The Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Munich

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Munich has an unbelievable 24 Christmas Markets! It’s one of the best cities in Germany to celebrate the holiday season.

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5 of the best Christmas markets that you'll want to visit in Munich, Germany

Christmas Markets all share commonalities. There are vendors selling their wares, and locals meeting over a mug of Glühwein, but each has its own flair. Before you go, be sure to read my Tips for Making the Most of Your Time at a Christmas Market.

Here are 5 of the Most Beautiful Christmas Markets in Munich:

Medieval Christmas Market

You'll find the Medieval Christmas Market at Wittelsbacherplatz in Munich, Germany
Medieval Christmas Market

Upon entering the Medieval Market in Wittelsbacher Platz (near Odeonsplatz) you’ll wonder if you’ve just stepped into a time machine and popped out back in the middle ages.

Vendors dressed in medieval clothing sell their medieval wares.

Glühwein is served in heavy hand-pottered mugs.  On weekends, there are a variety of free musical performances played on long-forgotten instruments dating back to the middle ages.  Children especially enjoy this market.

Christmas Village in the Munich Residenz

The Christmas village is held in the courtyard of the Munich Residenz and is great for children.
Christmas Market in the courtyard of the Munich Residenz.

It’s hard to compete with a Christmas market held in the courtyard of a palace.

Strategically placed lights provide the WOW factor at the entrance.

In addition, this market has the best food of all the Christmas markets in my opinion. It’s a popular meeting spot for locals. You’ll also find a fairytale village which is always a hit with children. Expect singing moose and

You’ll also find a fairytale village which is always a hit with children. Expect singing moose and miniature Santa Clauses singing Christmas carols.

The Christmas Village at the Munich Residenz features a fairytale village which is popular with children.
The fairytale village features singing Santa Clauses and angels are a hit with kids.

Tollwood Winter Festival

You'll find a Christmas market as part of the Tollwood Winter Festival in the Theresienwiese, Munich, Germany
Tollwood Winter Festival

I find it impossible to identify just one reason why I love Tollwood Winter Festival so much.  Tollwood is a combined Christmas market/exhibition of cultural, political and scientific events.

It’s also a hip place to hang out with live music. The commonality that ties it all together is the environmental focus.  I plan multiple trips to Tollwood each year. It’s fun meeting friends and listening to free live music at the Tief im Wald Bar (Deep in Forest Bar),  the coolest bar I’ve ever been to complete with a forest atmosphere. or to listen to one of the incredible presentations. A couple of years ago I saw a film about my idol, Jane Goodall film (famous primatologist who works with chimpanzees). This year I’ll  honour of hearing her speak at Tollwood.

I also enjoy attending the incredible presentations. A couple of years ago I saw a film about my idol, Jane Goodall film (famous primatologist who works with chimpanzees). This year I’ll  honour of hearing her speak at Tollwood.

A couple of years ago I saw a film about my idol, Jane Goodall film (famous primatologist who works with chimpanzees). In 2016 I had the honour of hearing her speak at Tollwood.

I’ve spent more money at Tollwood than I have at all the other Christmas Markets I’ve visited combined. While I’m not much of a shopper, my favourite Christmas market find was at Tollwood. It’s a handcrafted coffee table built from a Bavarian farmhouse dating back to 1807.

Tollwood is often described as a “small Oktoberfest” since the winter festival is held on the same ground as Oktoberfest.  I’ve never seen anything as eclectic, making it a strong contender for my favourite festivals of all time. Only the World Nomad Games are in contention!

The Christmas Market at Marienplatz: One of the Oldest in the World

Not only is it the largest and oldest in Munich, it’s also one of the oldest in the world! According to the official Munich Christmas Market site, it was first mentioned in the town records in 1642, but according to Wikipedia, it’s the second oldest in the world, dating back to 1310. Only the Vienna Christmas market is older (1294). Regardless of its exact age, it retains its original essence with 150 wooden huts selling Glühwein (mulled wine), traditional sweets, Christmas ornaments and toys.

OK, now it’s time for a confession. While I believe it is by far the most beautiful Christmas market in Munich, it’s also not my favourite. Don’t get me wrong, I still go several times a year, but it’s busy. I mean crazy busy, especially in the evenings when its lit up and at its finest. It’s also by far the most popular Christmas market in Munich with tourists. And I don’t do crowds. I prefer the smaller, albeit less impressive Christmas markets that attract less people.

Having said that I still recommend going to see it and experience it. Join me on a photo-journey through the Munich Christmas Market and you’ll see why I still recommend going:

My favourite place in the entire Munich Christmas Market is at Sternenplatzl (Star Platz) at the Rindermarkt.

