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Things to do in Munich in Winter

If you visit Munich in winter you will see that even though the city freezes over, it has a lot to offer. Here I tell you everything you can do to make the most of your visit.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

12 min read

Things to do in Munich in Winter

Munich | ©Kirill Ilyasov

Due to its proximity to the Bavarian Alps, winter in this German city is very cold and snowstorms are frequent, but this is not an impediment to enjoy all the activities that Munich has to see and do.

Munich changes its features during the months from December to March and offers numerous attractions. If your visit to the city coincides with the German winter it is best to put on your snow cap and warm clothes and head out to enjoy the best tours and excursions in Munich.

1. Ice skating on the Nymphenburg Canal

Nymphenburg Canal| ©Flavio-Vallenari
Nymphenburg Canal| ©Flavio-Vallenari

The Nymphenburg Palace is one of Munich' s great attractions and also a popular destination in winter, when the more than five-hundred-square-meter canal in front freezes over to become a huge ice skating rink.

Although you can only enter the front part of the Palace gardens, as the back section is closed during the winter season, the chance to skate on the ice of a frozen canal is well worth the visit.

Also, access is very easy, because it is close to the center of Munich and admission from October to March costs approximately nine euros.

Inside the Nymphenburg you can rent skates, if you don't have your own, and when night falls the illumination of the Palace makes the experience magical. It is one of the activities that Munich offers to do with children and a must if you enjoy winter sports.

Interesting facts

  • Price: The entrance fee is approximately nine euros.
  • Hours: The gardens are open from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.
  • Location: Schloß Nymphenburg 1, Munich.
  • How to get there: By streetcar 17 from Central Station, by cab or private car or by hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus.

Book a hop on-hop off sightseeing bus in Munich

2. Take part in a sled race at Olympiapark

Olympiapark| ©Personal Guide
Olympiapark| ©Personal Guide

This is one of the most interesting winter plans in Munich. The surroundings of Olympiapark offer the ideal setting for you to hurtle down the hill with your sled, because in addition to a very fun experience you can enjoy an open view of the whole city.

The best place in Olympiapark to go sledding is around the lake next to the stadium. There you can have a long descent and you will also have direct access to the Olympiaberg viewpoint, an artificial mountain created in 1972 to give perspective to the Olympic Park.

With its 565 meters it marks the highest point in Munich, from where you can see from the Sea Life Aquarium and the city center.

This activity is also practiced in other areas such as Westpark or the English Garden, the largest park in Europe and a constant site of visit for bicycle tours in Munich, but in Olympiapark races are organized and its hills are the highest in a flat city, plus it is an easily accessible site with free admission.

Interesting facts

  • Price: Admission is free.
  • Hours: The park is open 24 hours a day.
  • Location: Spiridon-Louis-Ring 21, Munich.
  • How to get there: By subway lines U2 and U3 from Olympiazentrum station or by bus line 173.

3. Enjoying the snow in the English Garden

English Garden in Winter| ©Janos Kertesz
English Garden in Winter| ©Janos Kertesz

Munich is a city full of green spaces. The English Garden is not only the largest park in the city, but in all of Europe and in winter visiting it while it is covered in snow is an incredible sight.

The Kleinhesseloher Lake, which is located in the middle of the park, often freezes over and turns into a skating rink.

The English Garden also has the Chinese Tower beer garden, although as it is a high-rise, open-air space during the winter it remains closed.

Instead, during the months of December and January, you will find one of the best places to go if you are in Munich at Christmas: a fantastic Christmas market.

Walking through the English Garden enjoying the snow and the tranquility of one of the most beautiful spots in the city can be a great experience. You might even end up making a snowman in the meadows of Burgfriedensäule while listening to the squawking of the geese. Just don't forget to bring your coat!

Interesting facts

  • Price: Admission is free.
  • Hours: The park is open 24 hours a day.
  • Location: On the west bank of the river Isar.
  • How to get there: Metro lines U2 and U3 from Universitat station, streetcar line 18 or bus line 154.

4. Look down on snow-capped Munich from the tower of St. Peter's Church

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

Munich offers one of the most beautiful views during the winter season. As the imperial city of Bavaria, it has a medieval architecture that stands out when bathed in a blanket of snow, and although the city center does not have very tall buildings, the 91-meter tower of St. Peter's Church, on the side of Marienplatz, will delight you with a sweeping view of a snowy Munich.

The highest point of the church observatory is reached by a spiral staircase that ends at the top. The entrance fee is approximately three euros and it is a very interesting activity in winter, because the crowds of tourists are less crowded and the visits are more enjoyable.

