Munich Christmas Markets, Beer Halls and visiting Neuschwanstein Castle

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
6
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
9
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
9
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
10
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
85 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
Germany
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 230
Time of year visited
December
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
15th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 5% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable

Summary

Nowhere does Christmas better than Bavaria.  Sipping on warm Glühwein as you wander around the oldest Christmas Market in Munich with its 140 stalls spread out across the central Marienplatz and with the ice skating ring nearby are wonderfully atmospheric; jump into the Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall for some oompah bands and great atmosphere; and the trip over to the Neuschwanstein Castle, the inspiration for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle, surrounded in snow is practically the definition of fairytale.  Hard to think of a better experience in the northern hemisphere in December

highlights

#1 Neuschwanstein Castle in the snow - seeing the fairytale castle that inspired Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle and the benchmark for all castles around the world

#2 Wandering through the Munich Christmas Markets to see the 100+ stalls all scattered around the Marienplatz as you sip on some delightfully warm Glühwein

#3 Hohenschwangau Castle - a stunning castle in its own right, just a wee bit eclipsed by the Neuschwanstein Castle nearby

#4 Hitting the famous Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall for the superb atmosphere and to try and host of Bavarian beers

#5 The quaint village of Oberammergau with its atmospheric wall paintings dotted all around the village houses

#6 Linderhof Palace with beautiful interior rooms and pleasant grounds

#7 The walk over to Mary's Bridge for great views of the Castle and across the Bavarian Alps

Travel Tips

  • The markets – very straightforward.  Key tip is to make sure you try the Glühwein, the delicious hot mulled wine that many people are drinking at the stalls or as the walk around to keep themselves warm.  Love that stuff
  • Neuschwanstein Castle – the standard that all castles are measured against and the highlight of Bavaria.  Be sure to book ahead if you want the 35min tour of the castle, to walk the 10mins to Mary’s Bridge for that postcard view and to enjoy the cable car ride up
  • Getting to Neuschwanstein Castle from Munich – you’ve got 3 options: 1. Rent a car and drive – best option as you have the freedom to check out the rest of the Alps that you’re interested in and avoid the risk of a busy tour.  Takes around 1 hour 40mins to drive direct.  2. Take the train – fun but takes about 2.5hours each way and a bit of a faff with changes.  3. Join a tour – easiest option as everything will be spoon-fed for you and will likely be a full day tour with Linderhof Palace, Hohenschwangau Castle and the village of Oberammergau included.  To get the best of both world’s we organised a private tour which worked out well cost-wise because there were 4 of us.  For more details, I found this site gave a good summary of how to get there –  https://www.wanderingermany.com/how-to-get-from-munich-to-castle-neuschwanstein/
  • Castles and towns around Neuschwanstein Castle -the highlight is obviously Neuschwanstein Castle, but you will also find the tours making the trips to Hohenschwangau Castle, a striking castle in its own right that is right next to Neuschwanstein; Linderhof Palace with its beautiful interior rooms and beautiful grounds; and the quaint village of Oberammergau with its gorgeous wall paintings.  Linderhof Palace and Oberammergau are around 40mins – 1 hour to the east of Neuschwanstein Castle and make the tour a loop
  • The Munich Beer Halls – the other “must-do” in Munich.  Even if you don’t like beer, the Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall is a great experience with the oompah band, painted ceilings and generally raucous atmosphere
  • The rest of Munich – going to be controversial here, but I found there was little else for the average tourist to do outside of the Beer Halls and the Marienplatz with its Christmas Markets.  Its not so much a criticism, because the Beer Halls and the Markets are brilliant fun, just to be sure to prioritise these over trying to cram in anything more
  • Time of year to go – you can still obviously visit outside of Christmas time, the only thing you’ll really miss out on are the Christmas Markets.  Neuschwanstein Castle will still be beautiful throughout the year, the Bavarian Alps are stunning in summer and there is always the option of Oktoberfest in September if you’re looking for that buzzing atmosphere
  • Expensive – Munich is a very wealthy city and many tourists visit in Christmas time, so be prepared for things to be expensive

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone