fact that all lines change around 21:00 when the entire system is switched to night traffic. Late at night, buses can be up to 70 minutes apart, so check the schedule beforehand. All lines meet at Hauptbahnhof (the central station). Ticket machines are sparse, but you can purchase tickets from the driver at a surcharge. Neither accept cards, not even German debit cards. A single ticket (Einzelticket) costs €2.60/€3.00 (regular/onboard fare), but if you're making a return journey, buy a day pass (9-Uhr-Tagesticket) for €4.90/€6.20. Remember to stamp your ticket when you board.

Old city hall with the peace hall

Almost all the interesting sites are concentrated in the city centre, which is easily walkable.

  • 1 Peace Hall (Friedenssaal) (Historisches Rathaus). Located in the old city hall, is famous for the signing of the historic Treaty of Münster, a document which, as a part of the Peace of Westphalia, ended the Thirty Years' War and established the Westphalian style of diplomacy between sovereign states.    
  • 2 Prinzipalmarkt. The Prinzipalmarkt used to be the city's main market street. It was heavily bombed during the Second World War, but unlike elsewhere, where ruins gave way to faceless blocks of concrete, the houses were rebuilt, some following the original plans and some merely inspired by the old architecture. Try to spot to houses with identical gables (hint: there aren't any, but they're all pretty). Today it is home to many of the city's more exclusive (some might say posh) shopping establishments.
Münster Cathedral
  • 3 St. Paul's Cathedral (St.-Paulus-Dom), Domplatz 28. Münster is known for its vast number of churches that dot its entire cityscape, including gothic St. Lambert's (Lambertikirche) and Baroque St. Clement's Church (Klemenskirche). The city's most impressive church, the St. Paul's Cathedral, is well worth a visit.
Palace of Münster (today used by the university)
  • 4 Palace (Schloss). It was finished in 1787 as one of the last major high-Baroque buildings in Germany (by that time Rococo and even Neoclassicist styles had already become in vogue), designed by Johann Conrad Schlaun, Münster's leading Baroque architect. Unfortunately, Prince-Bishop Maximilian Friedrich, who had commissioned the building, never got to move in there, having died three years earlier. His successor didn't bother much, and shortly thereafter Münster lost its status of prince-bishopric and the palace was used for other purposes. These days it is home to the university administration. During World War II, it was heavily damaged. The exterior was entirely rebuilt in the original style while the interior rather reflects the preferences of the 1950s. There's little to look at inside (although doors are open during university hours), but its façade is a curious and very characteristic combination of sandstone and red brick. During summer, lots of events are held on the square, somewhat marring the view more days than not.
  • Behind the palace, surrounded by a pentagonal moat, are the extensive palace grounds, occupied by a tranquil landscape garden and the University's 5 Botanical gardens. Daily 08:00–16:00, longer hours in summer. You don't need to be a biologist to enjoy a lengthy stroll along the paths lined by some 8,000 different species. When the weather turns ghastly (it often does), you can seek refuge in ten greenhouses and pretend it's summer. Free.
  • 6 Haus Rüschhaus (near Münster-Nienberge, about 7 km west of the city centre). Late-Baroque country house, former residence of the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, beautiful and well-maintained Baroque garden.


  • 1 Zoo, +49 251 89040. All-weather zoo.    
  • 2 Hallenbad Mitte. A nice modern indoor swimming pool near the town centre. adults €4, reduced €2.  
  • Sail on the lake on 3 Solaaris. Catamaran boat. Tour is approximately 60 mins. You can get hop-off/hop-on at each stop. Adults €10, children and students €7.50, family (2 adults and up to 4 children) €27.50.
Prinzipalmarkt—the city's main shopping district
  • 2 Prinzipalmarkt. The main shopping district hosts mostly expensive brand-name fashion and jewelry stores.    
  • 3 Wochenmarkt Münster, Domplatz, . W Sa 07:00-14:30. This weekly market is very popular. Numerous stands offer fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables, cheese and delicacies.  

There is a huge choice of restaurants. The cuisine of almost every country in the world is represented.


  • 1 Maria's Pastabar, Beginengasse 10.
  • 2 Hot Dog Station, Bolandsgasse 4.
  • 3 Curry 48, Julius-Voos-Gasse 2.
  • 4 Kleines Brauhaus, Hollenbeckerstraße 31.
  • 5 Ella's, Rosenpl. 11.
  • 6 Peperoni, Wolbecker Str. 24. Vegan.  
  • 7 Drei klang Café, Wolbecker Str. 36.
  • 8 Enchilada, Arztkarrengasse 12, . Branch of a Mexican restaurant chain in a historical building with brick walls.  


