The Best German Christmas Markets – Germany in Winter
German Christmas Markets are magical. I don’t know if it is the sweet smells of Glühwein and sugar-coated roast almonds, the delicious Bratwurst in a bun or the sparkling lights and festive decorations that have mesmerized me since childhood. Growing up in Germany, Christmas Markets are part of my earliest Childhood memories. As my birthday is at the end of November, my sister’s gift to me each year was a trip to the local Christmas market in Würzburg and always was one of my favorite days spent with my big sister.
During the Holidays, Germany reveals its most magical side. More than 2,500 German Christmas markets invite you to share in the joy of the Christmas season and enter into Germany’s festive spirit. If you want to enjoy these enchanting markets, you will need to plan ahead. In October and even sooner, tour companies roll out their Winter Escorted Tour brochures and online offerings. December is a pretty popular month for tourists in Germany, so make sure you book your hotels ahead of time.
If you are visiting Germany in Winter, there are many options for you to visit German Christmas Markets (or two) during your trip. Pretty much every town has at least a small Christmas market and since I have not visited them all, I reached out to my travel blogging friends about their recommendations for a list of the best German Christmas Markets and the dates they are open, so you can plan accordingly.
Germany is a popular winter destination, so if you want to experience it this year, make your reservations soon. For the best flight deals, I recommend using Skyscanner. It is my favorite flight search engine and I’ve regularly found flights from the US in high season to Germany for below $750 RT.
The Best German Christmas Markets in Southern Germany
Dean from La Vida Global Favorite German Christmas Market: Rothenburg ob der Tauber November 30 – December 23, 2018
Inka from Glamour Granny Travels Favorite German Christmas Market: Prien am Chiemsee Every Advent weekend Friday through Sunday from 1 PM to 8 PM
If you don’t fancy pushing through the crowds of the big city Christmas Markets, you want to go rural. Just about an hour’s drive from Munich, you come to idyllic Prien am Chiemsee where you can experience a Christkindl Market in the best sense of the word. No more than 20 stalls offer homemade food, drink and hand carved, little wooden masterpieces which make original and beautiful presents, to yourself or your friends and family.
No tourists, just the locals and you. You make friends in no time as everybody talks to everybody else, helped along by generous glasses of mulled wine and the potent local herb liquor. Neutralize all that booze with a Dampfnudel, a big, hot, sweet blob of dough, cooked and covered with vanilla and chocolate sauce plus whipped cream!
Watch the wood carvers make angels and other trinkets, try on a pair of sheepskin slippers or a hand knit sweater or sample the many local kinds of cheeses. For kids, there is even a small old fashioned merry go round, although I’ve seen adults riding around too just for the fun of it.
You’ll leave happy, loaded down with unique purchases and an insight into rural life in the South of Bavaria.
Heidelberg: November 26, 2018 – December 22, 2018
Heidelberg’s Christmas market is a charming mix of tradition and romance. Seven squares around the old quarter feature a number of stalls and the traditional Christmas pyramid. There are sheep and donkeys, traditional food and drink from the region, gift ideas, and entertainment. Enjoy “Christmas on Ice” at one of Germany’s loveliest ice rinks with great views of the festively lit castle.
Munich’s traditional Christmas market – whose roots go back to the 14th century – is held on Marienplatz square in the heart of the city center. The Kripperlmarkt, one of Germany’s largest markets specializing in Nativity scenes, is on nearby Rindermarkt. Every day there is live Alpine Christmas music from the town hall balcony. “Heaven’s workshop” offers creative activities for children free of charge.
Nuremberg: November 30, 2018 – December 24, 2018
The Christmas Angel opens Nuremberg’s ever-popular Christkindlesmarkt on Hauptmarkt square. Enjoy the medieval atmosphere and delicious aromas of gingerbread, bratwurst, roasted almonds and glühwein. The children’s market has a traditional carousel, Ferris wheel, and steam train. Between the two markets is the Nativity trail, taking visitors on a tour of the city’s many Nativity scenes.
Stuttgart: November 28, 2018 – December 23, 2018
With more than 270 charmingly decorated stalls, Stuttgart’s popular Christmas market is one of the oldest, largest and most attractive in Europe. Beautifully presented stalls adorned with angels, reindeer, Father Christmases, fir garlands and Christmas baubles are illuminated in a festive glow, transforming the city center into a glittering Christmas wonderland. The backdrop of the Old Castle, the collegiate church and the baroque grounds of the New Palace adds to the medieval feel.
