Last week, Hamilton and I spent 3 days wrapped up in Christmas spirit; visiting the gorgeous German city of Munich, where we went to markets, wandered through gardens and drank all of the beer.
I’d never been to Germany before this trip, but I did have a picture in my mind of what it would be like… (Aka all the German stereotypes) I have to say it lived up to *most* of my expectations. Aside from the amount of people wearing lederhosen. (That isn’t really a common thing, sadly.)
Munich as a city is fairly small, with only roughly 1.5 million inhabitants – the inner train zone for example surprised us by how tiny it was in comparison to London’s (where the population is around 7 million more), but this means it’s very accessible, doesn’t take too long to get around and is even possible to venture by foot (with some physical exertion and the possibility of not being able to lift your legs the next day) So, walk we did.
Some may think 3 days isn’t enough time to explore a city, but the 30 miles we managed to get under our belts says otherwise; we were on our feet constantly, pretty much only stopping to eat and sleep!
We did so much whilst we were there, I definitely can’t cover it in one post, but I can cover the original purpose for our visit… Christmas Markets. Of which, there are a lot. There’s even one as you walk out of arrivals at the airport in case you’re feeling really lazy…
I believe there are 8 Christmas Markets in central Munich, and I’m pretty sure we covered them all. I swear every time we turned a corner, there was a different one.
Today, I’m going to talk about my top 3:
Number 1: Marienplatz
This is the main square in Munich, and so holds a huge market. It’s exactly how I imagined a Christmas Market to be, in that there are stalls selling decorations, German cakes and biscuits, gluhwein and other types of gifts and goodies.
Before visiting I had been to a couple of Christmas Markets – one on the Southbank in London, and shortly afterwards one in Paris. It was then that I found out Christmas Markets are somehow a chain, and a lot of places sell the exact same thing, so I was a bit worried that this might happen here.
In all honesty, yes a lot of the stalls do have the same goods, but as each other; it’s not something you tend to find at home and I wouldn’t say it’s a chain in the same way – there are still people selling handmade, local goods, which are worth your time. Nonetheless there are benefits to them selling similar things – it gives you the opportunity to shop around, and if you’ve walked past a stall then realised you wanted something from it, it’s highly likely you’ll be able to find what you want somewhere else.
Additionally, the food market that grew too big for this square ‘Viktualienmarkt’ is just around the corner, where you can find fresh fruit and veg, fish, cheese, and other gorgeous grocery items, as well as, local produce and an array of street food that will make your mouth melt. It’s not particularly festive in the everyday sense, but if you’re a foodie you’ll think all your Christmasses have come at once.
Number 2: Medieval
This one was completely different to all the the others – housing medieval themed stalls such as hog roasts, celtic style jewellery and wooden carvings, you can definitely find yourself a few gems here. Be warned though, there are also things like bird wings and animal skins on offer so if you aren’t a fan (I personally am not!) you might want to steer clear. Walking into a fox head was probably one of the most unpleasant things to ever happen to me… The atmosphere and other unusual items did make up for this btw.
Number 3: Englischer Garten
It’s quite small, and the stalls are quite similar to those in some of the other markets, but the charm of this one is in the location: it’s near the Chinese Tower in the English Garden, which is a bit of a walk as it’s in the top section, but completely worth it. The garden is beautiful and definitely somewhere worth a visit, whether for the purpose of markets or not. There are lots of rivers and beautiful paths to wander round – you could definitely spend a day getting lost there; the markets are just the cherry on top!
That isn’t to say you should skip any of the other markets, because you definitely shouldn’t. We knew that there were markets in the Marienplatz, but had no clue where the other ones were – we just kept walking, and kept finding. It’s all part of the fun. The whole city is crazy festive, and really nice to walk around, which makes for a lovely experience and atmosphere. And when you do come across them, make sure you get the best of them.
My main tips for making the most of the Munich markets would be:
- Bring a good pair of shoes. You can get the metro between them, but they aren’t thattt far. Just far enough that you know you deserve that glass of beer when you get there.
- Bring plenty of cash. It’s quite obvious really, but an easy thing to forget. Most things aren’t that expensive, but they aren’t set up to take card payments.
- Don’t buy the first thing you see. There is SO MUCH there. We had a look around on the first day, didn’t buy anything other than food items and then actually got stuff on our last day, which stopped us from buying on impulse.
- If you’ve only got carry on allowance, think about what you’re buying. Big snow globes, for example, won’t be allowed because of the amount of liquid inside!
- Stay near the marienplatz. It’s really easy to get around from there, especially as it’s near the main station and general centre of town. It’s a little bit more expensive, but made life a lot easier. There are a lot of cooler districts, but for the markets, it makes sense.
- I don’t know if it’s because I’m used to London streets, but people in Munich never seem to be in a rush. At least they didn’t seem it. Your patience will be tried and tested, over and over. (That’s not really a tip. Just a heads up.)
We went for the Christmas Markets, but there is so much more to the city that would make me stay; great food, lovely people, a wide variety of well stocked and thought out museums and art galleries, and of course, beer.
I’ll post on all of the other fantastic things we were lucky enough to experience in Munich very soon, for now, go and book your ticket then let me know what you bought! I personally got some terrifying Christmas decorations (my favourite kind), lots of baked goods, and an incredibly German ornament portraying a man playing an accordion. Something that heavily featured on our trip.
Happy holidays, and of course, Happy travels!