Festive Christmas Markets in Germany: Fairytale Christmas markets in Germany you must visit
Nothing gets us in the Yuletide spirit like a visit to the traditional Christmas markets in Germany.
Taking centre stage will be a colossal fir-tree bedecked in Christmas paraphernalia and twinkling fairy lights that will give us that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. And not forgetting the fairground attractions such as the Ferris wheel that will light up the night skies and bring out the inner child in us all.
There’s something so festive about the lines of wooden huts selling traditional handmade gifts, such as beautifully crafted Bavarian glassware, that makes us want to shop. And the stalls selling delicious German foods, gluhwein and beer that we can devour as we wander around the German Christmas markets.
And that is why we all love a Christmas market, and so, with a little help from some fellow travel bloggers, I have put together a roundup of the best Christmas markets in Germany to visit this year.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Will the Christmas Markets in Germany be open in 2021?
Yes!! Most of them open towards the end of November and close at the end of Dec/beginning of January. They stay open until quite late in the evening. Check individual city websites for dates and times.
Are German Christmas Markets Free to Enter?
Most of them are free; however, sometimes, there is a nominal charge. It is best to check the website of your chosen Christmas market for up-to-date information before you travel.
What should I wear to a Christmas Market?
Dress warmly, the temperatures in Germany will be cold in November and December. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes as your feet will get a pounding walking around the markets.
Will the German Christmas Markets be busy?
Yes, be prepared for crowds. Visit early in the morning if you want to shop for souvenirs in a more relaxed atmosphere.
What is Gluhwein?
Spiced red wine is the traditional drink at Christmastime in Germany. Buy your Gluhwein mug so that you can receive free refills and also get to take home a momento from your trip.
Map of German Christmas Markets
Cologne Christmas Market
Cologne’s German Christmas Markets are some of the best in the world, and so a trip here during the festive season will put you in the Christmas spirit.
With seven traditional German markets spread around the city, you will have a wide selection to wander around. Cologne Cathedral is the focal point for the central market, and no visit to Cologne would be complete without a visit inside to light a candle and reflect upon the year. If you are lucky, you might arrive to hear Christmas carols, a magical and festive way to experience Christmas in Cologne.
The Alter Markt, Neumarkt and Rudolfplatz are three of the most popular markets located around the central cathedral area. On Heumarkt you will find an ice skating rink where you can glide around the ice (or fall to the ice if you are anything like me!)
Another smaller market, Stadtgarten, is located within the oldest park in Cologne. It is a meeting place for locals to enjoy festive food and drink together at this time of year.
With so many different markets and stalls to choose from, you will be spoilt deciding which traditional Christmas gift to take home. From German wooden nutcracker figures to glass Christmas tree baubles and home decorations, you will want them all!
And the Christmas markets sell the most outstanding German foods, so save room to try German apple strudel or bratwurst sausages and all washed down with spiced red wine named “glühwein”.
Other Wonderful Things to See and Do in Cologne
But there are many other unmissable things to do and see in Cologne, and a visit to the Lindt chocolate museum should be on your list. Learn how chocolate is produced, and then indulge in a Christmas hot chocolate drink complete with marshmallows, cream and of course, lashings of chocolate. If you still have room, then see if you can manage a Lindt Christmas crepe drizzled with chocolate and cream – delicious!
When the Christmas markets have tired you out, head to one of the many traditional German restaurants and bars in the city decorated in true Bavarian style. After drinking the local Kolsch beer and devouring a traditional schnitzel, you will be ready to enjoy Christmas.
Munich Christmas Market
Contributed by Suzanne from The Travel Bunny
Munich in the Bavarian region of Germany is a city famous for its ancient buildings, Oktoberfest and its Christmas markets, which date back over 700 years. The markets are free to enter, and wandering through them is quite magical, in fact, it is one of the most charming things to do in Munich in winter.
Many festive Christmas markets are dotted around the town, with the most famous being the main Christkindlmarkt in the Marienplatz pedestrian square.
The impressive Christmas tree twinkling with lights has a backdrop of the beautiful Rathaus (town hall). Each evening at 17:30 hours, a choir sings advent songs from the Rathaus balcony. The music mingling with the aroma of mulled wine, winter spices and chestnuts roasting is guaranteed to get you feeling festive.
Small stalls and wooden chalets decorated with festive foliage spill over with tasty treats, Christmas decorations, crafts and gifts. Make sure you buy some Lebkuchen biscuits a deliciously spicy traditional German cookie and a mug of steaming Glühwein to warm you.
Bavarian artisans sell blown-glass ornaments, wooden carvings, nativity scenes and handmade gifts. The Crib market (Kripperlmarket) in Neuhauser Strasse sells nothing but traditional nativity scenes, cribs and wood figures.