In addition, you can make the most of your visit to St. Peter's Church by taking a tour of the interior, as it is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Germany.

The church was severely damaged during World War II, so it is also a point of visit on Munich tours that retrace the city's role in the war.

Interesting facts

  • Price: The entrance fee is approximately three euros.
  • Hours: The church is open daily from 7.30 am to 7 pm.
  • Location: Rindermarkt 1, Munich.
  • How to get there: By subway lines U3 and U6 from Marienplatz station or by train on lines S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S7, S8, S27, SP1 and SP2.

5. Take an organized tour to Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle| ©Poonam Agarwal
Neuschwanstein Castle| ©Poonam Agarwal

While visiting Neuschwanstein Castle can be done at any time of the year, seeing it covered in snow and with the nearby hills covered in snow can be a unique spectacle.

In addition, in winter it is easier to get tickets and your visit will probably be more enjoyable with a smaller group of visitors.

Located two hours from Munich, it is one of the most beautiful castles in Germany and probably the most famous in the country. Built by Ludwig II, it is known as the castle of the Mad King. The best option to visit it is with an organized tour so you don't have to worry about transportation, entrance fees or anything else.

Visiting this castle will not only allow you to enjoy one of the most emblematic sites of Bavaria that was the inspiration of many artists, but also to know the secrets hidden in the surroundings of Munich.

Interesting facts

  • Price: There are several alternatives to visit the castle. The best option is with an organized tour that starts at 48 euros.
  • Hours: The castle is open daily from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.
  • Location: Neuschwansteinstrasse 20, in Schwangau.
  • How to get there: The best way to get to the castle is with an organized tour. Other alternatives are by car, a trip of about two hours from Munich. You can also travel by train to Fussen and then board bus 73 to the Neuschwanstein entrance.

Book an organized tour to Neuschwanstein Castle

6. Visit the Tollwood Winter Festival

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

The Tollwood festival is organized every year in December on the Theresienwiese field and becomes a huge event dedicated to cultural, political, climatic and environmental issues.

But this alternative festival is not only the scene of cultural tents, there are also more than fifty food stalls, children's attractions, music shows and a wide range of activities, most of which are free of charge. In addition, on New Year's Eve Tollwood hosts one of the best parties in the city.

The festival, which receives about five hundred thousand visitors each year, became a reference in the city since its first edition in 1991. Since 1999 it has been held on Theresienwiese, the same field that every year, between September and October, hosts the famous Oktoberfest.

Interesting facts

  • Price: Admission to the festival is free and to most of the shows as well.
  • Hours: You can enter the site from 2 p.m. to 0 a.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 0 a.m. on weekends.
  • Location: Theresienwiese 1, Munich.
  • Directions: By U4 and U5 to Theresienwiese station or by U3 and U6 to Goetheplatz and Poccistrasse stations, by bus on lines 53, 58, 131, 132 and 134 and by train on the S1-S8 service to Hackerbrücke.

7. Skiing on the winding hills of Olympiapark

Skiing in Olympiapark| ©Personal Guide
Skiing in Olympiapark| ©Personal Guide

Munich is a flat city and therefore has no professional ski slopes, but if you want to ski during your winter visit you can do so on the winding hills of Olympiapark. You won't reach the heights of the Alpine resorts but you're sure to have a fun experience.

The ideal area for skiing inside the park is the same area where the sled races take place or where visitors practice snowboarding, around the lake next to the stadium and making the most of the long descent that starts at the Olympiaberg viewpoint.

With 565 meters downhill you have more than enough space to spend a good time with boards and poles.

The viewpoint is also a good excuse to get to the top and before dropping to contemplate the skyline of the city that starts at the Olympiastadion ghost station and is lost on the horizon.

Interesting facts

  • Price: Admission is free.
  • Hours: The park remains open 24 hours.
  • 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.

8. Visit the Hofbrauhaus tavern, Munich's oldest brewery

Inside the Hofbrauhaus| ©TriSauy
Inside the Hofbrauhaus| ©TriSauy

A tour of the Hofbrauhaus brewery and a beer in its old tavern is one of the must-do excursions during your visit to Munich.

During the winter this activity makes more sense, because in the city all the open-air breweries are closed and Hofbrauhaus is one of the few that has ample space to continue receiving thousands of visitors every day.

