Christmas in Munich: the most beautiful fairs and the most delicious food
Christmas Munich

Christmas in Munich: the most beautiful fairs and the most delicious food

Germany’s Christmas traditions are some of the most festive and colorful in Europe. Here they started celebrating the future Christmas as early as 4 weeks in advance, and this period turned into a bright and colorful holiday «Advent». Here invented the traditional attributes of Advent: a wreath with 4 candles, candle arch, Advent calendar. And the most beautiful and colorful holiday fairs in Germany are, of course, in Bavaria.

Christmas fairs are called Christkindlmarkt in German. They began as temporary markets where you could buy everything you needed to celebrate Christmas: gifts, home decorations, seasonal winter foods. Today, for most Germans, Christmas fairs are an excuse to go for a glass of glüwein with colleagues after work or to meet up with friends they haven’t seen in a long time.

The most popular chalets are the ones that pour mulled wine and run warmers
The most popular chalets are the ones that pour mulled wine and run warmers

In Munich, the Christmas markets open at the end of November, some of which are open only until Christmas, but some are open until New Year’s Eve. All holiday fairs, along with their opening dates, are published on Munich’s tourist website.

I’ll tell you about Munich’s most colorful Christmas fairs: where to find the magic and what to try.

Munich Christmas Card

Munich’s best Christmas fairs

Wooden huts and gingerbread houses, as if built from sketches from fairy tale books, bottomless barrels of mulled wine, mountains of sausages and genuine fun — that’s what Advent in Munich is all about. Even just walking between the houses and looking at their details is already a holiday. The best tip for finding holiday cheer at the Advent markets: find the hut with the biggest crowd, buy mulled wine in the most cheerful mug and drink it next to the busiest company.

If you come across such a kiosk, take a spot by the heater and blend in with the locals
If you come across such a kiosk, take a spot by the heater and blend in with the locals

The ice rink at Karlsplatz (Eiszauberam Stachus)

For those who enter the old city center from the train station and Karlsplatz (Stachus), Advent begins right at the Karlstor gate. There are only three historic gates to the old town in Munich, and each one hosts a fair.

Karlsplatz is home to a popular outdoor ice skating rink, and next to it are several stalls selling hot food and drinks. This market is open the longest — until almost mid-January. The market and the skating rink are open until 22.00.

Grab a portion of sausages, a mug of mulled wine or a beer and head up to the top tier for a view of the ice rink, Karlsplatz and the surrounding streets.

Entrance to the rink is charged: 4—7 € depending on the time of day. Skates can be rented here.

Market near the ice rink at Karlsplatz
Market near the ice rink at Karlsplatz

Sendlinger Tor.

Another small market is at the other gate of Sendlinger Tor. Locals say that the selection of typical goods here is wider than at other city fairs, and every year something unusual from other countries is brought here. There are many good bars and restaurants in the surrounding area, making the Sendlinger Tor area ideal for an evening out.

Munich Feuerzangenbowl (Die Münchner Feuerzangenbowle am Isartor)

Inside the Isartor city gates, a tiny market opens in December and is usually open until January 6. Its main attraction is a huge vat for brewing Feuerzangenbowle. It is prepared as follows: a piece of sugar soaked in rum is set on fire, it melts and flows into hot wine.

Until recently, the Feuerzangenbowle vat at Isartor was the largest in the world, but Nuremberg has made a more grandiose vat. Here, however, the entire market is dedicated to it.

Isartor gate tower. Right inside the gate itself, the Feuersangenbowl is being prepared
Isartor gate tower. Right inside the gate itself, the Feuersangenbowl is being prepared

Marienplatz (Christkindlmarkt Marienplatz)

Munich’s main Christmas fair is located on Marienplatz, the city’s main square, right by the new city hall and the neighboring streets. It is the most crowded, busiest and most touristy fair in the city, the most colorful and beautiful. Around the huge Christmas tree in the center of the square, with the magnificent neo-Gothic New Town Hall as a backdrop, are stalls with traditional handicrafts and delicious food.

The atmosphere is what Marienplatz is all about, and it’s worth coming here just for that. On the balcony of the Town Hall every evening at 17:30, a live choir and music ensembles perform Christmas music. On Saturdays, the Marienplatz fairgrounds offer culinary tours: in 2 hours you can learn about the history of the fair and taste local Christmas specialties. Tours can be booked online.

