Perched on the banks of the River Isar, just north of the Bavarian Alps, is the marvellous city of Munich. This bustling metropolis is awash with historical and cultural sights, and has an abundance of mountains and lakes located just a stone’s throw away.
In September and October, thousands of Lederhosen-clad revellers descend on Munich to sip from steins at the infamous Oktoberfest. But there’s so much more to this city than beer (though that’s certainly a selling point). So, here are six reasons magical Munich makes for a wonderful, winter escape.
1. Enjoy peace and quiet in the heart of the city
Escape the bustle without leaving the city! At the heart of Munich is the Englischer Garten, a gigantic green space spanning an area larger than New York’s Central Park. Wrap up warm and while away an afternoon walking or cycling around the park’s ponds and brooks, before enjoying a beer (or two) at the always-busy Chinesischer Turm (Chinese Tower).
2. Stock-up at the Christkindlmarkt
Munich certainly isn’t short of Christmas markets, but the Christkindlmarkt is the most popular owing to its electric atmosphere. Along with endless stalls selling local produce and gifts, there are heaps of food outlets and places to grab a Gluehwein. This is a market with a difference; expect live music and dancing, and even an appearance from Mr. Claus himself.
3. Gobble Weisswurst washed down with beer
Weisswurst — literally ‘white sausage’ — is a Bavarian staple made from minced veal and pork back bacon, which is flavoured with ingredients like ginger, onions, cardamom and lemon. Sample this juicy meat with the soundtrack of clinking glasses at one of Munich’s many crowded beer halls (Lederhosen optional).
4. Make Munich your ski trip base
The Bavarian capital makes the ideal base for travellers wanting to get their winter sports fix. Top skiing spots can be found within less than an hour’s drive of the city; these include Alpspitze, Wallberg or Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Bavaria (2,100m), guaranteeing the best chance of the white stuff. Follow simple road links to the resorts, or opt to take the train or bus to beat the traffic.
5. Get lost in the lakes
From the mountain tops to the glistening, turquoise waters of the many, enchanting lakes located near Munich. Favourites include the Chiemsee, the Simssee, the Walchensee and the Königssee, the latter of which is a little longer drive (but definitely worth it).
Walk the water’s edge or book a boat trip for a more immersive experience. Once you’re done exploring, get some respite in one of the many nearby restaurants, where you can tuck-in to tasty grub while soaking up the view.
6. Feel like royalty at the Munich Residenz
The Residenz is Germany’s largest city palace and the former home of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria. You could spend a day ambling around the complex of buildings, which encompass ten courtyards and a sizeable 130 rooms. The highlight has to be the Antiquarium; the largest Renaissance hall north of the Alps, it houses hundreds of classical statues, with its walls and ceilings plastered in intricate frescoes.
Christmas is a time for giving but that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself! Book direct flights to Munich and prepare to be captivated by the city’s character and charm.