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Visiting 13 of the Best Christmas Markets in Germany

The Best Christmas Markets In Germany

If you’re heading to Germany for the holidays, you may be at a loss for which of the country’s famed Christmas markets to visit. There are simply so many of them and they’re all incredible!

Fortunately for you, I’ve worked with some of my fellow bloggers to compile a list of 13 of the best Christmas markets in Germany to help you out. From the large and iconic like Cologne’s or Munich’s to the small and cozy like Rothenburg’s or Rüdesheim’s, you’ll find every type of Christmas market you could possibly want to see here.

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German Christmas Market #1 – Berlin

By Renee from Dream Plan Experience

Berlin turns into a wonderland every Christmas with its famous Christmas markets! These festive markets pop up all over the city, filling the streets with twinkling lights, delicious smells and happy cheer.

Imagine strolling through rows of wooden stalls adorned with ornaments, where friendly vendors sell everything from cozy knits and handcrafted toys to yummy gingerbread cookies and steaming mugs of glühwein. The air is filled with the delicious aroma of sausages, candied nuts, and Kartoffelpuffer and the happy chatter of people browsing and enjoying the festive cheer!

There are 80 Christmas Markets in Berlin. Each one offers something a bit unique. One of the most charming is at Spandau, where stalls line the streets of the old town. The largest is the Berliner Weihnachtszeit market located right next to the Red Town Hall. This market boasts an ice skating rink and a giant Ferris wheel, making it a fun place for the whole family. Couples head to the romantic market at Charlottenburg Palace

No matter which market you choose, you’re sure to soak up the festive atmosphere. So, wrap up warm, grab a loved one, and get ready to experience the magic of Christmas in Berlin!

Berlin's Christmas Market
Christmas in Berlin

German Christmas Market #2 – Cologne

By Emese from Ecolodges Anywhere

Cologne, a bustling city covering 405 km² and home to over a million people, annually hosts a variety of Christmas markets that welcomes more than 4 million visitors. These markets are spread throughout the city center, each with its own unique theme.

The highlight is undoubtedly the Christmas market at the foot of the magnificent Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom), but you will miss a lot if you only go there. 

The Christmas market at Rudolfplatz, known as Santa Claus Village (Nikolausdorf), welcomes you through the Hahnentor, a restored medieval gate. It is a paradise for kids, offering numerous activities and performances. Keep an eye out for the festive mugs shaped like Santa’s boots. They are the perfect souvenirs. 

Continue along Hahnenstraße to Neumarkt, where you’ll discover the Angels’ Market (Markt der Engel). The square comes alive with hundreds of twinkling stars, offering angelic performances to visitors almost every day, not just on weekends. If you’re feeling weary, treat yourself to some mulled wine (Glühwein) and grilled sausages (Bratwurst) to keep up your energy.

Next, head further down Hahnenstraße to Heumarkt, the starting point of the Winter Fairy Tale (Heinzels Wintermarchen), which extends to Alter Markt, the Old Town of Cologne. With over 150 food and crafts stalls, the aroma of roasted almonds is ever-present. The highlight here is the outdoor ice rink that sprawls across most of Heumarkt and encircles the equestrian statue of Friedrich Wilhelm III. It is not just for skating. The rink is also the venue for most of the programs. If you crave something sweet, this is the place to try roasted chestnuts, crepes, waffles or authentic German pastries. 

Near the end of Alter Markt, you might already see the Christmas Pyramid (Weihnachtspyramid) at Am Hof, located right at the corner of Roncalliplatz, where the Cathedral Christmas Market begins. It is a spinning wooden Christmas tree, a traditional German Christmas decoration where the warm air from burning candles powers a rotor at the top. While the large-scale version likely operates electrically, you can purchase small-scale models as souvenirs. Some miniatures will still function with candles, offering a charming piece of holiday magic to take home.

As you finally arrive to the Cathedral, a giant Christmas tree greets you in the middle of the square, with the Cathedral as a breathtaking backdrop. Here, just walk around, listen to the music, and marvel at the architectural beauty of the Cathedral. Take a note to come back the next day to climb the tower for stunning panoramic views of Cologne.

