In german, the word gemütlichkeit is often said to not translate into english. It’s a special kind of warmth, coziness and hospitality. Munich in winter is full of gemütlichkeit, from warm fires to friendly faces.
Words by Air Malta| Extract taken from December's 2021 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
Munich might be best known for its annual six-million-person beer binge better known as Oktoberfest as well as other festive Biergartens. But now it is a winter, and the weather is not so warm, but the question remains, is there more to the Bavarian capital than just a beer festival (and beer?).
Munich is often portrayed as the strait-laced, industrious counterpart to self-indulgent Berlin. But a visit will reveal, that staid and steady exterior is but a veneer. Underneath is a modern, cosmopolitan city with a big heart and a long heritage, as suave as it is easygoing, buzzing and yet tranquil. Munich is Germany's lifestyle capital. You don't have to be rich and beautiful to feel right at home in Munich, but it doesn't hurt. Besides, these characteristics aren't confined to strict dictionary definitions.
Rich is he who has the time to leisurely amble through the splendid city centre, stopping here and there just to soak up the atmosphere. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. That said, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful squares in Germany must be Marienplatz square – it is the heart of Munich and is home to the Old and New Town Halls. The town hall glockenspiel is as much part of Munich's identity as the Hofbräuhaus beer hall or the iconic Church of Our Lady, whose green dome-crested towers can be seen for miles around.
Winter, provides an atmospheric time to visit
Before you do anything else, check out one of the cutest bird’s eye views of a city in all of Europe. With limitations on skyscrapers and a focus on old European architecture you really can’t beat this view, especially when the red roofs are covered with a pristine dusting of snow. From Peterskirche or St. Peter’s Church right in the center of Munich at Marienplatz, three Euro will grant you access to the long and zigzagging staircase that leads up to the top.
If you want to go one step further, take in a scenic view of the German Alps in Winter. A trip from the city centre 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 with Austria. At the very top of the peak you can walk across the German Austrian border as many times as you want, how cool is that?
A bit of culture during the cold weather?
The people of Munich are also proud of the city's museums, many of which are of international standing, such as the Deutsches Museum - the world's biggest science and technology museum, the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Lenbachhaus Museum. The Kunstareal is also hard to beat. Thought of by many as the centre of the city’s art scene, this area is home to the Alte and Neue Pinakotheks, the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Museum Brandhorst. Within these varied and impressive buildings, visitors can view a host of works from the likes of Van Gogh, Rubens, Raphael and Cezanne, as well as contemporary figures including Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst.
Romance in the air
Ah. Winter can be a very romantic season, such as on Valentine's Day or just the pure wonder of any snowy day. Munich is an excellent city in which to fully immerse yourself in that spirit. Cross-country skiing in and around the suburbs of Munich is an invigorating winter activity to do with your partner - scenic Ostpark or Schloss Nymphenburg are two locations that offer cross-country paths. Bring it to a sparkling close with a glass of Sekt.
A stroll around the scenically stunning Starnberger See or a leisurely walk through the English Garden, a day in the adult-only area of Therme Erding to enjoy the pools, sauna or some lounging with a cocktail of choice. During wintertime, the Munich Botanical Gardens feature a room filled with tropical butterflies. If you stand still enough, a butterfly might come and land on your shoulder - a very memorable and special experience.
Hot beverages for a chilly day
You won't lack for choice for delicious warming drinks on a crisp, cold Munich winter day. If you want something with a bit of an alcoholic zing, try a Glühwein (mulled wine), a hot toddy (imported from the UK), or a hot chocolate with a "Schuss" (shot) of rum. A popular central European winter drink is a Heisse Zitrone - a hot lemon juice usually served with honey - or you can try a yummy alternative, Heisse Holunder, which is a hot elderberry juice usually cooked along with some spices.
Try a specialty Heisse Schokolade (hot chocolate) at Beluga Chocolaterie. Vegans may enjoy a turmeric latte made from either almond or coconut milk, found in places like Deli Kitchen. And that’s not forgetting the spellbinding Christmas markets, which unfortunately this year have been cancelled.
Munich is the picture perfect European city in the winter, especially after a snowfall. The snow dusts the churches and charming red roofs of the old city with a fairytale white. Not only it is picture perfect, but walking through Munich, you'll understand why it is consistently voted one of Germany's most livable cities - safe, clean and cultured. A university town, built on a human scale, and close to nature.
Air Malta operates flights to Munich. More information on www.airmalta.com. Please follow the latest Covid-19 guidelines with regards to travel