Are you uncertain of the best German Christmas markets to visit? Well, if you are planning for a German tour, here is a list of all the amazing markets you can add to your itinerary
In Germany, Christmas Markets are an incredible and celebrated tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Every year, different German towns and cities hold these events that tourists from all over the globe also attend.
The delectable aromas of hot chestnuts, grilled sausages, and glühwein, coupled with the quaint architecture that braces each town, make these events worth every minute of your time.
If you want to have a completely different experience of Christmas, German Christmas Markets offers just that. Totally unique and fascinating than what you are used to.
So, if you are visiting Germany, why not do it during this season? I have prepared an all-inclusive list of the best Christmas markets in Germany, as well as an overview of what to expect. This way, you can plan your next German Advent tour without much hassle.
Facts About German Christmas Markets
Where are the German Christmas Markets?
You will find a Christmas Market in the center of just about every German town, big or small, and just about every one of them will have the same characteristics.
With bigger cities like Berlin holding more than 70 Christmas Markets, there is no shortage of these great events in Germany. And, even the smallest towns and villages conduct their Christmas traditions. Here, local artists and shop owners flock to the Markets to celebrate the festive season.
Generally, Germany has more than 150 towns and cities spread across the country. And, with most of these places holding more than one Christmas market, you can then imagine the look of things in Germany during this time. It’s just phenomenal.
When do German Christmas Markets Start?
In bigger cities, they generally start on the last weekend of November and end on the 23rd or 24th of December. Smaller towns, however, usually hold their Christmas markets over a weekend. They are usually only held for a weekend or up to a week directly before Christmas in smaller cities.
And, while many cities and towns in Germany open their markets on the Friday before Advent, some can’t wait. As early as several days before the First Advent Sunday, some Christmas Markets are already on.
What to Buy at German Christmas Markets
You could compare a German Christmas Market to a fair in the U.S.
A big area with lots of stands, but instead of games, these stands are little shops with Christmas items like clothing, ornaments, “Nutcracker” Soldiers, etc.
You will also find some rides, just like at the fair in the U.S., but these rides are typically in the larger cities and not the main attraction.
There are also many foods, and drink stands where you will find most of the traditional German Christmas food and drinks, including, but not limited to, glühwein, Christmas punch, gingerbread, and Christmas cookies.
Glühwein (a warm, red wine served in a coffee-type mug) is by far the most popular drink at the markets. You will find many gluhweins stands throughout the markets with crowds of people around them drinking and socializing.
The overall experience of a Christmas Market in Germany is really like no other. It tends to truly bring out the Christmas spirit in all who attend with the “Christmasy” smells, sights, and sounds.
As soon as you arrive, you smell a mix of roasted chestnuts, sweet glühwein, and a variety of other Christmas goodies. You also hear cheerful Christmas music, which really lifts your spirits, even if you don’t understand German.
I’ve visited many different countries in the past decade, and I can honestly say that German Christmas Markets provide one of the best Christmas experiences you’ll find.
So, with all these Christmas Markets dotted across the country, how do you identify the best one to visit? Here’s your answer.
Best Christmas Markets in Germany
Let’s get into it and see what your best Christmas destination options are.
1. Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg
First on our list of the most revered German Christmas Markets is the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt. And not with a perfect reason! Ideally, when most people hear of German markets, this one event comes into mind.
Not only is it one of the oldest German Christmas Markets, but also the most popular globally, with an impeccable record of over 2 million visitors annually. So, if you want to have a Christmas experience like no other and have a great selection of Christmas German gifts, this market offers the best opportunity.
While its exact origin date is unknown, historians suspect that it dates back to the 17th century. A coniferous wooden box dating back to 1628 is the oldest piece of evidence for this.
The Market starts on the Friday prior to the Advent First Sunday, ending on 24th December, unless the day falls on a Sunday.
The celebrations start with a major custom, involving a parade by the holy cherub ‘Christ Child’ – the traditional gifts giver during Christmas. This role is played by a Nuremberg child, through the city’s Central Square.
