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14 Best German Christmas Markets to Visit

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 fantastic markets you can add to your itinerary

Christmas Markets in Germany are an excellent 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 unique experience that should not be missed. 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 hassle-free. 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

Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg
Image by Max Schrader used under Creative Commons

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, this event comes to mind when most people hear of German markets.

It is one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Germany and the most popular globally, with an impeccable record of over 2 million visitors annually. So, if you want a Christmas experience and have a great selection of Christmas German gifts, this market offers the best opportunity.

While its exact origin date is unknown, historians suspect it dates back to the 17th century. A coniferous wooden box dating back to 1628 is the oldest evidence. This Germany Christmas Market starts on the Friday before the Advent First Sunday, ending on December 24, 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. A Nuremberg child plays this role 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.

If you love Christmas food, be sure to book this Christmas culinary tour of Nuremberg.

Where to Stay in Nuremberg:

2. Dresden Christmas Market (Dresden Striezelmarkt)

Dresden Christmas Market (Dresden Striezelmarkt)

Talk of old, and the Dresden Christmas market (Dresden Striezelmarkt) is on 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 happened 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 Middle and 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.

Where to Stay in Dresden:

3. Lucia Christmas Market, Berlin

Lucia Christmas Market, Berlin
Image by Auto1234 used under Creative Commons

Being the country’s capital, Berlin is home to some of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany. It hosts over 70 Christmas markets yearly, 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 to Berlin residents but to the entire country and the world. This Christmas market is held annually at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg. The rich German traditions blended with Scandinavian influences make the Lucia Christmas market a gem.

Sweet German traditional songs are playing all over the market, with flags flying from the beautifully decorated stalls. And the mouth-watering aroma of German delicacies, like the elk bratwurst, will make you want to 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. The market has you covered with incredible fashion, original artwork, jewelry, and some tasty street foods. Read our full guide on where to stay in Berlin if you want to make the most of your visit.

Where to Stay in Berlin:

4. Leipzig Christmas Market (Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt)

Leipzig Christmas Market
Image by Falk2 used under Creative Commons

Leipzig city prides itself on hosting Germany’s second-oldest Christmas market. The Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt opened its doors in 1458, 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 with charming Christmas gifts. The place is always magical, with rich history, culture, and amazing traditions. The delicious German foods will make your visit even better.

The celebrated St. Thomas Boys Choir ensures the season’s atmosphere is always lit, with Christmas concerts and trumpet fanfare 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-meter-tall Ferris wheel are also among the most attractive features of the market. A tour of this market is undoubtedly one of the most amazing things you can do in Leipzig city.

Whereto Stay in Leipzig:

See Related: Best Day Trips From Leipzig

5. Munich Christmas Market in Marienplatz

Munich Christmas Market in Marienplatz
Image by Lawrence W.K. Ho used under Creative Commons

This traditional Christmas market on the famous Munich’s Marienplatz is a sight. 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. Stunningly adorned with lights, garlands, and ornaments, the kiosks 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 back home. If you thought Oktoberfest was the only good festival in Munich, you could think again.

Where to Stay in Marienplatz:

6. Magdeburger Weihnachtsmarkt, Magdeburg

Magdeburg Christmas Market at Night
LianeM / Adobe Stock

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 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 them, it’s a sight you don’t want to miss. And if you are a wine lover, the tasty mulled wine and alluring seasonal melodies will certainly lighten your day.

Also, kids are not left out of this fun. Various children’s funfairs are here, making the place a perfect family destination. When visiting Christmas markets in small towns in Germany, you can either go on a day trip or make it an overnight getaway.

Where to Stay in Magdeburg:

7. Frankfurt Christmas Market, Weihnachtsmarkt

Frankfurt Christmas Market, Weihnachtsmarkt
Image by Anneli Salo used under Creative Commons

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 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 famous for its tiny dried plum 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 from original native artworks, ornaments, and authentic honey-based products. Here, you get to celebrate Christmas in an entirely different and unique way.

