by Janis / 4 comments - Orginally published:20th November 2018

What you can drink while visiting a festive market

Glühwein is just the start...

A lot of people when they think of a German Christmas market, their immediate reaction would be sausages, and of course, they would be right. However, if you were to forget about the food (just for one minute) then the next image to be conjured up would probably be glühwein (mulled wine).

I mentioned in our feasting at a German Christmas market post that in 2017 not only did we revisit Cologne for the 10th time, but we additionally travelled to Munich & Frankfurt. We also visited Strasbourg, I know, geographically it's France, but considering how close Strasbourg is to the German border, the markets are so different.
The pin image for our post - ' Tipples on a German Christmas Market'
Why not Pin it for later?
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
The Angel Market, Cologne
A lady sipping at a mug of glühwein at the Nicholas Village Christmas Market in Cologne
Sipping the hot glühwein

The favourite drink on the German Christmas Markets

It has to be - the red one
There are certainly some differences from town to town. However, there is definitely a constant theme, and that is red Glühwein.
Two mugs of steaming glühwein in beautiful souvenir mugs at the Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany
Glühwein in the souvenir mugs in Cologne
You’ll notice that depending on which town you are in the mug will be a different design, and in some towns, the mug then differs from market to market. Some of them are so cute; it’s irresistible not to acquire one.
Two mugs of steaming glühwein in front of a lantern in Rothenburg ob der Tauber's Christmas Markets, Germany
Warming Glühwein in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A new design is generally created each year.
Two blue mugs of glühwein with features from Düsseldorf's Christmas Village
Glühwein in Düsseldorf
The designs can often incorporate the local features of the town or city or particular features of a given market.
Two bright red plastic mugs of glühwein with Stuttgart's Christmas Market
Glühwein in bright red mugs in Stuttgart
You'll often find many different designs in the larger cities as you navigate between the different, individual Christmas markets.
Two frosted glasses of Gluhwein, next to a candle lantern, on an outside table in the Schadowplatz market in Düsseldorf
Glühwein at the Schadowplatz in Düsseldorf
You may even find different mugs & glasses on the same market.
A stall with rows of tiered shelves of glühwein mugs on Nuremberg's Christmas Market
A collection over the years in Nuremberg
Two mugs of glühwein on Rothenburg ob der Tauber's Christmas Market.
Steaming glühwein in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Two decorative mugs of glühwein on Stuttgart's Christmas Market.
Glühwein in Stuttgart
Two glasses of Glühwein served in decorated glass mugs at a table in the bandstand in Düsseldorf
Glühwein at the bandstand in Düsseldorf
Two steaming glass mugs of glühwein on a wooden shelf against the edge of a drinks hut on the Christmas Market.
Steaming Glühwein in Munich
Two decorative mugs of glühwein from Cologne's Angel Christmas Market.
Glühwein at the Angel Market, Cologne

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How it works on the German Christmas Markets

Your Memento
Two mugs of steaming glühwein in souvenir mugs on a table in front of a candle at the Christmas Markets in Cologne, Germany
A story to be told
The glühweins are around €3.50 each, and then a deposit (pfand) is charged. If you don’t want to keep the mug just hand them back and you’ll deposit will be returned.
Two mugs of steaming glühwein with a snowmen design on the Düsseldorf Christmas Markets.
Glühwein in Snowmen mugs, Düsseldorf

Depending on the time of day and if you’re a bit cold you may want to add an additional shot (schuss), of either rum or amaretto.

But beware this could turn out messy!!!!!

Crowds in front of a drinks hut in the Cologne Christmas Markets after dark.
Supping Glühwein at the Elf Christmas Market, Cologne
Two of the detailed gluhwein mugs, depicting a different trade, from Cologne's 'Elf Market'.
Cheeky little gnomes in Cologne

Why not?

Start creating your own German Christmas Market adventure. Search for your flights in one easy place with Over 400 airlines are scanned for your favoured routes and chosen dates.

Or alternatively, like us discover a few of Germany’s Christmas markets on a road trip. If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle.

Although, if you’re unable to bring your own car or you are flying into this lovely country give Rental Cars a go. They search multiple well-known car hire brands for the best deals.

Don't like red wine?

The white one
Weiss or Weiß glühwein is also available, I quite like the white one every so often (but it isn’t to everyone’s taste), be wary though it is quite nice with an additional shot of calvados.
Two mugs of red & white Gluhwein served with a plate of monkey nuts in Düsseldorf Christmas Markets
Weiß and regular glühwein in Düsseldorf

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

Let's discover the regional differences on the German Christmas Markets

Nuremberg at Christmas
Now in Nuremberg they have a couple of extra additions to the glühwein menu, firstly they have the Nuremberg Glühwein which is made from blueberries and slightly spicier than the norm and a little pinker.
Two mugs of glühwein in the 2016 Nuremberg mugs. One is the regional version with added blueberries, and the other is a regular red version.
Two different glühweins
Then there is the Winter Warmer which is produced by Hausbrauerei Altstadthof and contains malt, hops and a special mix of nine spices.
Two Nuremberg's Winter Warmers in decorative mugs on a stall on the Christmas Markets
2 mugs of Winter Warmer in Nuremberg
Both of which are very good.

Health Advice

It’s a good job Christmas is only once a year

Other differences on the German Christmas Markets

Frankfurt at Christmas

In 2017 when we visited Frankfurt, they had stalls that offered quite a wide range of hot and cold drinks.

