Every blog, discussion board and book I read said all the restaurants and attractions were closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Munich. We nearly altered our plans because so many reviews said Munich was a ghost town these two days - I'm glad we didn't.
Shopping on Christmas Eve is crazy. The good news is that shops are open till around 2 PM, so you will be able to get those last minute gifts or food for your hotel room. The bad news is that everyone is doing the exact same thing - stores are packed and lines are long. Around 3 PM all stores are closed and the city shuts down - the perfect time for an afternoon architecture stroll.
As we know, Eurpoeans celebrate the holiday on Christmas Eve, unlike those of us in the United States. The most difficulty we had was finding a place for dinner. Before we left home we called numerous restaurants to confirm hours and hotels asking for recommendations. Nearly every hotel was quick to suggest their own restaurant - the menus looked tasty, but with price tags between €75 and €150. The Novotel (where we stayed) offered a buffet for around €75 and featured 'American party shrimps'. We were unable to find any open restaurants other than the Hofbräuhaus. While I was apprehensive to visit the popular tourist spot, the meal was solid. The place was packed. If you make a reservation arrive very early as you will have to seek out a specific woman with the list. It took us nearly 25 minutes to find her and when we did she almost didn't seat us because we were late.
While the blogs were right about Christmas Eve, they were wrong about Christmas Day - we found plenty to do.
Restaurants were not open for breakfast, so take advantage of your hotel breakfast - the Novotel was quite tasty and only €25. A handful of restaurants are open for lunch in the old town, so you shouldn't have a problem satisfying your midday hunger. And your choices for dinner are even greater - some restaurants that are normally a la carte have prix fixe menus and may require a reservation. Even if a reservation is needed, you should still inquire - one such place was able to squeeze us in for dinner. Here is a list of restaurants that were open during our visit:
Wirtshaus Kleine Schmausefalle
+49 89 44218821
(Read my review)
Wirtshaus in der Au
(Read my review)
Nürnberger Bratwurst Glöckl Am Dom
+49 89 2919450
(Read my review)
Finding things to do on Christmas Day is a bit trickier. We woke up late and had a lengthy breakfast before heading out. There were a more people walking around the old city than I anticipated.
Our first stop was the Frauenkirche. We wandered into all corners to take in the exquisite architectural detail. Even though there were many people in the church it was quiet and very peaceful.
I had read online that the Glyptothek was open on Christmas Day, so even though we were a bit skeptical we walked over. To our delight it was open, and only cost €1. See more about this visit in my review.
On our walk over to the Englischer Garten we passes the Haus der Kunst - modern art museum in one of the only Nazi built buildings in Munich still used for its original purpose. There was quite a few people inside, but it was such a nice day out we wanted to have more time outside. Entrance was around €10.
Just east if the Haus der Kunst where a river enters the Englischer Park a natural series of waves are created and frequented my surfers. We read about this happening before coming but had no idea they would be surfing on December 25! About six guys clad in wet suits took turns riding the waves - some unsuccessfully, but most stayed upright for a while. If the bridge is too crowded move over to the west side of the river for an unobstructed view.
There were more locals than tourists wandering around the park, which we liked. The Englisher Garten is enormous! We walked along the canals and then over to the Chinesischer turm, the park's famous beer garden. To our complete surprise and delight, there was a Christmas market! You cannot imagine the level I excitement I was feeling having sadly had what I thought was my last cup of Gluhwein the day before. Roughly half the stalls were closed. The remaining stalls were selling Gluhwein, crepes, waffles and, of course, sausages. I grabbed a waffle slathered in Nutella - a perfect afternoon snack. In the center of the beer garden was a carousel for kids and horse drawn carriage rides were departing every few minutes.
With a couple hours till dinner we walked back to our hotel. I could not think of a better way to spend Christmas day in Munich!
Haus der Kunst