Winter is all about snow and freezing weather, and the best place to spend it is no other place than, you guessed that right, Munich – just one of the coldest places on Earth. However, what really makes Munich a tourist magnet is not like people crave freezing their fingers, it’s all because of the fun and festivals that make the city’s pale snow colourful.
This winter season, the amiable Bavaria city will be decked in snow and turned into a fun-filled magical winter wonderland with tons of activities suitable for all ages. The capital of Bavaria, Munich sparkles as the perfect year-end destination due to fewer crowd, better hotels rate and its magical year-end festivities vibe.
Whether it is to go shopping in the lively Christmas markets while savouring hearty German food or to explore rich Bavaria history in exquisite castles and palaces, or simply enjoy snow in nature while trying on new winter sports, the city glows with endless possibilities during the holiday season. By endless, we really mean eight, and here they are:
1. Christmas Markets (Christkindlmarkt)
A deeply rooted tradition where locals and visitors gather to celebrate the Christmas season four weeks prior leading up to the holiday. Being the country of origination of Christmas Markets, there are plentiful of choices from the classic and traditional to the quirky and unconventional to choose from. Explore some of the must-visit markets:
- Marienplatz Christmas Market (27 November – 24 December 2019) – Munich Main Square
- Pink Christmas Market (26 November – 22 December 2019) – LGBTI district around Glockenbachviertel
- Tollwood Winter Festival (26 November to 31 December 2019) – Theresienwiese
- Mittelaltermarkt “Munich Advent Spectacle” (25 November to 23 December 2019) – Wittelsbacherplatz
2. Festive-themed Tram (ChristkindlTram)
The old-school Christmas Tram is one of the best ways to sightsee the rich Christmas decorations and also some of the city highlights at the same time. The cosy ride also includes mulled wine, children’s punch, tasty delicacies and festive music onboard.
3. Season Specialities
The city is filled with the tantalizing aroma of roasted chestnuts and caramelised almonds, as well as the sweet fragrance of the seasonal winter speciality:
- Glühwein (warm red spiced wine, also known as mulled wine)
- Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes)
- Maultaschen (large ravioli with different fillings)
- Käsespätzle (noodles topped with cheese and caramelized onions)
- Pfeffernüsse (tiny spice cookies)
- Magenbrot (sweet glazed biscuit similar to gingerbread cookie)
- Stollen (fruit bread)
- Feuerzangenbowle (rum-soaked sugarloaf set on fire and drip into mulled wine)
4. See Winter Wonderland from Above
Catch the whimsical view of the entire city centre covered with a pristine dusting of snow over the old European architecture from St Peter’s Church (Peterskirche) located right in the centre of Munich at Marienplatz.
Climb the stairs up to the observation tower for the most beautiful view of the Alps in the background against Munich skyline. Another popular option is to take two lifts up the 85-meter-high tower of the neo-Gothic New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) which houses the famous Glockenspiel.
5. Enchanting Castles and Palaces
The Residenz is the largest city palace in Germany and former royal palace to Bavaria’s kings and dukes displaying stunning renaissance interior, eminent royal collections and endless classical statues.
Another highlight is the Nymphenburg Palace (Schloss Nymphenburg), a Baroque palace serving as the main summer residences of the former royalties. Though the gardens are not open for viewing during winter, the water canal in front of the palace freezes and transforms into a popular outdoor sports area for curling and ice skating.
A day trip to the spectacular Neuschwanstein Castle is also not to be missed. With just 2 to 3 hours’ drive from Munich, the 19th-century fairy-tale-like palace is perched on a steep hill and often named as one of the most beautiful castles. Famously known as the model for Cinderella’s castle, the postcard-worthy site in winter offers surreal views of the castle against snowy fields and icy lakes beneath the Alps.
6. Snow and Ice (of course) in Munich’s Park
Appreciate the cold morning light and snow-covered meadows at the English Garden (Englische Garten) – one of the world’s largest urban public parks. Blanketed in snow during winter, join the locals as they sledge down the slopes or take a stroll to different parts of the garden such as the Japanese Teahouse, Greek love temple Monopteros and Chinese Tower.
7. Winter Activities
Tobogganing starts on numerous hills in Munich such as in Luitpoldpark, Westpark and Olympic Park (Olympiapark) as soon as there is enough snow on the ground. These parks feature both broad and gentle slopes for the young and fast-moving steep slopes for the adventure seekers.
Another classic winter experience is to ice skate outdoor over natural frozen lake or water canals. Head to Stachus Square at Karlsplatz for Münchner Eiszauber for a magical evening skate where the open-air rink turns into a party with live music and colourful light shows.
For ski and snowboard lovers, explore the German Alps – Zugspitze for breathtaking scenic panorama view at the highest point in Germany that borders with Austria. Other popular ski resorts with well-rounded facilities include Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberjoch.
Elks, yaks, polar bears, wolves and sea lions enjoy the white powder in their natural habitat during the cold weather and provide a great deal of fun at the Hellabrunn Zoo (Tierpark Hellabrunn) in winter. Wild deers and wild boars can also be spotted roaming around Forstenrieder Park, where visitors can also go for a warm relaxing sauna afterwards.
That’s Munich in winter, but if the chilly season is not your vibe, you can still visit Munich and explore these 6 Must-Visit Districts in this Historical Destination.