The Munich Christmas Markets are some of the best you’ll find across all of Europe.
Having spent more than 3 weeks exploring the different Christmas markets in Europe I thought I had seen it all. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong after getting to Munich and seeing how seriously they take Christmas.
Everywhere you go around the Munich city center you’ll be bumping into Market stalls, Christmas decorations, light displays, or holiday events.
For a month-and-a-half before the big day the city transforms into a winter wonderland to the joy of locals and tourists alike.
Munich at Christmas time is an amazing way to experience what this historic German city has to offer during the holidays.
Whether you want to cozy up by the fire with some gluhwein or stroll through the markets looking for a Christmas present – you won’t leave disappointed.
In this post I want to talk about what you can expect if you’re planning to visit the Munich Christmas markets.
Let’s jump right into it!
The Best Munich Christmas Markets You Need to Visit
Instead of just one large Munich Christmas Market there are a number of different markets throughout the city centre.
You can choose from classic and traditional markets full of all of the Christmas spirit to contemporary and unique markets that might not be what you’re used to.
Every now and then small markets spring up around town so be sure to keep an eye out for those when you’re wondering around. Alternatively, head over to the official Munich tourism website to stay updated.
The markets typically run from the middle of November until December 4th. Some of them continue on through the holidays and into the new year.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest, best, most interesting, and most unique Christmas markets waiting to be discovered in Munich!
The Marienplatz Christmas Market (Christkindlmarkt Marienplatz)
Dates: End of November until December 24th
Location: Marienplatz in the city centre
This is the grand daddy of all of the Christmas markets in Munich. Known as the Christkindlmarkt, the stalls start in the historic center and make their way out into the surrounding shopping streets.
These markets are the number one spot for tourists and locals. This means that regardless of when you visit the Christkindlmarkt Marienplatz there’s going to be people everywhere.For some this might add to the overall festive vibe of busy crowds and holiday shoppers while others might be stressed out and anxious with all of the people.
Once you’re here it’s easy to see why this Market is so popular.
It’s by far the most traditional Market in the city selling handmade crafts, locally produced goods, and typical German snacks and hot foods. it’s hard to beat the stunning skyline around you with the Munich Rathaus piercing the sky up above.
Speaking of the Rathaus, there are a few stalls in the small courtyard that are some of the most private and picturesque in the city. There’s also the Christkindl post office where you can get a special Christmas market stamp to use for any postcards you’re sending home.
For some of the best photos be sure to visit in the early evening. You can even climb up the tower of St Peter’s Church for an amazing view of the Rathaus lit up at night and the Christkindlmarkt with its large tree down below.
The Munich Christmas Tram
One of the most popular Christmas related festivities in Munich is the Christmas tram.
Every year, between the end of November and up until right before Christmas, the Christmas tram rides through the city center and offers its passengers gingerbread cookies, hot spiced wine and a variety of other Advent/Christmas related treats.
This tram is sponsored by the Munich Transport and Tariff Association and is a favorite of both tourists and locals. Be sure to spend time in the Marienplatz market so you have a chance to catch a glimpse, or even catch a ride on, the Christmas tram.
Just a short walk down the street from the main market, located on Neuhauser Strasse, is the Kripplermarkt.
This is a Christmas market that specializes in nativity accessories such as cribs, figurines and religious ornaments. It’s the biggest religious based Christmas market in Germany and another one of the most popular markets in Munich.
The Kripperlmarkt has been around since the 18th Century and for Germans, and tourists, looking to build a Christmas manger it’s the best place to go to find the items that you need.
The Christmas mangers are especially important to Germans and have symbolized Christmas for more than 400 years. It was back in 1597 when the local Jesuits set up a manger right inside of St. Michael’s Church and only 150 years later, in 1757, the first Kripperlmarkt took place.
The Tollwood Christmas Market
If you’re looking for something different than the traditional Christmas markets then you’ll want to head to the Tollwood Christmas Market at the Munich fairgrounds.
This market takes on more of an ethnic feel and reminds me more of a summer festival than a winter Christmas market. There is a combination of tents and stands selling a mix of local and international foods, crafts and a variety of random items that you don’t even know you need until you see them.
Live music is also a regular occurrence and you’ll be able to enjoy German beer while listening to many different international music groups, musicians and plenty of live performances.
I would say that it’s one of the biggest Christmas markets in all of Germany and the area that it covers is quite immense. If you want to visit Tollwood I suggest heading there early in the day and avoid visiting on weekends as it gets extremely busy during the later hours on Saturday and Sunday.
The Munich Christmas Tree
Two weeks prior to the beginning of the Christmas market a Christmas tree is brought to the center of the Old Town. More than 2500 Christmas lights are strung around the tree with the help of the Munich fire department.
The tree is donated from a local commune and the commune which donates a tree has a chance to set up a tourist information booth and Gluhwein station in the courtyard of the Old Town Hall.
From here they sell Gluhwein and promote tourism for the commune that they’re from. The commune changes every year so it’s definitely worth checking out to see who’s running it!
The Christmas tree itself is the centerpiece of the main Munich Christmas market. It offers a great opportunity for photos and videos.
Right beside it, inside the Old Town Hall, is the Munich tourism information office. Here you’ll find more information regarding the Christmas markets and other things to do in Munich.
Sternenplatzl am Rindermarkt
Dates: End of Number until December 24
A few minutes away from the main square is a little Christmas Market that’s set up at the Rindermarkt.
Most visitors spend their time exploring the main Christkindlmarkt and overlook the market held here.
This ended up being one of my favorite Christmas markets and one of the most festive I came across in Munich. There are lights covering everything and the cozy smell of Gluhwein drifts through the air all night long.
Thanks to the small fires you can hear wood crackling and every now and then catch a scent of pine needles as the oozing sap comes in contact with the hot flames.
Some of the stands sell hot food items and small snacks so you can stop by this market for a quick bite to eat before exploring some of the busier places nearby.
Take a moment or two and check out the smaller Sternenplatzl at Rindermarkt. You won’t be disappointed!
Residenz Christmas Village (Weihnachtsdorf im Kaiserhof der Residenz)
Dates: Middle of November until December 22nd
Location: Courtyard, Residenzstrasse 1
Walking into this sweeping courtyard I was surprised to find a Christmas Market being held here. The courtyard at the Royal Palace gets transformed into a Christmas Village with a number of different displays portraying typical villages scenes.
To be honest some of the displays come across as a bit scary or unusual but don’t let this take away from the otherwise festive spirit here in the courtyard.
Later in the day this market gets surprisingly busy. The photos don’t look that great at night either so I recommend visiting earlier in the day for a better experience.
Winter Magic at Viktualienmarkt (Winterzauber auf dem Viktualienmarkt)
Dates: End of November to the Beginning of January
I love the Viktualientmarkt and the area around it. During my trip I stayed at the Derag Livinghotel am Viktualienmarkt with an amazing view of the whole market down below!
First-time visitors might not know this but the Viktualienmarkt is an open-air Food Market that runs throughout the entire year. For the holidays it gets transformed into a Christmas winter wonderland with lots of holiday decorations and new stalls to check out.
This is one of the best markets to visit if you’re looking for something traditional to eat. There are small restaurants and variety of options for something quick like hot sandwiches and soups to go.
Many of the vendors have delicious things for sale so just stop by anywhere that looks inviting. I always like to see where the line is biggest and grab something from there.
Sendlinger Tor Christmas Market
Dates: End of November to December 23rd
Location: Sendlinger Tor
Just outside of the historic city center is the Sendlinger Tor. This is one of the only remaining city gates in Munich and they honor that by running a small Christmas Market right underneath the arches.
Most of the vendors here are selling unique items and international goods compared to the traditional stalls you find in the city centre.
During the day it’s quiet at this market but at night it transforms into a lively venue with heaps of people coming and going.
There are some great restaurants and small cafes nearby. Don’t hesitate to walk around and explore after checking out the market.
