12 Best Christmas Markets in Germany You Can’t Miss for 2023
Looking to visit Germany for Christmas this year? Here’s your guide to the best Christmas markets in Germany and the 12 you can absolutely not miss this holiday season.
When it comes to festive travel, it’s difficult to beat that fussy, warm feeling you get when visiting the German Christmas markets. Full of sparkling lights, shimmering Christmas trees, sizzling bratwurst, and the sweet smell of gluhwein it’s one of the best places to be right before the holidays.
Christmas markets in Germany offer a unique experience that should be experienced at least once in your lifetime for Christmas cheer and some festive winter fun.
The Christmas market tradition in Germany dates back hundreds of years and there’s no better way to prepare for Christmas than visiting the markets, shopping for unique gifts, and learning more about German Christmas customs.
So which markets should you visit? Surely you don’t have time for them all!
Here’s a rundown of the 12 best Christmas markets in Germany that you simply must visit at some point. With a good mix of big city markets and charming small-town Christkindlmarkts, keep reading to find out where to go this Christmas.
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When to Go for the Best Christmas Markets in Germany
To catch the best of Germany’s Christmas markets you’ll need to plan your visit for the end of November until the end of December.
In general, the German Christmas markets start opening in late November (around the 21st-25th) and this varies by the city each year so it’s best to check the exact opening date via the city market’s official website before planning your trip.
The markets tend to run until the 23rd or 24th of December. There are a few exceptions that finish during the first week of January- Cologne’s Heinzels Wintermarchen for example, tends to run into January.
During these weeks in the run-up to Christmas the cities light up in colorful lights and decorations and people take to the streets to drink gluhwein and hang out with friends. It’s a busy time of year in Germany.
Crowds tend to increase the closer to Christmas you get so if you’d like to avoid the crowds make sure to plan your trip for the end of November or early December. Weekends and evenings are also crowded so it’s best to plan your trip for mid-week if you can.
What to Buy at German Christmas Markets
There are so many lovely Christmas decorations, Christmas tree ornaments, souvenirs, and gift ideas at the Christmas markets in Germany. Make sure to leave space in your suitcase for some exciting new Christmas purchases.
Due to local customs and traditions, there is some differentiation between products sold in various cities so make sure to be on the lookout for unique things to buy at Christmas markets.
Here’s a short summary of general things you can buy at the best German Christmas markets.
Handmade Tree Ornaments – You’ll find a lovely array of tree ornaments at the different Christmas markets around Germany. From glass baubles and snow globes to traditional handmade wooden ornaments, there’s something here for everyone.
Artisan Food and Drinks – Not all the food and drink sold is for immediate consumption. You’ll find a lot of local food products to take back with you- perfect as a gift for the foodie in your life.
What’s available will depend on the market but in general you’ll find homemade liqueur, German cheeses, wine, cured meats, jams, oils, kinds of vinegar, and plenty more to take home with you. Nuremberg’s Original Regional Christmas Market is a great one for local products.
Just a reminder to be careful with liquids if you’ve packed carry-on only or else you’ll need to purchase an extra check-in bag to get it all home.
Winter clothes & accessories – There are some market stalls selling wintery clothes such as sweaters, hats, gloves, and even leather goods like wallets and belts. It’s a good excuse to top up on your layers or buy a few handcrafted clothing items as gifts for friends and family.
Christmas decorations – You’ll find artisan candles, traditional wooden figurines, handmade ornaments and snow globes, and more. If you’re looking to upgrade your Christmas decor this year you’ll find a wide range of decorations for your home.
What to Eat and Drink at German Christmas Markets
Germany’s Christmas markets are full of traditional German foods and drinks, especially those popular at Christmas time. You’ll be able to sample some local products and flavors while also enjoying the Christmas atmosphere. There’s a wide range of both sweet and savory treats but unfortunately, most food and drink are on the not-so-healthy side.
Again, food can vary quite a bit between the markets of different regions of Germany. Here are the most common types of food and drink you might find.
Bratwurst/A type of sausage– No Christmas market in Germany would be complete without grilled sausage. Bratwurst is the main variety you’ll be able to find almost everywhere but there are some local varieties like the Nurnberger Rostbratwurst which is a traditional sausage specific to Nuremberg. The sausage is generally served in a bread roll with mustard and sometimes ketchup.
