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
Christmas Markets in Germany 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.
Traditional Christmas Markets in Germany offer a completely unique experience that should not be missed, and if you’re looking for some festive fun during winter, you need to experience this at least once in your lifetime.
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.
With all these Christmas Markets dotted across the country, how do you identify the best one to visit? Here’s your answer.
Table of Contents
- Best Christmas Markets in Germany
- 1. Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg
- 2. Dresden Christmas Market (Dresden Striezelmarkt)
- 3. Lucia Christmas Market, Berlin
- 4. Leipzig Christmas Market (Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt)
- 5. Munich Christmas Market in Marienplatz
- 6. Magdeburger Weihnachtsmarkt, Magdeburg
- 7. Frankfurt Christmas Market, Weihnachtsmarkt
- 8. Erfurt Christmas Market
- 9. Schweriner Weihnachtsmarkt, Schwerin
- 10. Marktplatz, Stuttgart Christmas Market
- 11. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
- 12. Dortmund Christmas Market
- 13. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
- 14. Trier Christmas Market
- Facts About Christmas Markets in Germany
- Where are the best Christmas markets in Germany?
- When do German Christmas Markets Start?
- What to Buy at German Christmas Markets
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 Christmas Markets in Germany is the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt (or the Nuremberg Christmas Market). 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 Christmas Markets in Germany, 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.
This Germany Christmas 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 the Christmas Festival. 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 a 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. Dresden Christmas Market (Dresden Striezelmarkt)
Talk of old, and the Dresden Christmas market (Dresden Striezelmarkt) pop 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 Christmas lights glimmering in 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 Christmas markets in Germany. It hosts over 70 Christmas markets every year, whose diversity equals that of the city.
Out of all of Berlin’s Christmas markets, 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 is the best Christmas market in Northern Germany because it has all you need. From incredible fashion, original artwork, jewelry, and some scrumptious street foods, the market has you covered.
4. Leipzig Christmas Market (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. Munich Christmas Market in Marienplatz
This traditional 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.
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.
This traditional Christmas market that takes place in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt’s capital, is among the best Christmas destinations in Germany. The culture and historical background engrossed in this place is 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 of this fun. There are various children’s funfairs here, making the place a perfect family destination. When visiting Christmas markets in small towns of Germany, you can either go on a day trip or make it an overnight getaway.
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 near Town Hall and surrounded by fairy lights on old-style half-timbered structures, you just need to be here.
The Frankfurt Christmas Market 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 is 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 held in the old town and the Weihnachtspyramide, a towering pine with 20,000 Christmas lights, can be seen along Mecklenburgstraße as you walk to the market.
Backsteingotik cathedral’s 111.85-meter tall towers are far smaller than this. Glögg, a mulled wine typical to Sweden, is the result of Swedish culture’s influence on local industry. Schwerin is accessible by rail in about three hours from Hamburg.
The Schwerin Christmas market is a German Christmas market 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 Christmas lights
- The Backsteingotik cathedral, 117.5 meters high
The famous Glögg (the 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 Christmas Market
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, the 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 at this Christmas market that you’ll wish to never leave.
11. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
The Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany. It’s located in the city center at the base of the majestic Cologne Cathedral and is filled with festive decorations, food and drink stalls, and Christmas gifts.
There’s also a charming Christmas village set up in one corner of the market where you can buy traditional German Christmas ornaments and presents.
This is one of the best Christmas markets in Germany for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s located in the heart of the city and is surrounded by beautiful, historic buildings, including the impressive Cologne Cathedral. Secondly, it’s huge and has a festive atmosphere with lots of Christmas decorations and food and drink stalls.
And finally, there’s a lovely Christmas village set up in one corner of the market with traditional German gifts and decorations. If you’re looking for a traditional and atmospheric German Christmas market, then this market is definitely worth a visit!
12. Dortmund Christmas Market
The Dortmund Christmas Market is one of the most popular in Germany, and it’s easy to see why. There are dozens of stalls selling festive wares, from decorations and toys to delicious food and drink. The atmosphere is merry and lively, with Christmas music and carols filling the air.
But what really makes the Dortmund Christmas Market special is its huge, beautiful Christmas tree. Every year, a different country is chosen to donate the tree, and it’s always an impressive sight.
If you’re looking for a festive European Christmas market to visit, Dortmund should definitely be on your list.
13. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
Rothenberg or Tauber is a beautiful city in Germany, and it’s perfect for a fairy tale. If you’re on Instagram and see half-timbered cuteness walls everywhere, Rothenberg or Tauber should be on your list of places to visit during the Christmas Market.
For an unusual perspective over the town, go for a stroll on the city walls. If you want to grab a bite while at it, have some Schneeballen, which is basically a fried dough ball with sugar and cinnamon toppings. It’s delicious!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the best Christmas markets in Germany because it has a magical atmosphere that will transport you to a fairytale world. The old-world charm of the city combined with the festive decorations and Christmas wares make this Christmas market a must-visit for anyone looking for a winter wonderland experience.
14. Trier Christmas Market
The Trier Christmas Market is located in the picturesque old town of Trier, which is surrounded by ancient Roman ruins. This makes for a unique and atmospheric setting for a Christmas market. The market itself is quite small but still has a good selection of stalls selling Christmas gifts, decorations, and food.
If you’re looking for a historic and atmospheric Christmas market, then the Trier Christmas Market is definitely worth a visit.
Facts About Christmas Markets in Germany
There are markets in almost every city and town throughout the country during the Advent season. Visitors can find everything from handmade Christmas decorations and holiday foods to mulled wine and gifts at these festive markets.
Some of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany include those in Berlin, Dresden, Frankfurt, Munich, and Stuttgart. Each market has its own unique atmosphere and offerings, so be sure to check out several if you have the chance.
- The markets have a long history, dating back to the late Middle Ages.
- Most markets are set up in town squares and include stalls with festive decorations, ornaments, and gifts.
- You can find traditional German foods and drinks at the markets, such as glühwein (mulled wine), gingerbread, and bratwurst.
- Christmas markets are a popular tourist attraction, and attract millions of visitors each year.
- There are over 2,500 Christmas markets in Germany alone.
- The largest Christmas market in the world is located in Dresden, with over 250 stalls.
- The Dresden market is also one of the oldest, dating back to 1434.
- The first Christmas markets are thought to have originated in Germany in the late Middle Ages.
- At that time, markets were held during the winter months to provide a place for people to buy goods and supplies.
- The first recorded Christmas market was in Bautzen, Germany, in 1384.
- Christmas markets began to spread to other parts of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.
- In the United States, German Christmas markets are held in cities such as Chicago, New York, and San Francisco.
Where are the best Christmas markets in Germany?
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 Eve or 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 these amazing German Christmas markets provide one of the best Christmas experiences you’ll find. And, what’s better than enjoying the best Christmas markets in Germany.
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