If you want to experience the true magic of the Christmas market, you need to go to the origin of the tradition – Germany. Surrounded by the sweet smells of mulled wine, roasted nuts, and freshly-baked Christmas pastries and biscuits, you can’t help but get swept away by the spirit of Christmas!
There is a huge variety of Christmas markets on offer in Germany. The styles vary from traditional to modern, and you can find one in nearly every corner of the country. A bonus of travelling this time of year is that the time period is considered off-season. This means that you may be able to find affordable deals on hotels and flights, as well as our speciality, car hire.
The majority of Christmas markets usually open in late November, and run until Christmas. Visiting during the day or after the sun has set both have their advantages – in the daytime you may find it warmer if the sun is shining, but after dark the wonderful Christmas lights will shine from all huts, decorations and Christmas trees. Note, however, that markets are usually not open very late (most close around 9pm). Many are also closed all day on German Remembrance Day.
Here are some of the best Christmas markets Germany has to offer, where you can get into the real Christmas spirit:
Am Dom Christmas Market in Cologne
23rd of November to 23rd of December
One of the most well-known Christmas markets, the Am Dom market in Cologne is located in front of the Cologne Cathedral, a gorgeous landmark of the city and a World Heritage Site. The market itself matches the cathedral’s grandeur with its 150 stalls. Take your time meandering through the market sipping on some lovely mulled wine while listening to German Christmas songs.
Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin
23rd of November to 31st of December
As can only be expected from Berlin, this Christmas market has its own unique flair. The Gendarmenmarkt market has top chefs preparing exciting dishes, as well as live performances to keep visitors entertained, including dancers, choirs, acrobats, jugglers, and many other artists.
Striezelmarkt in Dresden
26th of November to 24th of December
Strizelmarket is Germany’s oldest Christmas market. The vast square is decorated throughout with Christmas lights, and boasts plentiful traditional Christmas delicacies and a festive atmosphere. The Christmas Pyramid and the tallest Nutcracker in the world are also on display here. We also recommend visiting during the Stollen festival, when a huge stollen (fruit bread) is brought out and pieces are handed to visitors.
Stuttgart Christmas Market in Stuttgart
25th of November to 23rd of December
Stuttgart Christmas market is considered by many to be one of Europe’s most beautiful. The setting by the Old Palace gives the market a truly festive ambiance. The market offers fun for both children and adults with Santa’s grotto, a miniature railway, and lots of handmade crafts.
Marienplatz Christmas Market in Munich
27th of November to 24th of December
The setting of the Munich Christmas market on Marienplatz is also fantastic, as the event is located right in front of the majestic Gothic-style town hall. The market also stretches out into numerous side streets, and allows visitors to enjoy Bavarian delicacies as well as do some Christmas shopping among the various stalls offering beautiful Christmas ornaments and much more.
Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg
27th of November to 24th of December
The Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg is also an event steeped in tradition. The amount of things to do is very impressive, as you can not only see a traditional steam train, but also ride the old-timey carousel, or visit the almost 200 stalls selling local crafts and delicacies. The market is so focused on keeping the sold goods traditional that selling mass-produced items is not allowed.
Schloss Guteneck in Nabburg
28th to 29th of November, 5th to 6th of December, 11th to 13th of December, 18th to 20th of December
The Christmas market taking place at Castle Guteneck is truly unique, as it is themed around the Middle Ages. The beautiful surroundings will transport you to another time, while the products include pottery, bread and shoemaking as they were prepared centuries before. For added comfort, the market offers seats in an area with heating, but make sure you arrive early if you want to get a seat!