A festive sweet treat in West Germany
When you first stroll into Aachener’s WeihnachtsMarkt, you are instantly swept along with all the festive cheer, catchy yuletide tunes and, of course, the captivating, sweet aroma of Aachener Printen. From that moment on, your joyful voyage of Crimbo discovery begins.
Aachen’s main Christmas Market is nestled amongst the magnificent 8th-century Aachen Cathedral constructed by order of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne and Aachen’s grand 13th-century gothic Rathaus.
These two incredibly historic buildings create such a stunning backdrop for Aachener’s WeihnachtsMarkt, that when the evening sky descends, you feel like you’ve strolled into a magical fairy-tale.
Where is Aachen?
How to get to Aachen
- By Train
Start creating your own Aachen Christmas market adventure and discover festive treats amongst the charming city streets.
In around just 3hrs 35minutes from the UK, you can hop on the Eurostar to Brussels, change onto an ICE train to Aachen Hbf, and the yuletide fun begins.
- By Car
If you’re venturing from the UK, jump on Le Shuttle and tour Germany under your own steam.
Alternatively, it’s so easy to visit on a road trip. Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.
A perfect Christmas market adventureBaubles, bratwurst and glühwein
If visiting a Christmas market in Germany is a new experience for you, or if you’re looking to combine a historical city break with your Yuletide market adventure, then Aachen is perfect for you.
There are over 100 traders throughout the cobbled streets of Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt, offering artisan gifts, handmade decorations, and delicious local produce.
At Aachen’s Christmas market, you can indulge in the traditional German fare of bratwurst, reibekuchen and apple strudel, to name just a few. All to be washed down with the tempting waft of spicy scents from the heart-warming glühwein.
We truly loved the welcoming atmosphere of Aachen, the local people that we chatted to have a huge amount of pride in their city.
COVID-19 Safety in Aachen
The Coronavirus regulations within Aachen’s Christmas markets follow the 2G rules (2G: recovered, vaccinated). You will need official proof of 2G; therefore, you are obliged to carry your COVID vaccination passport (for UK travellers, the NHS QR code is accepted) along with your photo ID.
Random checks will be carried out on site. We can vouch for this, as we were politely stopped by the local Police and asked to present our documents.
Medical face masks (preferably FFP-2) are compulsory throughout Aachen Christmas Market, including the outdoor area.
We especially liked Aachen’s safety rules because you could obtain a control band at any of the catering areas. This band could then be used for the entire day through Aachen’s market as proof of vaccination.
Exploring Aachener WeihnachtsMarktAround the Dom and Katschhof
As you wind your way seamlessly along the cobbled streets around Münster-Platz and Aachen Dom, weaving through to Katschhof, you’ll discover twinkling festive Christmas cabins galore.
Within Katschhof, there’s a colourful traditional merry-go-round full of children giggling and laughing, stalls with an abundance of wooden soldiers and nutcrackers and aromas from scented candles to transport you back to your childhood.
The Christmas store that Gary and I love to visit is Käthe Wohlfahrt; this magical workshop takes Christmas ornaments and decorations to another level. We’ve so many Käthe Wohlfahrt items in our home that I’m beginning to believe we could open a store of our own.
There are some delightful cabins around Katschhof selling unique local gifts and produce. A stall that we especially liked was the metal crafts by G&M Metallbau; we couldn’t resist picking up a little handcrafted Christmas tree.
Things to see and do in Aachen
Aachener PrintenA taste unique to Aachen
As you stroll around Aachen’s streets and especially the market, you’ll undoubtedly notice the delightful abundance of lebkuchen or gingerbread to you and me. In Aachen this is known as Aachener Printen.
Aachener Printen’s origin is protected, so all its producers, of which there are around 30, are found in or near Aachen.
We love the Printen; we have previously bought some from a Klein Aachener Printen stall at Cologne Christmas markets. So, needless to say, we have topped up our quotas for this year.