In addition to the Christmas markets, Munich is a beautiful city to explore with many historical buildings, museums and usually an ice rink to enjoy.
For traditional German food, music, and atmosphere eat at a traditional German beer house like the Hofbräuhaus.
Photo credit @Deposit
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
Contributed by Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
One of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany is held each year in the fairytale town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Wooden chalets with twinkling lights stand alongside one another in Market Square in front of the Town Hall, and brass bands play festive tunes.
A huge Christmas tree takes centre stage and locals, and visitors alike gather to buy Christmas gifts and sample the festive fare, including roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and mulled wine.
The Rothenburg Christmas Market is officially opened at the end of November each year by the Rothenburger Reiterle (horseman), a tradition that dates back centuries. Once thought to be a feared spirit from the other side, his arrival is now eagerly awaited. A unique souvenir to take home as a reminder of your visit is a Reiterlesmarkt mug.
If the market doesn’t satisfy your appetite for all things Christmassy, then head to the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village and the German Christmas Museum, just around the corner from Market Square.
Here you can indulge in all manner of Christmas decorations and novelties and learn about the history of Christmas around the world. Both the Christmas store and museum are open year-round.
The perfect place to stay in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is Hotel Herrnschloesschen, a stroll from Market Square. Housed in one of the town’s oldest buildings, this boutique 4-star hotel offers luxuriously appointed rooms in the centre of town.
Hamburg Christmas Market
Contributed by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Hamburg, located in northern Germany, is the perfect place to spend some festive time during the Christmas season. With traditional and somewhat quirky alternative Christmas markets assembled around the city, you can explore them all for an entertaining weekend.
The primary Christmas market is in front of the Town Hall, featuring a large illuminated Christmas tree and pretty wooden huts.
From here, you can get some delicious German festive grabs, including German sausages garnished with fried onions, burgers, candy floss, and fried doughnuts filled with various sweet stuffing. You must try fried potato cake sprinkled with powder sugar, my absolute favourite German Christmas food!
And obviously, you cannot visit the market without sampling the German mulled wine called gluhwein, sold in the market in cute, festive mugs, which you can keep as a souvenir after paying a small charge.
Things to buy include marzipan produced in nearby Lubeck, gingerbread, handmade Christmas decorations, wooden toys, and more.
If you fancy exploring something a little different from the alternative Christmas Market called Santa Pauli, located in Kiez, Hamburg’s red-light district. The market features an alternative type of entertainment for adults, including stripping Santa and phallic-shaped lollipops.
Other markets worth checking out include Winterwald based on the winter forest concept, White Magic located along the promenade by a large lake in the city, and Flee Christmas Market surrounded by Hamburg’s canals.
Goslar Christmas Market
Contributed by Vicki from Vicki Viaja
Germany is the country of Christmas markets. Even in the country’s smallest towns, a Christmas market arrives every year.
Many visitors head to the south of Germany, as some don’t realise that there are many great Christmas markets in Germany to admire in the north of the country. One of the most beautiful of these is the small Christmas market in my hometown Goslar near the Harz Mountains.
Goslar is a small town in the state of Lower Saxony. Although the city is relatively unknown to foreign visitors, dozens of visitors from all over the country come here every year to visit the city’s unique Christmas market (There is no entrance fee).
Since Goslar is a medieval city full of half-timbered houses and ancient architecture, you can also experience this medieval influence at its Christmas market. Not only is the Christmas market located in the city’s market square, surrounded by unique medieval buildings. There are also many medieval stalls on the market where you can enjoy delicious ancient German cuisine.
While there are German classics at some stands, you can also discover new combinations on others. My personal favourite is the hot chocolate with chilli and tequila.
Munster Christmas Market
Contributed by Vikki Evans from Family Travel with Ellie
We visited Germany last Christmas and were so excited about experiencing the world-famous Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Markets).
After much discussion, we decided our family favourite was in Münster, a city in North-Rhine, Westphalia. Münster Christmas Market comprises five different markets dotted around the city. Each market has a distinct theme with various stalls selling a range of the best German Christmas crafts and gifts available and delicious local cuisine.
Everything was well-organised on arrival to the city, and it was obvious where we needed to go and park. Parking was in an underground car park and cost around 5 euros.
We had arrived as it was getting dark, so the most beautiful Christmas lights were starting to take effect. The atmosphere was magical and festive, and the town square was beautifully decorated and bustling with jolly Christmas activity.
Naturally, I made a beeline for the Glühwein stall. The sights and smells were captivating as we waited for our drinks. For an extra few euros, we were able to keep our adorable Glühwein Christmas mugs and get continuous refills of the spiced Christmas beverage.
After a touch of shopping, our noses led us to a food stall selling mouth-wateringly delicious schnitzel and creamy garlic mushrooms. Then came the most crucial decision of the evening – what sweeties should we have for pudding – with so much on offer it was hard to choose!