The Best German Christmas Markets in Western Germany
Alexa from 52 Perfect Days Favorite German Christmas Market: Breisach Dates not confirmed yet
Breisach is located in on the Rhine River in one the warmest parts of Germany and is the gateway to the Black Forest region. The most prominent landmark in the town is the Romanesque-Gothic St. Stephens Cathedral. It was built in the 12th century and it’s two towers can be seen throughout the city.
Breisach is a small town and the Christmas market reflects this. What makes this market special is the small town element. The market consists of perhaps a dozen stalls with plenty of warm, friendly holiday spirit.
Waffeln is a market specialty. It’s difficult to resist the sweet smell of waffles permeating the air as you stroll down the cobblestone streets. Topped or stuffed with a range of ingredients (including cinnamon, Nutella, marzipan) or simply dusted with sugar, they are a must at the Breisach Christmas market. Pair a Waffeln with a steaming cup of Glühwein (mulled wine) and you’ll find your Christmas cheer!
Alison from Green With Renvy Favorite German Christmas Market: Cologne November 26 – December 23, 2018
Aboard a Viking River Cruise, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit 5 of Germany’s Christmas markets while having the luxury of only unpacking once! Located on a cobbled, pedestrian-only shopping area, Cologne’s event sets the bar high with quality artists and delicious food. Set at the base of the cities magnificent 14th-century cathedral, a Unesco World Heritage Site, the market gives off a magical glow when visiting at night.
The area consists of multiple, beautifully decorated stalls selling a wide variety of artisan foods, ornaments, and crafts. Many of the vendors are in costume and revel in bringing out their characters’ personality. Interspersed are stops for the infamous Glühwein, a mulled wine that warms and puts everyone in a celebratory mood. There’s a bit of a competition among travelers to collect the decorated cups in each city they visit. Traditional music fills a stage, visitors sing along and one can’t help but be swept up in the spirit of the season.
Cacinda from PointsandTravel Favorite German Christmas Market: Koblenz, Germany November 23 – December 22, 2018
Koblenz is a cute German town along the Rhine River at the junction where it intersects with the Mosel River. It is a small town with a quaint Christmas Market that typically is NOT too crowded, which is a plus, even though it is one of the largest markets in the Rhineland-Palatinate wine-growing region. It is near the old church in old town, but it is not overpowered by a massive cathedral, but instead, it blends right into the streets of the village.
Koblenz provides the perfect backdrop for the Christmas Markets and includes all the typical Christmas market offerings: Glühwein, bratwurst, and Christmas goodies. It should also be noted that it is within a special wine-growing region of Germany as well as in German castle country. Be sure and take the time to visit some of the surrounding castles, the Cochem and Stolzenfels Castles, while you are in the region.
Düsseldorf: November 22, 2018 – December 30, 2018 (Closed on Sundays!)
Düsseldorf’s beautifully illuminated Christmas Market is a perfect lead-in to the holiday season. You’ll find exclusive, Christmas markets in several locations. There’s the Art Nouveau-style ‘little angel’ market in Heinrich-Heine-Strasse. Alternatively, you can browse the traditional stalls in front of the historical town hall, where a local craftsman carves Nativity figures from olive wood.
Gloria from Nomadic Chica Favorite German Christmas Market: Karlsruhe November 27 – December 23, 2018
Karlsruhe is not the most visited city in Germany but it’s definitely worth a visit to the city and the whole Baden- Württemberg area. With the Black Forest and the Palatinate hills in the surroundings and very beautiful villages and castles to visit.
Visiting Karlsruhe during Christmas season is a great idea, especially for me, growing up in Chile where Christmas is in mid-Summer! The city hosts two Christmas Markets: One in the city center at Friedrichsplatz and other in the Durlach district.
This last one is definitely my favorite, as it hosts a Middle Age market! The Durlach market brings back to life the medieval life with campfires, candlelight, jugglers, musicians, storytellers, crossbow shooting, mouse roulette, a carousel, and medieval swordsmen sharing information about sword fighting in the Middle Ages.
The most unique and fun thing about the Market in Friedrichsplatz is the “Flying Santa Claus”, who soars with his sleigh every evening over the beautifully decorated stalls and crowds!
