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Best Things to do in Munich in Christmas

Munich lights up with colorful Christmas markets and attractions. Here I tell you everything you can do in the city during Christmas.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

11 min read

Best Things to do in Munich in Christmas

©Peter Specht

Despite the winter and the low temperatures, this German city still maintains a festive spirit during the Christmas season. With its flea markets and ice rinks, with its food stalls and Christmas trees, during the holidays there are numerous activities to join all the usual things to see and do in Munich.

The city's atmosphere changes radically and the whole city dresses up to welcome Christmas. The street markets take over the streets of Munich, the streetcars turn public transportation into magic and the snow makes the city center look like a branch of the North Pole.

1. Visit the Christkindlmarkt Christmas market at Marienplatz

Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz| ©amlv
Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz| ©amlv

There are many Christmas markets in Munich but Christkindlmarkt stands out as the largest in the city and one of the most important in Europe. It is installed in the city every year since the fourteenth century and is estimated to be visited by more than three million visitors in each edition.

Its location in Marienplatz, the heart of the city, guarantees a constant influx of tourists and contributes to the Christmas atmosphere of the historic center of Munich.

Christkindlmarkt stands out for its food stalls, the permanent Bavarian music shows and the huge Christmas tree that is installed in front of the City Hall.

Being the oldest in Germany and the largest, this market is a reference on Christmas Eve and also a meeting place for locals, who come to eat typical food and drink glühwein, a spiced mulled wine consumed in Europe during the Christian Advent.

This market is open from the last week of November until December 24 at noon. During Christmas Eve, most tours of the city end at Christkindlmarkt.

Details of interest

  • Price... Admission to the flea market is free.
  • Hours... During Advent the stalls are open from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm from Monday to Saturday and from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm on Sundays. On December 24 the opening hours are from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
  • Location... The flea market is located on Marienplatz in the center of Munich.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U3 and U6 and by train S1 and S8 to the Marienplatz stop.

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2. Walk around the Viktualienmarkt food market

Visiting Viktualienmarkt| ©Alex M
Visiting Viktualienmarkt| ©Alex M

A visit to the Viktualienmarkt food market, one of Munich's most famous landmarks, is a must.

Located behind St. Peter's Church, it is an open-air fair with more than a hundred stalls offering fruit, poultry, spices, vegetables, flowers, cheeses and other traditional products.

Unlike most of the city's flea markets, the Viktualienmarkt is open all year round, but changes its profile during the festive season.

During Carnival there is a Maundy Thursday and at Christmas the market is decorated with Christmas trees and festive colors. In addition, although Viktualienmarkt is a gastronomic flea market, stalls with Christmas gifts are set up, Christmas carols are played and the gastronomy turns to typical Christmas food.

It also has a beer garden that is usually included in the best gastronomic tours of Munich and a sector of Italian food.

This market in the center of Munich is open every day and you will love the atmosphere. If you visit the city during Christmas, don't miss it.

Interesting facts

  • Price... Admission is free.
  • Hours... The market is open Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
  • Location... Located at Viktualienmarkt 3, Munich.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U1, U2, U3, U6, U7 and U8, getting off at Sendlinger Tor station.

Book a visit to Viktualienmarkt in Munich

3. Visit the Nativity Market in St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church| ©Holly Young
St. Peter's Church| ©Holly Young

The Nativity Market or Kripeermarkt is one of the largest markets specializing in nativity scenes. Unlike other similar sites in the city such as Viktualienmarkt or Christkindlmarkt, this one focuses specifically on decorations for the Christmas tree and nativity scene.

Located next to St. Peter's Church, you will find more than ten shops offering handicrafts, Christmas decorations and dioramas of all sizes. This flea market has been a local tradition since 1757 and every year opens its doors overnight during the Christmas period.

Kripeermarkt is a small place with the purest essence of Christmas markets. Due to its size, you will be able to visit it in a short time and it is easy to access, because it is located in a central point of the traditional circuit of Munich, where the tourist buses pass and also the bicycle tours that go around the city.

Interesting facts

  • Price... Admission is free.
  • Opening hours... The flea market is open daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
  • Location... Rindermarkt 1, Munich.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U3 and U6 from Marienplatz station or by train lines S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S7, S8, S27, SP1 and SP2.

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4. Ice skating at Münchner Eiszauber

Ice skating at Münchner Eiszauber| ©Michelle Dessler
Ice skating at Münchner Eiszauber| ©Michelle Dessler

This is the most famous ice skating rink in the city and is only available between November and January.