It’s just steps away from the more popular Marienplatz, but feels worlds away and the stars hanging from the trees give it a whimsical feel. Sternenplatzl is a highlight of the Munich Christmas Market in Germany.

Christmas pyramids are usually much smaller and used for decorative purposes inside, but I love this oversized one that serves as a Glühwein stand at the Sternenplatzl. It’s thought that Christmas pyramids were the predecessor to the Christmas tree, so perhaps the medieval Christmas markets had more of them!

Christmas pyramid at Sternenplatzl, Rindermarkt, Munich, Germany
Traditional Christmas pyramid at Sternenplatzl (Star Platz) at the Rindermarket in Munich.
The Munich Christmas Market runs the length of Kaufinger Strasse, a pedestrian shopping street, that is one of the longest in Germany.
The Munich Christmas Market runs the length of Kaufinger Strasse, a pedestrian shopping street.

Christmas markets are much more impressive at night than during the day, as the photo below shows, but they’re also busier. If you’re there to shop, go during the day. If you’re there for the atmosphere and to drink Glühwein, then go in the evening:

A Glühwein stand that is a replica of the Frauenkirche (church) and in front of it at the Munich Christmas Market.
A Glühwein stand that is a replica of the Frauenkirche (church).
The Frauenkirche Glühwein stand at the Christmas market isn't nearly as impressive during the day.
The Frauenkirche Glühwein stand at the Christmas market isn’t nearly as impressive during the day.

The other unique aspect of the Munich Christmas Market is the Kripperlmarkt (Manger Market). It’s toted as being “probably” the largest manger market in Germany.

The largest Manger Market in Germany can be found in Munich.
What is “probably” the largest Manger Market can be found at the Munich Christmas Market.

I’m not in the market for a new manger, but even I can appreciate the craftsmanship of some of the wood carvings.

Life-size hand-carved manger scene from a craftsman in Oberammergau, a region in Bavaria, Germany
Life-size hand-carved manger scene from a craftsman in Oberammergau, a region in Bavaria.

There’s even a skating rink at Stachus (Karlsplatz). This is well thought out as there’s a Glühwein bar overlooking the skating rink – a win-win for both parents and kids…or kids at heart!

Münchener Eiszauber (Munich Ice Magic) offers skating at Stachus (Karlsplatz) in Munich, Germany
Münchener Eiszauber (Munich Ice Magic) offers skating at Stachus (Karlsplatz)

If you go to a Christmas market and only try one thing, let it be Kaiserscharrm. Named after the Austrian Emporer (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I of Austria, it has royal roots. It’s a fluffy cut up pancake that is sprinkled with icing sugar and usually served with a side of applesauce. My German and foreign friends alike both go nuts for it. Being Celiac (gluten-allergy) I have to skip it, but you can try it at the Munich Christmas Market on Kaufinger Strasse.

Kaiserschmarrn is a must-try at the Munich Christmas Market in Germany.
Kaiserschmarrn is a must-try at the Munich Christmas Market.

Schwabing Christmas Market for Artisans

This market is charming with hanging lanterns scattered throughout. But what really impressed me about it was the artisans. It has some of the most talented artisans I’ve seen at any Christmas market.

There’s also an Art Tent where vendors display their larger works of arts.  This bohemian type market will be especially appreciated by anyone with an interest in art, or those looking for a unique gift.

Convenient Places to Stay for Visiting Christmas Markets in Munich

Rocco Forte the Charles Hotel

This 5-star design hotel gets raves reviews for its location – it overlooks the Old Botanical Garden. Guests love its special touches, like the original paintings by Munich artist Franz von Lenbach in every guestroom.
Price: From €360
Getting there: Sophienstrasse. 28, Munich (a 2-minute walk from the Hauptbahnhof, Central Train Station)

Platzl Hotel – Superior

This 4-star hotel is in the heart of Munich. It features old-world charm, a 16th-century restaurant and floor to ceiling windows.
Price: From €285 double
Getting There: Sparkassenstr. 10, Altstadt – Lehel, 80331 Munich (a 2-minute walk from Marienplatz)

Hotel Torbräu

A classically furnished 4-star hotel, with some rooms offering views of Isator (one of the city’s three remaining gates).
Price: From €190 double
Getting There: Tal 41, Altstadt – Lehel, 80331 Munich (a 5-minute walk to Marienplatz)

Hotel Freisinger Hof

Located in Bogenhausen, where some of Munich’s most extravagant villas, can be found, this 4-star hotel overlooks the English Garden. You’re just a few minutes’ walk away from the Christmas Market at the Chinese Tower. Afterwards, you can warm up in the hotel’s Finnish sauna!
Price: From €126 double
Getting There: Oberföhringerstraße 191, Bogenhausen, 81925 Munich (~12-minute tram ride to the city centre).