And if you want to carry home some souvenirs, you certainly should. There are numerous of these, including the Franconian region’s specialties, such as clothing (made from beautiful local wool), brandies, jams, etc. It’s no brainer why Nuremberg is also known as “the city of wood and cloth.”
Sweet treats of Spekulatius almond cookies and gingerbread will also tempt your appetite. These are some of the other top things to do in Nuremberg.
2. The Dresden Striezelmarkt
Talk of old, and the Dresden Striezelmarkt pops up on top of the list. This is the oldest market in Germany. It’s also among the oldest markets globally, as it is famous.
Unlike the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, whose exact origin is unknown, this one has been happening since 1434 in Altmarkt. Germans even refer to Dresden as the unofficial Christmas capital.
The term Striezelmarkt is coined from the words Dresdner Stollen. In the Middle, High German this is also known as Striezel or Strutzel, a popular type of cake you’ll find in this market.
The market square, where the events are held, is smack between Dresden’s Old Town stunning architectural gems, with the beautiful River Elbe majestically flowing in the background.
The decorations and festive lights glimmering the market square will undoubtedly lure you in. It’s a place and event that you wouldn’t want to miss.
3. Lucia Christmas Market, Berlin
Being the country’s capital, Berlin is home to some of the biggest German Christmas markets. It hosts over 70 Christmas markets every year, whose diversity equals that of the city.
The Lucia Christmas Market is one incredible market that’s not only famous to Berlin residents but to the entire country and the world. This Christmas market is held annually at the Kulturbrauerei, in Prenzlauer Berg.
What makes the Lucia Christmas market such a gem is the rich German traditions blended with Scandinavian influences.
You can hear the sweet German traditional songs playing all over the market, with Nordic flags flying from the beautifully decorated stalls. And, the mouth-watering aroma of German delicacies, like the elk bratwurst, will make you want to just have a bite.
If you want a twist in your Christmas shopping, this Scandinavian-themed Christmas market has all you need. From incredible fashion, original artwork, jewelry, and some scrumptious street foods, the market has you covered.
4. Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt
Leipzig city prides itself on hosting German’s second oldest Christmas market. The Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt opened its doors back in 1458, just 24 years after Dresden Striezelmarkt.
Located in Leipzig’s historical center outside the Old Town Hall, the market welcomes its visitors with over 250 beautifully decorated stalls overflowing with charming Christmas gifts. The place is always magical, abounding with rich history, culture, and amazing traditions. The delicious German foods will make your visit even better.
The celebrated St. Thomas Boys Choir ensures that the season’s atmosphere is always lit, with Christmas concerts and trumpet fanfares filling the air.
Also, smack within the city is the planet’s biggest “free-standing Advent Calendar,” at 857 m2. And that’s not all; the Saxon spruce Christmas tree and the 38 meters tall Ferris wheel are also among the most attractive features of the market.
A tour of this market is certainly one of the most amazing things you can do in Leipzig city.
See related: 10 Best Day Trips From Leipzig
5. Marienplatz Christmas Market
This Christmas market that is held on the famous Munich’s Marienplatz is a sight to behold. The place is nestled in the middle of quaint historic buildings, such as the Old and the Neo-Gothic New Town Halls, offering even more tourist attractions.
And, the numerous wooden stalls all across the square make this place an authentic winter wonderland. The stalls, which are stunningly adorned with lights, garlands, and ornaments, offer the best treat of chestnuts, stollen, wine, and other superb German delicacies.
You can also shop for traditional Bavarian handicraft souvenirs to help create even better memories when back home.
If you thought Oktoberfest was the only good festival in Munich, then you can think again.
6. Magdeburger Weihnachtsmarkt, Magdeburg
While not among the biggest Christmas markets in Germany, this doesn’t deter it from offering some of the best Christmas treats. The Christmas market that takes place in the Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt’s capital, is among the best Christmas destinations in Germany. The culture and historical background engrossed in this place are simply stunning.
