First of all, let me tell you that I am a cheesy Christmas movie, Mulled wine, Hot chocolate with marshmallows and real (no cheap plastic to this girl) Christmas tree decorations kinda girl. I love Christmas, not for the gifts but for being there and giving me something to look forward to. What’s better than Christmas? The whole month of festivities prior to it, better known as Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkt if you are keen to learn German. Now one of my personal favourites and a little biased winner of Christmas Markets is based in Munich.
There’s a few Christmas markets in and around the area of Munich but today I will be talking about the biggest and the oldest Christmas Market which is based in the heart of the city, Marienplatz. Local people say that the roots of this market go back to the 14th century, however, it has been in its present position since the 1970s. Some people will say that it is the most touristy Christmas market in Munich but don’t let those people put you off because, believe me, it is good and there’s plenty to do for everyone.The whole set up of the market will charm you with festive music, beautiful Christmas lights and a big, I mean really big, Christmas tree in front of the New Town Hall. You simply can’t miss it! There’s a lot of stalls around the main square as well as the adjoining streets, selling food, traditional winter snacks, chocolates, Christmas decorations and hot drinks. Don’t be afraid to get lost between smaller streets and find your way back because only that way you will experience it all!So without further ado, let’s talk about what you have to see & do while visiting Christmas Market in Munich:
1. Drink Mulled Wine (Glühwein in German)There’s only one time a year when a German puts his stein down and picks up a mug of Glühwein and that’s in December when the traditional drink of choice is hot red wine, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, star anise, citrus, sugar and sometimes even vanilla pods. However, a traditional mulled wine is not the only option at German Christmas Markets which offer a variety of other hot drinks, both alcoholic or not. You will not miss out if you choose to go for a mug of Glühwein, which is by the way normally served in traditional heavy hand-pottered mugs, but if you are looking for something special, these are my personal favourites:
- Bratapfel-glühwein. It is a cooked apple mulled wine and absolutely delicious drink to say the least! Whether you like traditional Glühwein or not, try it – it tastes so different and couldn’t smell more Christmassy too.
- Feuerzangenbowle. This German drink is similar to mulled wine but there’s an additional ingredient that makes it more special and it is the rum-soaked sugarloaf which is set on fire and then dropped inside the mug.
- Jägertee. If you are not a big fan of Glühwein and want to try something different to keep you warm, try Jägertee. It’s an alcoholic drink, very popular between apres-ski lovers, made by mixing tea, red wine, rum, brandy with orange juice, spices and lemons. It’s a great drink choice to warm you up on a cold winter day but be aware that it normally hits you like a hurricane as it is very strong.
If you are visiting Christmas markets with kids, there’s plenty of choice for them too with a non-alcoholic fruit punch and hot chocolate available at almost every stall.
2. Buy some Christmas Decorations Christmas Decorations during the market aren’t cheap but the majority of them are handmade and truly worth investing in. Don’t just buy into anything, look around and decide what would make your Christmas special! There’s angels, trees, stars, snowflakes, ceramic figurines, wooden sculptures and even music boxes. My personal favourite is carved wooden nativity figures that are simply just stunning and will always beautify your Christmas table. It’s that type of Christmas decoration that will never go out of fashion, therefore, money spent will not be wasted!3. Try German food, lots of foodAny German Christmas Market would not be the same without a sausage galore, Leberkäse, steamed dumplings, potato dishes and a variety of other hot street food. There’s plenty to choose from and if you have been to Germany but haven’t had a good sausage, then have you even been there? If you do not feel like having sausages, there’s a soup bread bowl always on the go. I always go for Gulaschsuppe if it’s on the menu. It is a Hungarian stew of meat and vegetables and it is even more delicious in a bread bowl.4. Forget carbs, calories & diets, try winter treatsSweet, calorific winter treats are the most favourite part of Christmas markets to me. I love a good dessert, therefore, you will always find me opting-in for something sweet than proper food which, by the way, really annoys my boyfriend who always says “dinner before desserts”. You probably already know about Germany’s famous Lebkuchen (similar to gingerbread) and Stollen (German Christmas Cake with fruit and marzipan) but there’s more traditional things to be had:
- Schneeball (snowball) is a deep-fried pastry made from shortcut pastry and sold in a shape of a ball. Traditionally it is dusted with warm sugar but during the Christmas markets you can get them covered in almost anything, like chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla. Some of them even have marzipan inside!
- Another delicious alternative is Austrian Kaiserschmarrn which is a shredded pancake normally dusted with sugar powder and served with jam or apple sauce. Yummy!
- Fruit covered in chocolate is a must-have treat that Germans cannot live without during any festivity throughout the year.
- Magenbrot is my favourite Christmas treat that I could eat throughout the year and I do when I have an opportunity to. It’s a sweet & glazed biscuit that is very similar to German Lebkuchen but is smaller and has a traditional diamond shape. It’s delicious & goes well with mulled wine!
- Caramelised nuts of different type are also a big deal during Christmas. You can get a great variety to choose from with some nuts even being roasted in Nutella. Don’t ask me how that tastes, I haven’t tried it but my personal preference is caramelised macadamia nuts!
- Heisse Maroni, or roast chestnuts in English, are my dad’s favourite. I could swear that he would never visit any Christmas market without purchasing some Maroni. They are usually roasted on an open drum and you can watch them preparing it at the market. If you want to try them, make sure to eat them as soon as you buy it – Maroni taste best while hot. Even though it could be tricky to peel them hot, do it!
- Like marshmallows? Then you have to try Germany’s famous Schokokuss, which literally translates as a chocolate kiss, how sweet? It’s a chocolate-coated marshmallow treat and you can get almost any flavour you want, including traditional options or a more trendy After-eight kiss! My all time favourite is Erdbeerküsse with strawberries and white chocolate.
5. Check out the famous Christmas Window DisplayYou are not allowed to miss the famous Galeria Kaufhof Winter Display if you are visiting Munich for Christmas festivities. The animated teddy bear scenes at this department store are simply magical and it will cheer up both children and adults alike. When people ask me what’s my favourite thing about the Munich Christmas market, I always go with this as it is something I have been carrying in my memory book since I was a toddler. It will take a long while until I find another Christmas Window Display that can top it up…
6. Go ice skating
What Christmas trip can be finished without an ice skating session? Yes, Munich has got one ready for you too at the Karlsplatz, two steps away from the Marienplatz. There’s penguins for the less confident ones, like myself, and plenty of space to show your skating skills if you are good at it. Next to the ice rink, you will also find a beautiful two-floor hut with food & drinks to keep you warm and never hungry!When is it on and how to get there?
- Munich Christmas Market 2017 is on November 27 – December 24th.
- If you arrive in Munich by plane, you can take the S-bahn (S1 or S8) that takes you directly to the Marienplatz where Christmas market is based.
- If you arrive in Munich by train, you can take the S-bahn too (there will be a few of them that will go to the Marienplatz) or you can walk as the place is within walking distance from the station.
If you decide to visit Munich this Christmas, don’t forget to share your experiences with me or send any questions my way on how to make the most of your time at this beautiful city.If you would like to find out more about my travels, please don’t hesitate to follow me on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook !