Munich has some of Germany’s best Christmas markets. I might be biased because I live here, but as someone who has personally spent an entire week in a Glühwein stooper lost in a maze of 16+ Christmas markets in Munich, believe me when I say they are amazing! The entire city of Munich turns into a magical Christmas market snowglobe, and where one market ends another one starts. If you’re doing a German Christmas Market tour, make sure Munich is on your list because with so many markets you’ll find heaps of traditional and alternative markets, such as a sustainable market and a queer pink market. There isn’t a lot of information out there beyond basic lists of Munich’s Christmas markets, so I worked hard to include other information like where to stay during your Christmas market holiday in Munich, other holiday and festivities in Munich and even some German phrases to learn so you can wish people a Merry Christmas!
So, put on your Christmas best and let’s take a look at what makes Munich’s Christmas markets so magical. Just expand the table of contents for more information or continue reading!
The 209 season is almost upon us! The opening date is November 27th and most markets close up shop on Christmas Eve, December 24th. However, it is important to note that some markets may open later and some stay open until January. In order to ensure you are able to see all the markets, plan your trip between November 27th and December 24th for the best chances to see all the markets.
What are the 2019 Opening Hours of the Christmas Markets in Munich?
A good rule of thumb to follow is that most markets are open Monday – Saturday 10am-9pm; Sunday 10 am – 8 pm. However, there are some markets that may be open later such as Tollwood, as they have somewhat of a party aspect.
Where are Munich’s Christmas Markets Located?
All over the city. You will be accosted by your first Christmas market before you even leave the airport because there is one literally in the middle of the airport. They extend all the way to the outer areas of Munich, including Bogenhausen, and of course, the old city center is packed full of them.
Check out my handy map for all the best Christmas markets in Munich!
Do Christmas Markets in Munich Cost Money?
There is no entrance fee or gated area. The Munich markets are open for anyone to come and go as they please. The only thing is to remember to always have cash on hand for shopping and you’ll want to make sure you remember where you Glühwein mug comes from, as if you wander too far away you might not get a refund. Munich is an expensive city, so I would budget at least 50-75 Euro a day if you want to enjoy eating, drinking and shopping in the markets.
What Should I Pack for a Christmas Market Holiday in Munich?
What is the History of Munich’s Christmas Markets?
The markets in Munich date back to the 14th century, which is pretty incredible. However, the markets used to be located along the Isar River. The modern markets located in the city center have only been around since the 1970s and some of the more modern markets have only been around since the 80s or 90s.
Consumerism isn’t new. I like to hate on consumerism, but its been around for a while. In fact, markets were strategically set up in the 1700s near churches to attract the faithful to buy gifts for their loved ones on the holidays. They were so popular that The Church started complaining that no one went to service on Christmas and they were all out shopping instead.
Many of the items you see are based on traditional handcrafted German toys and decorations. Some popular ones such as nativity sets have been around forever. You can still find handmade crafts, but you’ll also see mass-produced items from China.
Best Christmas Markets in Munich
The Main Market: Marienplatz Christmas Market
German name: Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz.
The main Christmas market is located in the heart of Munich and has the most stunning Christmas tree you’ve ever seen, and yes it’s real! The main market is large and charming, but possibly the most touristy market. While I find the souvenirs in this market to be less than ideal the backdrop is what makes this market worthwhile. Set against the gothic style town hall and with the towering Christmas tree, this market feels like the ultimate traditional market- warm, happy, and cozy. I recommend coming here for the ambiance, experience, and photos, but maybe saving your shopping for other markets. Make sure to check out the courtyard of the town hall for even more Christmassy spirit.
Fun Fact: The Christmas Tree is real! It comes from a surrounding Bavarian neighborhood. It stays until January where it is given a new life as a May Pole in May!
The Nativity Market
German name: Krippler Market
Located just up the street from Marienplatz on Neuhauserstrasse this is a small market composed of 12 stalls selling wares strictly related to nativity scenes and mangers. Each stall is unique and you’ll find handmade stables, mangers, nativity figures, angels, animals, special collectibles, accessories, and lights. You’ll even have repairs and service available to you. If you are a manger-o-holic this is the street for you!