Marienplatz Fair
Marienplatz Fair

At the beginning of December, the Krampus parade, the largest in the region, takes place at the same fair. Nearly 300 participants come to Munich from all over Bavaria and Austria to march in costumes of the evil demons of the Krampus — according to Catholic superstition, they accompany St. Nicholas. And while Nicholas' good helpers reward good children with candy, the Krampus scare those who misbehaved last year with a whip.

Beyond the stalls on the square, don’t miss the secret fair in the small courtyard of the New Town Hall. Here at the post office you can put a special Christkindl Christmas stamp on your postcard. Also in this courtyard are two of the town’s landmark creches — one created from pebbles from the local river and the other, the work of a local artist with elaborately painted figures, has been on display here since 1953.

A stone’s throw from the town hall on Sternenplatzl at Rindermarkt is a romantic little fairy-tale forest: everything is decorated with glowing stars and salmon is roasted and smoked on fire.

Fair in the courtyard of the Town Hall
Fair in the courtyard of the Town Hall

Winterzauber auf dem Viktualienmarkt (Winterzauber auf dem Viktualienmarkt)

This fair is interesting for those who want an authentic atmosphere. Munich’s famous open-air food market near Marienplatz becomes a Christmas market in December. Here, locals and tourists alike buy typical local products while warming themselves with mulled wine and snacking on brezels. If you want to bring home edible souvenirs from Munich, you should buy them here.

Paper lanterns in the shape of a star - a typical German Christmas decoration
Paper lanterns in the shape of a star — a typical German Christmas decoration

Royal Palace (Weihnachtsdorf im Kaiserhof der Residenz)

There is also a fair in the courtyard of the Royal Residence near Odeonsplatz. Although it’s small, there’s a large children’s area next to the usual mulled wine and sausage stalls: moving puppets depict animals, characters from German fairy tales and religious scenes. Some of the scenes look a little creepy, but the children are interested.

The market at the Royal Residence
The market at the Royal Residence
Market at the Royal Palace of Munich
Market at the Royal Palace of Munich

Medieval Christmas market (Mittelaltermarkt und Adventsspektakel)

On Wittelsbacherplatz next to the Royal Palace, a short walk from Munich’s famous Odeonsplatz, an unusual fair unfolds every year. Traders are dressed in medieval clothing, mulled wine is poured into clay goblets and food is served in clay bowls. This is the Medieval Market.

Jewelers, lantern makers and glass blowers make their handicrafts right here, and you can take their wares home with you. If you’re lucky, you may catch jugglers and minstrels on weekends.

They even roast chestnuts in a stylized booth
They even roast chestnuts in a stylized booth

China Tower (Chinesischer Turm)

This charming little Christmas market is located in the heart of Munich’s English Garden, one of the world’s largest city parks.

The stalls are similar to those in other markets — handmade jewelry, ornaments, crafts, etc — but the atmosphere is quite different. Secluded, quiet and very romantic, the market is, according to locals, perfect for a little date night. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage ride here on weekends. There are also curling courts here. Why not give it a try?


The Tollwood festival takes place on Theresienwise, the site of Oktoberfest. The festival is huge, with a market size that rivals the city’s main fair at Marienplatz. There are parties, live music, art installations and performances until 2 a.m. all December long. With a multitude of stalls preparing food from around the world and selling unusual crafts, this is the most unconventional and creative market in Munich.

Each year, Tollwood’s décor and events reflect a new theme, and what’s especially appealing: the festival opens earlier than other venues and runs through New Year’s Eve, although the market stalls wind down before Christmas.

Fairy Tale Bazaar (Märchenbazar)

This fair on Leonrodplatz is decorated in the style of a circus and runs on Christmas Day itself and almost until New Year’s Eve. The fair is quite large and features street food from all over the world, from vegan diners to traditional German wurst. As befits a circus, there is always something entertaining going on: the fair program includes a huge number of events and workshops.

The salmon is roasted on the fire
The salmon is roasted on the fire

Pink Christmas: LGBTI Weihnachtsmarkt am Sendlinger Tor (Pink Christmas: LGBTI Weihnachtsmarkt am Sendlinger Tor)

Another unusual fair opens every year at Stephansplatz. The Pink LGBT Friendly Fair is decorated with bright pink lights and is accompanied by a huge number of performances.

