The top places, events and tips for Munich during the festive season
Like many European cities, it’s almost impossible to avoid the Christmas spirit in December. The whole city is transformed with sparkling lights and festive decorations. There is no shortage of Christmas Markets (there are over 20 in total!), but here are our top picks:
The original and largest Christmas market. Locals reckon Christkindlmarkt has roots in the 14th century, although it has only been in its present prime position since the 70’s. The market now sees approximately 3 million visitors – proving its popularity and then some! It’s held in front of Munich Town Hall (an overflow from Marienplatz), a prime position in the pedestrian heart of the city.
Between 27th November – 24th December (2017), all 20,000m2 of the square will be home to over 160 wooden stalls offering traditional wares, food and drink. Let’s not forget the ginormous Christmas tree that takes centre stage! This tree alone is illuminated by 2,500 twinkling lights, making it quite a spectacle in its own right. To add to the cheery atmosphere, there are daily musical performances from the balcony of the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) for the duration of the 4-week event.
Insider tip: Duck under the archways of the Neues Rathaus and through to the inner Prunkhof courtyard. You’ll find the once-a-year Christmas market post office. The Deutsche Post will stamp your envelopes and parcels with a special edition "Christkindl" stamp.
According to Bavarian tradition, during his journey to reward all the ‘nice’ children, Santa Claus (or Sankt Nikolaus) is accompanied by a menacing little friend called Krampus. Krampus isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams. Dressed in black, carrying a big bundle of sticks, he’s responsible for visiting the children on the "naughty" list. But of course he doesn't actually harm anybody! It’s all just a bit of good old pagan ‘fun’ (if you can call it that?).
If you’re interested in this side of the tradition, on 10th December (15:00-17:00) and 17th December (16:00 – 17:00) 300 of Santa's ‘helpers’ have a "Krampus run" around the market. This is a tradition that dates back 500 years and is worth seeing for the costumes alone (they’re extremely elaborate; it’s suggested one costume costs as much as 2500€ and weighs up to 10kg). However, if you’re travelling with small children who may find this scary – consider this a warning! Perhaps stay clear of the market during these times…
Schwabing Christmas Market
Located in the North of the city centre, Schwabing has become known for its artisans, unique arts, crafts and bohemian feel. For the last four decades, this market has featured an art tent, a sculpture trail, free concerts, performances, children’s activities and (of course) culinary delicacies.
This year the market is open from 1st December – 24th December, with a daily changing musical and entertainment programme.
The Medieval Market
A truly unique Christmas market! This recreates the atmosphere of the original 1410 Christmas fair; located in Wittelsbacherplatz, about a ten minute walk from Marienplatz. The attention to detail is quite spectacular – featuring everything from medieval music and clothes to handmade leather bags and bows & arrows. The market stalls themselves are made of hand-carved antique wood and decorated with medieval carvings. Jugglers, magicians, knights, falconers, acrobats and traditional artists provide entertainment, and culinary offerings include pork suckling, elderberry juice and dragon embers! Prices are even displayed in Gulden – the historical German gold coin. Unfortunately this isn’t a currency we are able to offer… but can confirm that 1 Gulden = 1 EUR!
This year the Medieval market will be running from 27th November – 23rd December, with regular fire shows, dance lessons and wizardry displays throughout this period.
Christmas Village at the Munich Residenz
For a much smaller market, check out the Christmas Village. Organisers of this event recreate a farming village in the Emporer’s Court of the Munich Residenz, the former Bavarian seat of government. Framed by the illuminated façade of Munich’s royal palace, this Christmas village offers a truly unique atmosphere.
This is open from 23rd November – 22nd December.
Christmas Market at Chinese Tower
This market offers a particularly nice break from a winter walk through Munich’s English Garden. The famous Chinese Tower stands in the middle of the Garden as one of Munich’s many landmarks, but at this time of year is surrounded by festively decorated wooden stalls.
Open from 27th November – 23rd December, with special children’s days throughout, this market is ideal for families. To add to the magic of the gardens, children have a chance to meet Santa himself! Or why not try a carriage ride starting directly outside the market?