So for research purposes only (honestly), we tried their apfelwein (apple glühwein) and also brombeerwein (blackberry glühwein), I got Gary an extra topping of cream.

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 in Frankfurt

A spectacle on a few German Christmas Markets

That’s easy for you to say!
Two red mugs of flaming feuerzangenbowle with rum-soaked sugarloaf dissolving into the liquid below on the counter of a drinks stall on cologne's christmas markets.
Flaming feuerzangenbowle

This is the fiery one, so after a couple of these, I’d doubt if you could say Feuerzangenbowle. (Unless you are German, of course!)

Not only is it red glühwein, but it also has a lump of sugar balanced on top of the mug, which has been soaked in alcohol and then set alight.

The giant flaming punchbowl atop a drinks cabin in one of Nuremberg's Christmas Markets
Flaming feuerzangenbowle
In Nuremburg, the Feuerzangenbowle cabin has a giant punchbowl on the roof.

Have we tempted you yet?

The whole German Christmas Market experience is something else, a more adult-oriented feeling, where the Christmas spirit runs freely. Sure kids are welcome but don't expect all the markets to be aimed at the little ones.

Recommended for the big kids that still believe.

Have a peek at the latest offers from, our preferred hotel booking website.

Another traditional Christmas drink

Then the egg one
Eierpunsch, now this isn’t really my choice.
Two long thin glass tankards; one with glühwein, the other with eggnog from Stuttgart's Wintertraum Christmas Market.
Refreshments by the ice rink in Stuttgart
Although, Gary has a soft spot for this, as it brings back memories of when he had an egg-nog at Christmas with his family.
Two long thin glass tankards; one with glühwein, the other with eggnog from Cologne's Dom Christmas Market.
Eierpunsch for Gary, Glühwein for Janis
A boot-shaped mug of Gluhwein and a warming eggnog, topped with whipped cream in a frosted glass
Eggnog and glühwein
It is quite sweet and apparently even better with a cream topping

Portion size

Most of the festive drinks are served 0.2ml quantities

A touch of Après Ski at Christmas

This drink isn’t so common, it is also known as Kirschglühwein on certain markets. It's glühwein with cherry brandy so over to Gary (I'm not a fan, are you?)
Glühwein in a bright seasonal mug & and Alpenpower in a glass mug at the Dom Christmas Market in Cologne
Alpenpower and Glühwein in Cologne
Actually Gary loves it "Mit Sahne", or with cream - what can be done?

Other options when visiting the German Christmas Markets

It’s not all alcohol
There isn’t a lot that can surpass a lovely hot chocolate, and when it is topped with cream, it’s even better.
A cube of melting chocolate on a skewer being drizzled into a white cup of hot milk to create your own hot chocolate in Fassbender's Cafe in Cologne.
Hot chocolate at Fassbender's in Cologne
In Düsseldorf, the Lindt hot chocolates were made with pure chocolate you could either have milk or white.
A white china cup full of foaming hot chocolate with a Lindt chocolate on the side.
Lindt hot chocolate in Düsseldorf
I know I said it wasn’t all alcohol. However, if you buy a hot chocolate from the market, you may also be asked if you would like it “mit” Baileys.

And of course - German Beer

But hot or cold?
Beer, surely not hot….oh yes, not only are you able to get your cold little Kolsch from Cologne or your cold Altbier from Düsseldorf.
Two crisp glasses of Kolsch on top of their beer mats with a third used to keep a tally of the total consumed.
Beers just off the market in Cologne
Two glasses of beer on a Christmas Market in Düsseldorf, Germany
Beer at the market in Düsseldorf
One small, one large glass of Schumacher Alt beer in a bar in Düsseldorf at Christmas
Schumacher Alt beer in Düsseldorf
You can also buy a hot beer, try one at the Harbour market in Cologne.
A mug of Gluhwein, and a foaming hot spiced beer in a frosted glass mug, on the harbour market in Cologne's Christmas markets
Gluhwein & hot spiced beer in Cologne
Then we found a local hot beer in Munich (gluhbier) I decided to stick with the apple wine (it would have been rude not to).
A mug of glühwein, and a chalice-shaped glass with a glühbier, or hot, spice, beer on a wooden barrel in the Residence Christmas market.
Hot wine and beer in Munich

You know but...

Alcohol & cars don't mix. Make sure you're parked up before enjoying the markets.

Also, if you're driving the following day then take it easy - we all know alcohol stays in the system for hours.

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  1. When in Germany – drink all the glühwien! Who knew there was such a wide variety. I only thought it came in red! I like a sip or two but would definitely go for the hot chocolate ‘mit Baileys’. Do you keep all those mugs? Or did you give them back for your deposit. I love the cultural regional differences. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. We didn’t keep all of them, but over the last 11 years of visiting the markets we probably have quite a few, we use them as decorations now. We seem to get more and more picky.

      It is amazing the types of glühwien, different regions tend to put a different twist on theirs. Nuremberg had some unusual ones.

  2. I love how seriously you take your Christmas drinks research! I’m with Katy, I hadn’t realised that there was such a variety of different glühweins. I do like the idea of wandering around the markets with a mug of something warm to sip along the way. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    1. That’s dedication for you, we love it really. It surprises me how many there are, we noticed more warm beers appearing last year.

      I do enjoy sipping a glühwien, while watching the skaters whizzing around on the ice rink.

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