Münster originated as a monastery founded in 794 by the Frisian missionary Liudger to aid Charlemagne's campaign to gain control over the Saxons. In 805, Münster was made a bishopric and, in 1170, it obtained its town rights. In 1648, a peace treaty was signed at the city hall (Historisches Rathaus), marking an end to the Thirty Year's War.
From the middle ages on, Münster was the capital of a prince-bishopric, the Fürstbistum Münster. This prince-bishopric was secularized in 1801 and became part of Prussia. In 1806, Münter was occupied by napoleonic France and became part of France in 1811. In 1813, the city was reoccupied by Prussia. After the Coalition Wars, Münster became the capital of the prussian province of Westphalia. It lost this status with the liquidation of Prussia in 1946.
Bishop Clemens August von Galen became famous for preaching against the Nazi euthanasia programme in 1941. Allied bombings destroyed 91% of the city during the second world war. Wide parts of the city centre were reconstructed in the 1950s, especially the historical city hall and the Prinzipalmarkt.
Today Münster is a fast-growing city of about 300 000 inhabitants known for its university and as an administration centre. Münster is capital of the Regierungsbezirk Münster (administrative region) and is residence of the constitutional court of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Despite being small in comparison, Münster hosts place to a large community of different musical and cultural tastes and is in general to be seen as a little paradise - especially in summer. Due to its long history as capital of a prince-bishopric, Münster has a long catholic tradition - although there is no catholic majority anymore (in 2014, less than half of the inhabitants were catholic for the first time in history)
Münster has good connections to the rest of Germany via the Deutsche Bahn station, Münster Hauptbahnhof. From 2014 to 2017 the train station is being rebuilt and therefore can only be reached from the rear side, called Bremer Platz. There are signs guiding the way to the city side of the station through Hamburger Tunnel, a tunnel crossing under the railway.
Düsseldorf Flughafen (Airport) is about 1 hour 20 minutes by train from Münster, whereas Münster-Osnabrück Airport is about 30 minutes drive from the city. The latter has grown significantly in recent years, offering flights throughout Europe including to London (City), Berlin and Amsterdam.
By car Münster can be reached by Autobahn 1 from both the north and the south and Autobahn 43 from the southwest.
Münster has 300 000 inhabitants, but 500 000 bicycles. Not only the about 40 000 Students, but nearly everybody uses a bike at least for short ways and in every weather. Most pavements have a red marked bike lane. Some streets are marked as "bicycle streets", giving cyclists priority over cars. The Promenade goes all around the city centre, following the route of the 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).
If you do not bring your own bicycle, an option is to book one from BikeSurfMeunster , an up-and-coming bike lending project that offers bikes for free, and asks for a voluntary donation rather than a fixed rental price. You can also rent a bike from several commercial bike rentals.
Münster also has an efficient bus system by the Stadtwerke Münster . You can purchase tickets from the bus driver or at machines on big bus stops like Hauptbahnhof or Aegidiimarkt. Most buses start from Hauptbahnhof every 20 minutes. At night (after 9 p.m.) there are fewer buses, going every 30 minutes until midnight. After midnight busses go every 70 minutes until 1.15 a.m. (monday to wednesday and friday), 2.25 a.m. (thursday) or 5.55. a.m. (weekends and holidays), making it a 24 hour bus system on weekends. .
For sightseeing purposes, you can take the Münster Bus , which provides a "hop on hop off" city tour in several languages.
On the Aasee, there is a "Waterbus" called SOLAARIS , a solar-powered boat, going from the Aaseeterrassen to the open air museum Mühlenhof and the zoo from april to october.
Due to the large amount of bikes and the sometimes small streets, which are often restricted in the city centre, it is not advisable to explore the city by car. Most ways are short anyway, so you should park your car and explore the city on foot or by bike. There are several car parks around the city, the biggest are Schlossplatz at the château and the underground parking garage at Aegidiimarkt, really close to the centre.
The Peace Hall, 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.
Münster is also known for its vast number of churches that dot its entire cityscape, including St. Lambert's Church and Klemenskirche. St. Paul's Cathedral (German: St.-Paulus-Dom) is one of the city's most impressive features and is well worth a visit. Also, the City Museum on Salzstrasse can give you a glimpse of how the city has evolved through the years (free entry although displays are only in German).
Near the Aasee at the Promenade the caste of Münster is located, which is now part of the University. In its backyard you can finde the free to visit botanical garden.
Prinzipalmarkt, the main shopping district.
There is a huge choice of restaurants in Münster. Cuisine of almost every country in the world are well represented, given Münster is not the most international city in a quieter corner of Germany.