Cologne Germany's Christmas Market
One of Cologne’s many Christmas markets

German Christmas Market #3 – Dortmund

By Saskia from Sas Crossing Countries

The holy trinity of the Christmas markets in Nordrhein Westfalen is, in my opinion, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Dortmund. You can’t say you visited the best German Christmas markets if you haven’t been to Dortmund. Here you’ll find the biggest Christmas tree in the world. Take that Times Square!

In Dortmund, the biggest Christmas market can be found at Hansaplatz. The biggest Christmas tree in the world takes center stage and is surrounded by about 200 stalls that sell drinks, food and handicraft and entertainment for kids like a carousel and a golden decorated train they can hop on. Make sure to visit this market when it’s dark so you can admire the Christmas tree in all its lit-up glory!

Another great area is the Kleppingstrasse where you can find stalls selling local dishes as well as food products and dishes from all over the world: Italian and French cheeses, Spanish chorizo and German bratwurst!

When in Europe in December, there’s nothing better than visiting a few of the many Christmas markets in Nordrhein Westfalen, and if you’re visiting them with kids, then Dortmund is the one that offers the most entertainment for kids, all the while not taking away from the grown-up fun!

Dortmund Germany's Christmas Market
Saskia and her family at Dortmund’s Christmas Market

German Christmas Market #4 – Dresden

By Carolin from Solo Travel Story

At approximately 600 years old, this is Germany’s oldest Christmas market and a grand festive spectacle like no other. The markets in Dresden are unique and can really induce that cozy, festive feeling that most of us still cherish from our childhood.

Dresden’s city center is transformed into a Christmas feast consisting of not just one, but at least three different markets. In the main market square, you’ll find traditional huts selling gifts, food and mulled wine. The highlight of this market is the grand pyramid and nativity play alongside a stage showcasing Christmas carols and plays throughout the advent season. “Stritzel” is Saxonian for Stollen, our traditional German Christmas bread made from yeast, spices and dried fruits.

Near the Frauenkirche is another market. This one is more alternative and only lit by the light of hundreds of Herrenhuter Stars. These stars are a typical German Christmas decoration, and they are produced nearby in the town of Herrenhut. Their warm and tranquil light creates an intimate atmosphere, and it is no surprise that this market is usually less busy than the main one. With the backdrop of the Frauenkirche, this market has always been my favorite as it is magical, calm and the nativity play has real animals, too!

The third Dresden market is tucked away by the Fürstenzug inside the castle complex. It pays homage to the early beginnings of medieval Christmas markets, and for a small fee you can travel back in time.
Highlights include a calm atmosphere, traditional Christmas food such as the Dresden Handbread, artisan handcrafts and small show displays.

Dresden Germany's Christmas Market
One of Dresden’s Christmas markets

German Christmas Market #5 – Düsseldorf

By Saskia from Sas Crossing Countries

Nordrhein Westfalen is a state where you want to stay in December because you can find some of the most amazing Christmas Markets here. Düsseldorf is one of the cities in the region where you can find amazing Christmas markets all over the Old Town.

In Düsseldorf you’ll find seven Christmas markets in and around the Altstadt (Old Town). You can visit them all easily by strolling around for an hour or four. But I recommend staying for at least two days, because all markets have their own design and theme.

We’ve been to lots of German Christmas markets and find the one in Düsseldorf one of the coziest. It’s not too crowded, lots of locals and a charming Handwerker Markt, filled with handicraft and even a life-sized hand-carved wooden Nativity scene.

Especially fun with kids is the ferris wheel located on the bank of the Rhine. Here you’ll also find a line of tents filled with restaurants where you can eat schnitzel and bratwurst and have a beer or mulled wine without getting wet. There was never a December where we visited a German Christmas market without any rain.

If you’re looking to buy Christmas ornaments, visit the Altstadt Markt. And don’t forget to head to Corneliusplatz where you’ll find the Christmas Market Ice Rink. Here you can rent skates and also play curling.

You can visit the Christmas Market in Düsseldorf from mid November until the 23rd of December 2024.