It’s worth knowing that at markets such as these, not all stall owners will have a card machine. In fact, most food and drink sellers will only accept cash in order to make transactions as quick as possible. Therefore, it’s always advisable to carry cash with you. So how much can you expect to spend? We’ve found average prices* of the most popular items up for sale…
|EUR||GBP (€1 = £1.101)**|
The most famous German delicacy! Available in a variety of options, from Nurnberger Wursten, to the classic bratwurst, to the half-metre ‘fire devil’ Feuerteufel
|4 - 8||3.63 – 7.26|
A quintessential German sweet which is similar to gingerbread. Can be soft or hard, and usually beautifully decorated with icing
|1.50 - 4||1.36 – 3.63|
Chocolate coated bananas, strawberries and peaches served on a stick
|3 – 4.50||2.72 – 4.08|
A light, steamed dumpling coated with vanilla custard, usually available with or without a berry filling
|3.50 – 5||3.18 – 4.54|
A classic baked Christmas cookie, often made with nougat, berries, chocolate or almonds. Normally served in a mixed bag – ideal for snacking!
|3.50 - 6||1.17 – 4.44|
Also known as roasted chestnuts! Coated with sugar, spices or chocolate – filling the whole market with that irresistible smell
|1.50 - 4||1.36 – 3.63|
The iconic fruit loaf-style cake
Most drinks are served in a limited-edition mug, which can be kept as a souvenir. The price of the drink includes a deposit for the mug – but if you don’t want to keep it, simply return to the stall and receive your deposit back.
The infamous mulled refreshment; red wine heated with lemon, sugar and spices – usually cinnamon, cloves and vanilla
|3-6||2.72 – 4.44|
Gluhwein with the addition of sugar caramelised by burning rum
|3 - 6||2.72 – 4.44|
Cooked apple mulled wine; worth a try if you’re not usually a fan of mulled wine
|3 - 6||2.72 – 4.44|
Non –alcoholic option, with a similar fruity flavour
|2 - 4||1.81 – 3.63|
*All prices are estimates based on moneycorp’s own research, and should be used as an average guide only. **EUR to £ conversions have been made using moneycorp’s online rate, correct as of 23/11/17 at 17:00GMT
For those looking to purchase one of the iconic Christmas ornaments, these can range in price from €5 (£4.54) all the way up to €20 (£18.16). Every stall owner is carefully selected and regulated by the market organisers – ensuring that everything available for sale is guaranteed to be of extremely high quality. Every ornament is usually handmade, meaning they will all be totally unique. It’s worth the investment for a truly one-of-a-kind piece for your collection!
Of course, there are plenty of other Christmassy events outside of the markets! Other festive attractions include Christmas music in Munich’s Church of Our Lady, ice rinks, and guided tours of Neuschwanstein castle.
Once at Munich airport, the city is just 30km away and really easy to access by train. There are regular trains to the main city stations (e.g. Munich Hauptbahnhof) which cost roughly €11-12 (£9.98 – 10.89) for a single trip. Munich itself is really well connected by fast and efficient public transport (this is Germany, after all!). One to four-day city passes are available, costing €11.90 - €44.90(£10.80 – 40.78) (group tickets also available from €19.90 - €72.90 (£18.07 – 66.21)) for unlimited travel across trams, buses and the metro.
There are plenty of traditional Bavarian and international restaurants across the city – so there is something for everyone and every budget. You can find a 3-course meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant for around €40-60 (£36.33– 54.49) or a meal for 1 at a budget restaurant for €10-15 (£9.08 – 13.62). Like most places, tipping is part of the culture in Munich – you can expect to leave around 5 -10% gratuity, generally rounding up to a round figure.
So if you’re looking forward to experiencing all of this for yourself, don’t forget to pre-order your Euros before you go. Moneycorp’s Reserve & Collect service is a quick and easy way to lock fantastic online rates. Place your order in seconds with no upfront payment, no collection fee, and pick-up on your way through the airport.