Munich is a picture-perfect European city in the winter, especially after a snowfall. The snow dusts the churches and charming red roofs of the old town with a fairytale white. Not only is it picture-perfect, but winter has an increase in cultural events, including fantastic concerts, spirits and beer events, and great outdoor activities. If you’ve come to Munich for their famous Christmas markets in December, you might find yourself marketed out or eager to explore more of what this city has to offer. Or maybe you’ve arrived in Munich after the cheerful holiday season, and it just seems cold, dark, and empty. No matter your reason for traveling here, there are plenty of things to do in Munich in the winter, including November, December, and January. So, pack your warm gear and Los Gehts!
Munich and the surrounding area of Bavaria are teeming with fun things to do in the winter. Whether you are an outdoor snow-loving adventurer or enjoy a quiet day curled up in a cafe with a good book, Munich has a winter activity for everyone. Just find your ideal activity and click on it below!
Weather and What to Pack
Munich can be quite moody in the winter. Temperatures can range anywhere from 35 F down to 0 F. You’re likely to encounter snow, sun, and rain. I recommend layers as the best option, especially for anyone without proper winter gear. Make sure you pack boots that will keep your feet dry and warm wool socks. Pack a winter coat or one you can layer underneath. Bring a hat, gloves, and a scarf; you should be ready to beat the cold with these fun winter activities. For a complete packing guide, read my German winter essentials packing guide
1. Check out a Snowy View of Munich
View from St. Peter’s Church.
Munich has to have one of the cutest bird’s eye views in all of Europe. With limitations on skyscrapers and a focus on old European architecture, you can’t beat it, especially when the red roofs are covered with a fresh dusting of snow. This view can be reached from Peterskirche or St. Peter’s Church right in the center of Munich at Marienplatz. 3 Euro will grant you access to the long, zigzagging staircase leading up to the top. The best part about coming in winter (other than Christmas time) is that it is usually not as crowded, so you can take your time and get a good photo!
2. Go Sledding in and Around Munich.
Sledding in Spitzingee near Munich.
I remember growing up in a small town in Alaska, we used to have miles of sledding hills at our doorstep. I would suit up and sled out for hours of fun. I never dreamed that I would be living in a European city with sledding in the central part of town! There are three main sledding hills in Munich. The first is in the Englischergarten at Monopteros, which you can find on Google maps. The other two are located at Olympiaberg and Luitpoldhügel. Olympiaberg has a tube run, so you can race down in a tube. Sleds are not provided at these locations, but you can buy a cheap butt seat for sledding at any sporting goods store; just make sure to give it to a family on the hill if you’re only in town visiting and plan on throwing it away.
My favorite sledding area is a snow-filled day trip from Munich for extreme sledding in the Alps. Here you hike up a small winding path, and at the top, you can warm up with beer and food before beginning your descent. You pay 2 euros for a traditional wooden toboggan rental. You sled down the same path you hiked up, and it is quite the ride, lasting about 7-10 minutes. Drop the sled off at the bottom and head home. In my full detailed post, find out more about this winter day trip from Munich.
3. Enjoy Ice Skating in Munich City Center
Ice Skating in Munich
The city center of Munich transforms into a skating rink from November to January. Stop by and rent skates for an allotted session of ice skating. At night they turn on neon lights, and it turns into an all-out party. The fun doesn’t stop there as the entire area of Stachus transforms into a cozy Alpine hut full of Glühwein and piping hot snacks.
4. Experience Munich’s Christmas Markets
No trip to Munich in the winter is complete without experiencing the iconic Christmas markets, which are open from late November into January. Shop charming vendors, drink copious amounts of Glühwein and eat all the würst you can handle. Munich has dozens of Christmas markets, from traditional markets to hippy markets and even LBGTQI markets and Medieval markets. There is something for everyone.
Read my full detailed guide to plan your winter holiday around the Christmas markets. Find the best markets, food, drink, and alternative markets, and learn some Christmas phrases in German!
5. Ride the Christmas Tram
Small disclaimer: I rode this, and it was crowded and so steamy you couldn’t really see out the windows. So, It’s not my top recommendation of things to do in Munich in the winter, but it might be right up someone’s alley. This is a normal tram that has been decked out in Christmas trim. It runs around the city for about 20 minutes, and they serve Glühwine on the tram for 6 euros. The tram picks up from the Sendlinger Tor Tram stop, and you can’t miss it with all the Christmas lights and decorations.
READ MORE: If you’re a geek who wants to stay inside this winter, check out my tips for geeky and nerdy travelers in Munich. Find the best museums, board game shops, book stores, libraries, and geeky stores.
6. See an English Movie
Sometimes it is just too cold to be outside exploring, which means it is the perfect time to go see an English Movie. A charming theater in Munich shows only English or (original language) movies in a historic theater. If Rocky Horror is your thing, it plays every Friday and Saturday at 11:00 pm. You often need tickets in advance, you can purchase them at the link below. The website is partially in German, but you should be able to manage it, if not, you can show up early and buy tickets there.