There were fun rides for smaller children and plenty of festive photo opportunities for everyone. With full tummies, glowing cheeks and our Christmas shopping complete, we headed home from Munster after joining in with carol singing.
Berlin Christmas Market
Contributed by Stephanie from History Fan Girl
Berlin is a great place to go for Christmas markets since with dozens of them ranging from small events to large city-sponsored affairs. One of my favourite markets is the one held in Potsdamer Platz, referred to as “Winter World”.
Apart from the traditional shopping and markets, the highlights here are the toboggan run and the ice skating rink. There is also a carousel that is a delight for children.
Potsdamer Platz is a great market to come to if you are travelling with children since there is much more to do than just shopping!
Visiting is free, though there are individual ticket prices for skating, tobogganing, and the carousel.
It is a great place to pick up a few Berlin souvenirs; there are beautiful textiles and handmade Christmas ornaments for sale, among other decorative crafts.
If you want to eat near Potsdamer Platz but you have had your fill of Christmas Market food, check out Paulaner Wirsthaus on the square.
If you want a hotel nearby, check in to the Grand Hyatt Berlin, which is just two blocks away and an easy walk to and from the market.
Nuremberg Christmas Market
Contributed by Rose from Where Goes Rose
Nuremberg is one of Germany’s most attractive and quaint cities, known for its architecture and traditional German cuisine. However, one of the best things to do in Nuremberg is to attend the famous Christmas Market, one of Germany’s oldest.
The two best foods to try at Nuremberg Christmas Market are elisenlebkuchen and bratwurst, both made locally in Nuremberg since the 1300s.
Most people have probably heard of bratwurst (sausage) as it’s available worldwide, but you’ll need to visit Germany to try lebkuchen, a type of gingerbread, and famous throughout the country. Heart-shaped gingerbread called lebkuchenherze can be iced with cute messages that can be personalised for your loved ones. These are more for decoration than to eat as they are not as good as the traditional lebkuchen.
The best thing to drink at Nuremberg Christmas Market is glühwein; in other words, mulled wine flavoured with spices, cinnamon, and even raisins. Since it gets cold in Nuremberg during the winter months, you’ll want a hearty drink to keep you warm.
If you’re looking for souvenirs, take home a glühwein mug engraved with images of the Nuremberg Christmas Market. You can also buy Christmas decorations and other trinkets from southern Bavaria.
Other things to do in Nuremberg include shopping at the Handwerkerhof Market, seeing the world’s oldest globe at Germanisches National Museum and admiring panoramic views from Nuremberg Castle.
Konstanz Christmas Market
Contributed by Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
The “Weihnachsmarkt am See”, which means “Christmas market on the lake”, takes place every year in the lakeside city of Konstanz.
The Bodensee, or Lake Constance as it’s known in English, is a large lake that serves as a border between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. As the largest city on the lake, Konstanz is a popular vacation spot in the summer, especially with outdoor lovers who come to hike, swim and cycle around Lake Constance.
It’s not typically thought of as a winter destination, except in December, when people come from miles around to visit the famous Christmas market.
Entrance to the market is free, with market stalls set up all along the main street leading down to the harbourside. There’s a “Christmas Ship” docked in the harbour, with more stalls and an ice bar with a 360° view of the lake!
Most of the food stalls sell traditional German dishes, such as sausages and käsespätzle, and of course, glühwein is the most popular adult drink. A few stalls sell more international cuisines, such as Indian and Moroccan, and these typically offer better options for vegetarians and vegans.
Alternatively, stop in for a meal at Das Voglhaus or Sol Caffebar and Vegifood, Konstanz’s two entirely vegetarian restaurants.
Dusseldorf Christmas Market
Contributed by Rai from A Rai of Light
Dusseldorf’s has some of the best Christmas markets in Germany, if not the whole Schengen area, bringing a festive atmosphere to the city just when the winter chill sets in over the Rhine.
Dusseldorf is a relatively big city with seven main German Christmas markets all located in the city centre, within easy walking distance of the Altstadt Old Town area. Beautifully illuminated squares and streets in the city put you into the festive spirit and prepare you to visit one of these lively Christmas markets.
Here you will find all kinds of Christmas delights at over 200 Swiss-style wooden chalets featuring local arts and crafts, handcrafted jewellery, ornaments and other gifts. Look out for a multitude of tasty treats, often the highlight of a visit, which includes kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), bratwurst (sausage), and gebrannte mandeln (candied almonds). These all go down well with the hot spiced wine or hot chocolate on offer.
A stroll along the promenade or the world-famous Königsallee is a must at Christmas time, featuring giant chestnut trees and decorated with thousands of lights and garlands.
