Traveling to Munich Germany and Why It’s a European Christmas Market Must
Traveling to Munich Germany and Why It’s a European Christmas Market Must
Traveling to Germany was never top of my list. There are many, many places I long to see (Scandinavia, Hawaii, Banff), but Germany has never presented anything of interest to me. Throughout October and November, Ryan and I were struggling to figure where to go for our anniversary and for how long. At one point, we both talked ourselves out of the trip, and then two weekends before decided we should still go. We landed on a four-day trip to Munich and Austria, with the sole purpose of seeing the markets. I was vaguely aware of the Christmas markets Germany had to offer, but really had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that by the end of our anniversary adventure, my heart would break to say Auf Wiedersehen to the most magical markets in the world.
We arrived at the Munich airport on Friday, 12/7/18, around 9:00 AM local time, after an easy flight from Atlanta. Post immigration process, the first cultural thing I noticed was how quiet the airport was, a detail that followed us throughout both countries. It then took us a few minutes to locate the ticket booth to catch a train into the city, however once located, it was an easy 40-minute ride. From the train station, we walked ~0.6 miles to our first accommodation, King’s Hotel. As far as hotels go, this one was clean and convenient, but there are probably better options closer to the city center (as a note, our travel structure forces us to book all hotels last minute, so if you have months to plan, you will most likely find better options).
Free from our luggage, we made our way towards food, coffee and the Christmas Markets. While attempting to purchase with card at a local café, it became apparent that Munich (and Salzburg) are still mostly cash transaction cities, so if you plan on visiting Germany, take note!
The main market was in Marientplatz, the city center. Christmas time or not, Marientplatz is a must see in Munich, as it holds the infamous clock tower. During the holidays, it transforms into the Christmas heartbeat of the city, with markets sprawling from its center. We spent a few, weary hours, walking around this first market, took our first sip of Glühwein and purchased a few beautiful handmade ornaments.
After checking the main (and what I assumed was the only) market off our list, we made our way towards the Englischer Garten, one of the largest urban parks in the world. At this point, I was in desperate need of a bathroom, which lead us into a beautiful indoor mall, where hanging plants cascaded from the ceiling. Unfortunately, we were unable to locate restrooms, but our journey to find them was a wonderful adventure indeed. Beginning with this adorable Christmas tree lot, brimming with festive mistletoe, miniature trees, wreaths, and full-size Tannenbaum’s for purchase.
While reminding myself that bringing live plants back to the U.S. was illegal, my attention was stolen by a hidden gem steps from where we were standing -> enter Christmas market #2. I was instantly in love, as this market featured something I’d seen only in pictures: a 30 ft. Christmas Pyramid, with it’s fanning top and rotating nativity scene.
After my initial captivation began to dissolve, I remembered my search of restrooms, and noticed a sign leading me towards a public option in the rear of the market. Post bathroom, we piddled through this second market, which featured a unique set of animatronic characters, both Christmas and Grimm’s fairy tale themed.
The great thing about the markets is that you can stay as long or see as quickly as you need to. In our case, we started to worry about losing daylight, grabbed fries from a local market stall, and headed towards the Englischer Garten.
After a million little detours (the best way to explore) our walk transformed from city sidewalks to strolls along a trickling river. The park was brimming with locals, including their dogs (a universal love) all following paths along the river, past waterfalls or towards Monopteros (a small Greek temple built by 19th-century star architect, Leo von Klenzeto) for a magnificent view of the gardens and city beyond.
We hoped to see a bit more of the park before the sun was fully set and headed deeper along one of many paths within. The Christmas magic embedded in the gravel path came to life and in just a few more steps we would stumble upon yet ANOTHER Christmas market at Chinesischer Turm (a pagoda-style, all-wooden tower with five stories).
During the rest of the year, this area of the park acts as Munich’s second largest beer garden. In the month of December, it’s transformed into a Christmas market, with stalls, brass music, and Bavarian curling. The next hour was spent eating a bratwurst + sugared nuts, drinking Glühwein, and watching the locals meet to celebrate the beginning of the weekend.
