by Janis on 14th December 2021 / 0 comments

And how to pick the best German Christmas Market for you

We think we're becoming a little obsessed with Christmas markets; we've been travelling to Germany for around 15 years to soak up the fun of the German Christmas markets. We love them, and we hope we can inspire you to give them a try if you haven't already.

One of the things we love about visiting the different regions of Germany is that they all have their own unique delicacies.

It's great fun standing in the bustling market juggling your aromatic Gluhwein, the local spicy Bratwurst or Lebkuchen.

We understand that it's not always convenient or practical for everyone, but, we have found that the best way to visit these markets is on a road trip. That way you can stuff your boot/trunk full of as many of those German treats as you like, and we do.

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We've written a post 'Your first German Christmas Market by car', aimed at those heading from Calais onto Germany. I have to be honest I find it really easy (much easier than covering the same distance in the UK).
The Aachener Printen gingerbread stall in Cologne. It's stacked his with all the different styles of gingerbread biscuits. The lady behind the counter is handing Janis back her change after we've bought another bag load.
Aachener Printen for sale at the Dom Christmas Market in Cologne
Also, if you can stay for the evening all the better, it's when the markets twinkle, and they really seem to come to life.

Our Tip

It sounds obvious but dress warm and comfortable, especially make sure you have comfy shoes.
A collection of huts on the edge of one of Munich's Christmas markets as it drizzles and the pavement glistens.
Stalls in Kripperlmarkt, Munich
Now, honestly, we have listed these locations in alphabetical order, we're not biased.

Our top 12 Christmas Markets

We'll be discovering the following;
You can click on the link to jump to the section, and to return, just click on the title.
Aachen is perfect for a Christmas market mini-break, especially if it is your first experience discovering a Christmas market in Germany. If you're visiting from the UK, not only is it a reasonably short hop from Calais if you're on a road trip, but it is only around 3 hours 35 minutes on the Eurostar from London, with a seamless change in Brussels.
At dusk, stalls lit up in Aachen's Christmas Market in front of the Cathedral.
Aachen's Christmas Market, Aachen Christmas Markets, Germany

Aachen has one primary market in the ancient Old Town, the WeihnachtsMarkt, which is incredible.

The Yuletide huts weave their way all around the stunning Aachen Cathedral, built by the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, and then snake around the base of the beautiful 14th-century Rathaus.

Highlights

- Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt
- Visiting Aachen Cathedral
- A Magical Winter guided tour
- Aachen Rathaus tour
- Aachener Printen
- Easy to walk between all the markets

A traditional carousel in Aachen's Christmas market with the Gothic Rathaus in the background at dusk
The carousel in front of the Rathaus, Aachen Christmas Markets,

 As you stroll amongst the twinkling wooden cabins in Aachen, you're swept along on a magical wave of sweet gingerbread known in Aachen as Aachener Printen and the spicy aromatic flavour of glühwein.

There are some delightful and unique gifts to be found throughout the festive stalls in Aachen, and many are locally made.

A stall full of model building gifts on Aachen's Christmas Markets
Stall full of traditional German dwellings
Allow time to visit the magnificent Aachen Dom as it will take your breath away when you step through the ancient wooden doors.
History, style and some very nice Christmas Markets.  To be honest they are spread around Berlin, so you best get familiar with the cities public transport system, but it's quick, relatively cheap and easy.
The Christmas Tree in front of the illuminated Brandenburg Gate at dusk.
The tree in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

I think we found we liked the Berliner Weinachtszeit market next to the Rotes Rathaus the best, and it's only a short walk to the one at Alexanderplatz.

As always a great selection of food & drink available on the Market.

Highlights

- Gendarmenmarkt & Rotes Rathaus
- History everywhere
- Brauhaus Georgbraeu - great beers

A skater on the ice rink around the Neptune fountain in Berlin, with the giant Ferris wheel in the background.
The ice rink in front of the Ferris Wheel at Berliner Weinachtszeit

The added bonus is there's so much more to see and do in Berlin.

There's the Berliner Fernsehturm, that iconic '60's viewing platform, the Berlin wall memorial, The Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstag Building and the Currywurst Museum.

