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A Festive Guide To The 15 Best German Christmas Markets

A Festive Guide To The 15 Best German Christmas Markets

Christmas in Germany is a fabulous time of year to visit, and nothing gets you into the Yuletide spirit more than visiting one of the festive German Christmas markets.

Taking centre stage will be a colossal spruce Christmas tree bedecked in festive 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.

With lines of beautifully decorated wooden huts selling traditional handmade gifts, such as delicately crafted Bavarian glassware, wooden nutcracker soldiers and delicious German foods, it’s no wonder the German markets attract so many visitors yearly.

There are many Christmas market destinations, so to help you decide which one to visit during Christmas 2023, I have listed fifteen of the best German Christmas markets, as chosen by myself and my fellow seasoned travel bloggers.

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Frequently Asked Questions About German Xmas Markets

When will the Christmas Markets in Germany open in 2023?

Most of them open towards the end of November and close at the end of Dec/beginning of January.

Xmas markets in Germany stay open until quite late in the evening so you can enjoy the Christmas lights.

Are German Christmas Markets worth it?

Yes! Visiting a Christmas market in Germany over the festive season is the best way to get into the holiday spirit.

See how Christmas is celebrated in Germany by trying new foods and beverages, buying gifts for loved ones and exploring historic city sights. What’s not to love?

Are German Christmas Markets Free to Enter?

Most Christmas markets are free to enter; however, sometimes, there is a nominal charge.

It is best to check your chosen Christmas market for up-to-date information before you travel.

You will find website details in this post of the German xmas markets that are mentioned.

What should I wear to a German 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 while walking around the markets.

Is Christmas in Germany busy?

Yes, be prepared for crowds. Visit in the morning to shop for souvenirs in a more relaxed atmosphere.

What is Gluhwein?

Spiced red wine with raisins and spices is the traditional drink at Christmastime in Germany. 

Most markets sell a souvenir Gluhwein mug with your first drink. You can then receive free refills and also take a Xmas market momento home from your trip.

Map of German Christmas Markets

Best German Xmas Markets in 2023

Cologne

Cologne Christmas Market Dates: 20th November to 7th January 2023

The Cologne Christmas Markets are some of the best in the world, so a trip here during the festive season will put you in the Christmas spirit.

With seven traditional 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 in 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 is located within Stadtgarten, 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, you will be spoilt in deciding which traditional Christmas gift to take home.

You will want them all, from German wooden nutcracker figures to glass Christmas tree baubles and home decorations!

The Christmas markets sell the most outstanding German foods, so save room to try German apple strudel or bratwurst sausages, all washed down with spiced red wine named “glühwein”.

Best Things to See in Cologne

There are many things to do and see in Cologne, and visiting 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 lashings of chocolate. I

If you still have room, try a delicious Lindt Christmas crepe drizzled with chocolate and cream!

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.

Try a local Kolsch beer and a schnitzel in keeping with German tradition.

Or why not join a festive Evening Winter Cruise along the Rhine?

Cologne Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Cologne

Munich

Munich Christmas Market Dates: 27th November to 24th December 2023

Located in the Bavarian region of Germany, Munich is famous for its ancient buildings, Oktoberfest and German Christmas markets, which date back over 700 years.

The markets are free to enter, and wandering through them is quite magical. It is one of the most charming things to do in Munich in winter.

Many festive Christmas markets are dotted around the town, 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 (old 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.

Ensure 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.

In Neuhauser Strasse, the Crib market (Kripperlmarket) sells only 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.

Join a local Munich Christmas Market Tour to enjoy all the best sights with a local guide.

Or eat at a traditional German beer house like the Hofbräuhaus for traditional German food, music, and atmosphere.

Munich Christmas Market Website

Accommodation in Munich
Munich Christmas Market
Words by The Travel Bunny – Image Credit @Deposit

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market Dates: 1st December to 23rd December 2023

One of the most popular German Christmas markets is held yearly 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 City Hall, and brass bands play festive tunes.

A huge Christmas tree takes centre stage, and locals and visitors gather to buy 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, 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 worldwide.  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.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Image and Words by Holidays to Europe

Hamburg

Individual markets open from 17th November and close in December and January. Check the Hamburg Christmas Market website for individual opening times.

Hamburg, located in northern Germany, is the perfect place to spend some festive time during the Christmas season.

With traditional and somewhat quirky alternative German 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 powdered sugar, my absolute favourite German Christmas food!

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 nearby in Lubeck, gingerbread, handmade Christmas decorations, wooden toys, and more.