The Hippy Market: Tollwood Winter Festival
This is hands down my favorite market, since it is HUGE and sustainable! Taking over half the Oktoberfest grounds this massive market has concert tents, art tents, food tents – including a vegetarian tent-, gift tents, and tents serving world famous Feuerzangenbowle. It is like a mini Christmas city! Every year they have a new theme and you’ll find upcycled art that fits with the theme. Make sure to stop by the center of the festival to see their Christmas tree, two years ago it was made of bicycles and you had to peddle one of the bicycles to light it up. This is the perfect place to get a fair trade gift and feel good about your holiday shopping.
The Royal Market: Residenz Christmas Village
German name: Weihnachtsdorf im Kaiserhof der Residenz
Forget markets, this place is upgraded to a Christmas village. Nestled in the walls of Munich’s Residenz Palace this village is isolated from the rest of the markets in the old city by grand palace walls. I vaguely remember a stage being in the middle of this village for live performances, but I’m never sure because- Glühwein. Enjoy shopping, a large display of Christmas dolls, and lots of food relating to potatoes. Who doesn’t want to experience a Christmas market in a palace?
The Medieval Christmas Market Munich
German name: Mittelaltermarkt
Another one of my favorite markets, this is a legit authentic medieval market. Like you would think it would be totally cheesy, but it is so real. You feel like you’ve been transported back in time as food roasts over an open fire, oil torches are lit by hand, and an OG Saint Nick wandering around. You can drink Glühwein in fancy handmade ceramic goblets, shop handmade crafts, clothing, and gifts from the medieval period. Make sure to try fire roasted Flammkuchen and Wurst. The shopping here can get expensive as the goods are quality made items, so up your budget if you want to shop here. It is a small place though, so I suggest arriving before most people get off work if you want your sanity.
Giant Christmas Pyramid: The Square of Stars
German name: Sternenplatzl am Rindermarkt
I love this place, you feel like you’ve been miniaturized and placed inside a winter snow globe. With a giant functioning Christmas Pyramid at the center of this market, you can walk up and order a drink as you watch nativity figures spin in circles around you. The trees above are lit with star-shaped twinkle lights creating a warm ambiance. You can order HOT beer, the traditional mulled wine, fish soup, and even flame roasted salmon.
Rindermarkt 7, 80331 München
The Market at a Brick Gate: Sendlinger Tor Christmas Market
German name: Christkindlmarkt am Sendlinger Tor
If you’ve explored Munich you may have seen some old brick gates surrounding the old city. These are the original boundaries of Munich and date back to the 1300s. So, of course, you can get festive under the most popular of these old gates – Sendlinger Tor. With a central location, but JUST outside the city center, this is a popular after-work spot for some locals. Unique gifts you can find here are oils from Lithuania or crystal art from Russia.
The Fairytale Market
German name: Märchenbazar
My favorite market…. oh wait, did I already say that? Twice you say? … ooops. Haha well then, this rounds out my top three favorite markets. The vibe is less Christmass and a little more eccentric and alternative. It feels like a classic fairy tale and a 1920 circus (without animal cruelty) had a baby and you’ll find live music in colorful tents, vegan food, craft beer, and funky art. Open on Christmas day and until the end of the year, all are welcome and it is a great place to spend the holiday with some locals. This year, 2018 it is going to be in an all-new location. I am a little sad, as it used to be right by my house, but with its old home under construction, it was time for a change.
The English Garden Market: Chinese Tower Christmas Market
German name: Weihnachtsmarkt am Chinesischen Turn
This is one of the best overall markets and has something for the entire family or is great for a date night. Hidden away in Munich’s largest park, the English Garden this is a nice escape from the city congestion. For the kids, there is Grandma’s reading hut which has stories (mostly in German) on Tue-Fri 2 pm- 6 pm and on weekends from 11:30 am-6:30 pm. There is also a fairytale rally for the kids to practice detective work. For the adults, there is a curling rink, so you can try your hand at this sport. If you are on a romantic trip to Munich there are carriage rides (the horses in Munich are treated quite well), and live music from 4 pm – 7 pm
The Queer Market: Pink Christmas Market
Located in the LGBTQI district of Munich, Glockenbach, this market is the pinkest market in the city. With holiday-themed drag shows, disco Santa DJs and pink lighting this is the place to if you’re an alley or a member of the queer scene – all are welcome. It is tiny and I keep waiting for it to expand, so be prepared to get cozy with some new friends and dance the holidays away! This market doesn’t open until November 26th.