Reibekuchen – Fried potato cakes that are served with apple sauce. A good veggie option at the Christmas markets.
Crepes – Crepes seem to be a big hit in Germany and you’ll find crepe stalls in almost all Christmas markets. Sometimes you’ll also be able to find some waffles too.
Flammlachs – More common in the Christmas markets in the north and west of Germany, flammlachs is salmon that’s been grilled over an open fire. It’s generally served in a bun with salad and sauces or on a plate.
Glühwein – Mulled wine, aka wine served hot that’s been cooked in spices. Glühwein is a staple at any German Christmas market. It’s aromatic and warming and a great accompaniment to the Christmas festivities. You’ll be able to find mulled red wine but also mulled white wine which is also worth trying.
Beer – Generally beer doesn’t feature as much as you’d think in German Christmas markets but it does exist. In most of the best Christmas Markets in Germany, you’ll be able to find beer. The Cologne Christmas markets are the best for beer. Other than that you’ll generally find just bottled beer at a few stalls.
Christmas punch – At the best Christmas market in Germany, you’ll also find Christmas punch- a sweet, festive drink that’s non-alcoholic. If you prefer the alcoholic version, sellers will add a shot of rum or brandy to it.
The Best Christmas Markets in Germany
Nothing gets you into the Christmas spirit better than a trip around Germany’s best Christmas markets. Full of holiday cheer, beautiful decor, and a buzzing atmosphere they are the perfect place for some Christmas shopping or just a few cups of gluhwein.
Keep reading to find the best Christmas Markets in Germany.
Heinzels Wintermarchen Christmas Market Cologne
Cologne has quite a few different Christmas markets and while the Cathedral Christmas market is the most popular, Heinzels Wintermarchen is our favorite.
Heinzel’s Wintermarchen is Cologne’s Old Town Christmas market. It’s one of the largest and best markets in the center of town and has both amazing Christmas decor and a large variety of things to do.
The market, which is located both on Alter Markt and Heumarkt in the center of the city, is full of warm Christmas lights, the scent of spiced gluhwein, and beautiful trees and decorations beckoning you to come in. This market has some of the best selection of Christmas ornaments, figures, and decorations as well as Christmas drinks and snacks.
The market is themed around the Heinzelmännchen- Cologne’s legendary elves who are believed to help locals with their housework as they sleep. As you walk around you’ll be able to spot many references to them- including on the cute mug designs.
Heinzels Wintermarchen is also the only market in Cologne with an ice rink- perfect for the more adventurous and the little ones and you’ll also find an ice stock rink for more group fun. There’s also a carousel, entertainment through the evenings, and cozy wooden chalets to hide from the cold.
For more information about what’s on and schedules check their official website here and make sure not the miss the House Elves’ Winter Christmas market- it’s one of the best Christmas markets in Germany.
Where to Stay in Cologne
Ruby Ella Hotel – Best overall boutique hotel in Cologne.
Hotel Sion – best budget option very close to the best Christmas markets
For the full guide, read Cologne Christmas Market: Everything You Need to Know
Leipzig Christmas Market
Dating back to 1458, the Leipzig Christmas market is one of the oldest in Germany. Located on the city’s main square right in front of the town hall, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied from live music to delicious food and drink stalls.
Leipzig’s Christmas market is actually split up into a few different sections which all have a different theme. On the main square, you find the most traditional stalls selling a range of more classic items and handicrafts. Here there’s also plenty of food and drink including the unmissable mulled wine.
The other themed sections of the market tend to change year by year, but -vegans rejoice- one of the sections is a vegan Christmas market where you can buy all things vegan including the much-missed vegan sausages absent from most German Christmas markets.
Where to Stay in Leipzig
Capri by Fraser Leipzig – Chic, designer rooms in a brilliant central location
INNSiDE by Meliá Leipzig – One of the coolest, most modern hotels in the city.
Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt is one of the best Christmas markets in Germany and it also happens to be one of the oldest Christmas markets. The city also has some pretty unique Christmas traditions associated with it.
It’s the only place in Germany to have the Christkind tradition. The Christkind or the Angel custom goes back to the 16th Century when it would turn up to give children gifts- a little like the American version of Santa Claus. Today a real-life person is elected every 2 years to become Nuremberg’s Angel during Advent. This local becomes a sort of ambassador for Christmas.