Dusseldorf Germany's Christmas Market

German Christmas Market #6 – Frankfurt

By Sara from Journey of Doing

Often overlooked in favor of some of the more famous German Christmas markets, Frankfurt’s markets bring their own magic to the holiday season. During the weekdays, you can easily shop the markets nestled against the backdrop of half-timbered beauty of Romberg and Paulsplatz. You’ll find traditional German Christmas décor, children’s toys and other unique gifts. 

At night, the Frankfurt market comes alive with locals. You can follow your nose along the pedestrian shopping area, known as Zeil, and enjoy a progressive dinner as you move from square to square. Many of the smaller markets in the city center offer community tables to enjoy a bit of conviviality with your meal. If you’re looking to experience something unique to Frankfurt (beyond the traditional German beer and glühwein), don’t miss apfelwein, which is an apple wine like cider. While it can be bit strong, it pairs beautifully with traditional German bratwurst and schnitzel.   

In addition to the Altstadt (Old Town) Christmas markets that run throughout the advent season, there are often specialized markets that pop up on weekends throughout Frankfurt, offering opportunities to experience other country’s Christmas traditions, like the offerings at the sister city Christmas markets in Nuremburg and Verona, Italy.

One of the best things about Frankfurt’s Christmas markets is the nod to upholding German Christmas traditions against the dichotomy of the city’s modern skyline. And, given Frankfurt’s extensive transportation options, it’s easy to pair with a visit to Christmas markets in smaller German towns or make a trip across the border to the Alsace Christmas markets in France! 

Frankfurt Germany's Christmas Market
Modern signs backdropping Frankfurt’s traditional Christmas market

German Christmas Market #7 – Hamburg

By Joanna from The World In My Pocket

Hamburg is a great city to explore over the winter season. The Christmas markets in Hamburg are unique in Europe and are as unique as the city itself. The main Christmas market takes place in front of the city hall and features a lot of stalls selling handmade decorations, food and hot drinks. There are also workshops, as well as a blacksmith where you can see how iron is turned into pretty decorations. The highlight of the market is the flying Santa – who sits in the sleigh and flies over the market, wishing everyone gathered to see him Merry Christmas. Santa is a real person and has been doing this for the past 20 years.

Other smaller markets are dotted all over the city, along the Alster Lake, as well as in the warehouse area. Some of these markets are small, intimate and hard to find because they are hidden in interior courtyards. Once you find them, you will have an amazing time, away from the crowds of the main markets.

Besides the fairytale Christmas markets, Hamburg also features a naught market, in the red light district of St Pauli. This market features naughty decorations and gifts, a special mug design that reflects the spirit of the area, as well as stripping Santas on Saturday evenings. It is definitely not a Christmas market to bring your children to, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Hamburg's Christmas Market
A Christmas market in Hamburg

German Christmas Market #8 – Leipzig

By Carolin from Solo Travel Story

As a former resident of Leipzig, it would be rude not to mention this extraordinary market. Every December, the entire city center is taken over by festive huts, the smell of mulled wine, gingerbread and many visitors. It is popular! And I can’t blame it, since the city center of Leipzig is already impressive in itself with its Renaissance Town Hall and prosperous merchant houses. Imagine the markets in between and you have a Christmas market straight out of a fairy tale book.

The markets always have the same structure, so you never miss your favorite stall. My favorite one is Christel’s Langos stand outside Mexx. Further highlights are the many food stalls and the fun fair at Augustusplatz. Plus, Leipzig often gets really cold in December and the snow-covered roofs in the market square add to the festive atmosphere, so you really get that German Christmas market experience.

Leipzig Germany's Christmas Market
Snow-covered stands at Leipzig’s Christmas market

German Christmas Market #9 – Munich

By Austin from ATX Jetsetter

When you think of Christmas markets, one of the first places that comes to mind is Munich. What is now the Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz has its roots back in the 14th century, making it one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. The market was moved to its current location along the Marienplatz in 1972 and is open from late November to Christmas Eve each year. For 2024, the market is open between November 25th and December 24th.

While the market is centered around the Marienplatz, it expands outward throughout many of the surrounding streets and features over a hundred stalls selling everything from handmade wooden gifts, mulled wine, and a large selection of food.  

The surrounding businesses also join in the festivities and buildings along the streets are decorated for the holidays. The focal point of the market is the large, 30-meter-tall Christmas tree located in the main square. On the opposite end, at the Karlsplatz, a skating rink is a popular attraction for children and adults.

Of all of the Christmas markets I’ve had the opportunity to visit, Munich felt the most authentic as tourists and locals intermingled to shop for gifts, eat and drink. If you’re planning a trip to visit Christmas markets, Munich is a must see.

Munich Germany's Christmas Market
Munich’s Marienplatz all ready for Christmas

German Christmas Market #10 – Munich’s Tollwood Winter Festival

By Red from Red Hunt Travel

Located on the expansive Oktoberfest fairgrounds at Theresienwiese, the Tollwood Winter Festival draws the crowds and is indeed much more of a festival atmosphere than some other markets.

Free to enter, the market was very busy with local families, German tourists, and not as many foreigners as you might expect. It has a wide range of food options (including organic food), and is perhaps most famous for its big New Year’s Eve Gala and party.

One thing different at this market is how it has multiple buildings, so you can stroll in and out to warm up from the cold, or seek out a bathroom. (Something that won’t be so convenient at many other markets).

The Market of Ideas houses rows and rows of artists and shopkeepers hawking both holiday and non-holiday crafts. I bought some hazelnut schnapps from a squirrel-themed stall.

Another building, called the Hexenkessel, has live music, complete with a varied bar and communal table seating options. Note that some special musical events require tickets.

Back outdoors, there is a large Eisstockschiessen. This is an outdoor winter game similar to curling. Some people call it Bavarian curling, or simply ice stock sport. The Tollwood market was the only market I saw with rinks to play on.

This market was a little far from downtown Munich, although still within walking distance. A quick hop on one of the metros will save some travel time.

Of all the markets I went to this was the most “party” feeling of them in that many people were there to have a good time, not just to do shopping or browsing. It did get quite crowded as the day went on, with shoulder-to-shoulder people walking around the main outdoor areas. Arrive early if you want to avoid crowds. 

Munich's Tollwood Christmas Market
One of Tollwood’s indoor festive areas

German Christmas Market #11 – Nuremberg

By Andrea from Living Deliberately

The city of Nuremberg is a beautiful medieval town lauded for its Old Town, castle and ancient wall. It also hosts one of Germany’s famous and oldest Christmas markets dating back to 1628: Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt. Every year in December, visitors from all over the world come to take part in the Christmas festivities and cheer in Hauptmarkt Square.

The plaza itself is a delight for the senses with colorful star lanterns hanging everywhere, twinkly Christmas lights, music, people sipping mulled wine in mittens, and wafts of incredible smells, from candied fruits, gingerbread, sausages, melted cheese raclette, cinnamon, and chocolate confections. The Christmas market is open all day long, but the real charm is in the evening when the plaza is lit up and you can hear people laughing. Grab a roasted sausage in a bun with spicy mustard and a hot wine and gather with the locals – it’s a Christmas memory you won’t forget.

The best time to go is during the week so you can beat the crowds. Make sure and dress warmly as you’ll be outside in the cold: bring extra warm socks, mittens, and maybe long underwear. Book your hotel in advance as Nuremberg is not a big city and accommodation fills up quickly. Alternatively, you can easily do it as a day trip from Munich, which is 1.25 hours away on the fast train (book your tickets in advance as prices jump up ridiculously at the last minute).

The Christmas market opens on November 29, 2024 at 5:30 p.m. until December 24 at 2:00 p.m.

Nuremberg Germany's Christmas Market
Welcome to Nuremberg’s Christmas Market

German Christmas Market #12 – Rothenburg

By Yours Truly, me from Paul Passing Through

Of the three Bavarian markets I visited in 2022, the one at Rothenburg ob der Tauber was by far my favorite Christmas market. Everything about Rothenburg’s Christmas Market was just so perfectly Christmassy.