Fair on the Old Utting (Sternenflotte, Alte Utting)

The alternative Christmas market Sternenflotte is held on board the old passenger ship Alte Utting. It’s not so much typical German Christmas goods as a fair from all over the world: mulled wine is poured among stands with dream catchers, Peruvian alpaca and coconut lanterns. The ship itself sits on a former railroad bridge, with a bar and nightclub. It is already considered one of the most unusual places in Munich, and especially so during the Christmas period.

Munich Airport Fair

This fair is one of the first to open in Munich, if not the first — from about November 15. It runs almost until New Year’s Eve, so if you didn’t make it to the fairs in time for Christmas, this is your chance to buy souvenirs and drink mulled wine until about December 29.

The covered fair is located outside the airport. It mostly sells rather mass-produced and not very authentic goods, but the market itself is beautiful.

Dachau (Christkindlmarkt Dachau)

This market is not located in Munich, but 17 kilometers away, in the former concentration camp of Dachau. It is unexpected to find something cheerful in this memorial, which is very oppressive and tragic during the rest of the year, but at Christmas time there is also a Christmas market. Perhaps this is the only month of the year when Dachau is noisy and cheerful.

What to eat and drink at Munich’s Christmas fairs

One of the best Advent experiences in Munich is the food and drink. Here you eat sausages, stollen, Rahmschmankerl «Bavarian pizza» (flatbread with bacon, onions and sour cream cooked in a stone oven) and wash it down with punch, mulled wine and beer.

What to drink?

Glühwein. The king of the markets and the epicenter of pandemonium at any holiday fair — always a stall with mulled wine, or better yet, mulled wine and sausages in one place. Hot wine with spices is the best way to keep warm when the temperature outside is around freezing. You have to experiment with mulled wine: each stall makes it differently. The price for a mug ranges from 3 euros on the outskirts to 5 euros at Marienplatz. In Munich, mulled wine is poured into beautiful clay mugs. They usually charge a deposit (pfand) of about 2—3 euros. You can return them and get the deposit back, or you can keep them as a souvenir.

One of Munich
One of Munich’s Advent mugs.

Baby punch (Kinderpunsch): a non-alcoholic hot drink made from juice with spices.

Feuerzangenbowle: mulled wine with a sugar lump soaked in rum and lit over a mug. It is a must-have for German Advent and a must-try. It is sold at all the fairs, but the main point is the Isartor gate.

Egg punch (Eierpunsch): a drink with egg liqueur and cream. Sweet, creamy, delicate, like hot ice cream. A delight!

Egg punch
Egg punch

What to eat?

Cheese dumplings (Käsespätzle): these small dumplings fried with cheese and crispy fried onions are a Bavarian classic.

Rohrnudeln (Rohrnudeln): a sweet, airy bun drizzled with vanilla sauce. It can be filled with fruit jam.

Sausages (Wurst): they range from huge to small. You’re in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, so it’s a good choice to try the local «Münchenerwurst» sausages and the world-famous Nuremberg sausages.

Munich sausage
Munich sausage
Nuremberg sausages overlooking Karlsplatz
Nuremberg sausages overlooking Karlsplatz

What’s for dessert?

Roasted almonds (Gebrannte Mandeln): you can smell it from dozens of meters away. The nuts are roasted in caramel with cinnamon, and it is very tasty. It is better to eat them warm — they taste better that way.

Stollen (Stollen)is a German Christmas sweet cake. Stollen can be made of different doughs, usually with candied fruits and nuts, but the main common feature is its shape: like a baby wrapped in a blanket. Stollen is also sold at large fairs, but it is better to buy it at regular markets and bakeries.

Gingerbread (Lebkucken): the epitome of German Christmas, which has taken over the entire continent and is sold in every corner of Europe and Russia — gingerbread «lebkucken». The markets do not sell the most delicious gingerbread — after all, factory production, but if you find kraft handmade gingerbread — be sure to take them home as souvenirs. They keep for several weeks.

Gingerbread and sweets stall at the Munich fairgrounds
Gingerbread and sweets stall at the Munich fairgrounds

And of course, endless trays with caramelized apple, fried apple rings in batter, waffles, cookies and chocolate — it is impossible to stay hungry at the Munich fair. And if you are cold, you should turn the corner and you will definitely find a real Bavarian restaurant, where the same sausages will be served on a plate with utensils, and beer will be poured into a big mug, and it will cost not much more than on the street.

