by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:12th December 2023

Yuletide Fun in West Germany

Yay, it’s that time of year again, and our festive spirits will be topped up by visiting the enchanting Christmas markets in the historic city of Trier in West Germany.

Trier was the first destination on our 2023 German Christmas Market road trip, followed by the wine city of Koblenz, nestled along the rivers of Moselle and the Rhine. Then we headed on to the cathedral city of Cologne for more Yuletide fun.

Our Christmas Market road trip adventures always begin from Le Shuttle in Calais; we chose to drive via Luxembourg, which was around 289 miles (466km).

We had 2 nights to explore the ancient city of Trier and our hotel, the Mercure Porta Nigra with underground parking, was perfectly located opposite the Roman city gate.

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If you’re looking to combine a historical city break with your Yuletide market adventure, then Trier is perfect for you.

So, all checked in, and it was time to discover Trier’s delights.

Where is Trier?

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Discover Trier at Christmas time

A treat along the Moselle River
As soon as Gary and I strolled out of our hotel and walked beneath the ancient Roman city gate, we knew Trier was going to be an instant hit for us.
The magnificent stone roman porta nigra stands 29 meters high on the ring road around the german city of trier
Porta Nigra

Trier felt so welcoming; we ambled along Simeonstrasse, passing under the glistening festive street decorations and admiring the charming architecture as we went. Just up ahead, we could see the magical rotating Christmas pyramid above the traditional Käthe Wohlfahrt cabin. Instantly, there was a yuletide feel upon us.

Käthe Wohlfahrt has some incredible Christmas decorations for your home; I urge you to step inside and indulge; the nutcrackers and smokers are delightful, and we have a few to brighten up our home. This year, we curbed ourselves and just bought a couple of baubles.

The illuminated wooden pyramid at dusk above the Kathe Wolhfart pop-up stand at the entrance to trier's christmas markets
Christmas pyramid in Trier
Watching the huge revolving pyramid always makes me smile; you instantly know you’ve arrived at a Christmas market in Germany. As we ambled closer, the sweet aroma of sticky sugar-coated nuts and the spicy fragrance of glühwein were irresistible.
A decorated nut seller stall at the edge of trier's cathedral christmas market at dusk
Sugar-coated nuts for sale
It was time to explore.

Christmas Market Visitor Information

For a bit more information on Trier’s Christmas market, visit the Trier Weihnachts Markt website. You’ll find some extremely useful tips and fun facts regarding the Christmas market.

Exploring Trier’s Christmas markets

Woven amongst the historic squares

At Christmas time, Trier’s pedestrian Old City is transformed into a fairy-tale location for the young and old.

The Medieval Main Market square is surrounded by stunning pastel-coloured, gabled, timber-framed buildings. During the festive season, they are aglow with twinkling lights and yuletide cabins.

People gather at dusk in the centre of triers hauptmarkt for its Christmas markets lined with historic buildings and the tower of St Gandolf in the background.
The Hauptmarkt transformed for Christmas
The Hauptmarkt is the perfect backdrop for the Trierer Weihnachts Markt; however, as you take a short skip along the pedestrian Sternstrasse, you arrive at Cathedral Square. This enchanting market, with the Dom as the star of the show, will bring a smile to your face.
twinkling christmas market stalls around the base of trier's cathedral at dusk
Trier Cathedral and Christmas Market
In Trier’s Cathedral Square, you can enjoy the dulcet tones of a singing moose above a glühwein cabin, the choral notes of a live concert and the beautiful carousel with leaping Christmas ponies.
A mature male singer on stage in trier's cathedral christmas market at dusk
Live performances below Trier Dom

After strolling around Trier’s Old Town for a little while Gary, and I both agreed that Trier is a perfect size for an introduction to your first German Christmas market.

Or if you wanted a location that wasn’t too tiring on your feet, as the main markets are adjacent to each other.

Where to stay in Trier at Christmas

Mercure Porta Nigra

Our accommodation for the two nights in Trier was in the Mercure Porta Nigra; this hotel was in a perfect location, overlooking the ancient Porta Nigra. The Old Town and Trier’s Christmas market was just a short hop away.

The hotel had an on-site car park, and a daily charge was applied.

