Munich is the picture perfect European city in the Winter, especially after a snowfall. The snow dusts the churches and charming red roofs of the old city with a fairytale white. Not only is it picture perfect, but winter sees an increase in cultural events from fantastic concerts, spirit and beer events, and great outdoor activities. If you’ve come to Munich for their famous Christmas markets in December, you might find yourself marketed out or eager to explore more of what this city has to offer. Or maybe you’ve arrived in Munich after the cheerful holiday season and it just seems cold, dark and empty. No matter your reason for traveling here, there’s plenty of things to do in Munich in the winter including November, December, and January. So, pack your warm gear and Los Gehts!
Munich and the surrounding area of Bavaria are teaming with fun things to do in the winter. Whether you are an outdoor snow loving adventurer or enjoy a quiet day curled up in a cafe with a good book, Munich has a winter activity for everyone. Just find your ideal activity and click on it below!
Munich can be quite moody in the winter. Temperatures can range anywhere from 35 F down to 0 F. You’re likely to encounter both snow, sun and rain. I always recommend layers as the best option, especially for anyone without proper winter gear. Make sure you pack boots that are going to keep your feet dry and warm wool socks. Pack a winter coat or one you can layer underneath. Bring a hat, gloves and a scarf and you should be ready to beat the cold with these fun winter activities. For a full packing guide, read my German winter essentials packing guide
1. Check out a Snowy View of Munich
View from St. Peter’s Church.
Munich has to have one of the cutest bird’s eye views in all of Europe. With limitations on skyscrapers and a focus on old European architecture you really can’t beat it, especially when the red roofs are covered with a pristine dusting of snow. This view can be reached from Peterskirche or St. Peter’s Church right in the center of Munich at Marienplatz. 3 Euro will grant you access to the long and zigzagging staircase that leads up to the top. The best part about coming in winter (other than Christmas time) is that it is usually not as crowded, so you can take your time and get a good photo!
St. Peter’s Rindermarkt 1, 80331 München
2. Go Sledding in and Around Munich.
Sledding in Spitzingee near Munich.
I remember as a kid growing up in a small town in Alaska, we used to have miles of sledding hills at our doorstep. I would suit up and sled out for hours of fun. I never dreamed that I would be living in a European city with sledding in the central part of town! There are three main sledding hills in Munich. The first is in the Englischergarten at Monopteros – this is on Google maps. The other two are located at Olympiaberg and Luitpoldhügel. Olympiaberg has a tube run as well, so you can race down in a tube. Sleds are not provided at these locations, but you can buy a cheap butt seat for sledding at any sporting goods store, just make sure to give it to a family on the hill if you’re only in town visiting and plan on throwing it away.
My favorite sledding area is actually a snow-filled day trip from Munich for extreme sledding in the Alps. Here you hike up a small winding path and at the top, you can warm up with beer and food before beginning your descent down. You pay 2 Euro for a traditional wooden toboggan rental. You sled down the same path you hiked up and it is quite the ride, lasting about 7-10 minutes. Drop the sled off at the bottom and head home. Find out more about this winter day trip from Munich in my full detailed post.
3. Enjoy Ice Skating in Munich City Center
Ice Skating in Munich
The city center of Munich transforms into a skating rink from November to January. Stop by and rent skates for an allotted session of ice skating. At night they turn on neon lights and it turns into an all-out party. The fun doesn’t stop there as the entire area of Stachus transforms into a cozy Alpine hut full of Glühwein and piping hot snacks.
Karlspl. 1, 80335 München
4. Experience Munich’s Christmas Markets
No trip to Munich in the winter is complete without experiencing the iconic Christmas markets, which are open from late November into January. Shop charming vendors, drink copious amounts of Glühwein and eat all the würst you can handle. Munich has dozens of Christmas markets from traditional markets, to hippy markets and even LBGTQI markets and Medieval markets. There is something for everyone.
Small disclaimer: I rode this and it was crowded and so steamy you couldn’t really see out the windows. So, It’s not my top recommendation of things to do in Munich in the Winter, but it might be right up someone’s alley. This is a normal tram that has been decked out in Christmas trim. It runs around the city for about 20 minutes and they serve Glühwine on the tram for 6 Euro. The tram picks up from the Sendlinger Tor Tram stop and you can’t miss it with all the Christmas lights and decorations.
If you’re a geek who wants to stay inside this winter, check out my tips for geeky and nerdy travelers in Munich. Find the best museums, board game shops, book stores, libraries, and geeky stores. Read it here.
6. See an English Movie
Sometimes it is just too cold to be outside exploring, and that means it is the perfect time to go see an English Movie. There is a charming theater in Munich that shows only English or (original language) movies in a historic theater. If Rocky Horror is your thing, it plays every Friday and Saturday at 11:00 pm. You often need tickets in advance, you can purchase them at the link below. The website is partially in German, but you should be able to manage, if not you can show up early and buy tickets there.
