Think Bavaria can only be enjoyed in the summer? Think again. Here’s what to do if you’re visiting Munich in the winter.
Munich is pretty at any time of the year, with its charming lanes and historical sights combined with the natural beauty of its peaceful parks for both locals and visitors to enjoy. Munich is mostly known around the world thanks to Oktoberfest. But trust me, there is so much more!
Munich is the capital of Bavaria and also the most expensive city in Germany. The location is nearly perfect; situated near the River Istar, it only takes a short trip to reach the Bavarian Alps and many other natural wonders of the region. I have listed the Best Day Trips from Munich here.
Some years ago, I got the chance to spend three weeks in Munich during my journalism summer school. This is when I first visited Munich’s main attractions and surrounding lakes (and some of the city’s beer gardens, too!) Ever since I moved to Germany, Munich is only about one hour from where I’m staying, a town called Ingolstadt. This is why I’ve had the opportunity to visit Munich in winter and am now able to share my recommendations with you!
Getting around Munich
Are you arriving in Munich by plane? The Munich Airport is located 28 km northeast of the city center. You can reach Munich in about 45 minutes on the S-Bahn (lines S1 and S8). Get off at Hauptbahnhof central station and you’re there! The bus runs every 20 minutes.
The public transportation in Munich is quite convenient; there is no need to rent a car to get around. The daily ticket costs 6,70 € and it allows you to use all kinds of public transportation until 6 am of the next day.
I also enjoyed walking around Munich, but the distances can be pretty big unless you stay at a hotel in the city center.
Things to do in Munich in winter
You will definitely need some warm clothes and comfortable shoes to survive a visit to Munich in winter. However, if you are lucky enough to visit on a sunny day, you might still end up eating ice cream.😉
These are my recommended things to do in Munich in winter:
01| See Munich in Winter from Above
There is no better way to experience Munich than seeing it from above. At a height of 251 meters, the Olympia tower provides some of the best views over Munich in winter. The observation platform is located at 190 meters. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Alps.
The tower is situated in Olympic Park, which was constructed for the 1972 Summer Olympics. The park can be reached in about half an hour from the city center by public transportation. Be prepared to queue for visiting the tower; it’s one of the most popular things to do in Munich in winter or any other season, too.
There are more things to see in Olympic park: if you are there on a sunny day, it is worth enjoying its greenery on one of the many walkways. You can also visit the Olympic Stadium, but this is already included in your tower view.
Entrance fees: 9 EUR for the Olympic tower, 3 EUR for the Stadium.
Address: Olympiapark, Spiridon-Louis-Ring 7, 80992 München
02| Explore pretty Marienplatz and see the Glockenspiel
There is no way you could skip iconic Marienplatz, the city’s main square since 1158. The major sights are the two city halls, each featuring ballrooms and a tower. Remember to take a look at the Mariensäule, a Marian column erected in its center in 1638 to celebrate the end of the Swedish occupation, and which lends its name to the whole square.
Marienplatz plays an important role in the history of Munich: it was a place where many markets have been held and tournaments have taken place. In order to remember such events, a Glockenspiel was built as a part of the new town hall tower. It is a cuckoo clock consisting of 43 bells and 32 life-sized figures. Every day at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., and 5 p.m. the clock starts to play one of the two stories from the 16th century. These scenes might also remind you of the astronomic clock in Prague.
You can either see this from the square directly or head to the opposite building and enjoy the views combined with brunch at Glockenspiel Cafe, situated in a building directly opposite the clock. You will find it on the top floor. Just remember that in winter the Glockenspiel skips the 5 pm slot (in the summer, they still play at this time, so it is confusing for many visitors who wait there and nothing happens).
Entrance fee: none
Address: Marienplatz 1, 80331 München
03| Eat and drink in a traditional brewery
During your visit to Munich, you have to try some Bavarian food and drinks. Bavaria is world famous for its beer, and Munich offers a lot of breweries to choose from. Of my trip, I visited Augustiner Brewery and found it worth recommending.