Visiting Trier’s Weihnachts Markt

As dusk descends
Trier’s Christmas Market is delightful to visit during the day; however, it’s when dusk descends, the festive cabins are twinkling, the Christmas tunes are playing, and the bratwurst and glühwein are flowing, when the yuletide fun truly comes alive.
People gather at dusk around the edge of triers hauptmarkt for its Christmas markets lined with historic buildings and the tower of St Gandolf in the background.
Christmas in Trier Hauptmarkt

Trier’s Christmas market in Hauptmarkt is in a beautiful location. The festive huts are nestled all around the historic Marktkreuz, which is mounted on a granite Roman column and nearby is the charming fountain, Petrusbrunnen.

While exploring the Christmas stalls, ensure you keep looking up at the picturesque and historic architecture; it’s exquisite here.

The illuminated historic marktkreuz mounted on a roman column in the centre of the trier hauptmarkt geman christmas market at dusk
Marktkreuz in Trier
The illuminated wooden tower above the sausage stall in triers hauptmarkt geman christmas market at dusk
Bratwurst for all
Come rain or shine, there are plenty of gifts to be found within Trier’s Christmas Market; whether it’s a present for friends and family or even a sneaky gift for yourself, there is so much to choose from.
People, with umbrellas up, at the edge of triers hauptmarkt for its Christmas markets lined with historic buildings and the tower of St Gandolf in the background.
Exploring Trier Christmas market
The Yuletide stalls not only sell festive decorations, but you’ll find woolly hats and scarves, scented candles, sweet treats, cheeses, handbags, and children’s toys, to name just a few.

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.

Christmas market at Trier’s Dom

Enjoy a hot Apple Wine
Both Christmas markets in Trier were enchanting to explore; however, I especially loved the stalls and the atmosphere around the market by Trier’s stunning cathedral.
The ornately decorated drinks cabin in trier’s cathedral square christmas market with the historic Trier Dom in the background
Enjoy a glühwein with a singing moose
As the Christmas carousel spins and children’s laughter builds into a crescendo, the stage is ready for its next live act, and the glühwein cabins are overflowing. What more do you want from a German Christmas Market? Ahh yes, a singing moose.
Two red christmas mugs of white glühwein on a wooden shelf in trier's german christmas markets
Hot mulled apple wine
While in Trier, we had no choice but to try the local glühwein. It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it. The local glühwein was a hot mulled Viez, an Apple Wine; it was delicious; we always like to try the local tipples, and they often add a different twist on a traditional glühwein.
The beautifully decorated stalls that line trier’s cathedral square christmas market
The charming stalls at Trier’s Cathedral Square

Trier is like many of Germany’s Christmas Markets in that they cater for all ages; I think adults enjoy the festivities more than children. There are always groups of young and old laughing and joking and exchanging fun stories while enjoying a glühwein.

Trier had such a charming mixture of stalls. As a memento of our visit, I bought a new Christmas decoration and picked up a Trier mug.

If you love taking to the ice, grab a pair of ice skates and visit the delightful ice rink in the Kornmarkt. We love standing by the rink’s edge and participating in people-watching; it is always great fun, and everyone enjoys themselves.

Just a few points to note;

  • You need to book accommodation as soon as possible; these Christmas markets are very popular.
  • Although all the German Christmas markets are fantastic to visit during the day, they really come alive in the evenings, don’t miss it.
  • Be aware these markets become extremely busy at the weekends, particularly in the evenings. Children may feel a bit swamped with the crowds.
  • Dress warm and comfortable.
  • 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.

Tourist Information

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

If you’re looking to visit other Christmas markets in Germany, take a peek at our posts on Aachen, Berlin, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Münster, Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and Stuttgart.

Trier, exploring Germany’s oldest city

Rich in Roman history

The city of Trier is located along the banks of the Moselle River. It is in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, which is renowned for its wine. During this Christmas market road trip, we toured along the Moselle River wine route when we headed onto Koblenz.

It was beautiful scenery all along the Moselle River, with vineyards climbing high into the hills, it would be stunning during the summer months.

Cars travelling across the Römerbrücke, or roman bridge, on a misty winters day in trier, germany
Roman Bridge in Trier

Not only is Trier celebrated for its wine, it also has an extraordinary number of Roman sites to explore, from the Aula Palatina Roman Basilica to the ruins of the Imperial Baths, amphitheatre, and the Roman Bridge.

All of these ancient monuments were inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trier’s monuments in 1986, along with its magnificent Romanesque Trier Cathedral.

looking up at the huge brick build aula palatina roman basilica in trier, germany
Aula Palatina Roman Basilica

The Aula Palatina Roman Basilica was constructed on the order of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great around AD 310 and is now known as the ‘Basilica of Constantine’. It’s an incredibly unusual-looking basilica that once formed part of the Roman Emperor’s palace.

