So you’re thinking about visiting Aachen, Germany, and the famed Aachen Christmas Market or the Aachen Weihnachtsmarkt? Keep reading to find out more and plan your upcoming trip.
When the end of the year draws near, German cities are transformed into festive centers of lights, color and Christmas cheer. Aachen or Aix-la-Chapelle is no different and the West German city boasts one of the most famous Christmas markets in the country.
Set in the city center with the stunning Aachen cathedral as its backdrop, the Aachen Christmas Market is a wonderful event for people to come together, shop, eat and enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Locals enjoy time with family and pick up gifts, children ride the carousel and friends meet over steaming cups of gluhwein; there really is no better time of year to visit Germany.
Whether you’re planning on visiting many Christmas markets in Germany or just taking a trip to the Aachen Christmas market, there’s no doubt you’ll come away feeling more in the Christmas spirit than ever before.
Keep reading for your ultimate guide to Aachen Christmas Market and find out exactly what to do there to make the most out of your visit.
*This ‘Aachen Christmas Market’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
Where is Aachen in Germany?
Aachen is a spa city in West Germany located in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. It’s a 50-minute train ride west of Cologne.
Aachen in Germany is also just 8 km from Belgium and 5 km from the Netherlands meaning it’s a very multinational place. Especially at this time of year, you’ll find many Dutch and Belgian people also exploring the Aachen Christmas Market.
How to Get to Aachen, Germany?
Aachen is well connected by road, train, and bus to other major cities in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
If you’re doing a German Christmas Markets road trip and you’ve rented a car you can access Aachen by route 4 or 44 as well as by train.
Getting to Aachen by car
Renting a car and driving around Germany is one of the best ways to see the country and the Germany Christmas Markets. If you’re planning to visit multiple markets or multiple cities in Germany, renting a car might be worth your while simply due to the freedom it allows.
For the best car rental deals, I always use Discover Cars to find the cheapest rates for car rental in Europe. They generally have the best service, policies, and deals. Click here to check rates for your dates with Discover Cars.
Cars can be rented in Cologne or almost any other city in Germany. It’s also possible to start your trip from Belgium, the Netherlands, or France, just make sure the rental policy allows you to take the car abroad (they generally do inside the EU).
Getting to Aachen by Train
The train is another brilliant way to travel around Germany and if you plan carefully, it might also be quite a bit cheaper than renting a car. Trains in Germany are large, comfortable, and easy to use, however, there are quite numerous daily delays so always make sure to catch the earlier train.
Tickets can be pre-booked on the Deutsche Bahn website here, or you can also buy tickets at various machines in the train station.
If you’re coming to Aachen from a relatively long distance it’s better to book your train ticket in advance. Tickets from Cologne for example can be bought on the Regional (RE/RRX) trains at the station.
To compare journeys from your origin I highly recommend using Omio– it’s my preferred platform to research and buy rail tickets in Europe. Check bus and rail connections to Aachen using Omio here.
When is the Aachen Christmas Market?
Dates tend to vary year by year but Aachen Christmas Market (or Aachen Weihnachtsmarkt in German) is generally open for just over a month from the end of November until just before Christmas- the whole of advent.
The Aachen Christmas Market 2023 is open from 24th November until 23rd December from 11am until 9 pm daily.
I highly recommend timing your visit to the Aachen Xmas Market during the week as at weekends the small market sees considerable crowds as both tourists and locals alike visit to enjoy the festive atmosphere.
It’s also worth visiting during the day for fewer crowds but also in the evening to fully enjoy all the lights, decorations, and Christmas spirit.
Where is the Aachen Christmas Market 2023?
The Aachen market takes place right in the city center and the Aachen old town around Aachen Cathedral (Aachener Dom). It’s very difficult to miss the market when walking around the outside of the Cathedral. The Christmas market locations are all within walking distance of Aachen Central Station.
Stalls are mainly concentrated on the Katschhof, a large piazza right between the Cathedral and City Hall. Here you’ll find a wide range of stalls selling both food and crafts as well as a few Gluhwein bars and a carousel.
You’ll also find the market continuing around the back of the City Hall in the Marktplatz am Rathaus and around the old Statue of Charlemagne. Many more bars, food stalls, and crafts can be found here too.
To the right side of the Cathedral, you’ll also be able to find some more stalls but this area is more focused on bars. Here you’ll find a few chalet-style, covered bars where you can take a seat and enjoy the festive atmosphere with a warm drink.
Things to Do and See at Aachen Christmas Market 2023
Aachen Germany Christmas Market is one of the best festive markets in Germany. It might be small but it’s packed full of stalls selling vibrant decorations and crafts as well as local snacks and drinks like gluhwein and bratwurst.
There isn’t too much to do at Aachen Christmas market besides, eat, drink, shop and have a good time with good company. However, given the market’s central location, you can also take advantage of this and see some of the city’s main sights between rounds of gluhwein such as the cathedral and the town hall which are right next to the market.