If you fancy exploring something different, the alternative Christmas Market, Santa Pauli, is 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 the Flee Christmas Market, surrounded by Hamburg’s canals. 

Accommodation in Hamburg
Images and Words by Raw Mal Roams

Goslar

Goslar Christmas Market Dates: November 23rd – December 30th 2023

Germany is the country of Christmas markets. Even in the country’s smallest towns, a Christmas market arrives yearly.

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 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 at others. My personal favourite is hot chocolate with chilli and tequila.

Gosler Christmas Market Information

Accommodation in Goslar
Image and Words by Vicki Viaja

Munster

Munster Christmas Market Dates: 27th November to 23rd December 2023

Münster is a North Rhine city in Westphalia with five (Weihnachtsmarkt) German Christmas markets dotted around the city.

Each market has a distinct theme, with stalls selling various Christmas crafts, gifts and delicious local German cuisine.

On our arrival in Muster, everything was well-organised, 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.

We could keep our adorable Glühwein Christmas mugs for an extra few euros 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 joined in with Christmas carol singing before heading back to our hotel.

Munster Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Munster
Contributed by Vikki Evans from Family Travel with Ellie

Berlin

Berlin Christmas Market Dates: 10th November to 23rd December 2023

The number one spot in Germany for Christmas Markets is Berlin, ranging from small ones to large city-sponsored affairs. One of my favourite markets is Winter World, held in Potsdamer Platz.

Winter World is a great market if you have children since there is much more to do than just shopping!

Apart from the traditional shopping and markets, the highlights are the toboggan run and the ice skating rink. There is also a carousel that is a delight for children. 

Visiting the Berlin Christmas markets 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 have had your fill of Christmas Market food, check out Paulaner Wirsthaus on the square. 

If you are looking for a Berlin LGBTQIA Christmas market, Winterdays focuses on the gay community.

For a hotel nearby, check in to the Grand Hyatt Berlin, just two blocks away and an easy walk to and from the market.  

Berlin Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Berlin
Words History Fan Girl – Image Unsplash

Nuremberg

Nuremberg Christmas Market Dates: 1st December to 24th December 2023

One of Germany’s most attractive and quaint cities, Nuremberg, is known for its architecture and traditional German cuisine.

However, one of the best things to do in Nuremberg is to attend its famous Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, one of the oldest Christmas markets in the country.

The best foods to try at Nuremberg Christmas Market are elisenlebkuchen and bratwurst, made locally in Nuremberg since the 1300s.

If you want to immerse yourself fully in Nuremberg’s food scene, you can book a culinary Christmas food tour with a local guide.

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 famous throughout Germany.

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.

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 the Germanisches National Museum and admiring panoramic views from Nuremberg Castle.

Nuremberg Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Nuremberg
Words by Where Goes Rose – Image Unsplash

Konstanz

Konstanz Christmas Market Dates: 30th November to 22nd December 2023

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 considered a winter destination, except in December, when people come from miles around to visit the famous German Christmas market.

Entrance to the market is free, with market stalls set up all along the main street leading down to the harbourside.

A “Christmas Ship” in the harbour has more stalls and an ice bar with a 360° lake view! 

Most of the food stalls sell traditional German dishes, such as sausages and käsespätzle; 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.

Konstanz Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Konstanz
Words by The Nomadic Vegan – photo credit @Bodensee.au

Dusseldorf

Dusseldorf Christmas Market Dates: 23rd November to 30th December 2023

Some of the best Christmas markets in Germany, if not the whole Schengen area, can be found in Dusseldorf, 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 hot spiced wine or hot chocolate.

A stroll along the promenade or the world-famous Königsallee is a must at Christmas time, featuring giant chestnut trees 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.

If you want a local guide to show you the highlights of Dusseldorf at Christmas, you can book a private tour of the markets and learn more about their cultural significance.

Dusseldorf  Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Dusseldorf
christmas huts illuminated at night in Dusseldorf

Mainz

Mainz Christmas Market Dates: 30th November to 23rd December 2023

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 where Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing, worked.

The Mainz Christmas market 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 incredibly popular with locals as a meeting point to stop by for a mulled wine or a sausage after work or a lecture.

There is a unique atmosphere, especially around the Domplatz, surrounded by the church and old houses.

Everything is reinforced by the fairy lights that converge across the entire square on the Heunen pillar, giving 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.

Mainz Christmas Market Information

Accommodation in Mainz
Mainz Christmas Market
Words and Image by Journification

Stuttgart

Stuttgart Christmas Market Dates: 29th November to 23rd December 2023

As one of Germany’s largest and busiest cities, you can’t miss Stuttgart’s Christmas market when in Germany.