Buy tickets, here!
7. Take A Day Trip to Scenic Zugspitze
View from Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak in winter.
This trip is for you if you want a scenic view of the German Alps in Winter but are not a skier or snowboarder. This day trip will take all day, but it combines everything from a regional train, a cogwheel train up through the mountains, and a scenic tram. There is a great traditional Bavarian restaurant at the top for lunch and an area to walk around and explore on foot. Zugspitze is a glacier area, so you can return home and tell your friends you’ve walked on a glacier. Zugspitze is also the highest point in Germany, and it borders Austria. At the very top of the peak, you can actually walk across the German Austrian border as many times as you want; how cool is that? Read a detailed post about how to get to Zugspitze here.
Or book a guided tour, including transportation to and from Zugspitze, a cogwheel train, and a gondola ride!
8. Expand your Knowledge at a Museum
Neoclassical Museum in Königsplatz.
Munich is a museum lover’s dream destination. Munich is host to everything from the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest science and technology museum, that’s right, I said largest in the WORLD, to neoclassic art and ancient civilization museums. If you happen to be in Munich on a Winter Sunday, most museums are 1 Euro or half off! Munich has a museum quarter, the Maxvorstadt neighborhood surrounding Königsplatz, making it easy to check out several in one day. If you can only go to one museum, I recommend the Deutsches Museum.
READ MORE: If your peak hipster and visiting Munich this winter, check out my hipster guide to Munich, which includes farmers markets, brunch, coffee shops and street art.
9. Snowboard/ski the German (or Austrian) Alps
Munich is located just 45 minutes, by train or bus, from the Alps. Munich is the perfect launching point if you have always wanted to ski or snowboard the Alps. You can have an independent day by train or book a ski trip on a bus that takes you to and from the Austrian Alps, including breakfast, lunch, a lift ticket, and a beer. The bus driver also handles all your baggage and has a host responsible for getting your lift ticket. I highly recommend this last option for anyone looking to make friends or is intimidated by independent travel. Your host will speak German, but if you ask, they usually speak English and can give you some personal information based on your needs. Find out more information about several ways to get out and ski the Alps with my comprehensive guide here.
10. Attend a Concert, Opera, or The Theater
Harry Potter in Concert!
Attending a cultural event in a foreign country or language is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can check the Philharmonie for concerts. This is my favorite winter activity, and I’ve been obsessively attending Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Final Fantasy in Concert. The movie plays on a screen while a live orchestra plays the soundtrack. It’s such a fun event! The Munich Opera has regular operas that come through town. Most of them are in Italian and then translated into German for subtitles, so it’s fascinating. Germans are a bit strange in art, so classic operas tend to have a German twist – think of nudity on stage and abstract art that is so abstract you’re not sure if it is even art anymore. I highly recommend it.
Book tickets to some of Munich’s best classical concert events here. Some even include dinner or a wine tasting. Indulge in a fancy night out on the town!
11. Take a Walk Through Munich’s Graveyard
Munich’s Graveyard in Winter
I love visiting the graveyard every season to see the changes. The historic Alter Südfriedhof graveyard has graves dating back to the late 1700s and is a large park-like area to walk around and get some fresh air. It is so hauntingly breathtaking with a fresh coat of snow.
12. Take the Hey Minga Winter Tour
Hey Minga Winter Tour.
Hey Minga is a fantastic local German tour company with roots in Hamburg and other German cities. Each tour is tailored to its host city, changes with the season, and focuses on underground and alternative sights. I had the pleasure of taking the Hey Minga Christmas tour, and it was well worth it. We bundled up, piled into a classic red VW bus, and toured street art, sledding hills, Christmas markets, and other oddities. At every stop, we were searched for piping hot Glühwein and cookies to keep us fueled up for the tour. Our guide spoke great English and was happy to engage and answer questions. This is a great tour for a group of friends or a family. I realize their entire website is in German. So, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to set up an English-speaking tour!
See their tours, here!
13. Warm up in a Sauna or Thermal Bath
Stop by and take a dip at Müller’sches Volksbad. This gorgeous pool and sauna building inside and out bridges the Isar River. Or, if you want to get to the airport early, stop by Therma Erding for a posh modern spa experience. They have everything from luxury day beds to a swimming pool, a spa, and fun water slides.
14. Go Shopping
Munich’s shopping district.
Munich has a luxury shopping strip on the road called Maximilianstraße. You can also find cheaper name-brand and German-brand stores around the Marienhof and Marienplatz. However, I like to shop locally, so I recommend skipping the over-crowded, over-priced tourist areas and stopping by the neighborhoods of Gartnerplatz/Glockenbach or near Universität – start on Schellingstraße and meander the streets from around there for great local boutiques and gift shops.