  • 9 Mocca d' or, Rothenburg 14. a nice choice for Italian food
  • 10 Stuhlmacher, Prinzipalmarkt 6 (by the Town Hall/Rathaus), +49 251 44877, . M Tu Th 11:00–23:30; W 10:00–23:30; F 11:00–0:30; Sa 10:00–0:30; Su 11:00–23:00.  
  • 11 Kleiner Kiepenkerl. Westphalian and German cuisine. It has tables outside by the Maypole.  


  • 12 Restaurant Giverny, Spiekerhof 25.


  • 13 Cafe Extrablatt Aegidiimarkt, Aegidiimarkt 1.  
  • 14 Café Malik, Schlossplatz 44.  
  • fyal central, Geisbergweg 8.  
  • Rick’s Café da Leo, Aegidiistraße 56. Tu–F 18:00–0:00; Sa 18:00–1:00.  
  • 15 Roestbar Kreuzviertel, Nordstraße 2. M–Sa 99:00–18:00; Su, public holiday 11:00–18:00.  
  • 16 Roestbar Theater, Martinistraße 2. M–Sa 10:00–18:00; Su public holiday 11:00–18:00.  



Münster has a large student population so there are a range of bars such as Cafe Extrablatt and Markt Cafe (on the market square by the Cathedral). The Jüdefelder Straße (located north west of the city centre) gathers many bars and pubs such as Gorilla, Die Rote Liebe, Davidswache, Destille and more. Alternatively, you can find a huge amount of bars in the "Hafen" area (south east of the city centre, behind the main train station). Prices are usually reasonable (starting at around €2 for a beer and €4/5 for a cocktail).

  • Pinkus Müller. Has its own brewery producing some really tasty beers.
  • Markt Cafe (opposite the cathedral). A modern bar and café.
  • Stuhlmacher (next to the Rathaus (town hall) on Prinzipalmarkt). A traditional pub.
  • Café Garbo, Warendorfer Straße 45-47 (east of the center), +49 251-30300. 10:00-01:30. A cafe-pub which offers good, fresh food, mostly vegetarian or vegan. A lot of fair trade and ecological products as coffee, tea, jucies, vegetables. Sandwiches for breakfast, great house-made cake, Dutch and English menue (German menu also for blind people available). Free-wlan, changing table, a lot of newspapers, nice, warm and cosy atmosphere, also meeting point for LGBT people. Since it's also a cinema you can always view a movie before or after dinner. Most movies are in German, but some are in their original languages with German subtitles. Mains €4-9.




Hülshoff Castle
  • 15 Burg Hülshoff, Schonebeck 6, Havixbeck (about 12 km west of the city centre; on the D3 cycle path from Münster to Havixbeck). Romantic, late-medieval water castle owned by the noble family Droste-Hülshoff (whose most well-known offspring was the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff).
  • 16 Telgte (about 12 km east of the city centre; nice cycling route, or 12 minutes by hourly regional train). Lovely and peaceful old town; the octagonal Baroque St Mary's Chapel is Northern Germany's most important Catholic pilgrimage destination. Moreover there is a museum of religious traditions, a brandy distillery museum, several historic (Renaissance or Baroque) buildings, and a number of small restaurants and shops.

Go next

  • Lüdinghausen, small town with three castles, including the beautiful Vischering water castle, 30 km south, best accessible by bike along the scenic "Route of hundred castles"
  • Dülmen, mostly rebuilt after World War II, but has a number of historical sights and an extensive English-style landscape garden, 30 km southwest, 20 minutes by half-hourly regional express
  • Hamm, transportation hub, has one of the biggest and most impressive Hindu temples in Germany, 40 km south, 25 minutes by half-hourly regional train
  • Rheine, 1000-year old saline, medieval monastery, churches and royal manor, 45 km north, 25 minutes by hourly regional express RE 7
  • Osnabrück, the other city of the Westphalian Peace, 55 km northeast, 35 minutes by hourly regional train RB 66, or by bike along the "Peace route"
  • Recklinghausen, in the northern Ruhr district, unlike most cities in Northwest Germany it was hardly damaged during World War II, therefore has a well-preserved old town core, 60 km southwest, 40 minutes by half-hourly regional express
  • Dortmund, big trade and industrial city on the Ruhr steeped in history and famous for its football (soccer) team, 65 km south, 30 minutes by intercity or 55 minutes by regional train RB 50
  • Enschede, Münster's twin city in the Netherlands, 65 km northwest, 1 hr 20 min by hourly regional train RB 64

This city travel guide to Münster is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.