24 hours in Munich

A mug of Gluhwein at the Munich Christmas markets

It’s almost Christmas and a spontaneous trip lends you 24 hours to explore Munich, the capital of Bavaria, so what does one do?

Girl drinking Gluhwein at Munich Christmas markets
Student Fiona McGeever sampling Gluhwein at Munich Christmas Markets

If you are anything like me, you get on the old interweb and do a spot of investigating as you pass the journey to Gatwick at ridiculous o’clock in the morning. Recent news stories have lowered Tripadvisor in your estimation, so you delve a little further. Travel and food writers are my ubiquitous go-to. I want to see the sights and get a flavour of München in a very short time, whilst wandering off the beaten path,- enough, to feel that I have had a truly local experience. I want to eat in the gems that Münchner love, I want to drink beer with old guys in small pubs and sadly, but admittedly I want a fridge magnet. It’s as simple as that. So the question remains? Did I find what I was looking for and would I return?

The answer, for many reasons is an emphatic YES!

  1. The people: Coming from a country like Ireland, where friendliness is in our DNA, I can’t help but judge everywhere I visit on the initial interactions I have with the people: are they friendly, helpful, up for a laugh. In Munich each box was ticked. Everyone I talked to wanted to help me, whether I was enquiring about directions or picking their brains for the best foodie spots, everyone obliged.

    Soaking up the festive vibes at Pink Christmas in Stephanplatz
  2. The buildings: As you drive from Munich Airport to the city centre, the landscape changes from austere but practical buildings common in European cities to much more decadent scenes. Grand buildings, ornate gothic architecture and ostentatious departments stores embellish the city streets and create a vibrant city-scape that is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate.

    Festive decorations adorn every building
  3. The shopping: Munich is the most fashionable city in Germany, so if you plan on a city break and you love new clobber, pack the credit card-you will need it. The department stores are nothing short of luxury, with perfume and cosmetics halls akin to our own Harrods and Selfridges. Designer stores are at every turn as are the food and wine halls. I was blown away by the selection of foodie outlets and food markets, my favourites being the Victualienmarkt and Schrannenhall.
    Hirmer Munich, one of Munich’s many department stores

    Vegetables on display in a market
    Victualienmarkt- an exquisite foodie shopping experience.
  4. The Beer: Rule number one: When in Germany, temporarily forget that you have a gluten/ wheat intolerance. Nobody want’s to know! At the risk of feeling sick for days and drinking vicariously through my companions- I gave in and sampled the local brews. There is no such thing as a bad beer in Munich and whatever your persuasion, you will find a blend that tickles your fancy. In particular,I loved the Augustiner-Keller beer-house, it is one of the oldest breweries in Munich and it really provides the authenticity you crave from a traditional Brauhaus.

    Barman serves paulaner beer
    Traditionally dressed barman expertly serves beer at Paulaner Brauhaus Munich
  5. The Food: For me food is at the centre of any trip. I always try to find spots that are truly worth visiting and that I can wholeheartedly recommend to friends. I have never been a fan of german cuisine, pork knuckle and schnitzel doesn’t really float my boat but Munich did not disappoint on the food stakes. A vibrant multicultural food scene means that there is something for everyone and I happened to stumble upon- (okay I did some serious research) and found Sababa just off the Victualienmarkt, and I would actually say, that their falafel was some of the best I have ever had!

    A selection of mezze
    Falafel mezze at sababa
  6. The Christmas Markets: Last, but most certainly not least, the Christmas markets. The biggest grinch could visit Munich at Christmas and leave a fully fledged member of CA (Christmas Anonymous), yes you are right this addiction service does not exist but if it did, it would be for people who love Christmas so much that they need a 12 step programme to get over the sadness when the holiday season ends. I may just fit this description! Christmas is my favourite time of the year and nothing brings out the festive cheer quite like a walk in the markets, Glühwein in hand. It’s a chance to sample sweet and savoury treats, buy festive trinkets and bask in the merriment that envelops the air at this very special time of year. There are several markets in Munich, each boasting slightly different themes- and yes, I visited ALL  of them. Central Marienplatz is the easiest to get to, and it is stunning, but I would highly recommend checking out more than one. If you really fancy some cheesy music and rainbow inspired Glühwein, then check out Pink Christmas in Stephansplatz, the heart of the gay community. It’s a super fun event, that provides a safe and fun space for all.
    One of the many stalls at Marienplatz Christmas market
    A stall selling beeswax products at Marienplatz markets

    Sampling yet more Gluhwein at the famous Paulaner Brauhaus

So, my friends Munich scored very highly on the city break scale and I will certainly return, the Glühweinh alone is enough to bring me back!


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