Christmas markets – Every city in Bavaria has a Christmas market, with the larger cities having the most famous, but also the most commercial markets. If, like most of my customers (I’m a tour guide), you want to find a more authentic feel, the key is simply to go to a smaller town. These are the Christmas markets you’re really after:
Augsburg – The oldest Christmas market in the region is my personal favorite. As it is the oldest city in Bavaria there is plenty in the city to see even without the Christmas market, though the market itself makes the city a highlight. The main market is directly in front of the Rathaus, but it extends throughout the entire pedestrian area which is the center of the city. At 6pm each night (and 7pm on December 23rd) there is a special performance held at the Rathaus where 24 “angels” appear on the window sills of the Rathaus and perform music. To get to Augsburg either take a day trip tour or go alone on any of the trains that run every half hour from Munich and run until just after midnight.
Landshut – Just like with Augsburg, this city has plenty to see for any tourist even without the Christmas market, but during this particular time of year the market pushes Landshut to be on the top of the list of day trips from Munich. The market is held in front of the Rathaus and along the pedestrian street in the old town. There are no tours to Landshut from Munich, but all regional trains in the direction of Regensburg stop at Landshut and the last train back is around midnight.
Würzburg – Not doable as a day trip from Munich, but still one of the best Christmas markets in the region, Wurzburg is a city with a beautiful castle as well as a beautiful downtown area. Right in the old central marketplace today they have their Christmas market. This might be a great alternative to the tiny (but yet extremely commercial-touristy) Rothenburg ob der Tauber market.
Another alternative is, within Munich, to go to the more local suburban Christmas markets like my personal favorite in Munich, the Haidhausen Christmas market. It is easy to find, just take any S-bahn to Rosenheimer strasse.
Christmas markets to stay away from unless you enjoy absolutely massive crowds and commercialism would be Salzburg, Nuremberg, and Regensburg. If you absolutely must visit these massive markets I would strongly advise to stay away from the weekends and maybe visit earlier in the day.