Where to Stay in Frankfurt:

8. Erfurt Christmas Market

Erfurt Christmas Market
Image by Berlinschneid used under Creative Commons

This is a Christmas market like no other. The over 200 wooden structures packed with beautiful handicrafts, ornaments, and traditional German delicacies create a fantastic view. Whether you are here for a treat of Germany’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 European fairs. 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 fabulous Erfurt Christmas Market. You should certainly add this destination to your following German trip itinerary.

Where to Stay in Erfurt:

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 by train. You can enjoy a fantastic day trip from there.

Where to Stay in Schwerin:

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 five main market squares are annually transformed, offering visitors and locals a taste of Germany’s most outstanding Christmas markets.

You’ll even hear some people calling Stuttgart the Christmas city due to the luxury in Christmas activities that the place commands. The presence of numerous stunning historic structures on its cobblestone streets adds to the beauty and attractiveness of this place.

If you want to enjoy more than just Christmas, the Stuttgart Christmas markets undoubtedly offer that. One of the major markets you should try out here is the Wintertraum Markt.

You can enjoy 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 never to leave.

Where to Stay in Stuttgart:

11. Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market

Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market
Image by Superbass used under  CC-BY-SA-3.0

The Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market is one of Germany’s most popular Christmas markets. 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 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 festive with many Christmas decorations and food and drink stalls.

And finally, a lovely Christmas village is 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 as it’s one of the best things to do in Cologne.

Where to Stay in Cologne:

12. Dortmund Christmas Market

Dortmund Christmas Market
prosiaczeq / Adobe Stock

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 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.

Where to Stay in Dortmund:

13. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market

Rothenberg ob der 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, stroll on the city walls to grab a bite while at it and have some Schneeballen, 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.

Like what you are hearing? Check out these other best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Where to Stay in Rothenburg ob der Tauber:

14. Trier Christmas Market

The Trier Christmas Market is in the picturesque old town of Trier, surrounded by ancient Roman ruins. This makes for a unique and atmospheric setting for a Christmas market. The market is 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. Check out these other best things to do in Trier to make the best of your visit.

Where to Stay in Trier:

Facts About Christmas Markets in Germany

What to Buy at German Christmas Markets

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 Germany’s most famous Christmas markets include those in Berlin, Dresden, Frankfurt, Munich, and Stuttgart. Each market has its unique atmosphere and offerings, so check out several.

  • The markets have a long history, dating back to the late Middle Ages.
  • Most markets are 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, attracting millions of visitors annually.
  • Given how big the country is and how big the tradition is, Germany has over 2,500 Christmas markets 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 more prominent cities like Berlin holding more than 70 Christmas Markets, Germany has no shortage of these significant events. 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 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 generally 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

Toys at the Düsseldorf Christmas Market, Germany
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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 larger cities and not the main attraction. There are also many food 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 the market’s most popular drink. You will find many gluhweins stands throughout the markets with crowds of people around them drinking and socializing. Alternatively, there is warm German beer that is equally as tasty.

The overall experience of a Christmas Market in Germany is 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 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 fantastic German Christmas markets provide one of the best Christmas experiences you’ll find.

Which is the best Christmas market in Germany?

The best Christmas market in Germany is often considered the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg. This historical market has been an annual tradition since the 16th century and is well-known for its charming setting, festive ambiance, and traditional handicrafts. With hundreds of Christmas markets nationwide, the ‘best’ one often depends on personal preferences on what you want to see and do when visiting.

What are the dates for Christmas markets in Germany?

The dates for Christmas markets in Germany typically fall between late November and Christmas Eve, with some extending into early January. It is advisable to check specific dates for each market as they vary, but most begin on or around the Advent period (four weeks before Christmas) and last until December 24th.

Are German Christmas markets worth visiting?

Absolutely, German Christmas markets are considered worth visiting for their festive atmosphere, traditional crafts, and culinary delights. They offer an unforgettable experience filled with twinkling lights, the scent of mulled wine, and the chance to enjoy Germany’s holiday traditions. They attract millions of visitors every year, both locals and international tourists.

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