From the lively stalls containing all sorts of beautiful decorations, German delicacies, and artwork to the old medieval structures around it, it’s a sight you don’t want to miss. And if you are a wine lover, the tasty mulled wine, coupled with alluring seasonal melodies, will certainly lighten your day.
Also, kids are not left out in this fun. There are various children’s funfairs here, making the place a perfect family destination. Every one of the German Christmas markets has a unique touch to make you want to visit again.
7. Frankfurt Christmas Market, Weihnachtsmarkt
From as early as the 14th century, Frankfurt has been home to one of the biggest, oldest, and most fascinating Christmas markets. Spreading throughout Frankfurt’s historic Old Town and surrounded by fairy lights on old-style half-timbered structures, you just need to be here.
The place offers some of the best-mulled wine in Germany, roasted nuts, fragrant gingerbread, and delicious baked apples to keep your belly all sorted. In addition, Weihnachtsmarkt, Frankfurt is popular for its tiny dried plums figurines, hot apple wine, and the Bethmännchen.
And if you want to take some stuff home, there’s more here than you can carry. The over 200 stalls sell almost everything, right from original native artworks, ornaments, and even authentic honey-based products.
Here, you get a chance to celebrate the Christmas season in an entirely different and amazing way.
8. Erfurt Christmas Market
This is a Christmas market like no other. The over 200 wooden structures packed with beautiful handicrafts, ornaments, and German traditional delicacies, create an amazing view. Whether you are here for a treat of German’s best meals, or a taste of the country’s history and culture, this the best place to start.
Sitting among some of the most well-preserved structures in Germany, this Christmas market tops among the liveliest fairs in all of Europe. Some of the Erfurt Christmas Market’s most spectacular features include:
- An exquisitely lit Christmas tree
- Erzgebirge Christmas Pyramid, 12m tall
- The Nativity Scene (human size wooden figures)
- A traditional Christmas floral fair
- Wooden stall with colorful decorations, selling numerous handcrafted products and regional delights.
The enchanted forest is also a highlight of this amazing Erfurt Christmas Market. You should certainly add this destination to your next German trip itinerary.
9. Schweriner Weihnachtsmarkt, Schwerin
The Schwerin Christmas market is one of those German Christmas markets whose history is unparalleled. The city’s history goes as far back as the 11th century, making the region one of the best places to be, especially for history geeks.
With stunningly decorated, well-preserved, old timber-framed houses lining the streets, the city offers the ideal setting for an amazing Christmas market. Some of the market’s highlights include:
- Weihnachtspyramide (Christmas pyramid), 8 meters high
- A fir tree, with over 10,000 lights
- The Backsteingotik cathedral, 117.5 meters high
The famous Glögg (region’s mulled wine) also brings back memories of the city’s historic Swedish influence. And, if you are staying in Hamburg, Schwerin is just an hour via train. You can enjoy an amazing day trip from there.
10. Marktplatz, Stuttgart
If you are looking for Christmas markets in Germany offering a more traditional experience, Stuttgart has loads of those. Here, the city’s 5 main market squares are annually transformed, offering visitors and locals a taste of German’s most outstanding Christmas markets.
You’ll even hear some people calling Stuttgart the Christmas city due to the opulence in Christmas activities that the place commands. The presence of numerous stunning historic structures on its cobblestone streets just adds to the beauty and attractiveness of this place.
If you want to enjoy more than just Christmas, Stuttgart Christmas markets undoubtedly offer you that. One of the major markets you should try out here is the Wintertraum Markt.
You can enjoy some roasted chestnuts or the traditional honey-sweetened German cookies, as you marvel at the sea of exquisite wooden huts decorated with Christmas decorations.
Generally, there’s so much to see and do in these amazing German Christmas markets that you’ll wish to never leave. And, what’s better than enjoying Christmas markets in Germany.