weekend away - Munich
Written by Brian Johnston
The capital of Bavaria offers beer festivals and homely traditions combined with cutting-edge fashion, fine museums, and a lively student life. Not surprisingly, it regularly tops polls of the city Germans would most like to live in.
And a visit in winter is delightful: carols float from street corners, Christmas trees shimmer with lights, and even suited businessmen come with tinsel attached. Marienplatz, the old town’s central square, has been home to a Christkindlmarkt – or Christmas market – since the 17th century, providing a wonderfully evocative winter atmosphere.
A 30m-high Christmas tree is the centrepiece, while alpine choirs and brass bands serenade shoppers from the balcony of the Gothic town hall. Among traditional buys are enamelled music boxes, nativity figurines, and incense burners. You can also browse for puppets, handicrafts, candles, ornaments for your Christmas tree, and nutcrackers.
Just behind Marienplatz, the Viktualienmarkt is an open-air food market offering everything from Bavarian apples to local honey and home-brewed beer. Try potato cakes, followed by gingerbread filled with marzipan, or a slice of Stollen, the candied fruitcake of the season. Warm your hands as you go on to a bag of hot roasted chestnuts. Mulled wine, sometimes sporting sticks of cinnamon, will also keep the alpine cold at bay. Carollers and buskers add to the festive spirit: Christmas shopping at its smiling, traditional best.
The Residenz, former home of Bavarian kings, has a magnificent rococo theatre and jewel-packed State Treasury.
✆ +49 (0) 89 290 671
Deutsches Museum is the world’s largest technological museum; kids will enjoy its hands-on approach.
✆ +49 (0) 89 2138 3892
Anyone with a passion for cars will love the ultra-modern BMW Museum’s high-tech shows and exhibits.
✆ +49 (0) 89 3823 5402
The exceptional Bavarian National Museum covers the culture and history of Bavaria, and has amazing Christmas nativity scenes from all over Europe.
✆ +49 (0) 89 2112 401
Alte Pinakothek houses top-notch European artworks and more Rubens canvases than anywhere else.
✆ +49 (0) 89 2380 5216
Graphical Collection is one of the most famous graphic arts collections anywhere, featuring Dьrer, Rembrandt and more.
✆ +49 (0) 89 2892 7650
Off the beaten track
TOLLWOOD winter festival, held at the home of the Oktoberfest. The kaleidoscopic tented village buzzes with cabaret, live music, and craft stores. Held over three weeks,
it culminates in the now-legendary New Year’s party.
✆ +49 (0) 89 38 38 500
SCHWABING CHRISTMAS MARKET focuses on quality arts and crafts. North of the city centre, this student area is packed with art-house cinemas, fringe theatres, and arty cafйs and pubs where young Munichers hang out to discuss poetry and politics.
✆ +49 (0) 89 9300 6840
ENGLISCHER GARTEN is the place to burn off Christmas fare with some cross-country skiing, ice-skating on the frozen lakes, or simply a wintry walk. Santa may even be spotted at the Chinese pagoda.
✆ +49 (0) 89 3866 6390
ETTAL ABBEY in the mountains southwest of Munich features a Christmas market in the snow, and sleigh rides against a backdrop of pine forests and Baroque buildings. Organ concerts in the abbey add a more festive note.
✆ +49 (0) 88 22 740
Connect Munich, Germany ✈ Distance to Doha: 4,305 km ✈ Flight Time: 6 hours 40 minutes ✈ Frequency: Daily