For Italian food, the Mocca Dor or more intimate Borgo Antico (on Hammer Strasse) are nice choices. La Torre has a huge selection of pizza varieties, at a very fair price for the size and quality of your pizza! Le Feu features flammkuchen (tarte flambé) and has a popular flat rate all-you-can-eat option on some days.
Good Döner are at the Orient Grill at the Hauptbanhof (believe it or not!), Tatarstan (by Altstadt Bült), Butt's Bierstube and Döner King (both near each other on Hafenstrasse before the bridge). Moltkesstrasse is home to Hafez, a nice Persian restaurant. The best Dönerplace by far though is "Berlin Döner", to be found on Hammerstr., south of the city center (5 min. walking).
Recommended German restaurants and bars include Stuhlmacher (by the Town Hall/Rathaus) on Prinzipalmarkt. Or just round the corner the Kiepenkerl has tables outside by the Maypole. Drübbelken is also very cozy, friendly and features Westfalian specialties.
Don't let it be said that "vegetarian" and "German food" are oxymorons! The best vegetarian option is Peperoni on Wolbecker Strasse 24. It is actually a vegetable market, but is more famous for its special daily offering: from 12 noon, a large two-sided pan is used to cook up two different vegetarian meals with lots of fresh veggies. One is usually "classic" for less adventurous palates, the other more spicy or fragrant (Iranian, North African or Middle Eastern flavours, usually). All this for a fixed price, all you can eat, along with complementary flatbread and a fruit salad bar (Fresh-squeezed seasonal fruit juice is optional). Even if you're not vegetarian per se, you won't be disappointed! But it's best to go for lunch or early afternoon while it's all fresh and supply lasts. The owner also has his life story (as a cartoon "peperoni", the German word for a type of chilli-pepper) painted on tiles on the ceiling. If your German is okay, ask him to explain it!
A not so well known area is called Germanica Campus where you can find different mid-priced restaurants: Burger, Currywurst, italian or spanish.
If you're in Münster on a Wednesday or Saturday, you could also go to the farmer's market at the Domplatz (Cathedral square), and either buy some fresh local bread, cheese, meats, sweets, etc and make your own lunch, or buy something hot from the popular food-carts offering full meals. Reibekuchen (fried potato pancakes with apple sauce), fish (fried or pickled) and the coffee wagons are most popular, expect line-ups!
If you are on a budget, try eating at one of the many student cafeterias in town. The Aasee-Mensa cafeteria offers a large variety of dishes for students and non-students (vegetarian focus on Thursdays), and is open (except holidays) for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday and lunch hours on Saturday. However, it is often very crowded at lunch times during the week (but much quieter during semester breaks).
Take advantage from being in Münster by drinking an Altbier at Brauerei und Altbierküche Pinkus Müller. The Pinkus Müller restaurant and bar has its own brewery producing some really tasty beers. 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. Prices are usually reasonable (starting at around €2-3 for a beer and €4-5 for a cocktail). Alternatively, you can find another big cluster of bars in the "Hafen" area (south east of the city centre, behind the main train station), which is a little more upscale (with prices to reflect).
For conveniently located hotels near the Hauptbahnhof (Main Station), the Ibis Hotel is a good option about 5 minutes walk from the main station. Directly opposite the station is the Hotel Conti. Another hotel opposite the station that is a really nice choice, with modern rooms, is the Hotel Kaiserhof. From the outside, it looks like just a modern office block type building. But inside. it is really nicely decorated it the style of a traditional older hotel. There is also a free sauna for guests.
This Hostel is very close to the train station, ask for directions to the "Servatiiplatz" and people will direct you to the adress. It is located in an office building, opposite of the National Police (Bundespolizei).
Although crime is very low in Münster, there is one exception: bicycle theft. Make sure to lock your bike everytime you leave it (even if it's only for one minute) and use a strong bicycle lock (as a rule of thumb, your lock should cost at least 10% of the value of your bicycle). There are several guarded parking garages for bikes called Radstation; the biggest one can be found outside the main train station.
In 10 min. walking distance from the train station on Hafenstraße (at the parking lot beside the club "Gleis 22") you will find the main bus parking spot with many national bus lines operating. Tickets, however can only be bought Online. Google: Meinfernbus.de or flixbus.de or "Fernbus Münster". Just ask for the "fernbus" parking lot and people will direct you to it.
Trains operate in most directions to the rest of germany with daily connections to Cologne, Berlin, Munich and Hamburg from the train station (Hauptbahnhof).