As the crowds of Oktoberfest subside and the cold weather sets in, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Munich has little to offer as a holiday destination. Think again. With its Alpine backdrop and festive decorations, this is one place in Europe where you’re guaranteed a postcard-worthy white Christmas, and there are plenty of winter activities to keep you busy.
Sip on mulled wine and munch on freshly baked gingerbread, as you marvel at the handiwork of the local craftsmen at one of Munich’s hugely popular traditional Christmas markets, some of which date back to the 17th century. The most famous is the Christkindl Markt, held in the Old town’s Marienplatz, overlooked by a towering 100-foot Christmas tree, and equally popular is the Tollwood Winter Festival with its bustling international Christmas market, complete with circus performers and live music. Alternatively, the Kripperlmarket (manger market) is famed for its hand-carved nativity figures and the colorful Pink Christmas market pays homage to the city’s rich gay community with plenty of family entertainment set to a backdrop of hot pink Christmas trees. For an all-around festive experience, head to the Christmas village at Munich’s royal residence, where traditional toy-makers can be seen at work and there are carousels and a Santa’s grotto to keep kids entertained.
Active types can enjoy ice-skating at the open-air Muenchner Eizsauber rink, in the Karlspatz Square shopping district or enjoy the steamy waters at the heated Dante Winterbad – an outdoor winter swimming hole. Winter visitors might not get to experience the city’s famous summer beer gardens (Biergartens), but come the colder months, the beer guzzling moves indoors to an array of atmospheric beer cellars (Bierkellers). The sizable Hofbrauehaus is a popular option, as are the Augustiner Keller and the Loewenbraue. Don’t miss out on the winter foods, either – local fruitcake Stolln is best accompanied by a glass of mulled wine.