The French Market: Haidhausen Christmas Market
German name: Haidhauser Weihnachtsmarkt
Located in Munich’s French quarter this charming market oozes classiness and the warm Christmas decorations only make it more alluring. Live music is performed every night starting 6 pm, proving Christmas carols can be hip too. Every Friday there is a lantern parade, where children bring lanterns around the market. If you are interested in wood carvings, don’t miss the Zillertal hut.
The Art Market: Schwabing Christmas Market
German name: Schwabinger Weihnachtsmarkt
If you are into fine art and local handmade gifts that are different than your typical Jesus baby nativity carvings then this is the place for you. Walking into the market from the Ubahn station you’ll cross through a walkway lined with fine art displayed just for the event. Abstract statues are sprinkled throughout the market and the gifts are all one of a kind including artisanal metal and wood lawn and home decorations. Every year the market contracts a local artist to design a special collector mug that you can take home.
The Locals Market: Neuhausen Christmas Market
German name: Neuhauser Weihnachtsmarkt
This charming market really is for the locals with a Christmas goose raffle and an after-work crowd. There are daily gingerbread puppet shows for the kids starting in the evening around 5 pm during the week and on Sunday between 2 pm and 3 pm special guest puppets arrive – whatever that means. Other than that, you’ll find all the regular Christmas cheer from decorations and food all housed in old wooden huts.
The Market Open in January: Bogenhausen Christmas Market
German name: Bogenhauser Weihnachtsmarkt
If you planned your trip in January and you’re crying salty tears that you’re missing all the magic of the Christmas Markets in Munich, then dry your eyes because this market is open until January 6th for an extra long holiday season. This is another great place for the kids with a historic train, a carousel, a ceramic painting workshop and music for kids. The adults are entertained by watching artists make their wares while looking over their shoulder. You can feel good about giving back at this market because there is an annual charity raffle supporting local Munich charities.
The Get Drunk Market: Feuerzangenbowle Market
This place is literally a hot flaming shit show and it’s great. Located on the other side of the historic gate surrounding Munich this is a little spot just to get your Feuerzangenbowle, which I’ll explain later. But if you’re looking for a place to get drunk quick with a lively crowd hit up the flaming pot at Isartor, you can’t miss it.
The Jetsetting Market: Munich Airport Christmas Market
If you’re ready for your Christmas holiday in Munich to start as soon as you land, or if you’re sad to leave the city markets behind as you head home and need one last fix, then this is the market for you. You’ll find a fully functioning Christmas Market between terminal 1 and 2 at the Munich Airport.
Location of Munich’s Christmas Markets
What to Drink at Christmas Markets in Munich
Drinking the best part of Munich’s Christmas Markets, if you ask me. I usually spend my December in a haze since it is damn near impossible to make it 50 feet without running into a Glühwein stand. Each market has a flavor of its own, but you’ll find some similar and unique dishes around Munich’s markets.
A hot mulled drink pronounced Glue-Vine is the most popular drink sold throughout the markets. Made from wine, cinnamon, star anise, orange, cloves and sugar it warms you up from the inside out. There are different types of Glühwein including some made from white wine and cherry flavored wine. These come in adorable collectible mugs that you can either pay to bring home or receive your deposit back when you return the cup. This is called a pfand system and it is usually around . 2 Euros. Don’t be shocked when your wine costs a decent price, just return the cup and you’ll get your money back. The pfand can be much higher for specialty mugs like ceramic goblets.
Pro Tip: If the Glühwein isn’t enough to keep you warm add a shot of rum or amaretto for around a Euro and you’ll be warm in no time.
Glühwein’s drunk aunt at the party, this drink packs one hell of a punch. Basically, you take your mulled wine, top it with a layer of 80 proof rum and light it on fire with a sugar cube. This will give you a wicked hangover and get you hella drunk if you’re not careful, but YOLO, who doesn’t want to drink flaming alcohol?
The love child between Glühwein and beer this festive drink is served in tall clear mugs, as would a normal beer. This beer is served hot and mixed with various spices similar to the wine version. There is often a cherry flavor added to give it that warm pink hue.
