Christmas is my all time favourite time of year. You just can’t beat the smell of pine trees, soft snow, hot chocolate and watching Hallmark Christmas movies while snuggled up in a warm blanket by the fireside. Every year I get fully into the Christmas spirit as soon as November 1st rolls around. In the run up to Christmas you’ll find me taking part in all kinds of Christmas activities and traditions. Each year I try to visit at least one Christmas market and I finally made it to an authentic Christmas market in Munich, Germany!
German Christmas markets have become a staple at Christmas time in most towns and I’ve visited several in the UK and North America, but I just had to experience the real deal for myself. And let me tell you, no Christmas market compares to those in Germany. It’s something that gets listed on most peoples bucket lists around the festive season. I finally bit the bullet and decided it was my turn to drink all the Gluhwein and eat my weight in strudel.
The origins of Munich Christmas dates back over 700 years and is filled to the brim with festive Christmas traditions. There are over 20 Christmas markets scattered throughout the city so you’ll find plenty of things to do and food to try! And it doesn’t end there, there is far more to do in Munich beyond the Christmas markets. Read on to find out the best Christmas markets and events in Munich!
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Planning Your German Christmas Market Trip
So you’ve finally made the decision to visit Germany and experience your very first German Christmas market. Now what?
First of all you need to decide which particular Christmas Market you want to visit. There are an abundance of Christmas Markets in Germany so you’ll need to decide which region/city/town you are aiming for. One thing to note which I discovered while doing my research is that Christmas traditions actually vary throughout Germany, it’s mostly a north/south divide. I’d always wanted to visit Bavaria since I love the architecture, so I’d narrowed it down to this particular area, but then I had to pinpoint the exact town or city. Check out tis website to help you decide!
Munich was my city of choice, it’s one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. I chose Munich because it would allow me to coincide my trip with other tourist attractions, and I’d finally tick visiting Neuschwanstein Castle off my bucket list! The other thing that really attracted me to the Munich Christmas Market was something known as the Krampus run, which which you can read more about in the post below. This is a tradition exclusive to Southern Germany and parts of Northern Austria and Switzerland.
If you’ve never been to Germany before, Munich is a good place to start. It’s less busy that that of Berlin and has such a quaint village vibe about it. I’d also recommend visiting for Oktoberfest, but perhaps not as a first visit!
A City Girl Outside contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for reading!
Essential Links For Booking Your Trip To Munich
Top places to Stay in Munich:
- Hilton Garden Inn Munich City West
- Residence Inn By Marriott Munich Ostbahnhof
- Mercure München City Center
Top Rated Munich Tours & Experiences:
How To Get To Munich
Munich International Airport is the main airport for arriving into Munich. Many large international airlines fly here including British Airways.
Getting from Munich to Munich city centre is easy. The cheapest and fastest way is by train. Both the S1 and S8 S-Bahn lines take you from the airport to the city. The journey will take you approximately 40 minutes. You will arrive at the München Haupfbahnof/central station which is right in the heart of the city. Alternatively you can opt to take the Flixbus or taxi.
Munich Christmas Market Hotels – Where To Stay In Munich
During my trip to Munich I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Munich City Center Hotel and I would be more than happy to book this hotel again. This has been one of the best hotels in Europe I have stayed at, and has all the same standards as other Marriott Properties.
To start with the check-in process was quick, easy and effortless. The staff here are amazing and very attentive. The rooms are very roomy, there’s plenty of space to spread out. You’ll also find amenities such as an iron and ironing board, kettle and ice bucket. In the bathroom there was shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and a shower cap.
Although this hotel wasn’t directly in the city centre, it was around a 10 to 15 minute walk each day. I really enjoyed walking into the city centre as we found cute cafés and shops along the way. Since we were a little out from the centre, there were many grocery stores such as Lidl where we could stock up on snacks, water and any Christmas treats we wanted to take home. And it was a fraction of the price you’d pay in the city centre.
How To Get Around Munich
Munich is a small city compared to most international cities. If staying within walking distance of the city centre then walking is the best mode of transport. I always prefer to walk because I find more hidden gems this way!
Since we were within walking distance to the city centre, we never used public transport here. You may want to if visiting places that are further out such as the English Garden etc. If you do wish to use public transport, both trains and buses are easily accessible.
Best Munich Christmas Markets & Map Included!
I was very eager to get out and experience the Christmas Markets in Munich. As soon as you enter the city centre you’ll hear the fun before you see it. Hundreds of locals and tourists alike flock to these markets every year. It’s the perfect way to meet with friends and really get into the festive spirit!
There are several Christmas Markets scattered around Munich. You won’t have to walk far to find one, in fact I found the more I wandered the more I found!
