Visit the Christmas markets in Munich this year and kick off the festive season in style. I have highlighted some favourites, along with where to stay in Munich, to make the most of your Christmas market break.
Germany’s Christmas markets are renowned all over the world, and Bavaria’s capital has some of the best. Christmas Markets in Munich are opening this year from 22nd November through to 24th December 2021, and there are over 20 markets to choose from.
My fellow travel addict Christine Callinan has visited Munich regularly, and has hand-picked some of her favourite Christmas markets in Munich, to make the most of your festive break.
There are over 20 Christmas Markets in Munich dotted all over the city. Most open from 10am-9pm Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 8pm on Sunday, so you will be spoilt for choice – but it can get a little overwhelming deciding which Christmas markets to visit.
To make life a little easier for you, I have selected some of the best Christmas markets in Munich that I believe shouldn’t be missed. You should be able to visit them all over a long weekend, just pace yourself and enjoy every minute.
Christkindlmarkt is located on the pedestrian friendly Marienplatz and is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Munich. It is set in the middle of the old town, in front of the magnificent neo-gothic New Town Hall – Neues Rathaus.
You will find hundreds of traditional, wooden chalet-style stalls, selling local crafts and Christmas decorations, as well as tasty food including gingerbread, hot chestnuts and almonds, and of course plenty of Gluhwein (mulled wine).
One of the main features of this market is the giant Christmas tree. It is decorated with over 3,000 Christmas lights and located right in front of the town hall. There is also live music each day from the balcony of the town hall.
One of the fun parts of the Christkindlemarkt is the Krampus tradition. Krampus is St Nicholas’ evil twin brother, and while St Nicholas forgives all naughtiness, Krampus does not. The Krampuslauf involves a horde of wild and wooly creatures charging through the Christmas market disguised as St Nick’s evil twin.
This is called the Krampus Run, and is normally held towards the latter end of December, where groups of up to 400 Krampuses run through the pedestrian zone. It is a tradition that has existed for over 500 years. The exact date for this year has not been announced.
It is an amazing spectacle but can get quite scary for children, so it best avoided if travelling with little ones.
Make time to visit the courtyard of the City Hall, where you can see a traditional glass blower making beautiful Christmas glass baubles. A visit the city post office, to buy a special stamp to post your letter to Santa, is a popular experience if visiting the Christmas markets in Munich with kids.
Christmas Village at Munich Residenz
The Residenz is a beautiful, traditional Christmas market set inside the courtyard of a real palace. Its courtyard setting is ideal if you are looking for protection from the cold Bavarian winter winds. The market is themed on a traditional ski village and is the second largest market in the city.
Along with traditional stalls you will also find lots of puppetry and musical attractions here. This market is very family orientated, with plenty of food stalls selling traditional Backwurst (sausages) in crusty bread rolls, with oodles of ketchup and mustard. Of course the customary Gluhwein, or tamer hot chocolate are also available – you certainly won’t go hungry here!
Medieval Christmas Market (Mittelaltermarkt)
Near Odeonplatz you will find the Medieval Christmas Market – think Christmas markets of olden times, where jugglers and knights roamed the streets. This market is set up as a traditional medieval market. Stall holders dress up in traditional medieval clothes, and the Gluhwein is called Drachenglut, or Dragon’s Blood.
At this market you will find cobblers and blacksmiths with traditional hand made crafts – you won’t find plastic Christmas decorations here. If you stay here for long enough, you might even be treated to a medieval rock band performing.
Just a short stroll from the Marienplatz will lead you to the Rindermarkt. Although one of Munich’s smaller markets, it is stunningly beautiful, with a working Giant Christmas Pyramid. Carved wooden pyramids are very traditional to Bavaria – this is a market that should not be missed.
Haidhauser Christmas Market (Weißenburger Platz)
Haidhauser Christmas Market is very cosy and romantic, and has a more local feel to it. It has a wide selection of stalls, all housed in chalet style buildings. Here you will find pottery makers, jewellers, traditional hand made crafts, and lots of food outlets.
This market can get very crowded in the late afternoon and early evening, as locals tend to stop here on their way home. Keep an eye out for Santa riding a bicycle overhead on a tightrope!
For something completely different, travel out to Tollwood winter festival. This is set on the site where Munich hosts the Oktoberfest, and it’s what locals call Munich’s alternative Christmas market.
