by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:16th December 2017

Visiting Munich’s Christmas Markets

Where the German traditions come alive

Ahh, Munich at Christmas, what a magical time to visit Bavaria’s capital city.

Munich was the 2nd stop on our 2017 Christmas Market road trip after we had enjoyed a couple of festive days in the magnificent French city of Strasbourg. Follow along with us as, after Munich, we visit Frankfurt and Cologne.

On the few occasions we have visited Bavaria, we loved it, the people, the history, the food, and the beer. It was great to be back in Germany’s lush region of Bavaria. What could be better?

Ohh, yes, visiting Munich at Christmas time embracing, Germany’s festive traditions and immersing ourselves in all things Christmassy.

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So how would the Bavarian capital differ from our other German Christmas market experiences? There was only one way to find out….let’s go and discover Munich’s Christkindlmarkt.
Looking through the arch of the old Rathaus towards the Christmas market in front of the new Rathaus, with the twin towers of the cities Cathedral.
To the Christmas Market in Munich

Where is Munich?

How to get to Munich

- By  Air
The nearest airport is Munich International Airport, about 35 minutes (25mls/40km) from the centre of Munich by taxi. There is also a rail connection that takes around 40 minutes. Take a browse through for departures from your local airport.

- By Car
If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle and tour Germany under your own steam.
Alternatively, it’s so easy to visit on a road trip. Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the best deals that suit you.

Christmas around Marienplatz

Munich’s Rathaus festive treat

One thing that Munich is certainly not short of, is Christmas markets; we only visited a handful, but there are many more scattered around the historical city, for you to amble around.

Munich’s oldest Christmas market is nestled in the heart of the city with the stunning backdrop of the neo-Gothic Rathaus. The enchanting rambling market of Marienplatz weaves its way amongst the pedestrian streets. It will instantly bring a smile to your face.

This lovely ancient Bavarian market dating back to the 14th-century is full of sparkle, glühwein and bratwurst. All around, the festive cabins are overflowing with traditional Christmas gifts; there’s something for everyone.

Looking up at the tower of Munich's Rathaus with markets stalls below as snow falls.
Snowing in front of the Rathaus
A hanger from a stall in Munich's Christmas market lit with a spotlight catch the decorations hanging from it.
Attractive gifts

As you stroll amongst all the twinkling stalls, there is a beautiful scent of roasting chestnuts, gingerbread, and Christmas spices. Still, today when I catch a passing waft of these festive aromas, I’m transported to a Christmas Market.

It’s difficult to resist the temptation to indulge, so my advice is don’t resist; create those lasting memories.

One thing we found slightly different in Munich to Cologne is that the Christmas stalls in Munich often have one mug per stall rather than per market….you are spoilt for choice.

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A Starry Night Christmas market

Festive fun in Rindermarkt
When we visited Munich’s Christmas festivities in 2017, the yuletide market in Rindermarkt was named Sternenplatzl, the ‘Starry Night’ market. The bustling little cabins in this square now float under the glistening umbrella of Marienplatz.
A model of Santa climbing a lampost in Rindermarkt, another of the locations of one of Munich's many Christmas markets.
Climbing Santa
A close-up of a wide selection of vintage baubles on a stall in the Rindermarkt Christmas Market of Munich.
Vintage ornaments
We loved visiting this Munich market as it had an intimate and friendly atmosphere. It was cosy and compact and had a fascinating range of traditional antique decorations and old-fashioned children’s toys.
A wooden Christmas Pyramid, atop a stall, in the Rindermarkt Christmas markets, against the backdrop ornately decorated buildings that line the square.
Traditional pyramid at Münchner Christkindlmarkt
Although, without a doubt, the centrepiece in Rindermarkt must be the towering rotating pyramid. Not only is it enjoyable to watch, but it is also home to an overflowing bratwurst stall and a must-try for any visitor.

Where to stay in Munich

Our accommodation for the three nights in Munich was at the Mercure Altstadt. Very central and extremely friendly staff and the buffet breakfast is a must.

Underground parking is available onsite.

Alternatively, pop your dates in the search box and discover further options for all budgets.