You may want to consider the EasyCityPass Berlin which offers discounts on attractions and transport

If you've yet to discover Berlin's incredible history, then let’s start planning. I find these DK Travel Guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

DK Berlin cover
We loved Bremen and thought it would make a great introduction for the first timer.  There's two main market area's but the whole of the old town really comes to life.
The illuminated Rathaus in Bremen after the sun has gone down.
The Rathaus in Marktplatz, Bremen
The town's website indicates there are around 160-170 stalls here, but they're spread out so it's never too claustrophobic.
A group of people in front of a small, brightly lit, children's Ferris wheel.
The little Ferris-wheel

Then there's the river market which is just 3 or 4 minutes from the old town.

Strictly speaking, there are two markets here the Winter & Maritime, but they join in the middle.

The markets are great and do have two distinct feels - there are fewer pirates in the Winter Market.

Highlights

- The size - plenty to see and do for a weekend, but all within easy walking distance of the oldtown.
- The Schnoor district
- Glockenspiel House
- Schmalzuchen - sorta mini doughnuts.

People perusing a stall at Hamburg's maritime market.
Always something to buy

However, visiting a town or city is more than just the markets, and Bremen has that covered.

You have to take a stroll around the Schnoor district (again, it adjoins the old town, so no big walks here), and don't miss Glockenspiel house either, check the timings of the peel of the bells.

If you're interested you can pick up a guided tour of the city centre in English.

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We would highly recommend Cologne for various reasons, firstly, is that it has so many markets, seven we believe.

The first time you walk into the Dom (cathedral) market it is magical. The towering sparkling Christmas tree stands as the centrepiece, all its twinkling lights draped across the red huts, almost acts as a warm blanket hovering above you.

Looking up at the lit Dom Cathedral at night with the Christmas tree and its blanket of lights meeting the red-topped market huts.
The Dom towers over the Christmas Market in Cologne
Our favourite market in Cologne is the Alter Markt (Old Market). We have nicknamed it the Gnome market, as the theme throughout revolves around these little folks.

Highlights

- Gendarmenmarkt & Rotes Rathaus
- Heimat der Heinzel Martket
- Bierhaus en d'r Salzgass - a must
- Actually - Everything

People entering through an advent arch into the Meimat der Heinzel market as snow falls in an already wintery scene.
Entrance to the Home of the Elves in Cologne

The Alter Markt stretches through the main cobbled square, by the Town Hall (Rathaus) tempting you all the way with baked apples, cinnamon sticky nuts & currywurst.

The aromas just shout out Christmas.

Baskets full of hand made spiced pomander balls on a stall at Colognes Altstadt market or the market of the elves.
Arts & crafts stalls at the Christmas Markets
If that isn’t enough in the Old Market, you then have an ice rink like no other. The young and old take to the ice and put us Brits to shame, it's good fun to watch though.
The Cologne ice rink from the bridge that straddles it, looking to the loop around the statue to Friedrich Wilhelm III on horseback. In the foreground to the right is a beautifully crafted and ornate cabin serving gluhwein.
Skating around Friedrich Wilhelm III
One illuminated entrance to the Angel market at night.
The Angel Market at night
We just have to mention the Angel Market as well in Neumarkt, always a favourite for a hot chocolate with a splash of Baileys. Just before we head off into the Käthe Wohlfahrt store.
A looking inside the drink stall called 'Cafe Paris' in the centre of the Christmas Angel Market in Cologne with the staff handing our mugs of gluhwein
Cafe Paris in the Angel Market
A snow-covered Christmas tree under the blanket of lights at Cologne's Dom Market
In 2012 snow fell

It gets busy

Some of these markets get very busy at weekends so small children may feel a bit swamped with the crowds.
Düsseldorf is not too far from Cologne (45km/28 miles), so you could incorporate both together. Düsseldorf also has seven markets to its name, and I think there is a little rivalry between the two west German cities.
Market stalls either side of the steps up ornate bandstand decorated with curtains of golden fairy lights.
The Bandstand at the Engelchenmarkt, Düsseldorf

Once again, the atmosphere within the markets is great fun.

We enjoyed it around Marktplatz and the colourful carousel, with the traditional Rathaus as a backdrop.

Highlights

- Marktplatz, Burgplatz & Engelchenmarkt markets
- Hot Chocolate at the Lindt Shop
- Altbiers at the traditional brauhauses

A traditional carousel at the edge of the old town market in Marktplaz in Düsseldorf with the old town hall as a backdrop.
The Beautiful old carousel at Marktplatz, Düsseldorf
Also, the market on the banks of the river, at Burgplatz with its towering Ferris wheel. We found the Burgplatz market to be a little quieter than others, perhaps timing, but certainly not lacking in fun. 
A lit five-storey historic tower than now acts as a museum, with the large Ferris-wheel, named Wheel of Vision, in the background.
The Schifffahrt Museum and Wheel of Vision, Düsseldorf

Weave your way up through the pedestrianised town, passing the spinning pyramid tower and treat yourself to a warming Gluhwein along the way.

You can pick up the DüsseldorfCard, a discount card that gives you free access to public transport and discounts on attractions.

Frankfurt can trace its Christmas market history back 1393. However, it wasn’t until the early 19th century that the Christmas tree was introduced.
The brightly lit carousel in Frankfurt's Römerberg Christmas market
One of the carousels in Frankfurt

When Janis did her initial research on the festive season in Frankfurt, she thought the market was going to be reasonably small.

However, on our arrival, we were pleasantly surprised.  It weaved its way effortlessly through the highlights of Frankfurt’s old town, it was certainly bigger than we had expected.

Highlights

- Easy to walk between all the markets
- Römerberg market
- Schokoküsse
- The singing reindeer

A stall in the based of an illuminated Christmas Pyramid
The Christmas Pyramid
Two drinks from the Frankfurt's Christmas markets. The first is a mug of Frankfurt's speciality apple gluhwein; the other is a glass Irish-Coffee style glass with a cherry gluhwein, topped with cream.
Local tipples

It had a great mixture of local crafts and gifts and also had some excellent food & drink cabins. Here we tried apple gluhwein and a blackberry gluhwein.

You can pickup a Frankfurt Card offering free transport & discounts on wide range of attractions, experiences and even shopping.

The Pfand

You always pay a deposit for the mug you get your glühwein in, this is the pfand. In some regions in Germany give you a token for your mug, so, you’re able to return it to a central kiosk, rather than the hut you bought your drink from. Either way you get your deposit back when you return your mug.
Now, this is a great city. We love Hamburg. I'm not sure what the official number of markets are, 4 or 5? But it feels like there's more.  We don't get too hooked up on the number of markets, it's more about quality than quantity, and Hamburg is quality.
A view across the street to Hamburg's Rathaus, and its Christmas market, under the blue sky of dusk
The market in front of the Rathaus, Hamburg

The main market, centred around the Rathaus is where you'll see Santa fly above you on his sleigh, before addressing the crowd.

No really, you have to see it to believe it.

He performs 3 times daily at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.

Highlights

- Easy to walk between all the markets
- Rathaus market
- The architecture
- Miniatur Wunderland
- Flying Santa

Santa in his sleigh, pulled by his reindeer, soaring above the Hamburg Christmas Market with a church tower in the background.
Santa and his reindeer, Hamburg
However there's plenty of other markets to discover all within close proximity to the Rathaus.
A view of the Speicherstadt warehouse district of Hamburg at dusk. You look down the canal to the water castle with red brick buildings on either side with illuminated balconies.
Attractive white huts, Hamburg
As we say, the markets come to life after the sun has gone down. So what to do during the day? Well, Hamburg will not disappoint. It has excellent shopping (Or so I'm told!) Just head to Neuer Wall for some fine stores.
The brightly decorated bar of the Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht. There's hundreds of coloured baubles.
Christmas in Brauhaus Joh. Albrecht, Hamburg

There's more, for us, we love history culture, and great architecture.  So there's Chilehaus and the Speicherstadt, home to Miniatur Wunderland - If you've an inner geek then don't miss it.

Don't forget there's the Hamburg Card, offering free transport, and discounts on restaurants & activities in the city.

If you've yet to discover Hamburg, then let’s start planning. I find these DK Travel Guides invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.

You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.

DK Hamburg
Oh, we love Bavaria and arriving at is capital Munich was fantastic, if not a little cold. Janis even had to invest in a new hat!
Pedestrians are walking along one of Munich shopping streets at night under fairy light telling you you are entering 'Müchner Christkindlmarkt.'
Müchner Christkindlmarkt
Marienplatz Market is Munich’s most popular, as the magnificent Rathaus looking down from above, creates a fantastic surrounding. There are some great stalls here, with everything that twinkles.
Looking up at the tower of Munich's Rathaus with markets stalls below as snow falls.
Snowing in front of the Rathaus
A hanger from a stall in Munich's Christmas market lit with a spotlight catch the decorations hanging from it.
Attractive gifts in Munich

However, one that we really enjoyed was the Medieval Market on Wittelsbacherplatz.