Sample the Food and Drink
One of the main draws to any Christmas Market in Germany is the chance to sample and enjoy some typical German foods. You’ll find the same staples at all the Christmas markets and some will also have something different if you’ve already had your fill of bratwurst.
Food options that we managed to find at Aachen Christmas Market are many different varies of grilled sausage (Bratwurst, Krakauer), currywurst (chopped sausage in curry sauce), fries, reibekuchen (fried potato pancakes), roasted chestnuts, and stewed mushrooms.
For those with a sweet tooth, you’ll find many different types of desserts and sweet snacks like warm cinnamon rolls, nougat, traditional German gingerbread cookies (Lebkuchen), chocolate, and more.
In terms of drinks, you’ll find gluhwein (mulled wine) stalls that offer both red and white mulled wine varieties. There’s also Christmas Punch (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and hot chocolate.
You’ll also have the chance to buy some of the specialist Aachener Dom Liqueur, an Aachen specialty made locally by Aachener Printen Distillery. There are also many other local specialist stores selling a variety of traditional local foods and drinks from the area.
Note: For plant-based eaters, food at Christmas markets is quite limited, especially if you’re after healthy options. One of the best snack options is roasted chestnuts, which can be found at almost any market.
There are also french fries, and reibekuchen, a deep-fried potato pancake served with applesauce which is vegetarian-friendly. There are also stewed mushrooms which are also quite good.
Do some Christmas Shopping
Apart from eating, Christmas Markets are the perfect place to shop. Aachen Christmas market is full of stalls selling handmade crafts, local woolen products like sweaters, socks, and slippers, homeware items, and of course Christmas decorations.
It’s the place to pick up some brand-new Christmas decorations such as snow globes, handmade models of gingerbread houses, or Christmas tree ornaments. You can also shop for some gifts for loved ones back home. The Christmas-scented tree ornaments and handmade candles and lights made particularly nice Christmas gifts.
See Aachen Cathedral
It’s difficult not to spot Aachen Cathedral as soon as you near the city center and it’s almost impossible not to be tempted to go in while exploring the Christmas market.
Given the cathedral’s location right in the center of it all, popping inside the cathedral while exploring is a must, especially when entrance is also free.
Aachen Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe. The Cathedral dates back to 805 when it was constructed by the order of Emperor Charlemagne. Since then it has seen the coronation of 31 German Kings throughout history.
The Cathedral is centered around the stunning, octagonal Palatine Chapel, a Byzantine-influenced structure through its shape and intricate gold mosaic work. Today, walking through you’ll notice the stunningly mosaic-filled chapel and the beautiful stained glass windows that lead your gaze heavenward.
The Aachener Dom is nothing like any other cathedral you’ve seen in terms of both architecture and style. It really is a one-of-a-kind artwork that deserves some attention.
Gawp at the City Hall
On the other side of Katschhof, you’ll notice another stunning historical building, the Aachen City Hall or Aachen Rathaus. It was built in the 14th Century in the Gothic style on the previous site of the Great Place Hall of Emperor Charlemagne.
Visiting the City Hall makes a welcome break from the cold where you can visit some of the most significant rooms like the Coronation Hall.
Where to Stay in Aachen
You can easily visit Aachen on a day trip from Cologne but why not extend your trip a little and spend the night in the beautiful town? Here are the best places to stay near the Aachen Christmas Market.
INNSiDE by Meliá Aachen – Cosy, with bright and clean rooms, brilliant breakfast, and one of the best views of Aachen from their terrace, INNSiDE is one of the best hotels in Aachen’s city center. They also have a great gym and the in-room tea and coffee options are a lovely bonus when coming in from the Christmas markets. Check rates and availability here.
Motel One Aachen– Another solid choice with stunning design-focused decor. Lovely, comfortable rooms, an on-site bar, and a great location not far from Aachen Christmas Market. Check rates and availability here.
Top Tips for Visiting Aachen Christmas Market
↠ Bring cash. Many stalls do not take cards so make sure to bring plenty of cash with you. Luckily given the central location of the market, there are many ATMs to be found around. The train station also has a couple of ATMs.
↠ Drinks at German Christmas markets do not come in plastic or disposable containers but instead in mugs or glasses. This is an amazing way to keep waste down. When you order your first drink you’ll need to ‘buy’ the mug/glass which costs just a few euros.
If you like the cup and want to keep it as a souvenir (each market has its own cup design) then you can. Otherwise, when you’re done drinking you bring back the cup and get your deposit back.
With each round you buy all you need to do is bring the cup back and they’ll refill it for you.
↠ Bring plenty of warm clothes. It gets really cold very quickly so you’ll want to dress warmly. It’s also worth bringing an umbrella as it tends to rain fairly often in these parts.
Ready to begin exploring the Aachen Germany Christmas Market? The weihnachtsmarkt Aachen is waiting! Let me know in the comments, below, I’d love to hear from you.
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