Earlier this year I decided to focus on consciously working through my bucket list, in an effort to live more intentionally. This didn’t just pertain to travel, although for the purposes of this blog, I am focusing on that.
I had a week off work pre-booked for December and decided to focus it on a winter escape. Going to Lapland in Finland has been on my bucket list for over a decade when I first saw an igloo from there featured in National Geographic, so I decided to couple it with another bucket list item- Christmas in Europe.
I have already spent some time in Germany, and have been to Colmar, France as well as Salzburg, Austria but ultimately I chose to go to Munich to experience these markets as I also wanted to visit Neuschwanstein Castle and the convenience/cost of flights from a big city to Finland influenced this decision.
While it is not a detailed itinerary, below I will share what I did in Germany for one full day and 2 half days. Please note that I have previously spent 6 weeks in Germany so my focus was on Christmas activities and snow covered scenery.
- Marienplatz for Christmas Markets
I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed by this Christmas market especially after having visited the Toronto Christmas Market a couple days before, which was bigger and offered more. I still recommend checking it out, however, especially to see all the unique Christmas ornaments and to experience one with a European feel to it.
If I was to go to Europe for Christmas again, I would check out Colmar and the town of Strasbourg, France (I went in summer 2004 and loved the charming town, so I imagine it will be just as charming over the holidays).
2. Munich Residenz
The Residenz is the former royal palace and is the largest city palace in Germany. The Wittelsbachs ruled Bavaria from 1180 to 1918, and during that time their wealth was evident with the gold and extravagant architecture of their home.
At present time, the Residenz is a museum, theatre and treasury. It is definitely worth the visit. We went around 3pm on a Saturday and had to wait a little bit and time the crowds in order to get a solo shot in the Antiquarium/ Hall of Antiquities. This hall was one of highlights for me.
3. Day trip to Fussen (including Neuschwanstein Castle)
We were originally going to book a tour group as I was nervous about driving in the dark in snowy conditions in unfamiliar territory, but when we did our research, we realized it was cheaper and fairly easy to take the train there. Plus, it allowed us the freedom to maneuver as we wish.
We took an Uber to Munich Hauptbahnhof train station (approx 10 minutes, 15 euros) then took the first train into Fussen station (approximately 2 hour train ride). My friend and I bought the Bayern-ticket for Bavaria, and we shared it between the two of us, making it much cheaper. This included all train and bus transfers for the day. It was approximately 30 Euros between the two of us (25 euros for 1 person, additional 7 euros for the second person, up to 4 people on weekends- we went on a Sunday).
There is a bus at Fussen station that can take you directly to the walkway up to Neuschwanstein castle, but because we wanted to avoid crowds at 8am, we took a cab (less than 10 minutes).
Both Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty castles were modelled after Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle. Coming here in the winter was a major bucket list for me as the 6 year old in me fantasized about the magic of such a place.
We got lucky the morning we took the train there as it was covered in fresh snow. When we arrived at the walkway to the castle, it was approximately a 45 minute hike up to the castle in snowy conditions. As we got there super early, we were one of the first ones to enjoy this to ourselves. There is the option to take a horse and carriage ride up but I felt terrible to do that to the horses. Plus it was a great excuse to rack up some steps.
While we got lucky with having snow, our luck was turned in that the bridge to cross over the get an epic view of the castle was closed. That view was the exact reason I flew all the way to Germany. As disappointed as I was with this, we made the best of it and took photos outside and surrounding the castle. I absolutely recommend this for anyone coming to this side of Germany.
Town of Fussen
The great thing about the Castle is that it is near the charming town of Fussen. We got lucky in that Sunday most the shops were closed so the town was empty. This was great for exploring and taking photos. We stopped off in one of the cute cafes to have hot chocolate and a bite to eat before checking out the Museum of Fussen.
This is also another must see if in the area. The library brought all of the Beauty & the Beast vibes. I fell in love and was even more excited that we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I would recommend doing Neuschwanstein Castle and Museum of Fussen on a Sunday.
4. Day trip to Hallstatt, Austria
This was a bonus addition to our itinerary. We decided on our way back from Finland to spend a night in Hallstatt. We planned to take thee the train from the airport to Munich Central station but we had some delays due to train breakdown so ultimately had to uber it the station. There we took a 2 hour train to Salzburg, in Austria and then hired a driver to take us to Hallstatt. It took several hours but was worth it. We arrived after midnight and checked into Heritage Hotel Hallstatt.
We got up at the crack of dawn and made our way down to check out the infamous view of Hallstatt. It did not disappoint! After the sun rose, we went to grab breakfast and tea at the hotel then went to roam the very tiny town. I highly recommend dressing warmly if going in the winter. I was freezing especially walking by the water but it was worth it.
After spending a few hours here, we made our way back to Munich, Germany for 1 more day.
WHERE TO STAY
We started and ended our Europe trip in Germany, staying at 2 different hotels. They were not sponsored and were chosen based on location (to subway, to airport, to town centre).
- Holiday Inn Munich- Leuchtenbering
I chose this hotel because of the proximity to the subway- it was easy to get to both the airport as well as central Munich. It was also close to a drug store and grocery store, so perfect to stock up on snacks (we needed to for Finland).
2. NYX Hotel Munich
We ended our trip here. I love boutique hotels. This one was definitely picture worthy and the customer service was impeccable.
Lobby of NYX Hotel Munich
We had our last meal, which ended up being our best in Germany. Because we were constantly moving around, we grabbed food mainly at train stations and grocery stores so I don’t have any restaurant recommendations. However, some of the best vegan meals I have ever had was at this hotel. We noted lots of locals coming there too so it is evidently very popular.
I hope you enjoyed reading this mini travel itinerary for Munich.