The Krampus Run
Whether you’re an adult or a child the Krampus Run and Santa’s Visit are two different fun and exciting events that happen at the Munich Christmas markets.
Krampus, Santa’s evil partner, has more than 500 years of tradition behind him and is known as the original companion of St. Nicholas.
A group of people dress up in old, historic looking costumes that represent Krampus and his minions while they run around the Christmas markets pseudo-terrorizing young children and adults alike. Nothing is more fun than standing and enjoying fried sausage and not even a moment later seeing a large devil running by you chasing a small child.
Krampus typically comes to visit on the two Sundays before Christmas and be sure to look for him late in the afternoon. If you’re not visiting during this time, don’t worry, there are many other people who opt to dress up as Krampus just to terrorize people for fun in their spare time.
Every afternoon that the Christmas market runs, between 4 PM and 6 PM, Santa Claus comes to visit.
Rather than sit in a stationary spot he likes to wander around the markets and speak with all of the adults and children and he runs into.
You’re bound to see him during this timeframe and your children will be especially excited to asking for presents and grab a nice photo beside old St. Nick.
Where to Stay in Munich for Christmas Markets
For the best place to stay in Munich I would have to recommend The Charles Hotel.
This is a five star hotel just outside of the historic city center. The rooms here are bigger than what you’ll find at any other property in the city.
The location is great for exploring the different markets and it’s hard to go wrong with the luxury amenities and high class comfort of the hotel.
For a better look check out my Charles hotel in Munich review.
What to Buy at the Christmas Markets in Munich
At the various Munich Christmas markets you’ll find a wide range of different vendors selling handmade, quality, and local goods and souvenirs.
The markets are a great place to pick up a unique Christmas present or to grab some souvenirs for yourself. Many of the vendors are locals or selling predominantly in Germany so you’re supporting people locally by spending at these markets.
Be sure to avoid any plastic, made in China goods. Otherwise, there are plenty of handmade and local crafts, goods, trinkets, and other small items to choose from.
Here are some of the classic souvenirs and gifts that you should take a look at!
Carved Wooden Ornaments
Many of the vendors in the larger markets will be selling handmade carved wooden ornaments.
These handcrafted ornaments make a great addition to any Christmas tree. They’re a unique reminder of the time you spent at the Munich Christmas Market.
Some of the vendors will even be working on these ornaments while you’re walking around. Pick up one or two for gifts or grab one for yourself as a Christmas memory!
Jams and Honey
Locally-produced jams and honey are a hit at the markets in the old town area.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of homemade foods so I always like to pick up some jam when I’m away.
All of the jams, honey, and other food items are harvested and made locally. These delectable treats make great Christmas gifts for loved ones back at home!
Candles go hand-in-hand with Christmas in Germany and there’s an abundance of these available at the markets. Along with candles many vendors have handmade candle holders for sale as well.
These decorative candle holders look great at home and are perfect to use for showcasing some of the handmade candles that you picked up!
These are an easy gift idea or a great addition to your own collection of holiday decorations.
Your Own Nutcracker
You’ll never see more different varieties of Nutcrackers than you’ll see when you’re in Munich exploring the Christmas markets.
There are a seemingly endless amount of Nutcrackers available at many of the stalls. it’s possible to choose from different colors, shapes, sizes, styles, and I’m sure you can even customize your own somewhere.
While not an ideal gift, these nutcrackers make an amazing Christmas related souvenir. Keep an eye out for the small ones as you can find some that are reasonably priced.
Everywhere you go you’re going to see these hanging paper lantern christmas stars on many of the market stalls.
These Christmas stars are typically made from paper or wood and are a traditional holiday activity for children.
Some vendors are quite skilled at making them and you can find amazing stars with incredible design features. Pick one up to use as a Christmas decoration or hang it on your tree as a souvenir from your trip.
Something that you might be surprised to see at the markets is all of the sheepskin clothing available for sale.
The most popular items are socks and slippers but there are also other common clothing items for sale.
For winter travel in Europe you can’t go wrong with some sheepskin products so I recommend taking a look at those when you’re wandering around the market stalls.