Munich’s Kripperlmarkt

Creating your own nativity
Once you’ve purchased all your charming Christmas gifts from Marienplatz, stroll west along the pedestrian street to Kripperlmarkt ‘Crib-Market’. This unusual market is Germany’s largest Manger market.
A lit sign welcomes you to the Kripperlmarkt Christmas market, against the backdrop of the historic buildings that line the Neuhauser Straße with the towers of Munich Cathedral visible in the background.
The 12 unique stalls, which are dotted all around the Richard Strauss statue, offer a large selection of wooden figures, stables, and mangers. Everything you need to create your own nativity scene at home.
A collection of huts on the edge of one of Munich's Christmas markets as it drizzles and the pavement glistens.
Stalls in Kripperlmarkt

However, with most Christmas markets in Germany, it is never complete without the obligatory glühwein hut.

At the Kripperlmarkt, we found a stall selling kirsch glühwein, complete with cherries in the bottom.

I must admit I’m not a lover of kirsch cherries, so I let Gary try this one, which he was more than willing to do.

Janis holding a spoon with a glace cherry fished out of Gary's Kirsche glühwein. The tall semi-opaque glass is resting on a wooden bench, dusted with snow, lit by a candle in a white lantern.
Kirsch glühwein
A highly polished copper still is the centrepiece of a drink stall at the Christmas market in Kaufingerstraße.
The copper still

CityTourCard Munich

Take advantage of the wide range of benefits that the CityTourCard Munich has to offer. Make the most out of your trip to Munich with free travel on the public transport, plus many discounts at selected partners.

Munich’s Christmas Ice rink

Grab your skates and glide

When we visited Munich’s Christmas markets in 2017, we headed to the ice rink in Karlsplatz. Now don’t hold me to this, but I believe the ice-rink is no longer in Karlsplatz; however, I know there is one located at the Christmas market at Munich Airport.

The airport ice-rink is undercover and is encircled by a bounty of Christmas stalls.

A group of skaters take to the ice at the Christmas Market at Karlsplatz on a grey day in Munich.
The Ice rink
The Karlsplatz ice rink is just a short hop from Kripperlmarkt. We were at the Christmas ice-rink on a Monday, so it was a bit quieter, but in the evening, we struggled to even get close to the viewing platform.
Groups of people gather in front of the Christmas markets stalls that line the edges of the ice rink in Karlsplatz.
Around the ice rink
It was such a lovely atmosphere around Stachus ice rink; everyone was having fun and enjoying themselves. I must admit we saved our dignity and left the skating to the people who could stay upright.

If you've yet to discover Munich's incredible history, then let’s start planning. I find these DK Travel Guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

Christmas Village in the Kaiserhof

Sparkles at Residenz (Munich City Palace)
We take a leisurely stroll north of Marienplatz to Kaiserhof and the Residenz (Munich City Palace). Here you’ll discover another charming traditional Christmas market. This quaint Christmas village is set within the courtyard of the Kaiserhof and is full of festive fun for the young and old.
Crowds in the Munich Residenz Christmas Market, where the centrepiece is a Christmas pyramid above a drinks stall. The buildings on the left are illuminated blue, while those in the background are green.
The centre of the village Christmas market

As soon as we step through the cobbled-stoned archway, the huge sparkling rotating pyramid immediately catches our eye.

These wonderful wooden structures always add a bit of festive joy.

However, the glistening stalls and the intriguing Hansel & Gretel fairy-tale forest are hard to resist.

A collection of food stalls in the Munich Residenz Christmas Market with the one in the foreground labelled as the Kartoffel Hütte. The backdrop is blue lit buildings with faux facades.
Food in the village Christmas market
It was in this Christmas village that Gary tried the delicious Gluhbier (hot beer), and I chose the heart-warming apple wine (it would have been rude not to).
A mug of glühwein, and a chalice-shaped glass with a glühbier, or hot, spice, beer on a wooden barrel in the Residence Christmas market.
Hot wine and beer

Don’t forget

Your comfy shoes and warm clothing

Munich’s Medieval Christmas Market

And a fire-breathing dragon
The bustling Medieval Christmas market in Wittelsbacher Platz was one of our favourite markets in Munich. Every detail was perfectly thought through, the wooden huts, the mugs, the characters, the whole theme was great fun and such a friendly atmosphere.
Groups of people in front of the wooden market stalls of the Medieval Christmas market around the statue of Maximilian I in Wittelsbacherplatz.
The Medieval Christmas market in Munich
People huddle together stalls in the Medieval Christmas market on a drizzling evening with the silhouette of the statue of Maximilian I reflected on the building in the background.
Lining the Medieval Christmas market
A collection of wooden stalls in the Medieval Christmas market selling artisan craft products such as bags and jewellery.
Traditional crafts at the Medieval Christmas market
While wandering around the festive Medieval cabins, locals were dressed up in historical costumes and entertaining us. Falconers were strolling around with birds of prey, and there was even a guy on stilts accompanied by a fire-breathing dragon (you don’t see that every day).
A costumed performer on stilts alongside a cart holding a wooden, fire breathing, dragon puppet in the Medieval Christmas market.
The Dragon Master
A mobile performance piece of a dragon skeleton puppet breathing flames as the crowds watch on.
Fire-breathing dragon

The Middle Ages are brought back to life in this Munich market; grab yourself a tarte flambée and watch as the ancient world passes by.