I’m sure you won’t miss it but keep a lookout for the giant Aachener Printenmann by the Rathaus overlooking WeihnachtsMarkt in Katschhof.
Further discovering Aachener WeihnachtsMarktAachen’s Christmas tree and Rathaus
The striking gothic Rathaus and the glimmering Christmas tree will melt the heart of any Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s the cheerful atmosphere and the happy smiling faces that truly bring Christmas markets to life.
Friends sharing tales over a glühwein or two, kids young and old mastering the art of eating a mustard slathered bratwurst and couples young and old, reminiscing and creating new memories. You need to experience a Christmas market in Germany to appreciate that Christmas is for everyone.
A “Magical Winter” guided tourLocal knowledge of Aachen’s Christmas Market
Our guide, Sabine Mathieu, was extremely informative; she escorted us all through the Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt, pointing out local Aachen producers and unique stallholders. Sabine explained all about the Aachener Printen, the distillery that makes Aachener Dom Liqueur and tales about Aachen that you wouldn’t otherwise know.
A little-known fact that Sabine shared was that the earliest surviving German language Christmas hymn originated in Aachen in the 14th-century, “Sei uns willkommen, Herre Christ".
A guided tour of Aachen RathausThe striking gothic Town Hall
The beautiful medieval Aachen Rathaus stands so majestically in the centre of the Old Town. After centuries of welcoming royalty and hosting coronation banquets, it is now the seat of Aachen’s Lord Mayor.
We were given the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour of the Rathaus, and with our love of history, we jumped at the chance.
Our delightful guide was Annelore Einmahl; she escorted us all around the magnificent Rathaus and explained the history of Aachen’s Town Hall with astonishing detail. Annelore’s knowledge and passion truly gave us a feel of the significance and importance the people of Aachen place on the Rathaus.
Aachen Town Hall was originally built during the 14th-century. Through various natural and manmade disasters, it has been reconstructed and renovated into the stunning gothic hall that stands today.
The Charlemagne Prize for European unification is awarded annually in the vaulted Coronation Hall within Aachen Rathaus. The unification award has been received by spiritual leaders and many notable politicians
A beautiful Christmas tree in the entrance hall to Aachen Rathaus and hanging on the branches are touching Christmas wishes. Each year kids from the local children’s homes write a wish of a gift they’d love to receive.
Then anonymously, people choose a card and buy and wrap the gift, and it is given to the child named on the card. This is an amazing idea and will make a child’s Christmas.
Our video of Aachen's Christmas MarketsThe festivities through our eyes
Feasting at Aachen’s Christmas marketsFestive nibbles and tipples
If bratwursts aren’t your thing, then you can also savour the pork shashlik, báckfisch, reibekuchen the deep-fried potato cakes with apple sauce or hearty soups.
Although I must admit I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, so, just to be polite, we had an apple strudel with custard and waffles and cream.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a German Christmas market if you didn’t enjoy a glühwein or two. In Aachen, the red and white glühwein’s were €4 each, and the deposit on the festive mug was €3.
If you’re like us, then you may want to keep a mug; just head back to the glühwein stall and ask them for a clean one. You can immediately start building your Christmas mug collection.
Where we stayed in AachenJust a short hop to the Old Town
During our Christmas stay in Aachen, we were hosted by Novotel Aachen City Hotel.
Novotel Aachen City Hotel is located along a main road in Aachen; however, our room was extremely peaceful day and night. The hotel adhered strictly to the 2G COVID rules, and everything was very clean throughout.
The staff were very accommodating and friendly, and they allowed us to check in to our room early.
The room was very comfortable, clean, and had ample lighting. The desk area was a reasonable size, allowing us to set up our charging station and work on the laptop.
The bathroom had a shower and separate bath, along with the essential toiletries. The toilet was in its own individual room.
The hotel is only a 10-minute stroll to the Old Town, making it exceptionally convenient after a long day exploring the Christmas markets.
We visited Aachen as part of a Christmas market road trip, so the underground car park was perfect, and not bad at €14 per day.
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