It was somewhere in the second part of 2012 that one of my friends asked me if I would like to join her in December to a Christmas Market in Munich. That was way before starting working for a company that has its headquarters in the Bavarian city and I had no idea about the place, especially about things to do in Munich in winter.
Needless to say, my first reaction to the proposal was in the lines of “hmm..Munich…it doesn’t say anything to me” because for me Germany was not a holiday destination at the time. But in the end, I accepted the offer (as long as it involved traveling, new places, new people, why not?) and bought the tickets, a thing I never regretted doing.
Where to stay in Munich (hotels near Munich Christmas Market)
Since we were a group of 4 people, looking for cheap accommodation in an expensive town, we decided to get a room in a hostel – Jaeger’s Hotel/Hostel – right across the street from the main train station (Hauptbahnhof), on a street with different ethnic restaurants. The hostel turned out to be one of the cleanest, well located, warm hostels I’ve ever been to, it had free wifi, a really nice breakfast and a bar where we could spend some time over a glass of, oh well..wine.
If you have a more generous budget, you can also choose one of the below hotels:
- Derag Livinghotel am Viktualienmarkt – located right in the heart of the city, in Viktualienmarkt, overlooking the beautiful busy market. Tip: if you get tired of German food, try the small Asian cuisine restaurant located next to the hotel, especially the Vietnamese soup and the coconut chicken curry. You won’t regret it!
- Mercure Hotel München Altstadt – I usually choose to stay at one of the Mercure hotels when I travel for work but am also going for the options closer to the office. Since you want to be in the heart of town, this one hotel is a good choice, blending in the good services of a chain hotel with the great location, you will be only a few steps away from Marienplaz.
- Hôtel du Train – this small affordable hotel, very close to the Ubahn Sendlinger Tor stop, will have you located just a small walk away from the main city square and Christmas Market. You will have the chance to wander around the shops guiding you towards Marienplaz, admire the Sendlinger Tor and the beautiful buildings.
- GHOTEL hotel & living München-City – not exactly in the heart of the city, but still very close by, in an area, I liked more, to be honest, 2 min away from the Ubahn, this hotel is located in Munich’s more hip area. Here is where you will find all sorts of cafes, restaurants, and bistros because here is where young people go out.
Getting to Munich
Getting there for the first time was definitely interesting since we did not choose to go the direct way – from Bucharest, there are 3 options: Lufthansa, Tarom, and Wizzair out of which we chose the latter. The plane does not land in Munich but in Nuremberg, a city approximately 1 and a half hours by train (and somewhere around 30EUR depending on the group size and on the ticket bought – if you are up to 4 persons in the group you should opt for the Bayern ticket: EUR 23.00 for 1 passenger* + EUR 5.00 for each additional person (maximum of 4) from Munich. At the time, we did not do any research about Nuremberg, therefore we headed directly to the train station and from there to the final destination: Munchen.
But if you are not coming, like us, from Romania, please have in mind that you have the following options:
- Flying to Munich Airport and taking the train (S1/S8), the bus or a taxi to the city center. More information on that here.
- Flying to Nuremberg Airport where low-cost companies land. You can choose to spend a night in the city (since it’s pretty nice) or take the train as mentioned above, directly to Munich.
- Flying to Memmingen Airport a closer option if you are choosing to fly with Ryanair.
Let me start by saying that I now love Munich, I think it is a lovely city and I love exploring its streets and letting myself seduced by its architecture and its coquette coffee places. But it took some experiences to get me to this point.
My first experience was awful. Looking at the pictures now, it all looks great, all fun and games, we have some beautiful pictures to remind us that it wasn’t all as dreadful as I maybe had the tendency to think about it. But I surely did not feel it like that back then.
It was cold. Very very cold. Most certainly not the time for a city break of walking around for up to 10 hours every day. Temperatures in Munich in December tend to get below 0 degrees and snow is expected as well. It was so cold that in the third day we could not take it anymore and bought a bottle of schnapps to drink every now and then in order to get warm.
Of course, you can opt for the more low-key excursion, where you can stop every now and then for a warm chocolate/coffee.
Read also Best Things to do in Germany in Winter
Try Bavarian cuisine at the Christmas Market and beyond!
But the Christmas Market was stupendous! If you have a sweet tooth you will surely be overwhelmed by all choices out there: all the different sweets, gingerbread full of almonds and chocolate, the smell of hazelnuts in caramel, baked apples, meringues and millions of other things.
And that’s not all, Christmas ornaments, mulled wine, freshly baked chestnuts, pretzels, sausages make it very hard to behave and you will feel like a child once again. And the whole city center is full of these little wood houses out of which all sorts of indulging smells come from.
We had 4 days to get to know the Bavarian city, to taste the world-renowned German cuisine (aka würst, bratwürst, Käse würst, schnitzel, and kartoffelsalat – cold potato salad) all accompanied by the local beer. To be fair, it was only a few years later that I got the chance to taste the ultimate blend of cuisine and culture: the curry würst! (even though it is rather a traditional dish from the Northern part of the country).
So here are my top 10 things to do in Munich in Winter
Getting back to the actual city, sightseeing, we ticked a lot of travel destinations off our list (even if it was so very cold outside).
- The English Garden (Englischer Garten)
A huge park in the middle of the city. The main points of interest would be the Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower) right next to a small beer garden where you can sit back, relax and sometimes listen to good Bavarian music; the guys surfing on the Isar river, no matter the season (we spent some time marveling at the view) or the Japanese Teahouse.
- Marienplatz and the Rathaus (Town Hall)
- Munich Residenz
- BMW museum
It is actually a food market in the center of the city, where you can find everything from meat products, local dairy products, flowers, fish up to mulled wine and snacks. We sat at a small booth and enjoyed some mulled wine and some finger food. No matter the season, and after all these years, this is my top of the list when it comes to spending a chill weekend morning or even a fun rainy afternoon.
A palatial building housing the state parliament since 1949. The view is very nice in all seasons from the bridge over Isar river.
- Nymphenburg Palace
Even though you can opt only for a Palace tour since the beautiful gardens hidden behind the palace are closed during Winter season, you won’t regret getting there. Since it’s very easily accessible (just take tram number 17 from the Central Station and you’ll be there in no time) and still close to the city center, the Palace is huge and the entrance fee is only 8.50 euros from October until March. For more information on the Palace, check out their official website.
- Beer museum