On arrival you will be greeted with light shows and the sight of huge tents – one with stalls selling food from around the world, and the other, the Market Bazaar, selling beautiful hand made crafts and Christmas ornaments, with both an international and local vibe.
You could spend hours just browsing these tents, and the best part – it’s warm inside! Outside there are more traditional stalls and light shows. I think this market is best appreciated at night time, so you can enjoy the light show and the giant Christmas tree.
Tollwood is also a great place to try Feuerzangenbowle – think Gluhwein with an extra kick of rum, and a large sugar lump to the side to sweeten things up. This is then put on fire creating a very memorable drink.
The Market at the The Chinese Tower in the English Gardens
The English Garden is one of the largest inner city parks in the world, giving you lots of space to explore and enjoy a stroll. There is a beautiful outdoor market here that I recommend visiting.
It is a traditional market selling beautiful handcrafted goods including Gingerbread houses, handmade jewellery and wooden decorations.
You can try your hand at curling, and also enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride through the park. You could be lucky and get a visit from Santa while you are there, and there are plenty of food outlets and Gluhwein stalls to enjoy.
As with most of the Gluhwein stalls around the city, you have to leave a deposit for your mug, and if you choose to take your mug home, you will lose your deposit.
High Street Shopping in Munich
Of course Munich at Christmas time is not just about markets, you can also enjoy shopping in the city centre. You will find international high street stores within minutes of Marienplatz, along with large department stores including Galeria Kaufhof and Ludwig Beck, housing stunning Christmas window displays. The largest TK Maxx in Europe is also located in Munich.
I recommend taking a shopping break at Rischardts Backhaus. This traditional Munich bakery is right across from the Rathaus, and offers delicious coffee and pastries, with a view to match. There are always long queues here, but they move fast so don’t give up, the view and the cake will be worth the wait.
Ice skating is another great activity if you fancy taking a break from the shops. The open air ice rink at Karlsplatz being the most popular.
TOP TIP: Sunday is still officially a Catholic holy day in Bavaria, and shops will be closed. If you want to visit department stores, don’t leave it until Sunday.
Where to Stay in Munich
The 5-star Sofitel Munich Bayerpost is a heritage listed building with a luxury Spa and a choice of dining options. Once the Royal Bavarian Post Office it blends all modern comforts including Nespresso© coffee machines and Hermes© toiletries, with stylish interiors.
The Sofitel is a 10-minute walk from Theresienwiese, the location of Munich’s Oktoberfest Beer Festival, and just 20-minutes walk from Marienplatz Town Hall Square, or 2 train stops from Hauptbahnhof (Main Station).
This luxury 5-star Munchen Palace hotel is arguably one of the best hotels in Munich. Located on the quiet upper banks of the River Isar, close to the English Garden, it offers a secluded roof top terrace and garden, yet is within easy reach of Marienplatz. The Max-Weber-Platz Underground Station is a 5-minute walk away.
Guests can enjoy the sauna and steam room or work out in the modern gym.
The 4-star Platzl Hotel is located in the heart of Munich’s old city, and just a short walk from the Marienplatz. It boasts two popular restaurants and an outside bar with creative cocktails.
Located in lively Ludwigsvorstadt, the chic Bold Hotel Munich is just five minutes walk from Theresienwiese, the Oktoberfest venue, and just three stops from Marienplatz Square on the U3 and U6 lines. Highly rated on Tripadvisor and a Travellers Choice award winner this year – this 3-star hotel a great value choice to explore the Christmas markets in Munich.
The Cocoon Hauptbahnhof is a superbly located train station hotel, and is within walking distance of Marienplatz. It has a retro style design with funky bedrooms an outdoor terrace and garden. Rated as Excellent on Tripadvisor, this is another great value hotel in Munich.
How to get to Munich:
Aer Lingus operate direct flights from Dublin to Munich twice daily, with perfect flight times for weekend breaks.
The super efficient train system links the airport with the city centre. The S1 and the S8 S Bahn will take you from the airport to Marienplatz – the S1 is the fastest (38 minutes) with the least stops. They operate every 15 minutes costing EUR11.00.
The U Bahn can be used for all local travel and weekend tickets can be purchased as well as group tickets that will take up to five travellers.
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I hope this post will help you plan a visit to the Christmas markets in Munich. Note dates and activities are subject to change. If you have any more tips to add, please comment below.