Similar to Eggnog, which you might be more familiar with, this is an egg-treme drink. Made with egg yolk, sugar, vanilla, white wine and a shot of egg liqueur this is something you must Munich’s Christmas markets.
The Scandinavian cousin of Glühwein this is made with vodka, mulled wine, spices and usually has crushed almonds and apples in it.
Cinnamon liquor mixed with spices, coffee or warm milk. This is a nice soothing drink with less sugar that will still warm you up.
The non-alcoholic version of Glühwein, a great option for kids, pregnant people, people who don’t drink for religious or personal reasons. You can fit in and stay warm with this tasty drink!
What to Eat at Munich Christmas Markets
You have to keep some food in your stomach with all those hot sugary drinks being consumed. So, what is the best food to eat at Munich’s Christmas markets?
Vegan & Vegetarian Food
Believe it or not, there are a lot of vegan and vegetarian options at the Munich Chrismas Markets, in fact, most of the tasty food you’ll find is vegetarian! Since a lot of the Munchies are vegetarian, I’m just going to highlight the best places to find large amounts of veggie food. Tollwood has an entire tent dedicated to global vegan and vegetarian food. You’ll find tofu pad thai, vegetarian curry, North African rice and flatbreads, and much more at Tollwood. Another great option is Märchenbazar, which has vegan street food like German-style wurst and shawarma. If you are vegan and want to support global vegan ventures, without giving your money to stands that also sell meat you must go to Tollwood and Märchenbazar!
Flammkuchen is another food that is often vegetarian or can be customized so. It’s like A flatbread pizza.
Most people don’t think of fish when they come to Munich Christmas Markets, but Munich has some great options for pescatarians! Keep an eye out for fish soup and roasted salmon at the Square of Stars and you’ll see white fish rolled on bread rolls at markets all over the city.
Remember that reducing your meat intake is one of the best things you can do for the environment! Try skipping the meat at the Christmas markets this year and see how you do! If you do want to try meat, always start with chicken or white meat. You’ll find roasted chicken at many of the markets. Another popular meat dish is wurst on a bread roll and currywurst with french fries.
Snacks and Muniches
This is where all the good stuff comes in! Gebrannte Mandeln or Roasted almonds along with Maroni or Roasted Chesnuts are sold literally everywhere. They are a great vegan snack and the smell is heavenly as it wafts through the markets making the air smell like Christmas. Kartoffelpuffer or potato pancakes are like glorified hash browns on steroids and they are also vegan. The closely related Kartoffellanzen or potato on a stick are basically potato chips that are lined up on a skewer. Of course, we can’t forget the pommes mit mayo or french fries and mayo, which is vegetarian and the perfect drunk food to chow down on.
Desserts and Sweets
When you’ve stuffed yourself full, but still make room for dessert because let’s be honest we always have more room for dessert these tasty sugary snacks will keep you going. Ermknödel is like a bread pudding dumpling often filled with jam and covered in a vanilla cream sauce, it is basically heaven in my mouth. Lebkuchen is one of the most popular snacks, but I think it is overrated. This gingerbread cookie/cake covered in decadent icing is pretty than it tastes, but a must try on any visit to Munich’s Christmas markets. Apfelkücherl are spiced apple rings dusted in cinnamon and sugar for a semi-healthy snack. Keep an eye out for candy apples as well, they show up from time to time at the markets. Waffeln or waffles are becoming increasingly popular in Munich, in fact there’s a whole vegan waffle scene popping up and I am not complaining. Not all of the stands serve vegan waffles, so make sure you ask first! These waffles are often served with cinnamon or chocolate. Fánk or Hungarian doughnuts are my all time favorite junk food at Munich’s Christmas markets. They are tasty dough wrapped around a stick then rolled in sprinkles or cinnamon sugar and roasted. You eat them off the stick and it is one large curly cue doughnut.
Munich Christmas Market Souvenirs: What to Buy
You might need to pack an extra suitcase if you plan on doing some serious Christmas shopping at the markets. Additionally, a lot of the handmade items are quite fragile and you might even need to budget to professionally ship some things home.
I had no idea nativity scenes were so popular until I moved to Munich. I already mentioned the nativity market, but most markets sell parts or whole nativity scenes. You can find rare and expensive pieces or cheap all inclusive sets. You’ll find animals, angels, Jesus and crew and even fancy accessories like palm trees and unique mangers.