Established in 1328, Augustiner Brewery is Munich’s oldest independent brewery. Its monastery complex was the largest sacred building in Munich until the completion of the Frauenkirche cathedral. The Augustiner monks supplied beer to the Bavarian royal family until Hofbräu brewery was founded in the 16th century.
The Augustiner Brewery features its own restaurant and beer hall, serving typical Bavarian cuisine and amazing beers. We stopped there for a lunch on Sunday and found it very authentic, with friendly waiters and cool atmosphere. The beer was pretty amazing!
Entrance fee: None. But of course you need to pay for whatever you eat and drink.
Address: Landsberger Str. 31-35, 80339 München
04| Visit Peter’s church and its tower
Munich is a city of churches, and one of them features a tower that you can climb. Peter’s Church features the only elevated structure in the Munich city center. Unlikely in the Olympic Tower, you will have to climb the real stairs here, and there are more than a few. Actually, there are 299 of them to climb, within a narrow, zigzagging and claustrophobia-inducing staircase.
Be prepared to wait, as there might be a long queue for climbing the tower. But with some patience, and ideally a decent level of fitness, you will be able to experience this amazing view of Munich in winter.
By the way, the inside of the church is worth visiting, too. The church was built in the 11th century, and rebuilt a few times after that. Inside you can find a magnificent gilded high altar from the 18th century and large ceiling frescoes that extend along the entire nave.
Entrance fee: 3 EUR
Address: St. Peter’s Rindermarkt 1, 80331 München
05| Appreciate the frozen beauty of The English Garden
Spanning across an area of 370 hectares, The English garden belongs to one of one of world’s largest urban public parks. It’s stretching from the city center to the northeast. Thanks to greenery and number of walking paths, this is where locals spend their free time and also makes for a perfect place to enjoy the snow when in Munich in winter.
English Garten was designed by Brit Sir Benjamin Thompson in 1792, like an English country park with views of the city and an overwhelming number of trails for cycling and walking.
There are several sights within the park, with 15-meter-high Greek temple being one of the highlights. (It was King Ludwig who decided for its construction). Other than that, you can also visit the Japanese teahouse or Chinese Tower.
Entrance fee: None
Address: Englischer Garten, 80538 Munich, Germany
06| Relax in the spa
In case you experience a freezing day while in Munich in winter, warming up in a spa is always a good option.
One of the most unique places to visit is the Müller‘sche Volksbad. Thanks to the magnificent art nouveau design, it is regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful swimming pools. It was constructed in 1901 and was the world’s most expensive swimming pool at the time. It features a sauna, too.
You could also make a trip to Therme Erding, but it’s really big so it may not be the most relaxing experience (plus, it’s only worth it if you stay for most of the day). If you have the budget, stay at one of the many hotels that feature a spa. I’ve heard good things about the SO SPA.
Entrance fee: Müller‘sche Volksbad: 4,80 €
Address: Rosenheimer Str. 1, 81667 München
07| Enjoy palaces and castles
You definitely should visit La Residenz, which is the official home of Bavaria’s kings and dukes. The former’s Antiquarium is a real sight to behold, with endless classical statues and frescoes covering the large Renaissance structure. Plus, you can enjoy the interior no matter what the weather is like.
Another highlight of Munich is Schloss Nymphenburg, but I recommend you not to visit it when in Munich in winter. During the winter time, its amazing gardens are closed, so you miss out on most of the beauty.
However, there is another highlight that can be visited from Munich on a day trip: stunning Neuschwanstein Castle, often named as one of the most beautiful castles in Germany. This 19th-century palace is perched on a steep hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria. You can go there by car or on the train.
Entrance fee: La Residenz: 7 EUR
Address: Residenzstraße 1, 80333 München
Thanks for reading!
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Disclosure: I went to Munich on my own expenses. All places including brewery of café are, as always, honest recommendations aimed at making your trip more enjoyable.
Picture credit: Picure of the So Spa is by Sofitel Munich Bayerpost