Marienplatz Christmas Market / Christkindl Marienplatz
The most popular Christmas Market in Munich is the Marienplatz Christmas Market. This cute quaint old-world style Christmas Market is located right in front of the Munich Neus Rathaus. Cute cosy wooden huts line the the Marienplatz square, filled with an array of handmade wares.
This Christmas Market is the busiest in Munich, and understandably so! How could anyone not want to get their festive cheer on here? It’s a picture perfect location that really gives me goosebumps and the Christmas feels! Don’t forget to pop into the courtyard of the Rathaus and send a letter or postcard home – you’ll get your mail stamped with a “christkindl” stamp. How cute!
Sternenplatzl At Rindermarkt
This Christmas market is just a stones throw away from the main Marienplatz Christmas market. This market was one of my favourites, it felt more spread out and open than others. This Christmas felt so magical as it’s surrounded by trees that are filled with thinly lights and stars that shine bright at night.
Residenz Christmas Village (Weihnachtsdorf Im Kaiserhof Der Residenz)
I stumbled across the Residenz Market wandering through the city. This market is set in the courtyard of the Munich Residence Palace and although it can get quite cramped with people, the food on offer here was some of the best! It’s definitely a little cosy area away from the much bigger Marienplatz.
Sendlinger Tor Christmas Market
The first Christmas market that I stumbled upon in Munich was at the Sendlinger Tor city gate. We made a be-line for the big hut selling alcohol, grabbed a hefeweizen and ate one of the best bratwursts of my life! This is a really chilled out Christmas market and one of the areas people love to come and hang out with a drink.
Kripperlmarkt Christmas Market
Kripperlmarkt is part of the bigger Christkindlmarkt. A lot of people will bypass this section in favour of the views of the Rathaus, but this is worth a walk through as it’s much less crowded!
Must Try Foods At Munich Christmas Market
Okay, lets get to the good stuff. Food!
We all know the main reason we visit any Christmas Market is for the food. And Germany has the best festive and winter food!
Bratwurst – This is a no-brainer. When you go to Germany, regardless of the time of year, you need to eat a bratwurst. Never in my life have I ever had a bratwurst like the ones I tried in Munich. It was pure heaven in my mouth. I’m a massive foodie and will always remember the good stuff, so trust me, get a bratwurst!
Gluhwein – Another must for any Christmas Market, Gluhwein! We know this as mulled wine. I love wine in general and have tried mulled wine in many places around the world but Germany does it best. Gluhwein is the perfect way to warm up at the Christmas markets, well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! You’ll get a souvenir cup for each stall you purchase Gluhwein from – I love this cute little boot from Bodo’s.
Apfelküchle – Anything deep fried is always good with me, but never had I heard of deep-fried apple until visiting Munich Christmas Market. Pure indulgence right here. Apfelküchle is like a donut, except apple instead of dough! (An apple-nut, if you will…)
Weisswurst – We talked about bratwurst but Munich is famous for it’s Weisswurst, a white sausage that is traditionally eaten without the skin.
Lebküchen – German ginger bread! The smell of gingerbread just sends me into a festive frenzy. Give. Me. All. The Gingerbread! Lebküchen cookies can be found at Christmas Markets all over Munich, they are often adorned with cute icing designs and German phrases.
Spekulatius – Another German cookie similar to gingerbread but less cinnamony and more crunchy.
Strudel – Did you even go to Germany if you didn’t eat strudel? You can find all kinds of strudel at Munich’s Christmas markets from apple, raspberry and cherry to chocolate!
Beer – Münich is the king of beers. Beer halls are the starbucks of Munich – there is one on every corner. The traditional Hélles beer from Munich has become one of my all time favourite beers.
RahmFleckerl – One of the best snacks I tried in Munich was Rahmfleckerl. Native to Bavaria it consists of a rye sourdough flatbread, topped with sour cream, bacon and chives and served fresh from the oven.
Pretzels – Of course you can’t leave Germany without having one of their world famous giant pretzels! There are many stalls selling pretzels or you can find them in any of the beer halls.
The Munich Krampus Run “Krampuslauf”
The Krampus Run is one of the things I really wanted to experience in Bavaria, and partly why I specifically chose to visit the Christmas Markets in Munich. December 5th is known as Krampus day, so traditionally the Krampus run will happen on this day. In Munich they have two events throughout December and I booked my trip to coincide with the second event. This tradition is exclusive to the Bavaria/alps region. You won’t find Krampus celebrated in other parts of Germany but you will in both Austria and Switzerland.
But who is Krampus and what is the Krampus Run?
Perhaps you’ve heard of him already, if not Krampus is a demon that punishes badly behaved children around the Christmas season. In the western world naughty children simply get put on the naughty list. But in Germany? Instead they get a visit from Krampus, who gives them coal and whips them with twigs.