Other activities worth seeing are the light show at Schadow-Arkaden, live music at Jan-Wellem-Square, and the free organ concerts around the city. Don’t miss the dancing stuffed animals and the children’s tent at Kö-Bogen which are always a hit with kids.
Click here to view an easy-to-use map of Dusseldorf’s Christmas Market locations.
Mainz Christmas Market
Contributed by Phil from Journication
Are you looking for a cosy, traditional Christmas market in a unique atmosphere? Then you are in the right place in Mainz.
The capital of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany has around 220,000 inhabitants. It is best known for its old town with half-timbered houses, the Mainz Cathedral and the place where Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing, worked.
The Mainz Christmas Market, which usually takes place from the last week of November until just before Christmas, is also known nationwide – and has been for over 200 years!
The market is free to enter and is therefore incredibly popular with locals as a meeting point to stop by for a mulled wine or a sausage after work or a lecture.
Especially around the Domplatz, surrounded by the church and old houses, there is a unique atmosphere. Everything is reinforced by the fairy lights that converge across the entire square on the Heunen pillar and give visitors the feeling of standing under a starry sky.
The Christmas market closes at 8:30 p.m. during the week and is a little longer on weekends until 9 p.m. If you don’t want to go home after that, you will find many places to stop at Gutenbergplatz – but they can quickly fill up with visitors to the Christmas market.
Mainz wine bars typical of the region such as Hottum or Weinhaus Michel are a great place to head to after the Christmas markets, where you can end the evening with local wine and traditional dishes.
Stuttgart Christmas Market
Contributed by Diana from Travels in Poland
As one of the largest and best cities in Germany, you can’t miss Stuttgart’s Christmas market when in Germany, spread out over several squares. The market has a vast array of vendors and a lot of other activities and events for visitors.
Stuttgart Christmas market is visited by a colossal 3.5 million people each year and has hundreds of vendors. Each stall is beautifully decorated, showcasing the stall owner’s nostalgia.
The stalls are located in a few of the main squares and are all within walking distance of each other.
An annual ice rink is typically open past New Year’s, and a miniature steam engine train takes children around a beautifully decorated tiny village. The area also has a lot of small rides for children, and the annual themed decorations are spread out across the grass.
A unique piece of the market is the colossal advent calendar on the windows of a building in the Marktplatz. There is also a Finnish market unique for a German Christmas market, as it tends to focus solely on German products, goods, and foods. Be sure to walk between all the Christmas markets and try a variety of different foods on offer.
It is best to spend at least a day at the market to experience Stuttgart’s beauty fully.
Bochum Christmas Market
Contributed by Amber from Flyawhey
Bochum, located in the industrial region in Ruhr, isn’t necessarily known for much. While they’re focusing on slowly becoming a more “hip” area, their Christmas market makes them more of a hidden gem. The Bochum Christmas market is located right in the city centre so that anybody can enter without an entrance fee.
It is pretty spacious, and there are even a few themes to each section in the market; for example, there is a market that will take you back in time to the middle ages. The stalls appear old and worn, with vendors dressed in costumes, and there are even fun games such as axe-throwing.
Bochum Christmas market is unique because it’s very focused on sustainability and producing little waste. You’re not going to see any plastic or single-use cups here at the market. You “rent” out a cup, and you can later return it to a stall to get your money back.
Additionally, what stands out is the flying Santa Claus. During the marketing, Santa flies from over 33 meters to the ground across the market square. It’s something that both children and adults alike can enjoy.
Bernkastel Kues Christmas Market
Contributed by Paulina from Paulina on the Road
One of the most scenic Christmas markets in Germany, if not in Europe, is the Bernkastel Kues Christmas market located in the Mosel Valley.
Bernkastel Kues is incredible and one of the most romantic towns in the Rhineland, especially during Christmastime, with traditional timber-framed style houses, cobbled streets, square-shaped shops, and a historical feel about the area.
The town is away from the hustle-bustle of large cities, and so people visit here to explore attractive spots, like the Bernkastel Kues Christmas market.
Often referred to as “The Pearl of the Moselle”, you’ll get to buy the best Christmas gifts available. Moreover, you can taste the delicious gingerbread, smoked salmon, deep-fried cheese, pretzels, and pofferties (a traditional battered treat like small pancakes) that are on sale at the market.
Besides that, there are other festive things to do in the city apart from the market. It includes appreciating live Christmas music/orchestras at the market square, in Bärenbrunnen-well and at Karlsbader-Platz. Alongside this, tour the best German old towns located nearby and witness the beauty of decorated markets and homes, and relish the fragrant gluhwein drink.
A great way to explore the town and visit other scenic Christmas Markets at the Mosel river is by doing a Christmas Market cruise on the Mosel or Rhine river.
To visit the Bernkastel Kues Christmas Market, adults’ entry fee is € 5 and for children (6-12 years) is € 3.