Walk along Isar river in Winter in Munich

Munich in Winter: Top Things to Do & Useful Tips

Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a rich history and traditions. Although there are plenty of things to do and see in Munich all year round, Munich in Winter is particularly interesting with unique things to do and see. If you want to experience real European Christmas Markets with traditional Christmas food, visit the snowy fairytale castles of Munich, or just spend a relaxing wellness day at the largest thermal bath complex in Europe, then you should visit Munich in Winter.

Munich in Winter
Munich in Winter

Advantages of Visiting Munich in Winter

Although it is cold and dark in winter in Munich, there are many advantages of visiting this vibrant city in Winter. 

Fewer crowds: The majority of tourists visit Munich in Summer and during the Oktoberfest beer festival, hence you can enjoy Munich with lesser crowds mostly with locals.

Lower prices: Winter in Munich is considered to be a low season, that’s why accommodation prices usually tend to be lower than in summer or autumn.

Some things are available only in Winter in Munich: You can visit Munich Christmas markets and the Tollwood Winter Festival only between the end of November and January. 

Drink traditional Christmas Glühwein: This famous winter drink is the symbol of Munich Christmas markets. Don’t miss an opportunity to drink some Glühwein (spiced hot wine) with your friends outside on Munich streets and on numerous Christmas markets.

Glühwein Mulled Wine

Best Things to Do in Munich in Winter

There are many things to do and to see in Munich all year round. You can find more details and the full list of Munich attractions in my 2 day Munich itinerary.  In this article, I would like to talk specifically about things you can do only in winter in Munich. Below you will find my favorite winter activities in Munich.  

Visit Munich Christmas Markes

The Christmas market season in Munich usually starts at the end of November and lasts until the 31st of December staying true to Bavarian Christmas traditions. During this time every district of Munich will have its own little Christmas market ( Christkindlmarkt in German). But there are a few particularly interesting markets and here is why:

Munich Christmas Market at Marienplatz

Munich Medieval Christmas Market

This Christmas market is very unique and one of its kind in Munich. It is decorated in Middle Ages style with dozens of wooden huts with sellers wearing historic clothing from that time. You can also find here real medieval delicacies prepared in the traditional way on an open fire.  You should try some Wildschwein sandwich and Feuerzangenbowle (traditional fire-tong punch).

Christmas Village in the Kaiserhof of the Residenz (city palace)

This Christmas market is hidden in the backyard of the city palace (Residenz) protected from the cold winter wind. This is one of the most cozy Christmas markets in Munich offering great Christmas food and entertainment for kids. If you are visiting Munich with young children, then you shouldn’t miss the Christmas market in the backyard of the city palace. It is located directly in the city center and it is very easy to reach.

Munich Residenz Christmas Market

Have Lunch in Ski Lift Restaurant

During winter some restaurants and cafes in Munich become very creative and offer unique experiences. Imagine having a hot drink and snack with your date in a cozy ski lift (gondola lift) in the middle of Munich city center. Those small ski lifts are usually equipped with a small table and two chairs with cozy decorations and lights. Some of the best locations I could recommend are the Milchhäusl kiosk directly at the entrance to Englisher Garten Park and Cafe Kaiserschmarrn at Viktualienmarkt with great panoramic views.

Ski lift Gondola Restaurant

Go to Tollwood Winter Festival

The Tollwood Winter Festival is often referred to as Munich’s “alternative Christmas market”. But in reality, it is much more than that. Here you can buy some handmade Christmas decorations or winter clothes, mobile theater, unique street art, and decorations, as well as plenty of entertainment for kids and adults. If you are looking for a location for a New Year’s Eve celebration, then Tollwood New Year’s Eve events can be something that you are looking for.

Tollwood Winter Festival in Munich
Tollwood Winter Festival in Munich

Relax in Sauna and Spa in Therme Erding

Therme Erding, located on the outskirts of Munich is the largest thermal bath and wellness complex in the world. It has an average of 5000 visitors daily and covers an area of a whopping 430.000 m². This large complex includes a huge Sauna and Wellness area, pools and slides including 3D slides, a pool with artificial waves, and an outdoor pool area.  What can be better than warming up in a hot sauna on a cold winter day and relaxing in a pool surrounded by exotic trees?

Therme Erding

Go Ice Skating on Nyphenburg Palace Canal

While there are many indoor ice skating facilities in Munich, skating outside can be more fun especially ice skating on a royal palace canal in a fairytale setting. Nymphenbrug Palace Canal is not very deep (only around 50 centimeters) and when it gets cold and icy in Munich, the canal easily freezes. When this happens locals go there to play their favorite winter sports such as curling and of course ice skating. After strolling along the canal you can visit the Nymphenburg Palace or have a cup of tea in the royal cafe nearby.