What are your favourite Christmas markets in Munich?

Be sure to check out my Munich City Guide for how to make the most of your precious travel time

Note: This article was originally published in 2011, but was updated in December 2017. 

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About Author

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Laurel
Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. She's passionate about getting outdoors as often as possible and helping travellers do the same on their vacation in a sustainable way. She's Canadian and grew up in the Canadian Rockies but now lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her skiing or hiking in the mountains most weekends, hanging out with her cat or with her nose in a good book.

Comments

December 6, 2011
24 Christmas markets is a lot - even for a city the size of Munich. Must be a lot of hard work to check out all and sample their Glühwein;)
Laurel
December 6, 2011
@Mette - I was surprised that there were so many as well. It's hard work, but someone has to do it :)
December 6, 2011
I had no idea a city could have that many markets! I always think of one Christmas market per city, like in France.
December 6, 2011
I'm now thinking Germany would be wonderful to visit over Christmas next year. That is a lot of markets! Good luck with the Chimpanzee photo!
December 6, 2011
I'm not the jealous type Lauel but - I'm jealous! We're suckers for a good Christmas market and I've never been to one in Germany but in my head, the Germans do a pretty decent Christmas market. They have Gluhwein for a start! :) We're getting festive at the moment and are enjoying an evening gluhwein or 3. Love it! :) Lucky you having so many markets to get you in the spirit of things. Julia
December 6, 2011
Isn't it interesting to see how different Chrismas markets can be? I too prefer the more original ones, the ones that doesn't try to appeal to foeign tourists too much.
Annie - FootTracker
December 7, 2011
I been wanting to go to Christmas Market in Germany for all my life =DD Thank you for posting this, I think I will like the Medieval market (double themed is even better than only Christmas!) and Schwabing market. Which market has the best food to you?
December 7, 2011
I'm jealous too! It's not very Christmas-y here in Thailand. Which may be a good thing this year. I am dreading the first Christmas without my Dad. :-( I am so desperate for a while Christmas and lots of Gluhwein, though. Maybe next year!
December 7, 2011
I have become increasingly obsessed of late with visiting Christmas markets in Europe - here's three more added to my growing list!
December 8, 2011
The Medieval Christmas Market looks like it would be my favourite.
Laurel
December 8, 2011
@Zhu - I was surprised too. Some of them are small, but still 24 is a lot for one city. @Claire - I love Germany in December, it's a beautiful time to come. Thanks for the wishes on the chimpanzee photo. Fingers crossed. @Julia - I'm a lucky girl :) Glad that you're able to find Gluehwein in Turkey. I've had more than my fair share already but don't plan to slow down. @Michael - Agreed, some of them are really different and after seeing so many, they need something unique to make them stand out. @Annie - The medieval market in Munich is fun, but the one in Esslingen is even better. Regarding food, I would have to say Tollwood since they have all the traditional German food, but also an international food court with Thai and Indian food to name a few. The best Gluehwein I've had is at the Munich Residenz Christmas Market which I also really enjoy, but wasn't one of my top 3. @Barbara - I really missed Christmas when I lived in Thailand as well. The second year I lived there we decided to go for a beach holiday - one of the most un-Christmasy things you can do. The first Christmas after the loss of a loved one is the toughest - my thoughts are with you. @Lisa - Me too. I've already started on my list for NEXT year :) @Sam - The medieval one is a lot of fun.
What’s new ’round the web: week of 12/09/11 | Wanderplex | Tips, Tricks, and Inspiration for World Travel
December 9, 2011
[...] 1. Taking a vacation around Christmas-time (when you often get extra days off work for free) can seem like a great idea until you realize that while you’re sitting in a sterile hotel room by yourself, everyone else is off with their families, eating, drinking and opening gifts. Whether you’re traveling by yourself, or with young children who are longing for the traditional Christmas experience, it’s possible to reignite the holiday spirit by visiting a festive market. This article lists five great European cities for Christmas markets, while this one delves specifically into the market scene in Germany. [...]
December 10, 2011
I stopped by the Schwabing market last year (2010) on my way to see some friends around the Münchner Freiheit area - the market was a lot of fun, and had a different and distinct vibe than the markets in the Mitte. I've heard some great things about Tollwood at various times of the year. In all of the times I've visited Munich over the last ten years, I've never been to Tollwood. Usually my schedule is a little tight and there's enough to pack in just a single visit with friends and, perhaps, a museum or two, over a period of two to three days. Perhaps, I can fix that by visiting Tollwood at the end of next year ... Thanks for your post, Laurel!
