Over the Christmas season, Germany’s many towns and cities become veritable winter wonderlands, with Christmas markets popping up all across the country. From traditional Christkindlesmarkts selling ornaments, hand-crafted toys and hot mulled glühwein, to Scandinavian-style and Baroque markets selling quirky wares and tasty treats, there are enough German Christmas markets to match any mood. Many of them dating back centuries.
Take a train to one of Germany’s top Christmas market cities to tap into some traditional and charming seasonal cheer. Germany has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, making it the perfect winter destination. If you plan to explore three or more cities on your German Christmas market break, a German Rail Pass is the ideal travel companion. It allows extensive travel all over Germany for the number of travel days you purchase. And, with over 150 German Christmas Markets to choose from, it might very well be the best gift you give yourself this year.
Dating back to 1393, Frankfurt’s traditional Christmas market is one of Germany’s oldest and largest. From 25 November – 22 December 2019, visit the city’s historic Römerburg and Paulsplatz quarters for over 200 stalls selling artisanal German souvenirs, hand-crafted goods and an array of regional delicacies. Aside from the mulled wine and roasted nuts, don’t miss Frankfurt’s famous hot apple wine and Bethmännchen (almond and marzipan pastries).
The River Rhine’s most famous city, Cologne hosts a wide variety of Christmas markets from 25 November – 23 December. The largest, most traditional ones are held within the vicinity of the city’s famous gothic cathedral. Don’t miss climbing the cathedral’s south tower to get panoramic views of the twinkling city lights below. Harbour Christmas Market takes centre stage down by the river, with white sail-like tents and fish delicacies for sale. Cologne is also proud to host one of Germany’s gay Christmas markets, called Heavenue, in the pedestrian zone around Rudolfplatz, between 25 November – 23 December 2019.
With over 70 Christmas markets to choose from, Berlin is nothing short of a winter paradise. Visit the Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Roten Rathaus to see the city’s oldest Christmas market, known for its handcrafted wares. Or, just on the other side of Alexanderplatz is the the Wintertraum am Alexa market, a more modern market offering a wide variety of amusement rides, from rollercoaster to merry-go-rounds. For stunning views, don’t miss the Charlottenburg Christmas market, set against the backdrop of Charlottenburg Palace.
Bavaria’s second largest city, Nuremberg, hosts one of the world’s most famous annual Christmas markets in its central square, or Hauptmarkt. Dating back to 1628, the Nuremberg Christmas market becomes the beating heart of the city during the festive season, transforming it’s already stunning streets into a fairytale winter wonderland. From 29 November – 24 December 2019, load up on lebkuchen, grab some glühwein and enjoy one of Germany’s most beautiful Christmas markets.
There’s a reason the stalls in Stuttgart’s Christmas market are so lovingly and ornately decorated, as each year the city gives a prize to the best dressed stall. Aside from visiting the bauble-adorned rooftops in Stuttgart’s main Marktplatz from 27 November – 23 December, be sure to check out the city’s Finnish Christmas market where Glögi (mulled wine) and Flammlachs (fire-cooked salmon) are among its many delights. And, less than 10m away by train, Ludwigsberg’s Baroque market is full of family festive fun, from the daily marionnette shows and carousels for younger visitors, to the breathtaking beauty of its two twinkling baroque churches.
In Munich, capital of Bavaria, the ancient Marienplatz is transformed into a winter wonderland between 27 November – 24 December 2019. With hundreds of wooden stalls, many boasting traditional Bavarian goodies, combine this with a winter hiking trip into the Bavarian Forest National Park, or the Alps. Munich also has one of the oldest gay Christmas markets, known as “Pink Christmas,” in the heart of the city’s famous Glockenbachviertel district.
Image credits top to bottom: Christmas market in Nuremberg. Copyright: Cowin, Andrew. Photo courtesy of: Deutsche Zentrale für Tourismus e.V., Mulled wine iStock ©DiyanaDimitrova, Christmas market in Berlin iStock ©anyaivanova, Christmas decorations iStock ©romrodinka