What you need to know about Christmas Munich

  • Temperatures in late November and December are on average between 0 and +7 ℃. It can be quite windy in Munich at this time — dress warmly, a scarf and hat will come in handy.
  • Fairs don’t accept bank cards, so stock up on cash.
  • It is worth booking your trip in advance. Munich has high hotel prices, and already a month before the beginning of December there are no cheap rooms left. You can rent a decent room for under 100 euros only in the distance from the center. If you are looking for budget accommodation closer to the center, use Hostel World. To avoid going broke on public transport, it is better to settle within 3—4 stops to the center.
  • Most Christmas fairs in the center can be reached on foot. Some of the more distant fairs can be reached by transportation.
Christmas fairs on Munich
Christmas fairs on Munich’s public transportation map

What else to do in Munich before Christmas?

If you are lucky enough to come to Munich for more than one day, you are lucky. In 2—3 days you can explore the city, and in a couple of days you can see the Bavarian castles or visit a neighboring city. Here’s what to do in the weeks leading up to Christmas in Munich.

1. Christmas streetcar ride (Christkindltram)

Munich’s Christmas streetcar departs from Sendlinger Gate for a 35-minute journey. This role is played by a vintage streetcar from 1957 with wooden seats. While the festively decorated, cozy carriages run on a circular route, inside you can drink mulled wine and eat lebkuchen.

The streetcar departs daily from the Sendlinger Tor stop and passes through the beautiful Isartor — Maxmonument — National Theater — Theatinerstraße — Lenbachplatz — Stachus. Entrance and exit — only at the Sendlinger gate.

Opening hours: from 15:30 to 19:00 on weekdays and from 11:00 to 19:30 on weekends. Tickets can be bought at the stop: adult — 3 euros, from 6 to 14 years — 2 euros, under 6 years — free of charge.

2. Find the most beautiful Christmas creche in Munich

A tour of the Christmas manger is a special attraction in Munich: the city is so fond of creches that there is an entire manger market in St. Peter’s Church near Marienplatz. Creches have been created in the city since the 16th century.

What to watch:

  • The world’s largest collection of creches at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich. From November to January, crèches created over several centuries in Bavaria, Tyrol and Italy are on display here.
  • The main city crèche Die Münchner Stadtkrippe is on display in the front courtyard of the New Town Hall. The manger was created by the Munich sculptor Reinhold Zellner in 1953.
  • A creche with almost life-size wooden figures at the Kripperlmarkt.
  • The most unusual crèche I have seen is the Isarkieselkrippe in the courtyard of the New Town Hall. All the roles of people and animals are played by pebbles taken from the Isar River, which flows through Bavaria, Austria and South Tyrol. The pebbles are selected and processed in such a way that the figures of animals, the Magi and the Holy Family are easily recognizable.
  • The most beautiful creches in city churches add up to a «creche itinerary» — you’ll find it on the map at the beginning of this article. Save it, and go ahead! A walk along the route should traditionally be accompanied by religious talks: children are told about Christmas and the life of Jesus. The religious context is still important to the locals, so if you see children in front of the manger, let them go ahead.
Isarkieselkrippe: river pebble nursery in Munich
Isarkieselkrippe: river pebble nursery in Munich

3. Go to a fair in Nuremberg or Salzburg

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Memmingen, Nuremberg, and other Bavarian cities are only a couple of hours away by public transportation. Read about 6 more Christmas fairs in Bavaria — and go ahead.

In 2 hours you can drive to Salzburg — and try in the birthplace of the famous candy «Mozart», «Mozart» cake, which is prepared only at fairs before Christmas, compare the local sausage «Bosna» with Munich, and Salzburg «Augustiner» — with Munich.

I recommend taking the Flixbus to Salzburg — less than 10 € one way and no more than 2 hours on the road.

Christmas Salzburg is very different from Munich
Christmas Salzburg is very different from Munich

4. explore Munich as a local.

Munich is not limited to the old center, where most fairs are held. Explore the neighborhoods, go to the BMW Museum, walk with a climbing harness across the roof of the Olympic Stadium. And sample beers from the 6 major Bavarian breweries. Where else is it possible but in Munich?

5. Go to a «Disney» castle

Being in Munich and not making it to Neuschwanstein Castle is unforgivable. What will you tell your friends when they ask you about the «Disney» castle? So here are our instructions: How to get to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles

Neuschwanstein Castle near Munich
Neuschwanstein Castle near Munich

«Munich loves you!» — the city’s official tourist slogan is justified at every turn. Before Christmas, Munich dazzles with lights, intoxicates you with mulled wine, stuns you with laughter in the streets and makes you fall in love in such a way that you’ll want to come back next year.