Today I’m sharing everything you need to know to plan your visit to the Munich Christmas markets!
2023 update: most of Munich’s Christmas markets open by November 27, with some opening as early as the 23rd! End dates range from December 22 to January 7.
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The Munich Christmas markets strike the perfect balance of big city offerings – great food, easy transport, lots of hotel and tourism options – with cute and local-feeling Christmas markets!
One helpful thing for planning is that they all open at the same time: usually for Munich Christmas markets, it’s the last Wednesday in November.
The best part of Munich Christmas markets?? The themes! Many Christmas markets have some kind of distinguishing characteristic, target audience, or unique aspect. It makes it really fun to go seek out all the different ones! Munich Christmas markets certainly aren’t the only ones that do this, but Munich does it really well.
Munich Christmas Markets
The “main” market can be found in Marienplatz, next door to the ironically-named New Town Hall (it’s now one of the older buildings in the area). It’s central, has a pretty good representation of the crafts and food commonly found at the Munich markets, and it gorgeous at night.
If you’re at the Munich main market, head inside the town hall archway towards the Rathaus to find an inner courtyard and a mini-market in here, specializing in unusual artisan crafts. One has a glassblower working most days, which was fascinating to watch him create the delicate glass ornaments.
One of my favorites for decoration had to be at the Rindermarkt. Situated just on the other side of a row of shops from Marienplatz, it runs along a road with a massive Weichnactspyramid, or spinning nativity scene on top. If you want an adorable place to get off your feet, head to the Christmas cabin just down the road. It’s a wooden building decorated within an inch of its life in classic European holiday spirit, and inside offers fur-covered bar seats, Christmas music, and a fake fire playing on the TV. Somehow, the sheer quaintness of it overcame any kitsch feels it might have given out.
The Sendlinger Tor market sits at one end of the pedestrian thoroughfare between Marienplatz and the Sendlinger Tor U-Bahn stop. It sits under the old city wall and is a great quick one with a lot of food options if you’re in the area.
Another cute one sits in the open courtyard of the Munich Residenz, the former home of Bavarian royalty. This one also boasts a gorgeous Weichnactspyramide, lit in glorious Christmas spirit, complete with a bar underneath it.
My favorite for ambiance was the medieval market. Located in Wittelsbacher Platz, near the museum district, it’s a bit of a walk from the main part of town. The booths have a distinct wooden style, the crafts are period-appropriate, drinks are served in clay goblets, and those staffing them are in period costume. So fun! Definitely worth a wander, especially if you want unique Christmas presents to take home – drinking horns, anyone?
Even the year-round markets get into the Christmas spirit! Viktualienmarkt gets a Christmas makeover as “Winterzauber” as several booths swap out their usual wares for Christmas ornaments, baked goods, and decor. Year-round, this is a great spot for lunch and makes a great pit stop for local fare. I really wanted to buy a wreath but didn’t want to lug it across the country on a train, but it’s worth a stop just to breathe in the pine scent!
Christmas markets aside, Munich decorates most of the main streets for Christmas and it’s so much fun to simply wander around and take in the lights! We stayed just off Sendlinger Tor Strasse and loved walking that pedestrian-only street whenever possible. From twinkly lights to festive storefronts to carolers, there are tons to see at any time of day.
Munich Christmas Market Drinks
Like all European markets (especially German ones) gluhwein is a must! Some booths have white wine variations – it wasn’t my favorite, but if you’re a sweet white wine lover, definitely give it a shot! I saw more coffee available here than at previous markets – nice to get your caffeine fix if you start your day with Christmas markets! You can also often find beer at many of the drinks booths for those who get tired of the spice wine scene.
Munich Christmas Market Food
Specialties here include many of the German standards: pretzels, stollen, and chocolate-covered fruit, just to Salzburg!
Side note – how do these pretzels fill you up SO MUCH. I mean, yes, they’re massive. But they’re essentially bread, and bread doesn’t usually make me feel full, but these pretzels definitely do. They make for a massive breakfast on the go option.
Stollen is also a German classic, and you’ll find it in spades here. Essentially a fruit-studded Christmas bread, there’s 548937548947 variations. Many booths at the markets sell stollen exclusively and can show you the regional varieties or point you toward the classic.
One thing I’ve noticed in Munich is that the food and drink all seem to be the same prices, stall to stall. I’m not sure if that’s purposefully regulated or what vendors have decided is the best price, but it’s not worth price shopping the gluhwein within any one market.
Like Salzburg, Munich (and much of Germany and Austria), specialize in wooden crafts. Intricate nativity scenes are the most common, as are two-dimensional wood instruments cut into intricate snowflakes or holiday scenes. I like these for Christmas gifts because they weigh almost nothing and pack well.
I bought myself a Weihnachtpyramid, or German nativity scene that slowly spins by the smoke of candles lit around the structure. It’s a classic German Christmas decoration, and my mom had one growing up that I loved, and I knew I wanted one for my own Christmas traditions!
There are also plenty of intricately painted glass ornaments and a decent amount of ceramic options – they’re lovely and intricate. If I was the multiple-Christmas-trees kind of gal, I’d have a classy one decorated entirely of those. Gorgeous.
Munich Christmas markets are magical! If you’re looking for more European Christmas market inspiration, follow me on Instagram – I’m exploring more this week!