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Nymphenburg or Residenz in December

I am visiting Munich for a few days in early December. I mainly plan on visiting the Christmas markets, but I will be taking in many of the non-holiday sights as well. If I only pick one, which is better in December- the Residenz or Nymphenburg?

Rick Steve's guidebook recommends Residenz for the interiors but Nymphenburg for the gardens. I figure the gardens are a bit less grand in December. Frommer's gives the Residenz one star, but Nymphenburg gets three. Neither one makes Fodor's Choice list of sights. Several people on this message board have said that Nymphenburg is better, but their comments also referenced those gardens frequently. I also worry that I have seen enough palaces throughout Europe that I'm a bit jaded when it comes to gilded luxury.

Does anyone recommend one over the other during December, or should I stay at the Christmas market and enjoy more gluehwein?

Posted by
12040 posts

Christmas markets can get a bit monotonous if you don't know the people drinking Glühwein around you, so why not vary it up a little? I have not visited Nymphenburg, only driven by. As for the Residenz...after the 20th or so room, I found myself only spending a minute or so in each subsequent room. I enjoyed it, but I didn't have any new revelations. However, I found the adjacent Ludwig II museum fascinating. I thought I had a good understanding of just how weird the guy was before, but now I have an even greater appreciation. And I'm a little sad that he never go around to completing Neuschwanstein and the planned Burg Falkenstein at Pfronten.

Posted by
18022 posts

For me, the Residenz got tedious long before I escaped. Just too many same rooms in the gaudy Rococo style. But, other than the main hall, many of the buildings in Nymphenburg are out-buildings in the park and require some walking between them. If it were real cold, or raining or snowing, it would be a bit of a challenge. But, if conditions were right, my first choice would be Nymphenburg.

I particularly enjoyed the Amalienburg (hunting lodge). You enter through a back room lined with "arch-doored" cupboards. What do you think those were?

You can get to Nymphenburg on the #17 tram from the north side of the Hauptbahnhof (also Stachus and Sendlingertor).

Posted by
3108 posts

I visited both Nymphenburg and the Residenz a few weeks ago and would agree that the interiors at the Residenz offer more than Nymphenburg . I certainly appreciate that gilded luxury could wear thin ,but I personally love that sort of thing . Tom and Lee both make good points . I would have loved to see Amalienburg and some of the other outbuildings , but they closed for the winter on October 16 , something to bear in mind if you go out there . Tom's comment about the carriage collection is spot on . It was fascinating and gave further dimension to Ludwig's state of mind . Also in the same building , upstairs , is a magnificent collection of antique Nymphenburg porcelain . Particularly notable are the hand painted porcelain copies of some great Italian renaissance paintings ( Raphael , for example ) and the story behind them . As an alternative to the palaces , consider the Alte Pinakothek , one of the world's great art museums , and perhaps a wander through the Art Nouveau district in Schwabing .

Posted by
1307 posts

Count me among those that found the Residenz too much. I enjoyed some of it but tired of it long before we escaped. The treasury room (Schatzkammer) which is co-located (separate fee) was more to my taste and easily done in an hour.

In Munich there are several Christmas Markets. You might visit the Middle Ages Market (different sort of goods) in Wittelsbach Platz not far from the Residence. The Arts and craft market in Schwabing was nice and different as well. Schwabbing had Reggae Music rather that Christmas Carols when we visited. I liked the small community market in Haidhauser though the goods are just a smaller selection than the Christkindlemarkt in Marienplatz.

Posted by
16165 posts

I was at the Nymphenburg in late January, it was worth a one hour stop. If the Schloessgartenkanal is frozen, they play a game similar to curling in the area by the No 17 tram stop.

Posted by
18022 posts

According to the website for Nymphenburg, the Amalienburg is now closed from October 16 until March (It was open when I was there in January of 2002). That would probably affect my recommendation to go there, but I still would not do the Residenz instead. And I, personally, would not go to an art museum. However, the Deutsches Museum, near Isartor, is the German version of the Smithsonian and definitely worth the time. The aviation exhibit, with a WWI Triplane, a WWII Messerschmidt and jet fighter, and many other notable aircraft, is a must.

Posted by
102 posts

I would suggest doing the Christmas market on Marienplatz, touring the Residenz to warm up, and then crossing Odeonsplatz to have another Glühwein at the medieval Christmas market set up on Wittelsbacherplatz.

I would get the Gesamtkarte for the Residenz, the Schatzkammer, and the Cuvillés Theater as the latter two are really the best part.

If you feel you are jaded by other palaces, do some extra research about the Residenz before you go, and then hit the parts that interest you and skim the rooms that do not. It’s a huge building with a long history.

Nymphenburg park is beautiful in the summer but the tram stop is a little ways from the entrance, and as you and others have mentioned, many of the sites are spread out throughout the gardens which are cold and dead in the winter. I personally wouldn’t want to waste 40 minutes getting somewhere just to be freezing in a big empty park in December.

Posted by
784 posts

I love museums, but I had had enough of the Residenz after about 10 rooms. The exceptions were the shell grotto in the beginning and the tapestry rooms near the end. For something else wonderful in the spirit of Christmas, walk or take a taxi to the Bavarian National Museum, and see their Krippen (creche) exhibition. A beautiful collection of nativity scenes! Check their opening hours; they seem to close up shop a little early - maybe 5PM.

Posted by
102 posts

I would second the suggestion to see the Krippensammlung if you’re in town over the Christmas season. I believe it is the world's largest collection, open only a few weeks a year from November through January.

Posted by
11798 posts

It's funny how personal tastes differ - which is why you need to filter our thoughts through your own. I'd take the Alte art gallery over just about anything on a winter day in Munich. The Neue is also really nice, but the Moderne goes beyond me.