Christmas in Munich sees a city filled with a festive, happy, vibe. Everywhere you turn there are friendly faces, the smell of warm gluhwein and cinnamon dough fills the air. You can’t help but feel as though this is what Christmas is meant to be.
I’m sitting on a bus having just commenced the journey from Munich to Prague and find myself reflecting somewhat on the experiences of the past few days.
I have never been to Munich before, though I’ve been to a few European cities around Christmas time and I love the festive atmosphere and the markets that bring everyone out into the winter chill to celebrate the season. It’s a strange winter this time around in that it’s unseasonably warm.
My last European Christmas was in 2012 and it was definitely a lot cooler then. The difference is really quite remarkable. I can recall days where it was minus 10 (Celsius) and everywhere you looked you were greeted with snow. This time around it has been 12 degrees with blue skies and not a single snowflake to be seen.
I was reading this morning that it’s El Nino causing havoc with the world’s weather. It’s good to know I’ve something to blame for the lack of a white Christmas.
Despite the lack of snow, Munich is still a charming place to be at Christmas time with the impressively large Christmas market at Marienplatz dwarfing that of the one in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz.
As you walk down the long cobbled street towards the square you’ll see market stalls everywhere, selling crafts, food and drink. The market is quite simply massive but it isn’t the only one.
It feels as though around every corner another Christmas Market awaits, slightly different to the one before it. My personal favourite was the small but incredibly busy Mittelaltermarkt. This market has a few crafts but seems to be primarily focussed on what makes Christmas markets awesome, food and wine.
There’s so many different types of dishes to choose from including woodfire roasted fish, wild boar, a type of German pizza with speck und kase (bacon and cheese) as well as old faithfuls like goulash and sausages.
There were also a couple of gluhwein stalls, with the gluhwein mug being a terracotta chalice. Despite the gluhwein and the delicious food the things which tempted me most on this trip were the baked goods like the delicious warm trdlnik! It’s not really a German thing, being more favoured in countries like Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland but it is delicious and I was very happy to stumble upon a stall serving these in Munich!
Another faveourite was a type of cheese donut (it’s better than it sounds!) called Quarkbällchen. These things are just delicious and available all over the place for just a couple of euro for 3 or 4. I discovered them on the walk up towards Neuschwanstein Castle. There’s a quarkbällchen vendor chilling out around the halfway mark as you make you way up to the castle. I can’t emphasise enough how delicious these things are. You simply must try them! It makes a nice little reward for the 20 minutes or so of marching uphill that you’ve been doing.
One thing to be a little wary of in Munich (and pretty much anywhere else in Germany) is that the place shuts down over Christmas. This all starts either late on the 23rd December or by lunchtime on Christmas Eve as stalls close so their storekeepers can be at home with their families.
If you do need to be in Munich over Christmas and you don’t have any family or friends nearby to spend it with then there isn’t a whole lot to do over the Christmas period. My suggestion would be to get a bus or a train and make your way over to Prague which doesn’t really close down over Christmas at all. It’s what we did and we had an amazing time!