A Winter city break in Munich
Our winter city break in Munich last month was basically a complete replica of a trip we took two years ago… and it was incredible! It’s quite rare that I love a place enough to keep going back as I can get quite obsessive about finding ways to tick new countries off my wishlist (I’m sure this rings true for so many fellow travel lovers). I should also point out that although this was ‘Christmas Markets Munich: Take 2’, I’ve been to Munich four times now, so it’s definitely somewhere familiar to me.
If Germany hasn’t made it onto your travel wishlist just yet, I’d think again and get planning! It’s a great country that has loads to offer visitors above and beyond Bratwurst and Bier (although that is a big part of it). Despite having lived in another part of Germany a few years ago and having visited other places, Munich is the city I’m most drawn to whenever I fancy a jaunt to Deutschland.
We stayed in an AirBnB (as we often do), mainly because it was a lot cheaper than a decent hotel but also because we enjoy having a nice space to relax and cook if we want. This time our apartment was in a lovely quiet area of the city, with some good local restaurants and a U-Bahn stop nearby. It was good to have a quiet place to retreat to in the evening as I was still recovering from the death flu and John had broken his foot two weeks earlier and was on crutches – what a pair! The apartment had the comfiest bed; in Germany they often have separate duvet covers as a double bed is really two singles pushed together. John is now obsessed with us getting separate duvets because he insists I’m a duvet hog, but I honestly have no idea what he’s talking about…
Anyway, back to the trip. Without a shadow of a doubt, the main reason tourists and locals alike venture out into the city throughout the long, dark and cold winters is the abundance of Christmas Markets Munich has to offer. Seriously, you don’t just go to ‘the Christmas market’ in Munich, you go to ‘the Christmas markets‘, or Weihnachtsmärkten if you want to have a go at the local lingo. So our mission in December was to spend most of every day enjoying various Christmas markets, which involved eating, drinking and generally being (very) merry. The great thing about the markets in Munich is that they typically have an obvious theme or character, such as the Krippenmarkt (manger market), the Tollwood Winter Festival (on the same site as Oktoberfest). Our personal favourite is the Mittelaltermarkt (Middle Ages market) where we had the most incredible fish smoked in a barrel followed by Feuerzangenbowle, a fiery take on traditional Glühwein!
We also took the obligatory trip to the Hofbräuhaus and I think I worked out that it was my fourth trip there, having not missed a trip to this (in)famous beer hall on any of my visits! As an aside, the first time I visited was when I was 17 and being able to legally buy a Maß of beer was quite possibly the most exciting thing to happen to me that year. We first tried to go on our second evening but it was so busy they were stopping people at the door and and only letting people in in small groups. So we went the following afternoon instead, which was much better. It was still busy but we were able to find a table and enjoy our giant pretzel and beer without rushing. I do enjoy going to the Hofbräuhaus when I’m in Munich, but it’s more for the novelty factor than anything; the waiters all wear Lederhosen, there are ladies in Dirndls dishing out pretzels and if you time it right they sometimes have an oompah band playing! And for any history buffs, it’s where Hitler held his Munich Putsch (uprising) in 1923. However, it can be challenging to flag down a waiter and the prices aren’t cheap. If you’re just after a beer hall for traditional food and drink, we had equally enjoyable beer and food at Augustiner across the street and in the beer garden at the Viktualienmarkt.
There was just the right amount of snow whilst we were in Munich; enough to give a lovely wintry atmosphere to the Christmas markets but not so much that we couldn’t get around! We also had a sunny day and we were able to take a walk in the Englischer Garten. It’s one of the largest urban parks in the world and is named after the informal style of landscaping English gardens in the 17oos, when it was created. There are lots of wide open spaces and we went specifically to visit the Christmas market there, which was absolutely lovely and complete with horse-drawn Christmas carts.
Visiting Munich in December has always been a great trip for me because it’s not an obvious time of year to go away and it helps my mood as the nights draw in before Christmas. On a practical note, we had no real issues getting around the city as the public transport is fantastic. The only issues we had were with our own ability to read the U-Bahn maps, which led to us getting on the wrong train once or twice… but that’s part of the adventure!
And as a final photo bonus, here’s a montage of my Hofbräuhaus trips through the ages:
Have you visited Munich before? What were your favourite things to do? Let me know in the comments below!