It is one of the most interesting activities to do in Munich during the winter and on Christmas Eve its atmosphere is illuminated with trees and Christmas motifs, while the restaurant offers a special menu with crepes and mulled wine. The rink is located on Karlsplatz, a street that leads to the historic center of the city.

MünchnerEiszauber is one of the most fun attractions in Munich during Christmas and also an ideal plan to do with children. Its location in the central part of the city ensures easy access and it is also one of the regular stops on the Munich sightseeing buses.

If you enjoy ice skating, you're sure to love this plan. And if you don't have your skates with you when you visit the city, you can rent a pair at Münchner Eiszauber.

Interesting details

  • Price... Entrance to the rink is around six euros. You can also rent skates for another six euros.
  • Opening hours... The rink is normally open daily from 10.30 am to 10 pm.
  • Location... The rink is located at Karlsplatz.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U4 and U5 to the Karlsplatz stop and by train S1, S2, S4 and S8.

Book a sightseeing bus through Munich

5. Tour the Christmas village Weihnachtsdorfs in the Residenz Palace

Munich Residenz at Christmas| ©Flavio-Vallenari
Munich Residenz at Christmas| ©Flavio-Vallenari

The Munich Residenz was the royal palace of the kings of Bavaria and is now one of the most representative decorative museums in Europe, noted for its leafy courtyards.

In one of them, during Christmas, a flea market that recreates the alpine village of Weihnachtsdorfs is installed, making it an ideal place to enjoy music and staging.

Weihnachtsdorfs is a family space and also has food and beverage stalls and selling Christmas gifts. In addition, being located in the inner courtyard of the Residenz Palace, the walls keep you sheltered from the cold.

I recommend that you pay attention to the agricultural village with its small chapel that is located in the middle of the market, it is very nice and is decorated with Christmas lights and a life-size bell tower .

Weihnachtsdorfs can not miss among the activities to do with children in Munich and you will also have fun because it is a very different place from the rest of the markets in the city.

Interesting details

  • Price... Admission to the flea market is free.
  • Opening hours... The stalls are open daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
  • Location... The flea market is located at Residenz, Residenzstrasse 1, Munich.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U3, U4, U5 and U6 to the Odeonsplatz stop and by train S3, S4, S6 and S8.

6. Experience Tollwood's winter festival and New Year's Eve party

Tollwood Winter Festival| ©Bernd Wackerbauer
Tollwood Winter Festival| ©Bernd Wackerbauer

Every year in December, the Tollwood Winter Festival is held on the Theresienwiese. During the event, the site is filled with tents with cultural, political, climatic and environmental themes.

Each of these themes takes place in its own tent that protects visitors from the cold, and on New Year's Eve the field opens to host one of the city's best parties and close the winter edition of the alternative festival.

Tollwood became a reference in the city since it was first held in 1991, and since 1999 it has taken place on Theresienwiese, the same field where the Oktoberfest is held every year between September and October .

But this festival is not only the scene of cultural tents, there are also more than fifty food stalls, attractions for children, musical shows and a wide range of activities, most of which are free of charge.

The Tollwood New Year's Eve party is one of the most visited attractions during Christmas in Munich and is when the festival receives most of the five hundred thousand visitors who come each year. If you spend a Christmas night in the city, you definitely can't miss this event.

Interesting facts

  • Price... Entrance to the field during the New Year's Eve party is free.
  • Hours... The park is open 24 hours a day.
  • Location... The park is located at Spiridon-Louis-Ring 21, Munich.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U2 and U3 from Olympiazentrum station or by bus line 173.

7. Ride the ChristkindlTram, the historic Christmas streetcar

ChristkindlTram| ©Heidi Bauer
ChristkindlTram| ©Heidi Bauer

During the Advent period, the ChristkindlTram, a 1957 vehicle with wooden seats, travels through the historic center of Munich, where mulled wine and gingerbread are served on board.

The streetcar follows the same circular route as when it was in operation and on Sundays the route includes magic shows and surprises for children.

The ChristkindlTram's route includes Sendlinger Tor, Isartor, Maxmonument, the National Theater, Theatinerstrasse, Lenbachplatz and Stachus, so it's also a great opportunity to visit Munich's most important sites on a historic streetcar, all bathed in the Christmas spirit and colorful lights.

Tickets can be purchased on the official website or at the ticket office at Sendlinger Tor, which is where the streetcar route departs and ends.

Interesting facts

  • Price... Each streetcar ride costs about two euros.
  • Timetable... The streetcar runs several times a day between 15.30 and 19.30 hours.
  • Location... It departs from Sendlinger Tor metro station.
  • How to get there... By Metro lines U1, U2, U3, U6, U7 and U8 getting off at Sendlinger Tor station.