The Markets in Karlsruhe, as most of the markets in the country, offer a mixture of commercial products and local handmade goods.
The food is the main reason why I go to the markets and the kings are Sausages –Bratwurst!-, Schupfnudeln with Sauerkraut (potato pasta with cabbage), Flammkuchen, Kartoffelpuffer, Langos, waffles, crêpes, roasted almonds and other nuts and the delicious Lebkuchen.
The most popular drinks at the markets are Beer and Glühwein are the protagonists of the markets, but you’ll find more options like Feuerzangenbowle (mulled wine punch with rum and more sugar), Met (honey hot wine) and some nonalcoholic as hot chocolate or hot fruit punches.
Lotte from Phenomenal Globe Favorite German Christmas Market: Frankfurt November 26 – December 22, 2018
Even though I live in the Netherlands and Germany is only a 1-hour drive I had never visited a Christmas market until last year… I know, shocking! After all, who doesn’t like twinkly lights and Glühwein? But last year the moment was finally there, I went to the Christmas market in Frankfurt! Friends of mine have been living in the city for years and they were happy to show us around.
Frankfurt’s Christmas market, one of the oldest (1393) and prettiest in Germany, attracts more than three million visitors every year from all over the world. On Romerberg square, Paulsplatz, and Mainkai quay, 200 stalls offer arts and crafts and festive food and drink. A varied program features Advent concerts, trumpet-playing from the balcony of St. Nicholas’s Church and the carillon on the 30-meter-tall Christmas tree.
Turns out, Christmas markets are fun! The Christmas market in Frankfurt is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany, there were so many stalls… Some were selling typical Christmas market foods like bratwurst (I tried the Feuerwurst and currywurst) or Bratkartoffeln.
Others were selling drinks and obviously I had to drink a cup (yes, a cup, not a glass) of gluhwein. But my favorite drink at the Frankfurt Christmas market was Feuerzangenbowle. Not just an interesting name, a very interesting drink….
Feurerzangenbowle is a traditional German alcoholic drink, made with mulled wine and ingredients like cinnamon and star anise. But the most important ingredient is a few drops of rum dripping from a burning rum-soaked sugarloaf.
Baden Baden: November 29, 2018 – January 6, 2019
One of the region’s largest and most beautiful Christmas markets, Baden-Baden’s enchanting Christkindelsmarkt is held in the famous Lichtentaler Allee park, against the backdrop of the spa assembly rooms which are lit up by thousands of candles and lanterns. In November, the Christmas Angel arrives by carriage at the sky stage and on 6 December at 5 pm, St. Nicholas drops in by hot-air balloon to hand out small gifts to the children.
The Best German Christmas Markets in Northern Germany
Sofie from Wonderful Wanderings Favorite German Christmas Market: Münster
November 26 – December 23, 2018
Münster has not one, but five different Christmas markets spread out over the center of the city. They all have food and drink stands as well as stands selling Christmas decorations, winter-inspired presents and crafts, though some markets focus more on one thing than on the other.
What’s special about the Münster Christmas markets is that when you buy a drink there, you get it served in a beautifully designed stone mug. You pay a little extra for the money and for that money, you get to keep it when it’s empty. If you prefer money over the mug, you just bring it back to the stand and they’ll refund you the cost of the mug.
Hamburg: November 22, 2018 – December 23, 2018
Hamburg is renowned for its wonderful Christmas markets, which are staged in many of the city center’s squares. Located opposite the impressive town hall, the prettiest of these was established by Roncalli’s Circus. It has nostalgic carousels and stalls laden with confectionery, toys, and crafts. A visit to Hamburg’s Christmas market is something you’ll never forget.
Hannover: November 29, 2018 – December 22, 2018
Hanover’s three markets will get you into the Christmas spirit. Set in the historical old quarter around the Market Church, the traditional Christmas market has 150 stalls for shopping and eating. In the historical Christmas village, step back in time to a medieval world where glassblowing, pottery, and candlemaking still flourish. The Finnish Christmas village on Ballhofplatz, with its cultural specialties, offers a different perspective.
The Best German Christmas Markets in Eastern Germany
Chris from A Brit & A Southerner Favorite German Christmas Market: Berlin Dates depend on each Christmas Market, please check this website (use Google Translate) for more information about Christmas Markets in Berlin.
