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.
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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.
Before you go, read my useful things to know before visiting Munich
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, 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 a great location, you will be only a few steps away from Marienplatz.
- 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 Marienplatz, 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 a great area if you’re visiting for Oktoberfest or the Christmas Market, 2 min away from the Ubahn.
Read my comprehensive list of the best places to stay in Munich, with neighborhood description, pros, and cons for each of them!
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.
Wizzair 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 (later on, I have visited the town in 1 day and I found it rather charming), 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 – 13 EUR to the City Center), the bus (from 10.5 EUR), or a taxi (around 80 EUR) to the city center.
- Flying to Nuremberg Airport where low-cost companies land. You can choose to spend a night in the city (since it’s pretty nice and has a charming Christmas Market) 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, and get to town by taxi (roughly 150 EUR), train (around 2 hours from Bahnhof Memmingen station, and 28 EUR), or bus (20 EUR one way).
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.
Since you will be spending some time in town, read about getting around Munich by public transportation
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 on 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. And, of course, after many years of going back I’ve learned there are plenty of things to do inside.
Read also Best Things to do in Germany in Winter
Munich Christmas Market 2020
The reason why most people head to Munich in winter, the Christmas Market usually opens in the last weekend of November and lasts until the 24th of December.
In 2020 you will have the chance to enjoy the charming stalls steaming with delicious flavors from the 23rd of November until the 23rd of December.
One of the most famous Christmas Market around the world, there isn’t only one place you must see, and wandering around from one smaller market to the other is for sure one of the best things to do in Munich in December. From the most popular and largest Christmas Market in Marienplatz to the enchantment around the Chinesischer Turn in the English Garden, or the Tollwood packed with handcrafts and culinary delight in the Theresienwiese, Munich won’t disappoint.
My top 11 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).
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).
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)
- Attend a Munich Residenz Concert – it’s inside!
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.
You can always choose to take a Viktualienmarkt 2-Hour Gourmet Food Tour.
A palatial building housing the state parliament since 1949. The view is very nice in all seasons from the bridge over the Isar river.
Even though you can opt only for a Palace tour since the beautiful gardens hidden behind the palace are closed during the winter season, you won’t regret getting there.
Since it’s very easily accessible (just take tram number 17 from 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.
Here are 2 options to take into consideration when you want to see the Palace in a special way:
Very close to Marienplatz, we chose to visit this museum because we thought it would be fun. Unfortunately, the only fun we had there was in the museum’s restaurant, where the guy serving us brought us some powder for nose relief (as I looked for that later and found out the thing is called snuff and since it is minty it is used for nose relief) and showed us how to use it.
I know it does not sound like much fun, but it was since the guy wasn’t speaking really good English and we weren’t speaking German.
Apart from that, the museum is rather boring (or at least that was my impression), but maybe you would find it more fun and interesting than me.
All of the above were the things we have managed to fit into our trip, but of course, this is not everything you can do and see in and around Munich. Fate offered me the chance to see the city in every season and eventually fall in love with it.
- Dachau Memorial Site Day Tour
- Day Trip to Neuschwanstein & Linderhof Castles
- Hop-On Hop-Off Tour – I sure wish I did this and stayed inside for a while
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- Get your ultimate list of useful tips worth knowing before visiting Munich and everything you need to know about getting around Munich