These are some of the most uniquely German and authentic gifts you can find here in Munich. Wooden crafts include nutcrackers, ornaments, decorations and even twinkle lights. Often handmade, but always double check, you’ll come home with one of a kind Christmas decoration. Every year I get my mom some hand carved Christmas decorations for her house and she loves them!
These crystal glass ornaments you see are often made in Eastern Europe or Russia, but are still great decorations and gifts to bring home. They add a whimsical element to your yearly decorations.
You’ll find thousands of ornaments from glass, wood, metal, traditional to our right funky. Grab your favorite style and dress your tree up extra fancy.
These make any room feel more cozy and warm for the holiday season. They come in all sizes and styles, so I suggest getting a couple and hanging them in a cozy nook in your house every time the dark winter rolls around.
The ultimate German decoration for your house. The wooden towers have spinning platforms with nativity figures spinning and they are powered by candle, which when you think about it, might not be the safest option, but they might have battery powered ones these days. I grew up with an old school one (I have a German family) so I have a soft spot for the traditional ones. They are great higher end gifts and may require careful packaging to get home.
It is safe to say I have at least a dozen of these. I have collected them from various markets around Munich. Each market or stand often has their own version of the cute little mugs you drink out of. You pay a pfand for them, so if you want to take them home, just don’t return them and you’ve already purchased them. I suggest getting the Schwabing collector mug or the cute little boots!
Where to Stay in Munich for a Christmas Holiday
Munich’s shopping district.
Munich’s Graveyard in Winter
Munich is a compact city and easy to get around. That said I DO NOT recommend staying in the city center around the holidays. It will be a nightmare trying to get to and from your hotel and you will never have a moments peace. You can stay around the Hauptbahnhof, but be careful this area is a combination for ritzy hotels and dumpy gross hotels. If you’re going to stay near the train station I suggest going for a mid-level, hip hotel The Royal Bavarian, which is owned by a German company 25Hours Hotel.
If you want to get away from the crowds I suggest staying in Au-Haidhausen which has some staple hotels like Motel One, Hilton and Holiday Inn. You can catch a direct Ubanh to the city ceter on the U4/U5 line. This same line will also get you to Tollwood quite easily. This is Munich’s French Quarter and you’ll be nice and close to the classy Haidhausen Christmas Market.
If you want a lively neighborhood, but not too touristy, I suggest staying in Glockenback, which is within walking distance to the city center and has lots of great local bars and restaurants to keep you busy. This is also where the Pink Christmas market is located.
I wrote a guest post on Wander Toes that goes over my other recommendations on where to stay in Munich, you can read it here.
Getting from Market to Market
The local transportation in Munich is fantastic, but the ticketing system is less than ideal. I highly suggest buying a multi-day single or group ticket, so you don’ have to worry about buying single tickets and decoding the punching system. The best multi-day card is the Munich City Tour Card. This card can be purchased for 1-6 days and for groups up to 5. If you want this to include your transportation to and from the airport or other various small towns, make sure you include the entire network. This will include all busses, trams and city trains (U and S bahn for entire network). Google maps does a great job telling you how to get from point A to B using public transportation, so make sure you download Munich offline and you are ready to go!
German Phrases to Learn
Christmas in German is Weihnachten (Vhy-noch-ten). You’ll see this in front of most Christmas markets for example, Weihnachtsmarkt Sendlinger Tor which means Christmas market at Sendlinger Tor. To say Merry Christmas you can say “Fröhliche Weihnachten” (Fro-leeck-hehVhy-noch-ten)
To ask where the Christmas market is you would say “Wo ist der (Sendlinger Tor) Weihnachtsmarkt?” You say that pretty much how it sounds in English!
Mulled Wine is Glühwein (glue- vine) To order a Glühwein you would say the number followed by wine followed by, please. “Ein/Zwei/Drei Glühwein, bitte.” Ein (eye-n) one. Zwei (zw-eye) two. Drei (Dry) three. Bitte (Bit-eh) please.
Other Things to do in Munich this Winter
If you get Christmas marketed out, check out these 21 things to do in Munich this winter, including sledding, curling, ice skating, and museums! Read my full post, here.