Merry, Merry Munich

This German city has many reasons to visit during the winter months.

Merry, Merry Munich

Photo by C. Reiter

Munich in winter has it all: Christmas markets (the largest and most famous is in Marienplatz) redolent with roasting chestnuts and mulled wine; historic baroque architecture topped with fluffy white snow; and easy access to the best ski slopes in Germany. But don’t let all the nutcrackers and beer-drinking men in lederhosen fool you. Underneath this traditional holiday-time facade you can also find cutting-edge design and a spirit of humorous irreverence.

Das Wirtshaus zum Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu

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Das Wirtshaus zum Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu

Bavarians love their pork. Enjoy the region’s best about 30 minutes outside Munich at Das Wirtshaus zum Herrmannsdorfer Schweinsbräu, part of an organic farm cooperative that includes a bakery, a brewery, vegetable gardens, and, of course, happy black-and-pink pigs. In a light-filled barn, chef Thomas Thielemann serves such dishes as a crispy schweinebraten (pork roast).

German Souvenirs in Munich

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German Souvenirs in Munich

For funny German souvenirs (like this kitschy cuckoo clock), check out Servus Heimat in the Stadtmuseum. For more upscale collectibles, head to Nymphenburg (Odeonsplatz 1), a 250-year-old traditional porcelain producer that works with such international designers as Hella Jongerius.

Das Kranzbach Ski Resort

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Das Kranzbach Ski Resort

A quick drive from Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitze ski area is the surprisingly cool Das Kranzbach spa resort. The original building—inspired by the British arts and crafts movement—now has a sleek wood spa, 90 rooms, and all sorts of nooks that offer dramatic views.

Surfing the Eisbach Wave

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Surfing the Eisbach Wave

It takes some German engineering to surf in land-locked Bavaria. But endless rides are possible on the Eisbach wave, a man-made, standing curl in the middle of a narrow artificial stream that runs through the English Garden. It has drawn both international river surfers—even in winter—and gawking crowds since soon after the wave was created in 2000.

>> Next: The AFAR Guide to Munich

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