The Porta Nigra the ‘Black Gate’ was erected by the Romans in AD 170. This magnificent gate is the last remaining of the four gates that once encircled Trier along with the city walls.

Looking up at the inside of the interior of the roman stone porta nigra in trier, germany
Inside the Porta Nigra
The Porta Nigra has been restored over the centuries and is now considered to be the best-preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps.
The entrance and sandy arena of the roman amphitheatre in trier in germany, as seen from the first tier of the now grassy stands
Trier Roman Amphitheatre

Trier played an important role in Roman history and is considered Germany’s oldest city. Along with the Porta Nigra another significant Roman ruin is Trier’s Roman amphitheatre.

Trier amphitheatre was dug into the side of a hill around the 2nd century AD. It was built to hold approximately 20,000 spectators, who would watch gruesome events unfold below.

The vast complex that is the barbarathermen roman baths in the centre of trier in germany on a cold winter's day
Barbara Baths, Trier

Trier is overflowing with Roman history; along the Moselle River is its ancient Roman Bridge, and short hop east are the Barbara Baths, and a little beyond are the Imperial Baths.

The Barbara Baths can be accessed for free, and you can stroll across an elevated walkway to imagine the magnificent spectacle of Roman times. The Barbara Baths were once the largest bath complex in the Roman Empire outside of Rome.

Very little of the complex remains today; however, let your imagination run wild to envisage how the spectacular bathing temple would once have looked.

The remains of the colossal complex that is the imperial roman baths nest to a highway in the centre of trier in germany on a cold winter's day
Imperial Baths, Trier
The other Roman baths in Trier are the Imperial Baths, which were constructed in the early 4th century during the reign of Constantine the Great. These imposing baths were built around hot water pools, which would have reached 40 degrees Celsius.
The view of the vaulted high altar inside trier's cathedral in germany
Inside Trier Cathedral
Returning to Trier’s Altstadt, visit the oldest church in Germany, Trier Cathedral. This magnificent church with a Christmas market at its feet has an incredible mix of ancient styles and architecture.

Discovering more of Trier

A city with so much to offer
One famous son of Trier is Karl Marx, who was born in the city in 1818 when Trier was part of the Kingdom of Prussia. Karl Marx became a famous German philosopher and one of the founders of Marxism.
A large brass statue of a striding karl marx in the centre of trier in germany
Karl Marx statue
a slate plaque with an embossed profile head shot of an older karl marx as fitted to the outside of his former home, now musuem, in trier, germany
Plaque on Karl Marx’s House
Marx’s ideas significantly impacted world politics and continues a considerable amount of debate today. Karl Marx died in London in 1883 and is buried in a prominent tomb in Highgate Cemetery.
the unique house of the three magi on simeonstrasse in the centre of trier germany
House of the Three Magi
the entrance on simeonstrasse to the judengasse, or ‘jew’s alley’, in the centre of trier germany
Judengasse ‘Jew’s Alley’

The ancient city of Trier has so much to offer a visitor all year around, there are some wonderful pieces of architecture and history dotted throughout the city. Along Simeonstrasse you’ll spot the House of the Three Magi (Dreikoenigenhaus) built around 1230, and is so unusual, it’s beautiful.

Just a short stroll further up Simeonstrasse you’ll notice the narrow passageway of Judengasse. This walkway along Jew’s Alley was built around 1219 and leads to the Jewish Quarter of Trier.

the iconic steipe house in hauptmarkt, loving restored after war damage, in the centre of trier germany
The Steipe in Hauptmarkt
The historic red house in hauptmarkt, restored after war damage, in the centre of trier germany
The Red House in Hauptmarkt
Within the medieval square of Hauptmarkt, keep a look out for the Steipe House and the adjacent Red House. These two magnificent buildings have been lovingly restored, particularly the Steipe House, which was extensively damaged during WWII.
lowen-apotheke in hauptmarkt, a historic phamarcy, in the centre of trier germany
On the other side of Hauptmarkt is Lowen-Apotheke, Germany’s oldest pharmacy. If you continue to stroll further southeast in Trier city, you’ll spot the dusty pink grand Electoral Palace and gardens, which were constructed during the 16th-century.
a look across the lawns to the baroque kurfürstliches palais or electoral palace in the heart of trier, germany
Electoral Palace

The Electoral Palace was erected next to the historic Roman Basilica of Constantine. It was used by the Archbishops of Trier from the 16th-century through to the late 18th-century.

Trier is a fascinating city to visit all year around; however, at Christmas time you have the additional fun of the festive markets.

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