The Christmas market in Munich is one of Germany’s most visited holiday attractions. Here are the pictures.
Every year in December, Munich’s heart is illuminated by millions of lights. Lantern posts and window sills are richly decorated with all things glittering and gold. Christmas is near and so there really is no escaping the many Christmas markets in the city (if you are looking for more ways to spend a day in Munich, do read my guide). You will usually find them around public squares, but none is bigger than the one at the very center.
The Marienplatz with its massive neo-Gothic city halls forms an imposing, yet festive, background for uncounted booths and stalls. Some are selling Christmas decorations and presents, other traditional street food and mulled wine.
Make no mistake: It is a crowded place, but it is so for a reason. In the middle of it all stands a huge Christmas tree – usually a donation from one of the many towns in Bavaria. Branches hanging heavy with electric lights, it is certainly the center of all attention (or until your vision gets blurry from too much mulled wine that is).
Munich so often is reduced to Lederhosen, Oktoberfest, and Hofbräuhaus. While these are certainly fun (I wrote a complete survival guide to Oktoberfest here), Bavaria’s capital really is worth a visit the whole year. Personally speaking, winter and Christmas is among the most attractive seasons, especially since Munich has some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany. If you are looking for further reasons to visit my home town in winter, check out my guide to the best things to do in Munich in winter.
(Sidenotenote: The Christmas Market in Bremen is almost a thousand kilometers away and just as lovely )
First, enjoy the view from above
The best time to visit the central Christmas Market in Munich is in the evening. I recommend you to come a bit before 5 pm local time. Why? Because behind the Marienplatz, you will find a church with a belfry you can climb. It is called “Alter Peter” (old Peter) and offers you the most lovely view of the proceedings below.
There is no escalator and many steps, but the entrance fee of 2.50 Euro is well worth it. They often call Paris the city of lights, but during the holiday season, Munich certainly looks just as spectacular. The last possible time to enter is 5:30 pm. (official Website here)
The Christmas market
Obviously, a Christmas market, no matter how beautiful the lights will glitter, is not only a thing to be viewed from afar, but something to experience. It’s hard to decide where to start and there really is not starting point anyway, so just mingle with everyone else and enjoy your time.
Besides, the impressive Christmas tree in front of the city hall you really can’t avoid the many booths selling their wares. Christmas decoration obviously is a big hit among the shoppers.
The good news is: the city of Munich heavily regulates what booth operators are allowed to sell. So everything you see will be very authentic and usually produced locally. In some instances, you may even watch the production process. Who could resist a hand-painted German Christmas tree ball?
Christmas stars are also a big seller. If you care to take a walk through the city, you might see them hanging from balconies or in windows. They come in all colors and make a great souvenir.
Also, do look out for the many concerts and performances. Every hour or so a traditional music will be performed on the balcony of the city hall. In this case, I happened across a hunting horn band.
On every Christmas market, you will find a huge Christmas crib. Usually, those are built for the kids, which is why Santa Clause is not missing either. Even as an adult I love walking around and looking at the displays.
Some things are a bit more peculiar, though. These guys were actually just there for the fun– much to the joy of the many kids!
Food and drink at the Christmas market in Munich
There are three must.eats you should sample.Start with a mulled wine (red or white), which is called Glühwein in Germany (pronounce it gloo-wine). Especially after the climb on top Alter Peter, it will get your spirits going again. Naturally, it will help to keep you warm as well. ( You will have to leave a deposit of 2 or 3 Euros for the mugs – so don’t be surprised by the high initial price. You get it all back, except you opt for taking them home as a souvenir).
The second thing no proper visit to a German Christmas market should do without are the Bratwursts. You will find them in many variations, usually stuck in between a freshly baked bun. Look out for the foot-long ones, but do eat carefully, otherwise, you will have mustard and juices all over your scarf.
Last but not least you should try out one of the many traditional Bavarian desserts. Rohrnudel is probably the most authentic one. It’s a big yeast dumpling served with vanilla sauce, sugar and sometimes stuffed with yam. My personal favorite!!
And once you are there, definitely think of your relatives back home and buy some German treats. If you look out carefully you might find a booth selling wonderfully decorated gingerbread. So much tradition, craftsmanship, and taste are rare to find in one spot.
Actually, I would love to add another item to your must-try list. Deep fried apples, usually served with sugar and cinnamon, are a local’s favorite as well. Look out for “Apfelküchle”. Cuz who would ever say “no!” to two desserts? :)
Other Christmas markets in Munich
The Christmas market on Marienplatz is probably the most convenient ones for tourists. Locals usually don’t go there. While it may be pretty, it is a bit too crowded for our tastes. So definitely consider checking out at least one other location. Inside the former castle of the Germany kings (“Residenz”) you will find a small courtyard.
In December (though usually only on weekends) this is probably the coziest Christmas market in town. I love going here. The freezing ladies love it too since it is quite protected from the cold winter wind.
You will find another courtyard Christmas market within the City hall right next to Marienplatz. While small, the historic architecture certainly is a more than impressive background. Here is the official list of all Christmas markets in Munich.
So that’s it from my side. Have you been to the Christmas Market in Munich yet, or any other Christmas Market in Germany? Plan to go? Share your thoughts with me!