Okay Okay it sounds awful but there’s way more to it than that!
Krampus is recent years has become more of a light-hearted joke. The children in Munich loved him because he was almost like Santa’s bodyguard as opposed to this horrible scary being.
The Krampus Run is just what it sounds like. Locals dress up as different types of Krampus and run through the streets of Munich, it’s all in good fun and even St. Nick is there to lead the procession. The guys dressed as Krampus would often remove masks for small children to let them know it’s not real. I must have been naughty because I got whipped by one and hugged by another! This has got to be one of the most unique Christmas traditions I have ever experienced. And I loved it!
Souvenirs To Buy At Munich Christmas Market
There are so many different souvenirs you can buy at Munich Christmas Market. I came home with several handmade and hand-painted Christmas tree decorations as well as wall hangings. But you’ll also find Christmas lights and hand-nativity scenes.
German treats are the perfect gift to bring back family from your trip to Munich as they can experience a little of your time here.
Beer steins are a quintessential German souvenir to bring back as a keep sake – I bought mine in Öberammergau, a small bavarian village near Munich.
Other Shopping In Munich
There is plenty of shopping to do outside of the Christmas Markets in Munich. While I do love the unique hand-made German gifts, there is plenty more to see in the surrounding stores. There are many local chocolate shops in the city centre with festive gift boxes filled with yummy treats. German chocolate is some of the best so make sure you take some home for gifts!
Oberpollinger is one of Munich’s oldest and biggest Department stores. I really loved the designer Dirndl at this department store!
Decked out in all it’s Christmas glory, the Karstadt department store has a food section where you can purchase traditional German snacks and candies. And I love that Europe still has C&A – for anyone that grew up in the 90’s, that’s a throw back for sure!
Other Things To Do In Munich In Winter
There is far more beyond the Christmas markets of Munich, it’s a beautiful city all round and if you have the time I’d highly recommend exploring further afield. Here are a few more ideas for your trip to Munich in winter.
The Munich Residenz hosts it’s own Christmas market but it’s also worth exploring inside this German Palace. If you want to learn a little more about the history of Munich, the Munich Residence is the perfect place to do so.
The Munich Residence is the former Palace of the Wittelsbach Monarch of Bavaria. The Residence is the biggest city Palace in Germany and displays 130 rooms featuring former Royal Collections.
Munich Beer Halls
Just because you are visiting in Munich in winter, doesn’t mean you can’t bar hop through the city’s famous beer halls!
Munich is world-renowned for it’s beer, it’s some of the best I have tried in the world. You won’t get judged here for walking into a beer hall at 10am and ordering a helles or hefeweizen. Beer halls line the streets of Munich.
Naturally you have to stop into the famous Haufbrauhaus! The Haufbrauhaus has been around since 1589 making it one of Munich’s oldest residents. This beer hall is on another level, it’s huge and it’s always a party. Beer hall etiquette in Germany is different from that in the UK and North America. There’s no need to wait for a table, you just search for empty seats on a table and say hi to your new friends! The famous Hofbrau beer comes in glasses that are bigger than my head, but it’s tradition to try one, so you have to!
The Augustiner-Brau beer hall is Munich’s oldest. You’ll find this beer hall to be a little quieter than that of the Hofbrauhaus. The food here is really good, especially if you want to try some traditional German food. I ordered a platter of different sausages that came with potatoes and sauerkraut – so good!
The Augustiner Klosterwirt is located just opposite the Frauenkirche Church. I popped into this beer hall late at night on a Sunday and it was still buzzing with people from all over. Helles is a popular beer here too, along with pretzels as big as your head!
The Frauenkirche Church, or Church of Our Lady is an icon of Munich and the second oldest parish church in the city. This church is instantly recognisable in Munich as it is the highest building in Munich. No other building in Munich is allowed to be built higher than the 99m onion shaped domes of the church. Members of the Wittelsbach family and King Ludwig III, the last king of Bavaria are buried here.
The church is famous for the mysterious footprint that sits at the entrance known as the “Devil’s Footprint”.
Having experienced the wind around the church late at night after having left the Augustiner beer hall, it’s fair to say I was a little freaked out!
Day Trip To Neuschwanstein Castle
Let’s be honest, we’ve all had dreams of living in Cinderella’s castle and being a princess in Magic Kingdom (or just me?) Since you are so close already, make the most of your time in Bavaria and book a day trip to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairytale castle in the Bavarian Alps. I had this on my bucket list for as long as I could remember – I’m a Disney nerd remember, and this was the original inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland in California! Not to mention the Bavarian Alps are ridiculously pretty as well.
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