The brewery is an unmissable spot in Munich and you will be surprised by the festive atmosphere inside the tavern. No matter what time you visit, it will be full and you will always hear the music of the orchestra and the clinking of beer glasses. During the cold winter it is a necessary refuge to seek some warmth in the center of the city.

Hofbrauhaus is often included in Munich beer and food tours and is also one of the six breweries that perform each year at the Oktoberfest meeting the rigorous demands of beer quality imposed by the organizers.

Interesting facts

  • Price: Admission is free. A one-liter pitcher of beer costs approximately eight euros. The food dishes start at eleven euros.
  • Opening hours: Open from 11.00 a.m. to 0.00 a.m. daily.
  • Location: Platzl 9, Munich.
  • How to get there: By Metro lines U3 and U6 getting off at Marienplatz station, by train on lines S1, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6, S7 and S8 and by bus on line 132.

Book a gastronomic tour in Munich

9. Take a Roman bath at Müllersches Volksbad

Müllersches Volksbad| ©Alex M
Müllersches Volksbad| ©Alex M

This is the ideal activity if you are looking to relax your body in Munich. There you can enjoy heated pools, steam baths and saunas that will make you forget that outside the temperature is below zero degrees. You can also use the water slides and thermal pools.

Müllersches Volksbad also offers a spa treatment service in a salon called Therma Erding. This excursion is ideal to escape for a few hours from the cold of Munich or to rest your body after a long walk through the city.

I recommend that you keep in mind that the general admission is only for the use of the main heated pool and sauna. All other services must be booked separately.

Interesting facts

  • Price: The general admission has an approximate cost of 15 euros.
  • Opening hours: Open daily from 7.30 a.m. to 11.00 p.m.
  • Location: Rosenheimer Strasse 1, Munich.
  • How to get there: By subway lines U4 and U5 getting off at Max-Weber-Platz station, by train on lines S1, S2, S4 and S8 and by bus line 132.

10. Organized day trip to the Zugspitze glacier

Zugspitze Glacier| ©Björn Láczay
Zugspitze Glacier| ©Björn Láczay

The Zugspitze Glacier is the highest point in Germany and also one of the best day trips from Munich due to its proximity to the Alps.

There you can see the glacier, ski and toboggan, all just over an hour away from Marienplatz.

The most recommended option to visit the glacier is to hire an organized day trip in which you will be taken by bus to the base of the glacier, you can climb to the top in the cable car and also have lunch at one of the restaurants located at the peak of the Bavarian Alps.

These excursions usually last approximately eight hours and if you are interested in doing it I recommend that you book in advance, as in winter they are usually sold out quickly.

Interesting facts

  • Price... The excursions with round trip transfer and cable car ticket start at 100 euros.
  • Time... Excursions usually last approximately eight hours.
  • Location... Bavarian Alps in the area bordering Austria.
  • How to get there... By cab, car or van or private bus.

Book a tour to Zugspitze from Munich

Temperatures in Munich in winter

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

Temperatures in Munich in winter are not so low, but it does snow quite often. In December and January, the coldest months, the maximum temperature is five degrees Celsius and the minimum is minus four degrees Celsius.

In February and March temperatures reach a maximum of nine degrees Celsius and a minimum of one degree, with frequent rain and snowfall.

The number of visitors to Munich in winter

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

Because of the low temperatures, the number of visitors drops substantially, so it is a good time to tour the city at leisure and enjoy the attractions that during the summer months have a large number of tourists.

The costs of accommodation and some excursions also drop, and it is an ideal time to book excursions from Munich to the surrounding area, such as tours to Rothenburg, Berchtesgaden or Salzburg.

Book an excursion to Salzburg from Munich

What to pack when visiting Munich in winter?

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

During the winter the temperature in Munich drops substantially and the city has very beautiful scenery, so you may spend a lot of time outdoors, which you should take into account when preparing your luggage.

Here is a list of items that you should not miss during your visit to Munich in winter:

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

Alternative plans for protection from the cold in Munich

Beers at Hofbräuhaus| ©Roman König
Beers at Hofbräuhaus| ©Roman König

If you visit Munich in winter, you probably already know that you will have to wrap up warm to keep warm and you are probably ready for that because many of the best activities in the city are outdoors, but they also have other alternatives for when you need to escape for a while from the wind and snow.

You can visit cafes, breweries, restaurants and bars in the Marienplatz area, where they abound.

You also have the option of museums. Among them I recommend the BMW and the Munich Pinakothek. There are also many palaces and castles and tours of film locations and production companies that can be fun to get out of the street circuit of the city. Are you ready to tour Munich in winter?