Fire-breathing dragons, birds of prey and goblets of feuerzangenbowle (which is a gluhwein with a lump of sugar balanced above, drizzled with alcohol then set alight), what’s not to like?

Highlights

- The Medieval Market & Feuerzangenbowle
- The Marienplatz & English Garden Markets
- Kirsch glühwein
- Hofbrauhaus

Janis wrapped up warmly with her bright red Jack Wolfskin jacket, and strippy scarf, reaching out to her terracotta goblet containing her gluhwein.
Warm to touch
A mobile performance piece of a dragon skeleton puppet breathing flames as the crowds watch on.
Fire-breathing dragon
Of course, being British (English) we had to head to the English Garden. Within here is Christmas Market held under the Chinese Tower. I know I keep saying it, but, this market was very charming too, it felt very family orientated.
Two horses are pulling a small wooden carriage with tourists in Munich's park market.
Your carriage awaits
In Munich, we found the Apfelschmarrn, apple pancakes with nuts and a plum sauce, you were even able to eat the bowl that it came in (it tasted like an ice cream cone).
An edible bowl containing apple pancakes with lashings of plum sauce and two wooden forks.
Trying Apfelschmarrn, Munich, Germany

Munich's a fabulous city, with so much to see and do. Even on our three days in the city we barely scratched the surface, and it's a city we'd love to return to.

If you've got the time to explore, then we'd recommend grabbing the CityTourCard Munich, check out the benefits to see if it's for you.

I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

DK Germany Cover
If you're considering visiting the magical Christmas markets in Münster, then you are in for a festive treat. I'm sure you'll also love strolling along Prinzipalmarkt, an elegant street lined with stylish gabbled topped homes; you can part take in a little bit of retail therapy too.
The Christmas markets huts in front of the Christmas tree and St. Lamberti church, Münster
Lights Market St. Lamberti, Münster Christmas Markets, Germany
A Christmas Market stall next to the round tower at the rear of Münster’s Rathaus
The round tower at the back of Rathaus

 There are six Christmas markets to explore and an abundance of traditional German cuisine to indulge upon. The fairy-tale markets weave their way through the historic city, all around the feet of St Lamberti Church and in the picturesque timber-framed square of Kiepenkerl.

Münster's oldest Yuletide market is Weihnachtsmarkt, located at the rear of the ancient Rathaus and "Hall of Peace".

Highlights

- Six Christmas markets to explore
- Strolling the stylish Prinzipalmarkt
- Spicy glühwein
- Visit the Rathaus and "Hall of Peace"
- Gaststätte Pinkus Müller

The Giebelhüüskesmarkt Christmas Markets in front of the Überwasserkirche church at dusk
Entrance to Giebelhüüskesmarkt
The Christmas market that we especially enjoyed in Münster and full of magical stalls, is Giebelhüüskesmarkt. The festive cabins are nestled along the ancient walls of Überwasserkirche and offer such a beautiful backdrop.

The Christmas markets to be discovered in Münster are;

  1.   Lights Market St. Lamberti
  2. Münster’s Weihnachtsmarkt
  3. Giebelhüüskesmarkt
  4. Christmas Village around Kiepenkerl
  5. X-MS Christmas Market on Harsewinkelplatz
  6. Aegidii-Weihnachtsmarkt in Aegidiimarkt plaza

Tempted to?

If you’re flying into Germany and fancy visiting a few of the Christmas markets, why not hire a car with Rental Cars and create your own road trip.
Nuremberg was another town we fell in love with & the people were so friendly. There’s plenty of markets to explore here and a city with quite a bit of history.
We are following the crowds through Nuremberg's main market, with the illuminated church in the background.
Wandering through the Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg

The central festive hub in Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is on Hauptmarkt in front of Frauenkirche.

With over 160 red & white striped cabins enticing you with baubles, toy soldiers & snow globes.

Then there’s the obligatory German stall which sells all types of brushes (obviously, you can never have too many brushes).

