Even if you are aiming for a more exotic vacation elsewhere in Dubai or the Maldives, chances are that you might go through Munich; with Aeroplan’s stopover options, why not take full advantage by extending your trip by a few days and eat delicious and comforting schnitzel?
Also, Munich is a prime location to experience Christmas Markets because of its hub status, and a quick December getaway can be all you need to end the year on a good note.
Munich - Highlights & Things to do
Munich - Christmas Markets
Munich is probably one of the most accessible places to experience winter wonderland festivities in Germany, as it will likely be your entry point in the land of Christmas Markets.
There are many Christmas Markets in Munich (there’s even one at the airport!), and they are the main event in December; some open as early as mid-November and close around Christmas Eve.
- Munich Christkindlmarkt in Marienplatz Square
- Viktualienmarkt (food market)
- “Eiszauber” at the Karlsplatz-Stachus
- Christmas Village in the Kaiserhof of the Residenz
- Christkindlmarkt at Sendlinger Tor
- Munich Feuerzangenbowle
- Olympiapark (Olympic Park)
- Munich Airport
The main one, the Munich Christkindlmarkt, is located in the heart of the city in Marienplatz Square. This traditional Christmas Market is considered the original Munich Christmas Market; in the background, you can see the beautiful neo-Gothic town hall and hundreds of stalls blooming with Bavarian charm.
You can find something for everyone in the shops if you need to go through your Christmas gift lists in Munich, from crafts to unique ornaments. But hanging out with a glass of mulled wine or beer and a plate of currywurst or schnitzel with your family or friends is, by far, the best of a Christmas Market in Munich experience; combining Munich’s rich and flavourful food with thousands of twinkling lights makes me want to go back in a heartbeat!
Munich - Oktoberfest
Munich welcomes more than 6 million visitors to its annual beer festival or Oktoberfest. Contrary to what you may expect, this event is not held in October but in the last two weeks of September.
Munich comes very much alive during this time of the year with the traditional costumes, the shows, the music and, of course, all the beer!
The best way to get into an Oktoberfest tent in Munich is to make a reservation, but that can be quite hard for a tourist to do. Furthermore, the most popular ones are booked a year in advance so you will most likely have to rely on arriving there early and lining up.
Munich - Hofbräuhaus
What struck me most in Munich was the cuisine, beer and festive ambiance you can experience; my favourite place was Hofbräuhaus, a legendary brewery dating back to the 16th century.
Whether you’re here for Oktoberfest or any other night, you’ll have a fantastic time, and the food is more than satisfying. I loved the schnitzel here.
Another great Bavarian dish to try is the Pork Knuckles. This is highly flavourful after being marinated for days and slowly cooked.
Munich - Neuschwanstein Castle
Located about 120 km from Munich, this day trip is insanely popular when visiting the city. While Bavaria is booming with fairytale-like châteaux, the most famous one is Neuschwanstein Castle which inspired the ’’Disney Castle ‘.
The palace is perched above beautiful surroundings of mountains, waterfalls, trails, etc.
We didn’t tour the interior, but we were blown away by the grounds; we spent most of our day trip hiking in the area while admiring Neuschwanstein and the autumn foliage. The iconic view of the castle is from Marienbrucke Bridge, however, there are better and more intimate panoramas if you continue on the short trails further off the bridge.
To get here from Munich, you must travel to the town of Fussen; there is a direct train from Munich’s central station (Munich Hauptbahnhof), which takes about 2 hours. The vistas as you pass through the Bavarian Alps are stellar. You can save on the 2.5% foreign exchange fees and get the best rate by paying with your HSBC World Elite Mastercard.
Once in Fussen, you will have to embark on a bus to Neuschwanstein; follow the hoard and you’ll be fine.
Munich - Eisbachwelle
Surfing on Munich’s Eisbach River is a really popular thing to do both for locals and for tourists. I wouldn’t recommend trying out this activity if you don’t have any surfing experience, but it’s nice to watch people conquer the waves!
Munich - National Theatre
Munich is well known for its museums, buildings and architecture; my favourite building is the Munich National Theatre which is the home of the Bavarian State Opera, the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Bavarian State Ballet.
Munich - Glockenspiel on Marienplatz
In Munich’s main square, Marienplatz, there is a historical cuckoo clock that tells the city’s story. The show is performed twice or thrice daily depending on the time of the year.
Munich - Flying with points
It is reasonably easy to travel to Munich with points as Lufthansa operates direct flights from Montreal and Air Canada link the Bavarian capital with Toronto; you will be able to experience castles and Christmas Markets whether it is for a short getaway or a more extended road trip through the German Alps.
To cross the Atlantic with Aeroplan, you should expect to pay about 35,000 points for a one-way flight to Munich from Montreal on Lufthansa. Business fares begin at 60,000 points if you can snag some seats with a Star Alliance partner airline.
To turn left on the plane, you should either be booking way in advance or during the 7–14 days window before departure because Lufthansa tends to release those award seats for their partners after members of their programs had their pick.
As with Air Canada, I found rates in the same range; dynamic pricing isn’t always bad and all Air Canada seats are always up for grabs, which can work in your favour.
The TD Aeroplan Visa® – Infinite Privilege* has an amazing sign-up bonus; you’ll have more than enough points for your flights to Munich! This round-trip ticket to Munich is priced at 70,000 points. If you are from Toronto, it is possible to drop the YUL-YYZ segment from your search and get similar results.
The great thing with Air Canada flights is that you can redeem eupgrades to fly in business class for fewer points. If you have a premium card such as the TD Aeroplan Visa® – Infinite Privilege*, you can even roll over up to 50 unused eupgrades credits annually!
That card also provides many exciting benefits to make your trip more pleasant.
You can get instant confirmation if there is R Space open, or may have to wait until an announcement is made at the gate.
Whether you aim to fly to Munich with Lufthansa or Air Canada, ExpertFlyer is your friend to either find availability or R Space.
Munich - Accommodation and points
With Marriott Bonvoy, there are various options available in Munich that will fit all kinds of budgets. For example, the Aloft Munich or the Courtyard Munich City Center are both located in the vicinity of Marienplatz in Munich, the heart of the city.
While I wouldn’t use points since the cash rate wouldn’t give me the best valuation for my points, certificates are a good option. At those properties, you can redeem your Marriott Bonvoy free night’s award and top it off with a bit of points.
Each of those hotels is an excellent use of the free night award certificate as nightly rates begin at €150 or $210 (and higher during Oktoberfest or Christmas Markets season) while you earn them at the cost of either $120 or $150 with the renewal of the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card and the Marriott Bonvoy® Business American Express®* Card.
So for a family or a couple, both adults could apply for the two cards and you’d rack up four annual free night’s awards you can redeem in Munich. If you do the math, a 4 nights stay in Munich would come to only $570 and a bit of points.
To get the most out of your Aeroplan points, you will, one day or another, resort to flying fixed-price partner Lufthansa through Munich either for a stopover or as a gateway to the mesmerizing Bavaria.