Germany is blessed to have a number of iconic locations that have amazing Christmas markets but we would argue that none of them quite match the experiences you can enjoy in the capital city of Berlin. For those of you looking to sample a stereotypical local German brew or perhaps find a handcrafted souvenir, Berlin’s plethora of Christmas markets will surely spark your interests.
The Alexanderplatz district of Berlin is the perfect area to enjoy an authentic German Christmas market. The Berliner Weihnachtszeit is an iconic location that hosts an annual market and if you are intrigued by the thought of sampling a glass of festive Glühwein or perhaps test your skills with locals on the skating rink, this is undoubtedly the place to start.
WeinachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt is another location in Berlin that is popular among visitors looking for the authentic Christmas experience. With a myriad of iconic architecture surrounding these markets, Berlin is perhaps the finest example of a European city that embraces the festive spirit.
Regardless of where you choose to stay in Berlin, you will likely only be a short distance from a market where you can celebrate the Christmas season with both visitors and locals alike.
Dave from Travel Dave Favorite German Christmas Market: Goslar
November 28 – December 30, 2018
The city of Goslar comes to life when it finally comes around to Christmas time. This traditional mining town transforms it’s town square into a stunning Christmas market worth visiting. Don’t expect anything big either this is a more cozy smaller affair which will still surprise you with its charm.
The enchanted forest is unique to Goslar, where you will enter a created forest space which is surrounded by Christmas trees with small wooden cabins serving up hot mulled wine. Be sure to also try the rum punch which is a local favorite. Don’t miss the climb to the top of the church tower to get a stunning overview of the Christmas market at night time, just make sure you time your visit well to avoid the loud bell chime. Goslar Christmas market is perfect for those looking for a smaller personal German Christmas market.
Leipzig: November 27, 2018 – December 23, 2018
Leipzig’s Christmas market dates back to 1767 and is held on the market square against the backdrop of the old town hall. Annual attractions include a fairytale forest for kids, the “old Leipzig” medieval market, and the “Bethlehem Bazaar”. You can also watch the Erzgebirge miners’ parade, an old-established tradition in the region. Enjoy the delightful trumpeters, festive concerts by the renowned St. Thomas’s choir and performances of Bach’s Christmas oratorios in the city’s churches.
Corinne from Reflections Enroute Favorite German Christmas Market: Dresden
November 28 – December 24, 2018
Established in 1434, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. Its name comes from Hefestriezel, renowned as the original Dresden Christstollen. Every year on the 3rd Saturday before Christmas a Stollen festival and grand festival parade are held in its honor. Traditional hand-crafted goods from Dresden and the surrounding region include pyramids, incense burners, decorative arches, pottery and hanging stars.
One of the most unique Christmas markets is held in the former East Germany city of Dresden. Every year the city recreates a famous military event from 1730 where an 1,800 pound Christmas stollen was served to 24,000 people.
The Dresdener stollen has been one of the best in Germany for hundreds of years because they were one of the first places that were able to use butter instead of oil in the batter. Adding macerated fruits to the buttery dough, then topping it off with some powdered sugar, makes one of the most memorable Christmas goodies you can try. For the parade, the chosen bakery makes the largest Stollen in the world and parades it through the city until they reach the Striezelfest where they sell pieces of it for charity. Don’t miss this unique Christmas tradition while sampling all the traditional treats and handmade items found in the Dresden Christmas Market.
German Christmas Markets Tips
German Christmas Markets are really something special and might turn the biggest Grinch into a Christmas Season lover. If you are planning a trip to Germany to visit some of the spectacular German Christmas markets, here are some tips:
- Book early: Book flights about 2 months in advance and reserve Hotels about 1-2 months in advance as this is a busy season in Germany.
- Check the dates for the Christmas Markets you want to visit. Most are open from 1st Advent Sunday until December 23rd.
- Go easy on the Glühwein and Feuerzangenbowle. It doesn’t taste like it has much alcohol, but it can get you drunk pretty quickly. Oh and of course: Don’t drink and drive, rather get a hotel nearby or take a Taxi.
- Dress warmly! A nice winter coat, long johns, and winter boots will keep you warm for hours. And if you forgot your hat, mittens, or scarf, you can find beautiful ones at the markets and they make a great souvenir for back home.
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