Unlike some other popular Christmas markets in Germany, the one in Rothenburg is delightfully small, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s boring or not worth seeing. It still has just enough stands and plenty of Christmas trees to keep you entertained – and, importantly, well fed! Everywhere you go you’ll encounter a whole range of mouthwatering smells: savory Rothenburg sausages, toasted nuts of every type imaginable, baking pretzels, sweet treats and more.

What’s more, Rothenburg’s Christmas Market, while on the smaller side, is quaint and cozy rather than overwhelming like bigger markets. The central part of the market sits in Rothenburg’s main town square with a large Christmas tree in the middle surrounded by the town’s old and new town halls and gorgeous half-timbered buildings. Stalls radiate out from here to another couple smaller sections ringed with more Christmas trees and decorations.

If all that isn’t enough, Rothenburg ob der Tauber itself is the most charming fairy tale town. It feels like it jumped straight out of a Christmas movie, especially if you’re lucky enough to visit while snow rests on the top of all the buildings.

You won’t want to miss Rothenburg’s Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Shop just a short walk away from the market. This fun, yet busy, shop has every Christmas decoration and trinket you could possibly want. In its upstairs, you can even visit its charming German Christmas Museum to see how Germany has celebrated Christmas over the years.

Rothenburg Germany's Christmas Market
Santa was helping everyone get into the Christmas spirit with his music.

German Christmas Market #13 – Rüdesheim

By Peggy from Sis Behaving Badly

We were fortunate enough to visit Rüdesheim during our Viking Christmas on the Rhine cruise. Rüdesheim is a small town along the Rhine River with a lot of culture and history. Known as Rüdesheim Christmas Market of Nations, the vendors come from 50 different nations representing their own countries’ customs and specialty goods. This market just celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023 so is fairly new by European standards. In 2024, it will open on November 21 and run through December 23.

We found it to be one of the most charming and one of the least touristy of our trip. Where most of the Christmas markets are centrally located within a marketplace in the individual towns, Rüdesheim differed in that it was more of a “wander” through the streets of the historical old quarter to visit the different
vendors. We were pleased to find that most of the people visiting the market area were locals.

On cobblestone streets lined with Christmas lights and trees, you can pop in and out of various wine cellars and brauhaus, sample local baked goods, and even catch a ride on the Christmas train (which picked us up at the cruise dock and brought us to town – so much fun). This is in addition to the chalet shops available for handcrafted items, touristy charms, and specialties from foreign lands. One of the more memorable things was a life-size Nativity – I would swear this was a living nativity but cannot find evidence of this in my photos or online – but still memorable.

If you are traveling along the Rhine, we highly recommend adding this stop for a cozy, authentic Christmas market stop.

Rudesheim Germany's Christmas Market
People celebrating at Rüdesheim’s Christmas Market

What to Expect from the Best Christmas Markets in Germany

Contributed by Germany’s native daughter, Carolin from Solo Travel Story

Usually held in medieval market squares surrounded by old churches, town halls and restored Renaissance houses, the markets give you that special feeling of Christmas. It is already frosty cold, most likely minus degrees, the snow has covered the roofs and you can see your breath when you exhale. These are the perfect conditions to go to the markets.

Christmas is the time to celebrate the harvest of the year and to eat and celebrate. Germany makes no exception and in my culture, mulled wine, gingerbread and oranges are the food symbols of December. I know it sounds a bit weird but Christmas markets are in the first place a treasure trove of food.

You usually go there when it gets dark, which is around 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and then you eat most of the time. You drink hot mulled wine to keep you warm, chew a hard gingerbread heart, indulge in candied apples and in between changing food stalls, you look at all the amazing wooden crafts.

People drink their hot beverages out of personalized market mugs (there’s a €5 fee) which you can keep afterward as a little souvenir. The Dresdner Hand bread, a fresh from the oven hot-filled bread, as well as Langos are traditional savory dishes served at the markets. Candied apples, chocolate-coated tea cakes, quark dough balls and fruits, as well as candy floss and gingerbread hearts are for sweets lovers.

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