The best time to visit Munich

A list of pros and cons for each season of the year and ranking them by crowds & price levels

I love my hometown but there is no denying that it can be crowded at times. With the many festivals and trade fairs that are held in Bavaria’s capital each year, it can also be quite pricey to visit. And let’s not forget the fickle German weather. So, what’s the best time to visit Munich?

Generally speaking, there are so many things to do in Munich itself and there are so many beautiful day trips and UNESCO World Heritage sites in the vicinity that Germany’s second-biggest city is worth a trip all year round. Even on a rainy day, you could visit one of the 60 (!!) museums or have the time of your life in one of the many beer halls.

Still, here are my thoughts:

#1 Munich in September

The Oktoberfest in Munich, crowds walking along the road of the folk festival
View along the main street of Oktoberfest

If you ask me, I’d recommend visiting Munich in the second half of September. That’s when the annual Oktoberfest will take place. While it may be called “October festival”, the locals soon realized that the weather can often be quite cold and wet in October. That’s why they moved it to September when the weather is typically a lot more favorable.

So even if you don’t care about attending the biggest folk festival in the world, September would still be a great choice. The heat and the summer vacation crowds have long left the city, the days are still long enough, and price levels are a bit lower in the first half of September.

In the two immediate weeks of Oktoberfest, however, the prices will typically triple and availability will be very low. This will definitely not be the budget option. The city will also be at its most crowded – mostly because local day tourists are drawn in by the allure of fresh artisan beer, yummy food, and some of the biggest party tents in the world.

#2 Munich in December

The Christmas market on Marienplatz in Munich, Germany
The famous Christmas market at Marienplatz

Another very special time to visit Munich is December. The whole inner city will be transformed into one big Christmas market. In the pedestrian area alone, you will find 5 markets, and there are more in the district and parks beyond.

The christmas market inside the residence palace in munich december

Ever since the change of the climate, you shouldn’t expect to visit a dreamy winter wonderland. While it can certainly happen, it has been very rare in recent years. It’s also less cold. Gone are the days when you hugged your mug of mulled wine trying to figure out if you could still sense your feet.

#3 Visiting in July-August

The Chinese Tower beer garden in the heart of the Englische Garten
The beer garden at the Chinese Tower

Another tourists favorite are the summer months. Many use their European summer vacations to make a stop in Munich. The city will be packed with tourist groups and often very hot. Air-conditioning is still not commonplace in Germany (mainly because even 10 years ago there was barely a handful of days where you even remotely needed it).

The old part of the Lenbachhaus Museum in Munich
The historic Lenbachhaus museum

So, personally, I’d actually say it’s possibly the worst time of the year to visit. Munich is a city where you have to walk around da lot to see the highlights. There are also a lot of world-class museums, or day trips (like to Castle Neuschwanstein) where you need to hike. And all that does not go well together with temperatures above 30°C/86°F and little to no air-con.

locals bathing in the sun at englischer garten in Munich during summer time
Locals bathing in the sun in the middle of Englisher Garten

Of course, the weather will often be brilliant and it is the best time to visit one of the hundreds of beer gardens within the city. So there’s certainly that as well. And you probably have to think of the rest of your itinerary through Germany/Europe.

#4 April – Beginning of May

bayerischer landtag munich in summer - full panorama

If you ask me, the probably best time to visit Munich is possibly the end of April or the first half of May. That’s when the annual Frühlingsfest (spring festival) will take place. It’s the little sister of the Oktoberfest and is mainly popular with the locals only (please check dates online before you book!). There’s also the Auer Dult, and the Starkbierfest.

Botanical Garden in Munich in Spring
The botanical garden in Spring

Typically, the weather holds up pretty well. If you look at a climate diagram for Munich, you’ll see that there are more rainy days from June to August than in the colder months.

Prices for hotels will, typically, be a bit lower and the city will not be as crowded, yet.

