Known for Oktoberfest and festive Biergartens, you might not think of visiting Munich, Germany in winter. But with airfares and hotels offering cheaper off-season rates and smaller crowds, you may want to consider a wintertime visit. On my latest Munich adventure in late March, I didn’t know what exactly would be awaiting me. Here’s an overview of what you can expect (and not expect) when visiting Munich in winter.
Munich‘s churches and cathedrals are a popular spot and not just for the pious. Tourists flock to the city’s houses of worship to admire the architecture, the art, the history and maybe to reflect for a few solemn moments. Munich’s churches range from the massive and iconic to the small and hidden away. Some are modest and others are spectacularly indulgent. Even if you’re only in the city for a short time, some of Munich’s churches should be apart of your itinerary. I’ve put together a guide for visiting six of Munich’s most notable churches in the downtown area.
Part of Munich‘s charm and beauty is its skyline and from an observation deck in the Neues Rathaus (the new city hall) you can get an incredible view right in the heart of Marienplatz. The observation deck is not widely advertised, especially in English. Because of this most people aren’t even aware of its existence. From several open-air balconies at the top of the Neues Rathaus you can take in views from the Frauenkirche, Alter Peter and, if the weather is good, the Alps will highlight the background. You could even pretend you’re part of FC Bayern celebrating your victories. It’s a quick visit that offers stunning views and worth the stop on your visit to Munich.
No doubt you’re familiar with Oktoberfest, but what about Starkbierfest? Across Munich, Germany in February and March the breweries hold Starkbierfest, or strong beer festivals, that resemble Oktoberfest. But unlike Oktoberfest, they are on a smaller scale and with fewer tourists. The Munich beer festival is Oktoberfest’s little brother and features beers special to the Starkbier season. I went to Paulaner’s Nockherberg for the brewery’s Starkbierfest and it was a blast!
If you’re searching for a comfortable, affordable hotel in Munich, Germany that is just outside the downtown area, the Holiday Inn Express Munich City West, Munich is worth checking out. I recently spent a week staying at the hotel with my husband. From its convenient location a stone’s throw from public transportation to its inclusive breakfast buffet, it just might be my new Munich go-to hotel.
As soon as there is the slightest hint of warm or nice weather, Biergarten across Bavaria will start popping up. Those long wooden tables and large umbrellas will begin to be set up. But even in the colder months or in bad weather you can always turn to your favorite Wirtshaus, or pub.
When we talk specifically about Munich restaurants, many serve traditional Bavarian food in addition to having a friendly, joyful, and fun atmosphere. And, of course, they service that internationally famous Munich beer. I want to share some of my favorite Biergarten in Munich. Plus I want to make sure you know all the ins and outs you’ll need to know for your next meal!
The Austrians might have invented the croissant, the French are considered masters of pastry and the Italians are the gods of gelato. But German baked goods shouldn’t be overlooked — or underestimated. And I’m not talking about bread. Well, not just bread. The Germans do cakes and pastries to make your mouth water. Munich, in particular, has some delicious specialties that you shouldn’t pass up. On your next visit to the Bavarian capital city check out these favorite Munich bakeries and pastry shops! They’ll have you saying “Mmm, lecker!”
For me, no visit to Munich would be complete without a visit to Nymphenburg Palace, or as they say in German: Schloss Nymphenburg. There are not many Munich palaces, only Nymphenburg and the Munich Residenz. But while the Residenz is in the heart of the city, Schloss Nymphenburg transports visitors to another time with its sprawling gardens in the western part of the city. Nymphenburg Park wraps around the palace and offers miles of spectacular trails through wooded areas and across calm meadows. It balances the feel of a magical palace with a suburban park. And I simply love it!
Maybe you’re your interests lie with the royal connection. Maybe you just want to experience life like a local. Nymphenburg Palace and Park is a great way to spend a day.
For some reason, despite repeatedly staying at a hotel only a few short blocks from Munich‘s Schloss Nymphenburg, I never made time to visit the Munich Botanical Garden. It’s surprising because the two attractions are neighbors. The garden is only a short walk along a gravel path north of the palace park with only a quiet wooded area separating them.
The nearly 53-acre Munich Botanical Garden features many different kinds of gardens as well as a greenhouse of more than an acre. There’s so much to explore that you could get lost in a maze of rhododendrons. Well, “lost.” The Munich Botanical Garden is so pleasant that you likely wouldn’t mind being lost for a while. It only took a single visit for me to realize this is a special spot in the city.
Some of Munich‘s most impressive charms can be enjoyed free of charge. Marienplatz, Viktualienmarkt, Englischer Garten, Karlsplatz, Odeonsplatz — some of the most pleasant and notable spots in the city are available for everyone to enjoy. Mere blocks from that downtown area sit two impressive structures overlooking the Isar River: the Friedensengel (Angel of Peace) and the Maximilianeum.
King Ludwig II left quite the legacy. Only 40 years old when he died and known for being eccentric, he earned nicknames like the “Fairy King” and “Mad King Ludwig.” He constructed massive palaces in Bavaria like the internationally famous Neuschwanstein, a beautiful but somewhat strange castle given its opera-themed concept. While Neuschwanstein is a popular tourist attraction, visitors looking for a Munich day trip should instead head east of the city to the lake Chiemsee and its two islands. In addition to a spectacular Versailles-inspired palace commissioned by the king is the Fraueninsel (or Frauenchiemsee), a charming Bavarian small town.
Munich is full of culture. It’s seemingly everywhere you look. The city is home to many top-rate museums. But as evidenced by two visits in a single week, the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum) is my new favorite. The museum is full of beautiful objects of all kinds. Some are works of art, others are tools of technology and still others are everyday objects. I want to share why you simply shouldn’t miss the museum.