by Janis on 7th December 2021 / 0 comments

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.

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Two giant gingerbread men flank the entrance to the Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt German Christmas Market
Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt

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 adventure

Baubles, 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.

A stall full of wooden figures and toy soldiers decorations on Aachen's Christmas Markets
Wooden figures and toy soldiers

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.

The 19th Century cream stone Elisenbrunnen Pavillion at dusk under a deep blue sky
Elisenbrunnen

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 WeihnachtsMarkt

Around the Dom and Katschhof
To fully appreciate and relish the experience of Aachen’s markets, you’ll need to take it slow and unhurried, as the markets are a feast for the senses. Even if you believe you’ve explored them once or twice, there will still be something you’ve missed.
A stall full of delicate little Christmas decorations on Aachen's Christmas Markets
A stall full of gifts

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.

A stall full of model building gifts on Aachen's Christmas Markets
Stall full of traditional German dwellings

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.

Buying our own momentoes from a stall in Aachen's Christmas Markets
Metal crafts by G&M Metallbau

Things to see and do in Aachen

Here are some ideas to fit in around your Aachen Christmas market adventure.

Aachener Printen

A 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.

The 19th Century cream stone Elisenbrunnen Pavillion at dusk under a deep blue sky
Nobis Printen
Aachener Printen is similar to gingerbread in taste; however, it is sweetened using a syrup made from sugar beets; historically, honey was originally used. The Printen is quite firm when you buy it, but if you open the packs and store it with an apple or bread, it softens up a treat.
A round tray of spices in a shop window makes Klein Printen gingerbread.
Klein Printen spices

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.

The giant gingerbread man in front of Aachen's gothic Rathaus from the Katschhof square side
Giant Printenmann

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Further discovering Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt

Aachen’s Christmas tree and Rathaus
As we continue to meander through the Christmas market, we follow the trail of twinkling fairy lights and the alluring aroma of fresh nuts being coated in sweet, sticky, crystalised chocolate. Every time I catch this smell, I’m whisked back to the joys of Christmas markets in Germany.
The Christmas tree in front of the Rathaus of Aachen at dusk
The Rathaus at night

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 traditional carousel in Aachen's Christmas market with the Gothic Rathaus in the background at dusk
The carousel in front of the Rathaus
Visiting the Christmas markets is an absolute joy any time of day. However, the heart-warming magical feel truly comes to life when the sunsets and the twinkling huts and festive cheer is sprinkled everywhere.

A “Magical Winter” guided tour

Local knowledge of Aachen’s Christmas Market
During our visit to Aachen, we joined the “Magical Winter” guided tour. It was incredibly fascinating to learn about local traditions, Aachen’s history, how Christmas has evolved in Germany and to appreciate that many of their charming customs continue.
A German Christmas Markets stall in Aachen selling bottles of Aachener Dom Liqueur
Aachener Dom Liqueur

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 man buying a glühwein at “Hütte 16” on the end of Aachen Christmas Markets.
“Hütte 16”
We were also introduced to the local butcher Rolf Gerrards. Gerrards is a family butcher and sources the finest ingredients for his shop. During the Christmas festivities, Rolf runs “Hütte 16”, where you can sample their delicious food and glühwein.

Tourist Information

If you’re tempted to visit Aachen, the local tourist office provides some highly useful information and handy pointers for around the city.

A guided tour of Aachen Rathaus

The 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.

The statue of Charlemagne in front of Aachen's gothic Rathaus
Aachen Rathaus

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

Inside the decorated vaulted Coronation Hall of the Aachen Rathaus
Coronation Hall, Aachen Rathaus

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.

Shelves stacked with gingerbread, or more specifically Aachener Printen, in the Nobis Printen store
Christmas wishes

Our video of Aachen's Christmas Markets

The festivities through our eyes

We have created a little YouTube video of Aachen at Christmas.  Why not take a look?

Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Feasting at Aachen’s Christmas markets

Festive nibbles and tipples
There are plenty of food and drink choices to be enjoyed at Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt, especially if you love sausages, and Gary certainly does. You can choose from bratwurst, Krakauer and currywurst name just a few.
A paper plate filled with Currywurst, with a mug of Glühwein in the background, from Hutte 16
Currywurst "Hütte 16”

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.

An Apple Strudel & Belgium Waffle on paper plates on a wooden table inside a food hut at Aachen Christmas Markets
Apple strudel

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.

Two beautiful bright red mugs from the Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt filled with steaming Glühwein
Aachener WeihnachtsMarkt Gluhwein

Exploring Aachen

To ensure that you make the most of your Aachen mini-break, why not stay for a couple of nights?  Discover Aachen's historical sights and fascinating museums in this ancient German city.

Where we stayed in Aachen

Just 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.

Our light and airy hotel room at the Novotel Aachen City Hotel bedroom
Novotel Aachen City Hotel bedroom

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 contemporary styled dining area at Novotel Aachen City
Dining area at Novotel Aachen City
There was a wide variety of food and drinks for breakfast, and all were served in a very light and airy location. The food was constantly being replenished, and there were ample coffee, tea and fruit juices.
A selection of bread at the breakfast bar of the Novotel Aachen City
Breakfast at Novotel Aachen City

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.

In Summary

Friendliness

Everyone we interacted with at this hotel was friendly, polite and helpful. A pleasurable experience.

Our Room

The bedroom was clean, comfortable and very peaceful.

Breakfast

A full continental breakfast was available, with traditional German fare in a spacious dining area.

Wi-Fi

We were able to get 43.4mbps download speed and 57.5mbps upload speed in our bedroom.

Location

The hotel is located on a main road and only a 10-minute stroll to the Old Town.

Parking

The car park is directly under the hotel and is managed by Q-Park. The spaces are reasonably sized and chargeable.

Disclaimer

This article was produced in partnership with Aachen Tourismus in exchange for an honest review and an account of our personal experiences.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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