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.

It is best to spend at least a day at the market to experience Stuttgart’s beauty fully at Christmastime.

Stuttgart Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Stuttgart
Words by Travels in Poland – Photo Unsplash

Bochum

Bochum Christmas Market Dates: 23rd – 25th December 2023

Located in the industrial region of Ruhr, Bochum 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 in the city centre, so anybody can enter without an entrance fee. It only opens for three days in December, so it is a place to visit if you are already nearby in Germany.

It is pretty spacious, and there are even a few themes in each market section; for example, a market 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.

The Bochum Christmas market is unique because it focuses on sustainability and produces little waste.

You won’t see any plastic or single-use cups here at the market. You “rent” out a cup and can later return it to a stall to get your money back. 

Additionally, what stands out is the flying Santa Claus.

While the Christmas market is open, Santa flies from over 33 meters to the ground across the square. It’s something that both children and adults alike can enjoy.

Accommodation in Bochum

Bernkastel Kues

Christmas Market Dates for Bernkastel Kues: 24th November to 23rd December 2023

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, so people visit 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) on sale at the market.

Besides the market, there are other festive things to do in Bernkastel Kues.

They include appreciating live Christmas music/orchestras at the market square, in Bärenbrunnen-well and Karlsbader-Platz.

Alongside this, tour the best old German towns nearby, 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 is by doing a Christmas Market cruise on the Mosel or Rhine River.

  Bernkastel Kues Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Bernkastel Kues
Image Unsplash

Trier

Trier Christmas Market Dates: 24th November to 22nd December 2023

Voted the Best German Christmas Market 2022 by the European Tourism Board, Trier typically features several Christmas markets throughout the city, each with a unique atmosphere and offerings.

The main Christmas market is usually held in the heart of the city, in the Hauptmarkt (main market square), in front of the imposing Trier Cathedral.

Smaller markets are located in other parts of the city, such as the Domfreihof, the Kornmarkt, and the Simeonstiftplatz.

The Trier Christmas market is known for its cosy and festive atmosphere. You will find beautifully decorated stalls, twinkling lights, and a large Christmas tree in Hauptmarkt, which creates a magical ambience.

Live music and entertainment are often part of the festivities, adding to the holiday spirit.

You can shop for beautiful festive gifts and souvenirs at the Trier market. Some of the items you can typically find include:

  • Handcrafted Christmas ornaments: Trier’s market is known for its unique and artisanal Christmas decorations.
  • Local crafts: You can purchase handmade crafts, including wooden toys, ceramics, and textiles.
  • Regional food and beverages: Enjoy traditional German holiday treats like gingerbread cookies (Lebkuchen), roasted chestnuts, mulled wine (Glühwein), hot mulled apple wine (Viez) and sausages.
  • Gifts and trinkets: Look for gifts like candles, jewellery, scarves, and other Christmas-themed items.
  • Local products: Trier is located in the Moselle wine region, so you will find locally produced wines and other culinary specialities.

Trier Christmas Market Official Website

Accommodation in Trier
Christmas wooden huts in the middle of Trier city square surrounded by colourful buildings
Image copyright – Trier Tourism

Conclusion

If you want the perfect way to celebrate the season of goodwill, a trip to a German Christmas Market will tick all the boxes.

From large traditional German city markets to charming ones in smaller towns and villages, there will surely be one for you.

Happy Christmas travel planning!

 Please Pin for Future Travel to Germany

john caroline

Wednesday 28th of December 2022

All of these Christmas markets look so beautiful...

Michele

Friday 16th of October 2020

This is an awesome round up of Christmas markets. I never knew there were so many. We live in the states and have only a couple near us that I know of. I would love to visit Germany during November or December.

Caitlin

Thursday 15th of October 2020

I used to live in Prague (so a similar area) and the Christmas markets were the one thing that made this time of year good! Otherwise it was just grey XD these all look beautiful too!

WhereAngieWanders

Thursday 15th of October 2020

I loved Prague but haven't been at Christmas. Maybe I should return to experience the city at a different time of year.

Charlena

Thursday 15th of October 2020

I have always wanted to visit Germany during the holidays, so glad I found this, I'm hoping I can spend Christmas 2021 there! This will come in handy!!

Olivia

Wednesday 14th of October 2020

All of these Christmas markets look so dreamy!! I would love to visit all of them, but Rothenburg ob der Tauber looks especially charming.