8. Marvel at Munich's Christmas Pyramids

Munich Christmas Pyramid| ©Ian Parker
Munich Christmas Pyramid| ©Ian Parker

They are not located anywhere in particular, but all over the city! Pyramids are a Christmas tradition in Germany, and in Munich you can find them at every turn.

They are made of wood and the top is crowned by the blades of a windmill. They can be of different sizes and represent traditional characters from German folklore.

Christmas pyramids are an age-old tradition and wherever you find them they usually point to food and drink stalls, so if you are looking for a place to eat or drink just locate one of these particular tributes.

The largest Christmas pyramids in Munich are usually built around the Nativity Market, but you can see them everywhere that even shyly hints at the Christmas spirit.

9. Join the Krampus Run, the Christmas Monster Parade

Krampus Run| ©Romy Fernandez
Krampus Run| ©Romy Fernandez

The Munich Krampus is a 16th century character who personifies the Christmas monster.

Unlike Santa Claus, he does not reward children who behaved well but captures naughty children and drags them to hell, but adults are not safe either, because according to some interpretations of German folklore he could also take away the parents of misbehaving children.

This monster is very popular in Germany and Austria, and in Munich a Krampus-themed costume parade is held at Christmas time.

The date of the parade is not fixed, but it is usually held in early December at various locations around the city, although the central event is at the Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz.

The parade also includes a race that has become very popular in recent years and in which the only condition to participate is to be dressed as Krampus, which is usually represented with horns and tattered clothes.

In German tradition, many parents scare their children by telling them that if they misbehave the Krampus will take them in his sack to whip them until they learn to behave well, but far from being a scary character over the years has become a cult figure of German folklore.

And you, do you dare to participate in a marathon dressed as Krampus?

Interesting details

  • Price... There is no registration fee for the parade and the race.
  • Date... There is no fixed date for the Krampus Run, but it is usually during the first weeks of December.
  • Location... The central convocation is at Marienplatz in the center of Munich.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U3 and U6 and by train S1 and S8 to the Marienplatz stop.

10. Stroll through the medieval flea market at Wittelsbacherplatz

Wittelsbacherplatz| ©Markus Bahlmann
Wittelsbacherplatz| ©Markus Bahlmann

During the Christmas period, Wittelsbacherplatz is home to one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Munich. The stallholders are dressed as citizens of the Middle Ages, and the decorations are in the same style.

The aim of this market is to rescue the main spirit of these places, which during medieval times began to be built as a tradition so that no one would wait for Christmas alone and feel accompanied.

The highlights of Wittelsbacherplatz, besides its staging, are the dishes and drinks they offer and the handicrafts you can buy at the stalls.

They will also offer you Christmas decorations and costumes from the Middle Ages, just in case you want to feel like a medieval citizen.

Interesting details

  • Price... Admission is free.
  • Hours... The market is open from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm every day.
  • Location... Located on Wittelsbacherplatz in the old town of Munich.
  • How to get there... By subway lines U3, U4, U5 and U6 to the Odeonsplatz stop and by train S3, S4, S6 and S8.

Temperatures in Munich at Christmas time

Christmas colors in Munich| ©Werner Boehm
Christmas colors in Munich| ©Werner Boehm

In Munich temperatures are low in winter and it snows constantly. December and January are the coldest months of the year, with a maximum temperature of five degrees. The minimum can reach minus four degrees.

Temperatures improve in February and March, with highs of ten degrees and lows of one degree. Snowfalls are still frequent during the last months of winter.

What to pack for your Christmas visit to Munich?

Packing your suitcase| ©Craig Adderley
Packing your suitcase| ©Craig Adderley

As the temperature drops significantly during December and most of Munich's plans are outdoors, it is important that you don't forget winter clothing when packing your luggage.

Here's a list of the items I recommend that you include so that you can feel comfortable during your visit to Munich:

  • Winter coats
  • Waterproof and comfortable boots
  • Thermal socks
  • Waterproof and tactile gloves
  • Woolen hats
  • Wool scarves
  • Wool sweaters
  • Fleece pants
  • Thermal fleece

The number of tourists in Munich during the Christmas season

Christmas market in Munich| ©Briget Murphy
Christmas market in Munich| ©Briget Murphy

In autumn and winter the number of visitors to the city decreases significantly, but this can pick up during the Christmas season, so don't be surprised if during your visit you have to queue and suffer from crowds of visitors.