View from Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak in winter.
If you want a scenic view of the German Alps in Winter, but you’re not a skier or snowboarder, this trip is for you. This day trip will take all day, but it combines everything from a regional train, a cogwheel train up through the mountains, and a scenic tram. There is a great traditional Bavarian restaurant at the top for lunch and an area to walk around and explore on foot. Zugspitze is a glacier area, so you can return home and tell your friends you’ve walked on a glacier. Zugspitze is also the highest point in Germany and it borders with Austria. At the very top of the peak you can actually walk across the German Austrian border as many times as you want, how cool is that? Read a detailed post about how to get to Zugspitze, here.
Or book a guided tour, including transportation to and from Zugspitze, a cogwheel train, and a gondola ride!
8. Expand your Knowledge at a Museum
Neoclassical Museum in Königsplatz.
Munich is a museum lover’s dream destination. Munich is host to everything from the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest science and technology museum, that’s right I said largest in the WORLD, to neoclassic art and ancient civilization museums. If you happen to be in Munich on a Winter Sunday most museums are 1 Euro or half off! Munich has a museum quarter, which is the Maxvorstadt neighborhood surrounding Königsplatz, which makes it easy to check out several in one day. If you can only go to one museum though, I do recommend the Deutsches Museum.
Munich is located just 45 minutes, by train or bus, from the Alps. If you have always wanted to ski or snowboard the Alps, Munich is the perfect launching point. You can have an independent day by train or book a ski trip on a bus that takes you to and from the Austrian Alps, includes breakfast, lunch, lift ticket and a beer. The bus driver also handles all your baggage and you have a host who is responsible for getting your lift ticket. I highly recommend this last option for anyone looking to make friends or is intimidated by independent travel. Your host will be speaking German, but if you ask, they usually speak English and can come give you some personal information in English based on your needs. Find out more information about several ways to get out and ski the Alps with my comprehensive guide, here.
10. Attend a Concert, Opera or The Theater
Harry Potter in Concert!
Attending a cultural event in a foreign country or language is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can check the Philharomnie for concerts. This is my favorite winter activity and I’ve been obsessively attending Harry Potter, Star Wars and Final Fantasy in Concert. The movie plays on a screen while a live orchestra plays the soundtrack. It’s such a fun event! The Munich Opera has regular operas that come through town. Most of them are in Italian and then translated into German for subtitles, so it’s really fascinating. Germans are a bit strange when it comes to art, so the classic operas tend to have a German twist. Think nudity on stage and abstract art that is so abstract you’re not sure if it is even art anymore. I highly recommend it.
Book tickets to some of Munich’s best classical concert events here. Some even include dinner or a wine tasting. Indulge in a fancy night out on the town!
11. Take a Walk Through Munich’s Graveyard
Munich’s Graveyard in Winter
I love visiting the graveyard every season to see the changes. The historic graveyard has graves dating back to the late 1700s and is a large park-like area to walk around get some fresh air. It is so hauntingly breathtaking with a fresh coat of snow.
Thalkirchner Str. 17, 80337 München
12. Take the Hey Minga Winter Tour
Hey Minga Winter Tour.
Hey Minga is a fantastic local German tour company, with roots in Hamburg and other German cities. Each tour is tailored to their host city, changes with the season and focuses on underground and alternative sights. I had the pleasure of taking the Hey Minga Christmas tour and it was well worth it. We bundled up and piled into a classic red VW bus and toured street art, sledding hills, Christmas markets and other oddities. At every stop, we were searched piping hot Glühwein and cookies to keep us fueled up for the tour. Our guide spoke great English and was happy to engage and answer questions. This is a great tour for a group or friends or a family. I realize their entire website is in German. So, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to set up an English speaking tour!
Stop by and take a dip at Müller’sches Volksbad. This is a gorgeous pool and sauna building inside and out, that bridges the Isar River. Or if you want to get to the airport early stop by Therma Erding for a posh modern spa experience. They have everything from luxury day beds, swimming pool, spa and fun water slides.
Müller’sches Volksbad Therma Erding
Rosenheimer Str. 1, 81667 München Thermenallee 1-5, 85435 Erding
14. Go Shopping
Munich’s shopping district.
Munich has a luxury shopping strip on a road called Maximilianstraße. You can also find some cheaper name brand and German brand stores around the Marienhof and Marienplatz. However, I like to shop locally, so I recommend skipping the over-crowded over-priced tourist areas and stopping by the neighborhoods of Gartnerplatz/Glockenbach or near Universität – start on Schellingstraße and meander the streets from around there for great local boutiques and gift shops.