trvl8dintern
December 13, 2011
Love the first one! Was the stuff expensive?
March 4, 2012
Love it :) I do so miss the markets from when I lived there
Stephen Reynolds
October 1, 2012
Now a family tradition for us - we visit Germany every year the last weekend before Christmas. We've been to Munich 3 times, but Cologne is our favourite. We've been to Berlin (which was incredibly crowded and a bit unpleasant for that reason) and did a quick visit to Bonn last year where the market is small but you could visit Beethoven's house. This year we are trying Dusseldorf. Stephen.
October 6, 2012
@Stephen - You sound like the Christmas market expert! I haven't been to the Christmas markets in Cologne or Berlin yet. The one in Bonn also sounds lovely. Let me know how the one in Dusseldorf is. I'll be exploring more Christmas markets in southern Germany/Austria this year.
Michael Hodson
November 25, 2012
One of the few things I am excited for, being here this time of year. I hate the weather, but these markets are going to be so much fun to shoot.
November 27, 2012
@Michael - You will love it. There's no shortage of Christmas markets in Germany. I'm doing my first Christmas market photo shoot of the year later this week.
December 3, 2012
Andy and I were just in Frankfurt over the weekend for their Christmas Markets and they were pretty great! Maybe we'll get to Munich to check these out next year. Christmas Markets make cold December slightly more bearable. If only they lasted through the whole winter!
December 3, 2012
@Ali - I haven't been to the Christmas Markets next year, maybe that will be on my list. We can swap places. Agree, it's impossible to see them all in less than a month.
December 3, 2012
Lovely photos, the medieval market looks fantastic, I'm already market-obsessed, plus a historical one, I couldn't ask for anything better ;)
December 3, 2012
@Angela - I love the medieval market, it feels like you're stepping back in time. I'm market-obsessed as well, markets are easy to be obsessed with :)
December 9, 2013
I never thought Munich will have so many markets! This year I am also going to see some Christmas markets but not in Germany. :)
December 21, 2013
@Nisha - I was surprised as well. Hope you enjoy your visits. Let me know if you find any that you really like, I'm always on the lookout for new ones to explore.
Renuka
December 11, 2013
I have been reading a lot about Germany Christmas markets.... sounds really good! It looks like perfect Christmas spirit is in the air.
December 21, 2013
@Renuka - I love the Christmas markets, it really does get you in the holiday spirit.
December 7, 2014
Wow! You're like a Christmas market queen, having visited so many of them in Europe, lucky girl :-). The lights, the color, the festivities - it probably all compensates for the cold, right? (Or would you prefer to visit these places in summer?)
December 16, 2014
I have to bookmark this - it will be really helpful in the future! I have yet to make it to Germany but Christmas seems like the perfect time :) Thanks for sharing
December 18, 2014
@Francesca - Germany is amazing at Christmas time with all the Christmas markets. There are 17 alone in Munich - post coming soon :)
December 26, 2014
Hope you guys had a wonderful holiday ... cheers!
February 15, 2015
WIsh i had come across this blog post earlier. I was in munich around christmas time :(
December 10, 2016
How could I ever choose! These all sound like great Christmas markets.
December 10, 2016
@Jill - Good reason to keep coming back so that you can visit them all :)
Lombok Wander Tour
January 6, 2017
What a nice Christmas in Munich !
January 8, 2017
Love Christmas in Munich, very festive!
Taj Mahal
January 9, 2017
Christmas Village seems to be great place with awesome food to taste however 25 markets in one city is really a surprise for me. I believe each market has something different to offer for Christmas.
Lori
January 11, 2017
How late are most of the Christmas Markets open until?
January 12, 2017
Hi Lori Most close Dec 23rd or 24th, and are open till ~ 9:00 pm, but some will close at 8:00pm.
Lori
January 11, 2017
I should have also asked which market is best for shopping (I love shopping ;)
January 13, 2017
@Lori, The one at Marienplatz is the largest, but the one at Münchener Freiheit is the best for buying handmade goods (jewellery, pottery, candles, etc.) made my artisans.
January 30, 2017
Good reason to keep coming back I want to leave a comment in your support. Carry on with good continuation. Best of luck for your blogging efforts.
December 14, 2017
Such a nice Medieval Christmas Market! This look awesome post and picture also. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Colby
December 26, 2017
@laurel Thanks for this write-up and the focus on sustainability. I think it's a place where a lot of companies could do more and I appreciate your willingness to include it as part of your approach to travel!
April 10, 2018
Thank you Laurel for refreshing my memories. Last year my I went to Munich with my family. The Christmas market in Munich tempts us to stay and look around. These markets have everything that belongs to a Christmas crip.

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