Play Eisstockschießen With Friends

Eisstockschießen or Bavarian curling, is a traditional winter team sport coming originally from the Alpine regions in Bavaria and Austria. The game is usually played on ice in the winter. People usually play it either on frozen lakes and canals or on man-made ice in parks and beer gardens. There are many places in Munich where you can play Bavarian curling with friends, for example in Hirschgarten, English Park, Augustinner Keller or Paulaner am Nockherberg

Eisstockschießen Bavarian Curling

Walk Along the Isar

What can be more refreshing than a nice winter walk on a sunny day? Munich has a lot of nice parks for winter walks but my favorite route is along the Isar River between Maximilianeum and Friedensegel monument. The main advantage of this route is that it is located directly in the city center of Munich easily reachable by public transportation (U5 Max-Weber-Platz). If you love walking, you can extend the walk until you reach the Praterinsel or Deutsches Museum, depending on the direction.

Isar in Winter
Walking in Munich in Winter

Watch Movies

What can be a better way to spend a winter evening than watching a nice movie in the cinema? While most of the movies in Germany are dubbed and shown in German, there are several great cinemas in Munich showing movies in English.

Go Sledding on Germany’s Longest Toboggan Run

Did you know that Germany’s longest toboggan run on the mountain Wallberg in the Bavarian Alps is only 1-hour drive from Munich? The official German name of the toboggan run is “Rodelbahn Wallberg” and it is 6.5 km long. This is the most popular destination for sledding in winter close to Munich. Starting at the elevation of 1620 meters above sea level, you will have very beautiful panoramic views over the Bavarian Alps and Lake Tegernsee when sledding down. The ride down the mountain to the valley takes about half an hour. Plus the snow in winter there is almost always guaranteed, even if there is no snow in Munich city center. Be aware that the sledding run in Wallber is quite challenging and can be very crowded on weekends. The best is to go there on weekdays or weekends starting very early. If you don’t have your sleds, you can rent them daily from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sled rental costs 7 euros per day plus deposit. More information can be found on the official website of the rental company.

Stay Overnight In Iglu Hotel on top of Zugspitze

If you want to have an unforgettable winter holiday in Europe, you should stay in Iglu Village on top of Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. The Iglu village sits at 2500 above sea level and offers breathtaking views of the Alps from four countries. Iglus from the inside are real pieces of art with unique ice sculptures and carvings. Iglus are usually open between the end of December and the beginning of April. More information can be found on the official site.

Iglu Village Zugspitze

Visit Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter

Neuschwanstein Castle, also known as Disney’s Cinderella Castle, is the most famous and touristy Castle in Germany. Nestled between the Bavarian Alps about a 2-hour drive from Munich, Castle Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular day trips from Munich. Because of its popularity, it gets very crowded during the main season in summer. The main advantage of visiting this fairytale castle in winter is that you can enjoy it with much fewer crowds and have an unforgettable experience. In summer, the tickets to go inside are sold out very quickly so you have to reserve them far in advance. But in winter, you usually don’t have this problem and can be more spontaneous. If you are lucky, you can see fresh white snow capping the Bavarian Alps surrounding the fairytale castle of Bavaria. The views can be truly magical if you are lucky with the weather in winter. If you are visiting Neuschwanstein Castle in winter, you should check the weather in advance and try to arrive as early as possible because it gets dark very early and can be foggy most days. For more information, check out my guide on how to visit Castle Neuschwanstein from Munich.

Neuschwanstein in winter

Weather in Munich in Winter

The average day temperature in Munich in winter varies a lot but usually during the day is slightly above 0 degrees and at night slightly below. The ideal time to see some snow in Munich is in January which is also the coldest month in Munich. It usually starts to snow in the second half of December. So it is important to have enough warm clothes and good shoes. You can expect a few days of rain or wet snow which melts very fast at the beginning of December before it starts to snow properly.

MonthLow °CHigh °CLow °FHigh °F
Munich’s average temperature in winter

What to Wear in Munich in Winter

The weather in Munich in winter varies a lot and the temperature during the day can fluctuate a lot. It might be warmer during the day and get very cold in the evening. It can be also wet and windy in Munich during this time of the year. The best is to have a water and windproof coat or jacket which is warm and lightweight. Most locals wear different layers that they can take out or put on whenever the temperature changes. Start with a thermal or long-sleeved base layer, add a sweater or fleece, and then wear your coat or jacket on top.
Don’t forget a scarf, hat, and gloves to keep you warm and waterproof boots which are good for icy roads. Munich has a lot of hills and stairs and they get icy in winter, so having proper shoes is essential to stay safe.

Girls wearing warm clothes  in a park in Munich in winter full of snow

Conclusion: Is it Worth Visiting Munich in Winter?

Munich is a great destination to visit all year round. It has a lot of historic buildings, world-class museums, fairytale castles, and beautiful nature. Munich in winter is particularly charming and cozy, offering unique things you can do only in winter here. Such as going to traditional Christmas markets, riding a special Christmas tram, playing Bavarian curling with friends, relaxing in the largest thermal bath complex in the world, or ice skating on royal canals. 

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