#5 October – November

Panorama of Munich in Autumn very early in the morning

Fall can be a spectacular time of the year for your trip to Munich. My hometown is a super green city and there are just so many beautiful spots to observe the fall foilage. It can be truly stunning. I say “can” because the weather can be incredibly unpredictable. It could still be warm enough to go bathing on October 3rd (a national holiday and the last day of Octoberfest) and there could be a snowstorm two weeks later.

english garden munich in autumn

Also, fall typically isn’t a big thing in Bavaria. The beautiful pictures might be a bit deceiving because these beautiful red maple leaves typically last 3 days, then rain or a storm blows them away, and it’s winter. As a local, I typically watch the weather forecast quite precisely and then can time my outings to shoot these dreamy fall colors. As a tourist, you are typically quite a bit more dependent on your itinerary, and there is a high chance you will be disappointed.

#6 January – March

The hofgarten in Munich in Winter with the Theatinerkirche in the background
The beautiful Hofgarten in Winter

If you ask me, the only reason for visiting Munich in winter is the snow high up in the mountains. So, if you like skiing and plan a ski trip to Europe, then Bavaria’s capital can be a fun starting point. It’s possibly the closest big international airport to the Alps and well connected by train to all the winter hotspots, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. Given how many museums and indoor activities there are, your time in Munich will always feel too short.

The chuch of our lady in Munich in WInter from above
The beautiful Church of Our Lady (Marienkirche)

That being said, the weather can often be a bit mixed in the city itself. It’s not so much the rain or snow (that’s actually rather rare). No, you’ll often face weeks with overcast sky that just feel plain miserable while the temperatures are typically quite low (typically around the freezing point). And if you ask me, that’s not a good combination

On the plus side, prices are often lower (or let’s say at their normal high) and there are very few other tourist groups around.

Seasonal factors to consider

Nymphenburg palace in winter
Nymphenburg palace in winter – the statues are all covered up

Munich is a city that will transform in the winter months. For example, the famous beer gardens will typically only open in the middle of May (they might be open before if the weather allows but maybe only on weekends). Public open-air baths will typically also not open before that date and will close in the middle of September.

A lot of the public fountains are turned off in October and important statues will be enshrined in wooden casings to protect them from frost damage. So, if you visit the famous Nymphenburg castle on the outskirts of Munich, the view will be quite different compared to the summer.

Another thing to consider is the daylight. In Winter, particularly in December and January, your days will be quite short. Sunset will be as early as 4:30 pm. Given how popular walking tours are, this will limit your exploration time dramatically (setting aside that it can be very cold and a lot of tourists from warmer climates will not be used to it).

Important: Check for trade fairs

Munich is the most affluent region in Germany and actually one of the most affluent regions on this planet. There are very large and frequent trade fairs every year. The famous Bauma comes to mind but also Analytcia or automatic. These are THE leading trade fairs in this particular industry in the world and almost all (good) hotels will be booked out when they happen months and months in advance.

Now you might go: “Well, Norman, what do I care about some trade fair as a tourist?” Well, you definitely should!

For example, during the next Bauma (April 7th to 13th 2025), you can expect hotel prices to triple or quadruple and if you don’t book them now, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to find anything at all. Train tickets will be hard to come by and airfare will also be booked out and very expensive. Some of these trade fairs are so big that the city literally swells by hundreds of thousands of people. (Bauma 2022 hat 495.000 visitors).

On the plus side, you can also look at the festival calender. With Tollwood, Frühlingsfest, Oktoberfest, Opera Festival, etc, there are many spectacular events throughout the year (basically there is something big every month). So, as I said in the beginning, it typically doesn’t matter. And as we locals like to complain: Munich is expensive all year round as well. There are just times when it’s even more expensive, lol!

Important: Weekends are always busy

The königsplatz in munich
The Propyläen on Königsplatz square

There is one last thing you definitely should consider: Munich is always twice as crowded during the weekends. That’s because many tourists from the neighboring countries (in particular Italy) but also from other regions in Germany use those free days to explore the city. On top of that and because of the extremely high rents, a lot of locals live on the outskirts (literally one hour away). They, too, use the weekends to go shopping and sightseeing in the city center.

So, whenever possible, I’d try to move your stay in Munich closer to the middle of the week. Just be careful: a lot of museums (and palaces) are closed on Mondays.

Anyway, that’s the best time to visit Munich in my opinion. Comment below with your questions.

best time to visit munich by season

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