The Angel is Nuremberg’s symbol of Christmas and angel figures can be found and bought throughout the market.
Nuremberg’s Christmas market can be found on the Market Square in the center of the city and is full of sparkling stalls selling Christmas ornaments, local snacks, festive drinks, and unique gifts.
Some of the unique products to look out for at the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt are the Nurnberger Rostbratwurst– small finger-like sausages sold in threes- a Nuremberg delicacy that’s only made here. You’ll also want to try some lebkuchen or gingerbread filled with fruit, nuts, and spices.
Where to Stay in Nuremberg
Hotel dasPaul – A great budget option just minutes from the market.
Astoria Apartments – beautifully styled apartments in the center.
Located in Western Germany, very close to the border with both Belgium and the Netherlands, Aachen is a beautiful little town with a stunning UNESCO Protected cathedral. The city also boasts one of the best Christmas markets in Germany.
Situated right between the stunning cathedral and the unique Town Hall on Marktplatz, Aachen Weihnachtsmarkt boasts many wooden stalls selling delicious savory, and sweet snacks and treats. You can also get a variety of different specialty products like the Aachener Dom Liqueur, an Aachen specialty made locally by Aachener Printen Distillery.
There are many stalls selling super cute gingerbread house models, traditional wooden figurines as well as a variety of classic and modern Christmas decor.
In between rounds of gluhwein you can also explore Aachen’s old town, which is beautiful. Make sure not to miss a peek inside the cathedral- one of the oldest in Europe and one of the most unique, architecturally speaking.
For more on Aachen Christmas Market read A Quick Guide to Aachen Christmas Market: All You Need to Know
Where to Stay in Aachen
INNSiDE by Melia – Gorgeous luxury hotel with the most amazing terrace views
Motel One – A solid, comfortable choice in the center.
Munich Christmas Market
The capital of the Bavaria region, Munich is another great contender when it comes to the best Christmas Markets in Germany. Marienplatz is where to go for the buzzing atmosphere, the hot mulled wine, and the Christmas gifts.
During the festive season, Marienplatz is completely transformed into a winter wonderland. Christmas trees as far as the eye can see, stalls selling traditional gifts, and steaming grilling bratwurst lures locals and tourists alike from all over the city. The neo-gothic buildings like the town hall make for a beautiful backdrop as you shop and eat.
Some of the best treats to enjoy at the Munich Christmas Market are stollen, grilled sausages with sauerkraut, gluhwein, and roasted chestnuts.
If you’re traveling around and focusing more on southern Germany then know that you can easily combine both the Munich Christmas Market and Nuremberg’s Christkindlmarkt on one itinerary as they are located relatively close together.
Where to Stay in Munich
Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski – 5-star luxury just minutes from Marienplatz.
Hotel MIO by AMANO – Clean, modern, minimalist, and affordable in the city center.
Dusseldorf Christmas Market
Upscale Dusseldorf is another great market to visit while in West Germany. It’s easily combined with the Cologne Christmas markets which are just a 30-minute train ride away.
The main Christmas market in Dusseldorf is on Marktplatz- right in front of the city’s town hall. You’ll also find a giant Ferris wheel and more stalls on Burgplatz nearby. There’s also a Christmas village with an ice rink and a large chalet-style bar in Corneliusplatz in the city’s shopping district.
The Dusseldorf Marktplatz is famous for its glass blowers, who make exquisite baubles and Christmas decorations right there on the spot. You can also buy a wide range of candles, trinkets, and decorations as well as tasty treats like bratwurst, crepes, reibekuchen, pretzels, gluhwein, and more.
The Dusseldorf Christmas market is one of the first to open every year. In 2023 the Dusseldorf Christmas market dates are from November 23 to December 30.
Where to Stay in Dusseldorf
Ruby Coco Hotel – Modern, hip, and cool boutique hotel in the center
Neumarkt/Angel Christmas Market Cologne
Neumarkt Christmas Market, also known as Angel’s Christmas Market, this is another lovely Christmas market in Cologne’s city center.
Characterized by white stalls and chalet-style bars, this central market is also full of gift-focused stalls, a carousel, and fun entertainment happening throughout the evening. It’s also known for its pretty decor- the trees above sparkle from hundred of illuminated stars that look like they are falling from the sky.