15. Read at a Library or Bookstore
Munich has some amazing libraries. Most of them are free to go in, but you have to be a member to check out books. Be prepared to check your oversized bag into a locker and pass through security as many of the libraries are part of the universities or are of great historical value. Make sure to check out the State Library of Bavaria for great architecture and a bounty of books. If you prefer small bookstores take a peek at Hugendubel, Press and Books, or the Munich Readery. Most places have an English section.
16. Watch – or Try Curling
Head over to Nymphenburg Palace for outdoor curling. The curling areas is open most days from 9 am – 5 pm and it is only 4 Euro per person for 4 hours of fun. I’ve never been curling, but my dad used to play, so I thought it might be fun for you all to get outdoors and try something new!
17. Experience German Carnival or Fasching
Germans get really into Carnival or as it is called here, Fasching. Starting on the 7th of January this event continues until Faschingsdienstag or Fat Tuesday as it is commonly known. Typically the weekend before Fat Tuesday you’ll see events, but the entire downtown area turns into a party on this particular Tuesday. Stop by Viktualienmarkt for food, drinks, costumes and scheduled events on stage. Don’t forget your own costume or you’ll be out of place. You can swing by a drug store and get the makeup for a simple cat face. Stop by any bakery and order a Krapfen, which is the German pastry to eat before Lent.
18. Attend a Paint and Wine Night
This whole class will be in German, but that’s ok. Just order all the wine you can drink, get drunk and try and match the painting sample. It helped my friends and I practice our German and we even made some new friends that were local and expats alike. It was great fun, even though I realized I am a terrible painter.
There is no bettet way to beat the cold of winter than sipping hot coffee or hot chocolate at a cafe. Munich isn’t known for the cafe culture, I’ll be the first to admit, but I’ve done all the hard work and found the best cafes that are great for relaxing and enjoying a nice cup of coffee. Germans are weird about wifi, so it’s hard to find wifi, so whenever I find a cafe that serves good coffee and has wifi I basically move in.
My favorite place with wifi AND coffee is Coffee Mammas or Aroma Cafe Bar. Other great places to hang out and get good coffee without the wifi are Man vs Machine and Rösteri. For more details on coffee shops, check out my hipster guide to Munich.
20. Tour the BMW Factory
Even if you’re not a car lover this experience is great for everyone. BMW does a great job keeping things interesting and engaging. There are three different experiences and areas to explore. The Experience Tour is free and it is like a fancy showroom of all the cool modern and classic BMW cars. The Museum is ticketed and you can go anytime during opening hours and it covers the history of BMW. The Factory Tour is also ticketed and you may need to book well in advance – though coming in the winter you have an advantage. This factory walks you through all the stages of making a car and you get to see a car made from beginning to end.
21. Hit up Munich’s Best Bars or Nightclub
I have a whole post locked and loaded for your ultimate night out in Munich. It covers everything from how to order a drink in German, the best microbreweries, craft cocktail bars, dive bars, to the best nightclubs. This post also has all the winter beer and spirit events from a beer expo to Starkbierfest. You can read it here.
22. See a Disney Castle in the Snow!
Seeing Germany’s most famous castle dusted in snow is something truly magical. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Disney’s Frozen. Plan the trip yourself or book a guided tour. Please note that if you want a tour that includes entrance to the castle, you will need to book the Premium Tour.
23. Go to Sea Life Munich
If you like aquariums then head over to Sea Life Munich. Munich’s aquarium specializes in turtles and sharks, see a variety of both in stunning exhibits. Get your tickets, here.
24. Hop on Hop Off Tour
If the weather is too dang cold to do anything than hop on a heated bus for a quick tour of Munich. Find the best option for you, here.
25. See The Krampus Run
Krampus is St. Nikolas’ evil assistant. Created by German parents, the story goes he follows bad children around and terrorizes them into being good children. So, every year in December (December 9, 2018 3pm-5pm, and December 23rd 4pm-5pm) at Marienplatz 300-400 people dress up in elaborate costumes as Krampus and parade through the city. They will literally grab and scared children in the street and it is a sight to see.
26. Ring in the New Year
If you are in Munich for the New Year then don’t miss my ultimate guide to Munich’s best NYE parties and events. I even include loads of German and Bavarian NYE traditions and culture. Of course I have some local insider tips on the best places to watch fireworks as well.
Spread the Word
Munich is an amazing city to visit year round. There are plenty of things to do in Munich in Winter. Whether you’re in town in frosty February for a work trip, you need a break from the Christmas markets, or you just enjoy off-season travel there is something for everyone. Share this to let your friends know how awesome Munich is in the winter! What is your favorite thing to do in Munich in the winter?