Highlights

- The Christkindlesmarkt in Hauptmarkt
- Nuremberg Gingerbread
- Our prune man & Imperfect Angel
- The Nuremberg Glühwein, Winter Warmer & Feuerzangenbowle
- Hausbrauerei Altstadthof

A close-up of a selection of traditional, predominately red, baubles for sale.
A selection of baubles
The local differences in Nuremberg were their traditional recipe gingerbread, the “Drei im Weggla” – “Three in a bun” sausages and one not to eat was the Prune Men.
Our prune man bought from Nuremberg. Actually, only his arms and feet are prunes; his body is made up of two dried figs, and his painted face on a walnut head, along with a false beard and hat.
Our prune man
A stall stacked high with the Nuremberg gingerbread loaves as folks pass by.
Gingerbread loaves for sale
Take a little wander up to the Craftsmen’s Courtyard, this market had a lovely Medieval feel about it and had some different ornaments to tempt you with.
Looking along a cobbled lane within Nuremberg's Craftsmen courtyard with one of the cities medieval towers in the background.
Inside the Craftsmens Courtyard
The view under a canopy in Nuremberg's Craftsmen courtyard.
The cobbled lanes of the Craftsmens Courtyard

The 2-Day Nuremberg Card is ideal is you want to explore more around the historic city.

We can highly recommend the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, even if it's not the most festive of activities

So you know

Germany’s Christmas markets are really for all ages, don’t be put off that it is all for children, it really isn’t. We are all big kids at heart.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber has to be one of the most magical destinations to experience Christmas.
A view of a split in the cobbled lane leading from Rothenburg og der Tauber main town square to one of the gate towers at dusk under a blue sky.
The classic view of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Santa playing a traditional street organ with a stuffed monkey as his collection assistant.
Santa and his organ

The markets here are quite small, but that really goes with the essence of the town.

Half-timbered homes, cobbled streets and all surrounded by fortified walls.

Highlights

- Christkindlesmarkt in Marktplatz
- Exploring the town, its walls & towers
- The Flammbrot
- The Käthe Wohlfahrt stores
- The Magic

The Marktplatz of Rothenburg ob der Tauber on a misty evening with groups of people huddled together. There are a few stalls on the left in front of the Rathaus, and the Christmas tree to the right in front of another historic building.
Gathering in Markplatz, Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The evening we arrived was extremely cold, with a mist just hovering above us, but we didn’t care it just made the whole atmosphere even more enchanting.
A Flammbrot, which looks like an olive-shaped pizza without a tomato base, but topped instead with bacon & onions.
The Rathaus and Christmas tree
Rothenburg's Christmas tree in front of the tower in the centre of the Rathaus.
The Rathaus and Christmas tree

In Rothenburg ob der Tauber the whole town embraces the festive season. Christmas lights were running up and down the gables of the houses and trees hanging from doorways.

This town is also home to Käthe Wohlfahrt’s “Christmas Village”, their flagship store. Their Christmas fun last all year round.

Käthe Wohlfahrt's period reproduction of a small six-seater coach painted bright red and its roof packed high with wrapped gift boxes.
Käthe Wohlfahrt deliveries
A lifesized soldier nutcracker stands in a decorated doorway of the Käthe Wohlfahrt store in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, next to a Christmas tree.
The Toy Soldier stands guard
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is small, and you may not have the opportunity to dedicate a night to it.  It'll be a shame, but you can experience it on a day trip from Munich or Frankfurt
Stuttgart is the capital city of the German state Baden-Wurttemberg & has been holding a Christmas market for over 300 years, so they certainly know how to do it. We found that all the Christmas markets were more central in the town, which made them very easy to stroll between and lots going on.
A stall decorated with red & gold ribbons and a single reindeer pulling Santa on his sleigh.
Santa on the rooftops

Once again, it’s those little things that make the difference.

Stuttgart loves to decorate the roofs of their huts, they were terrific.

We’d also never seen a miniature railway in any markets we’d previously visited.

Highlights

- The Weihnachtsmarkt
- Alten Schloss, especially at night
- Carls Brauhaus

Stuttgart's miniature railway full of small children with their parents in the early evening after the sun has gone down.
The miniature steam train
The Alten Schloss is particularly picturesque and holds daily concerts, and for something, a little different is the indoor antiques Christmas market.
Inside Alten Schloss with its decorated Christmas Tree and balconies.
Alten Schloss at night
We’ve tried our fair share of different food throughout all the markets; however, we’d never seen mackerel being smoked over charcoal.
A couple of dozen mackerel cooking over charcoal on one of the stalls in Stuttgart's Christmas market.
Cooked over charcoal

You may want to consider the StuttCard for your stay.

As well as being your ticket for public transport, you also have free access to nearly all museums, including the Mercedes-Benz & Porsche ones.

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