Sightseeing in Munich
There’s a Christmassy scene around every corner during the festive season in Munich. And even when you aren’t visiting the city’s 20-plus Christmas markets, there’s bound to be a sight that’ll fill you with cheer at this special time of year.
A square of sights
Munich’s many large, pedestrianised squares are the perfect settings for Christmas markets. The main one takes place at Marienplatz. As well as displaying a whole host of authentic German wares, it’s ideal for a spot of sightseeing too. The Old Town Hall here has charming fairy tale spires and dates back to the 14th century. Meanwhile, the New Town Hall is a neo-Gothic masterpiece with an intricate, immense facade. Be sure to see the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, where a traditional wooden figure show takes place at the chime of 11 ‘o’ clock every day.
There’s nothing quite like a traditional church to get you in the Christmas spirit. Luckily, Munich has several of them. The most famous is the city’s iconic landmark, the Frauenkirche. Go to the top of its 16th century, onion-shaped towers for marvellous views of the city and the nearby Alps.
The city’s oldest church, known as Peterskirche, is also conveniently close to the main Christmas market on Marienplatz. It’s well worth heading inside to admire the incredibly ornate interior and the high altar that is dripping in glistening gold.
Pretty palaces and castles
Munich is almost 900 years old. Over this time, it has added a set of mighty fine palaces and castles to its collection. That includes Nymphenburg Palace, a grand Bavarian residence built in the 17th century. Marvel at its sprawling facade and gorgeous gardens.
Nearby, the Blutenburg Castle is decorated in a grand, rural style, while Furstenried is an elaborate Baroque palace. All of them look even more picturesque at Christmas, especially when there’s a chance they’ll be dusted with shimmering white snow.
Activities in Munich
Munich is a city where the traditional and the modern mixes to great effect. You’ll find this is true of the activities on offer in the heart of town too, as well as the many Christmas markets.
Choose your favourite Christmas market
As there are more than 20 Christmas markets in Munich, it’s easy to pick out the best ones! The main ‘Christkindlmarkt’ takes place at Marienplatz. Here you’ll find hundreds of stalls offering authentic wares such as wooden figures crafted by local villages and glasswork sculpted in the Bavarian Forest. Daily Christmas concerts by an Alpine orchestra add to the festive atmosphere.
Of the rest, the Medieval Market at Wittelsbacher Platz is one of the most interesting. It resolutely sticks to its medieval theme, with traders dressed in traditional costume, handmade leather bags, medieval-style beer jugs and even bows and arrows! Plus, there’s a small gay-themed Christmas market at Stephansplatz, complete with drag queens and bright pink decorations. And the Tollwood Winter Festival offers a different take on the celebrations with live performances, theatre shows and presentations alongside more than 200 artisan stalls.
Great galleries and museums
You may be surprised to find that Munich has a very cultured heritage. Since the 1950s, it has grown into a major focal point for German, Renaissance and Impressionist works. It now has a thriving contemporary art scene.
Munich also seems particularly good at documenting its nation’s history. You’ll discover this at the Bavarian National Museum, which has a fascinating collection of folklore pieces, as well as local artworks and grand old furnishings. It’s also worth visiting the German Museum, which is one of the world’s largest science and technology museums.
The Kunstareal is the main art district of the city. Within this iconic quarter, you’ll find the trio of Pinakothek galleries filled with works by illustrious names such as Durer, Rubens, da Vinci, as well as pieces by the modern masters Picasso and Warhol.
Family fun in Munich
When you’re visiting Munich over the festive season, the city’s many Christmas markets top the bill for family fun. However, there are many exciting activities to enjoy beyond the seasonal market squares.
Christmas markets for kids
There are many spellbinding scenes at Munich’s Christmas markets, sure to leave children wide-eyed with wonder. That includes the ‘Heavenly Workshop’ at the main Christmas market on Marienplatz. With assistance from artists from the Children’s Museum, the kids can learn how to craft decorations and cook Christmassy dishes, all for free.
The Christkindltram, complete with bright illuminations and tinsel, will also delight children. It’s a special tram service that runs in the centre of the city during Christmas. Meanwhile, the smaller Haidhausener Christmas Market at Weissenburger Platz is a favourite for families thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and stalls serving sweet treats such as pancakes, waffles and strudel. The kids may even find the Munich Airport Christmas Market fun, as it has a sheltered ice rink.
Romantic breaks in Munich
With Munich’s focus on grand stonework, classy streets and open green spaces, it’s easy to feel romantic during a Christmas in the city.
A winter garden
It may be chilly outside when you visit Munich, but it’s well worth wrapping up and braving the wintry conditions to wander around the English Garden. This huge green space is a highlight of the city, and is even larger than Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London. There are many attractions within the park, including the Japanese Tea Room, a river with artificial waves for surfing, and the Chinese Tower. In fact, the Chinese Tower is now the site of another charming Christmas market in the city.
Düsseldorf boasts Konigsallee Shopping Centre, one of the world's most elegant shopping boulevards where you can find something to treat your loved one in the city's high-class jewellers and designer stores.
As a strikingly modern city, Munich has an abundance of stylish shopping streets. The number one destination for fashionistas is in fact Maximillian Strasse. As well as several monuments, statues and state buildings, it has an array of designer labels including D&G, Versace and Gucci.
Beer gardens and houses
What better way to share in the atmosphere of Munich than by visiting its famous beer gardens and pubs? The most illustrious beer house of all is known as the Hofbrauhaus. Dating back to the 16th century, this atmospheric pub is the perfect place to try authentic Bavarian beers. It has hosted many famous and infamous names from history too, such as Mozart, Lenin and Hitler.
Top tips for Munich
Munich has one of the best public transport systems in the world. It is clean, safe, reliable and punctual. Plus, it’s pretty good value for money! You can pick up an inner district day ticket for a low price, allowing travel on the S-Bahn (trains), U-Bahn (underground), trams and buses. The Munich CityTourCard is also a great option if you want to travel for a few days and enjoy discounts on the major attractions too.
The city bike hire scheme makes it easy to hop on the bikes from one point to the next and easily explore the city.
Munich’s cuisine is influenced by the rich and hearty flavours that Germany is known for, but the city does have several unique dishes of its own.
For instance, the weisswurst is a white sausage of veal, bacon and herbs that according to folklore should be eaten before 12pm. Beberknodel is a delicious dumpling soup and wheat beer and dunkel are both celebrated varieties of local beer.
At Munich’s Christmas markets, look out for classic national festive cuisine including bratwurst (beef sausage), strudel, gluhwein (mulled wine), stolen (fruit cake with marzipan) and lebkuchen (ginger biscuits).