Of course, this is an ideal spot to enjoy a glühwein; in fact, we chose the flaming feuerzangenbowle served up in clay goblets.

A shot of me, Gary, drinking gluhwein from a stone goblet at the medieval Christmas market in Munich.
Drinking from a goblet
Janis wrapped up warmly with her bright red Jack Wolfskin jacket, and strippy scarf, reaching out to her terracotta goblet containing her gluhwein.
Warm to touch

Visitor Information

If you’re tempted to visit Munich at Christmas, this informative website will guide you around Munch’s magnificent Christmas markets.

Christmas at the Chinese Tower

Nestled in the English Garden

The next Bavarian Christmas market we visited in Munich was the Weihnachtsmarkt am Chinesischer Turm, the Christmas market under the Chinese Tower.

This delightful market can be found in the English Garden just north of the historic city centre.

The Christmas tree and Chinese tower at the English gardens Christmas market.
The Chinese Tower at Christmas, Munich
Two horses are pulling a small wooden carriage with tourists in Munich's park market.
Your carriage awaits
The Chinesischer Turm market felt very family orientated, with the Christmas huts being centred around the eye-catching Chinese Tower. There were horse-drawn carriages to take you on a trot around the park. Also, in this Christmas market were lanes for playing Ice Stock Curling, which was truly entertaining at times.
Kids playing Bavarian curling in the Christmas market in the English gardens.
Bavarian Curling
There were plenty of food cabins to choose from, and we also welcomed the ample seating around the tower, which was gratefully needed after being on our feet all day.

Another slight difference

When you bought a glühwein, you were given a token with your mug. Instead of returning the mug to the stall, you purchased it from, you took it to a central station for your refund along with the token.

Local Delicacies in Munich

Tempting those tastebuds

There are so many great things to eat around Munich’s markets, especially if you have a sweet tooth.

We found a dish named Apfelschmarrn, which we’d never had before. It is apple pancakes with nuts and a plum sauce. You were even able to eat the bowl that Apfelschmarrn was served in (it tasted like an ice cream cone). No waste is to be had here.

An edible bowl containing apple pancakes with lashings of plum sauce and two wooden forks.
Trying Apfelschmarrn
Two steaming glass mugs of glühwein on a wooden shelf against the edge of a drinks hut on the Christmas Market.
Steaming glühwein
Although there are glühwein stalls throughout the Christmas markets, it is surprising how much they can differ in flavour, some sweeter and some spicier. But all very good, I hasten to add.

Why not?

Start creating your own Christmas Market adventure and discover the culinary delights for yourself. Take a browse through for departures from your local airport.

Discover more of Germany on a road trip like us; why not check out Rental Cars as they search multiple well-known car hire brands for the best deals.

Visiting a German Beer Hall

When in Bavaria, it’s a must
Not that we really needed an excuse, but the snow had started to head in, and this was a good reason to go and find a traditional Brauhaus (beer hall); we were in Bavaria, after all.
Looking up at the decorated vaulted ceiling of the Munich Hofbrauhaus at the end of the night.
End of the night in the Hofbrauhaus
The most famous and Brauhaus of the oldest in Munich is the Hofbrauhaus; we were lucky to get a seat near the band and enjoyed an evening amongst other revellers. It was a great atmosphere, with everyone drinking German beer from steins and eating giant pretzels.
The Oom-pah band in their section of the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, with a pretzel seller her wares to the patrons.
The Oom-pah band in their section of the Hofbrauhaus in Munich

We chatted with a German couple from Koblenz, and they gave us some tips on other towns and cities to visit in Germany, especially during Christmas which were Aachen, Trier and Cochem.

Visiting Munich at Christmas was incredible. A few other towns we recommend for yuletide fun are Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Düsseldorf, Bremen and Hamburg.

Have You?

Visited any German Christmas markets? We’d love you to share them with us.

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