As magical as travel is, it’s equally exhausting and this was the point in the day when Ryan looked at me and said, “I don’t ever think I’ve seen you this tired before.” Hence, we decided to take a taxi back to our hotel (using the mytaxi app). With a few hours of relaxation in our veins, we decided to take a short stroll back towards the heartbeat of the city to explore more of the Marientplatz market.
Rather than staying in the center, we decided to explore the side streets, where we came upon ANOTHER Christmas Pyramid. Mingling around this pyramid I noticed people holding really cool Glühwein mugs, so we went in search of the stall to purchase one from.
I’ve had a handful of people ask me what Glühwein is, so I’ll detour here to explain. Glühwein is red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and at times vanilla pods. In my opinion, (the one of someone who rarely drinks and usually hates the taste of alcohol, wine included) this is the BEST way wine should be consumed. So whether you’re like me, and dislike alcohol, or you consider yourself a wine connoisseur, you MUST give Glühwein a try!
Every Glühwein stall has a unique mug for the season. The Glühwein and mug combo costs ~8 €. Once you finish your Glühwein, you can either keep the mug, or return it to receive 4€ back. I made it my mission throughout the trip to find the best Glühwein mugs, and we ended up bringing 6 back to the US
Our last stop of the day was the famous beer house, Hofbräuhaus München, which we decided against sitting down at since we were both exhausted, it was extremely crowded and neither of us are into beer. Our night wrapped by heading back to the hotel, packing our things, and getting some good ZZZs to prepare for our day of travel to Austria ahead!
*Keep scrolling here to read about Day 2 in Munich, and come back later to see a separate post for Salzburg!
Our flights flew in and out of Munich, meaning we decided to begin and end our trip there. The last day of our European Christmas Market adventure (Day 2 of Munich) and our actual anniversary (12/10) started magically – with snow! After a quick breakfast at our hotel we headed towards the train station (by taxi), and both felt stressed about missing our train. Well joke was on us, because due to German train strikes, all public trains to Munich from Salzburg had been cancelled.
We were advised by locals to board the private train from Salzburg to Freilassing, where we switched trains and hopped on a line headed to Munich (in hopes our tickets would work as this was a different line). Thankfully, the ticket checker let us know that due to the issues with the train strikes, our ticket would allow us to take any line back into the city (such a relief as I was planning to roll myself out into the snow if we were “caught”). Thankful to have not gotten kicked off, we were able to locate seats (seats are not always promised on the train) and enjoyed the 2 hour ride back to Munich, watching views of the German countryside covered in snow fleet past the window.
Upon our arrival back in Munich, we checked in at Cocoon Hotel, just minutes from the train station. The hotel’s Alpine theme featured a ski-lift bench in the lobby, a ski-lift elevator (that could only fit two people) and hay stored in the walls of the hotel room.
Always in a state of hunger, we went in search of lunch and to do some last-minute Christmas shopping (yes, Christmas shopping in Germany!). Post shopping, we grabbed a quick bite at an Asian restaurant and headed back towards the Englischer Garten market.
That night, a brass brand was playing, and we grabbed a bite of schupfnudeln, a potato like German noodle (like gnocchi). When it came time to leave, I found myself feeling sad to say goodbye to the markets that held such magical, authentic charm, so we decided to take the long way back - a 40 minute walk through all of the previous markets we’d seen. Our final stroll was the perfect end to a perfect anniversary and an overall wonderful trip to Europe.
At the hotel, we saw one final snow flurry out our window, which we watched together as did a few other families (that we could see peeking through their windows from ours). Never in my life would I have imagined being able to take not only one, but TWO Europe trips in a year, and we ended our second anniversary snuggled in cotton pajamas and brimming with feelings of gratitude.
Upon our arrival back in the US, we’ve hand many people ask about our experience and my immediate response is “You must visit Germany at Christmas.” Based on our account above, there is truly nothing else like it (and definitely not in the states). So, whether you are like I was, and doubtful of the experience Germany could have in store, or if Germany is already a must for you, Germany at Christmas should be added to your bucket list ASAP, for every reason above and more. Book your 2019 trip now.
I’m a 25 year young, everything enthusiast. I am a passionate girl at heart, with a deep love of Jesus, family and friendships. Things that make my life joyful are #1 my husband #2 my dog #3 plants #4 my camera.
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