15. Read at a Library or Bookstore
Munich has some amazing libraries. Most of them are free to go in, but you must be a member to check out books. Be prepared to check your oversized bag into a locker and pass through security as many of the libraries are part of the universities or are of great historical value. Check out the State Library of Bavaria for great architecture and a bounty of books. If you prefer small bookstores, take a peek at Hugendubel, Press and Books, or the Munich Readery. Most places have an English section.
16. Watch – or Try Curling
Head over to Nymphenburg Palace for outdoor curling. The curling area is open most days from 9 am – 5 pm, and it is only 4 Euro per person for 4 hours of fun. I’ve never been curling, but my dad used to play, so I thought it might be fun for you all to get outdoors and try something new!
17. Experience the German Carnival or Fasching
Germans get into Carnival or, as it is called here, Fasching. Starting on the 7th of January, this event continues until Faschingsdienstag, or Fat Tuesday as it is commonly known. Typically the weekend before Fat Tuesday, you’ll see events, but the entire downtown area turns into a party on this particular Tuesday. Stop by Viktualienmarkt for food, drinks, costumes, and scheduled events on stage. Don’t forget your costume or you’ll be out of place. You can swing by a drug store and get the makeup for a simple cat face. Stop by any bakery and order a Krapfen, the German pastry to eat before Lent.
18. Attend a Paint and Wine Night
This whole class will be in German, but that’s ok. Just order all the wine you can drink, get drunk, and try to match the painting sample. It helped my friends, and I practice our German, and we even made some new local friends and ex-pats alike. It was great fun, even though I realized I am a terrible painter.
See their Munich schedule, here!
19. Sip Coffee at a Cafe
There is no better way to beat the cold of winter than sipping hot coffee or hot chocolate at a cafe. Munich isn’t known for the cafe culture, I’ll be the first to admit, but I’ve done all the hard work and found the best cafes that are great for relaxing and enjoying a nice cup of coffee. Germans are weird about wifi, so it’s hard to find wifi, so whenever I find a cafe that serves good coffee and has wifi – I move in.
My favorite place with wifi AND coffee is Coffee Mammas or Aroma Cafe Bar. Other great places to hang out and get good coffee without the wifi are Man vs Machine and Rösteri. Check out my hipster guide to Munich for more details on coffee shops.
20. Tour the BMW Factory
Even if you’re not a car lover, this experience is great for everyone. BMW does a great job keeping things interesting and engaging. There are three different experiences and areas to explore. The Experience Tour is free and you can visit a fancy showroom highlighting the cool modern, and classic BMW cars. The Museum is ticketed, and you can go anytime during opening hours; and it covers the history of BMW. The Factory Tour is also ticketed, and you may need to book well in advance – though coming in the winter, you have an advantage. This factory walks you through all the stages of making a car, and you get to see a car made from beginning to end.
21. Hit up Munich’s Best Bars or Nightclub
I have a whole post locked and loaded for your ultimate night in Munich. It covers everything from how to order a drink in German, the best microbreweries, craft cocktail bars, and dive bars to the best nightclubs. This post also has all the winter beer and spirit events, from a beer expo to Starkbierfest. If you prefer to learn about German beer culture and history, check out my full post on all the best beers, beer halls, and beer-themed day trips.
22. See a Disney Castle in the snow!
Seeing Germany’s most famous castle dusted in the snow is magical. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Disney’s Frozen. Plan the trip yourself or book a guided tour. Please note that if you want a tour that includes entrance to the castle, you will need to book the Premium Tour.
23. Go to Sea Life Munich
If you like aquariums, then head over to Sea Life Munich. Munich’s aquarium specializes in turtles and sharks; see a variety of both in stunning exhibits.
24. Hop-on Hop-Off Tour
If the weather is too dang cold to do anything, hop on a heated bus for a quick tour of Munich.
25. See The Krampus Run
Krampus is St. Nikolas’ evil assistant. Created by German parents, the story goes he follows bad children around and terrorizes them into being good children. So, every year in December, 300-400 people dress up in elaborate costumes as Krampus and parade through the city. They will grab and scare children in the street, which is a sight to see.
Sunday, December 11, 2022, at Marienplatz
26. Ring in the New Year
If you are in Munich for the New Year, don’t miss my ultimate guide to Munich’s best NYE parties and events. I even include loads of German and Bavarian NYE traditions and culture. Of course, I also have some local insider tips on the best places to watch fireworks.
Spread the Word
Munich is an amazing city to visit year-round. There are plenty of things to do in Munich in Winter. Whether you’re in town in frosty February for a work trip, you need a break from the Christmas markets, or you just enjoy off-season travel, there is something for everyone. Share this to let your friends know how awesome Munich is in the winter! What is your favorite thing to do in Munich in the winter?