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.
You might also be able to see angels of stilts interacting with shoppers and children.
Here you’ll find many of the typical German Christmas market gifts as well as a range of foods such as bratwurst, crepes, reibekichen. Drinks include lots of gluhwein, warm Aperol spritz, and Kölsch, the heritage beer from Cologne.
For more information check the Angel Market’s official website here.
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
Rothenburg ob Der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt
Rothenburg is Germany’s unofficial Christmas town. The Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market or Reiterlesmarkt is one of the most stunning Christmas Markets in Germany.
But, it’s not just the market that brings so many people here during the festive period. Rothenburg town itself is incredibly beautiful and a place that looks like it’s been transplanted right out of a wintry fairytale.
Rothenburg’s Reiterlesmarkt is quite small and quaint. It’s located on the main market square (Marktplatz) right in front of the town hall. Here you’ll be able to find a number of stalls selling local souvenirs and gifts as well as gluhwein and Christmas punch stands.
The market is quite a bit smaller and has much more limited products on offer compared with the larger cities but you simply can’t beat the beauty of the town itself.
Also given that it’s only one hour from Nuremberg, visiting Rothenburg od der Tauber Christmas market makes the perfect day trip from Nuremberg.
Rothenburg is also the home of Käthe Wohlfahrt- the original Christmas store icon too so there’s no better place to be to get into the Christmas spirit than Rothenburg. You can explore the market, shop for gifts and new decorations and drink warm gluhwein all to a stunning backdrop of half-timber houses and cobbled streets.
For the full guide on Rothenburg Christmas Market read: The Ultimate Festive Guide to Rothenburg Christmas Market
Where to Stay in Rothenburg
Historik Hotel Gotisches Haus Garni – Warm and cosy historic German inn.
Tilman Riemenschneider – Traditional inn with 16th Century Franconian style decor
Heidelberg Christmas Market
I have to say that my personal favorite Christmas Markets in Germany are located in the smaller cities and towns. Nothing quite beats that small-town atmosphere and history when it comes to celebrating Christmas.
Heidelberg is a beautiful German city, nestled in between two mountains- the ideal landscape for a snowy, wintery wonderland. The Christmas markets are spread out around the city and half of the fun is just walking around the beautiful old town and finding them all.
The main heart of the market is of course in Marktplatz, the famous market square where you’ll be able to find a range of stalls and attractions like Santa’s House and the Christmas Pyramid.
You won’t want to miss Karlsplatz however, known to have the most beautiful ice rink in all of Germany, it’s the best place to unwind and go for a skate with a view of the famous castle ruins to boot.
Other locations with stalls and activities to note in Heidelberg are the Corn Market, University Square, Anatomoegarten, and Bismarckplatz.
Where to Stay in Heidelberg
Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg – modern meets traditional in this lovely inn-style accommodation
House of Hütter – Heidelberg Suites & Spa – 5-star luxury right on the river, modern rooms, service, and spa.
Hamburg Christmas Markets
If you find yourself in the North of Germany during the festive season, then Hamburg’s exceptional Christmas markets are definitely ones to visit. The ‘Amsterdam’ of Germany is a popular city to visit famous for its canals and waterways and at this time of year, it’s wonderful Christmas markets.
Like most large cities, Hamburg does have a few different Christmas markets strewn around the city. Probably the best or most scenic is the Rathaus Christmas Market located just outside the town hall.
Here you’ll be able to shop the individually themed alleyways that sell all sorts of sparkly, Christmasy goods from tree ornaments to wood carvings. As you shop there are plenty of food and drinks on offer to try.
For adults, looking for something different then you might want to head to Santa Pauli- Hamburg’s entertainment or ‘red light district’ where you’ll find the neighborhood’s Christmas market. Here you can shop for adult-themed gifts, trinkets, and art while enjoying live shows and music put on each night. It’s one of the only Christmas markets that are open late- until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Where to Stay in Hamburg
Sir Nikolai Hotel– Gorgeous design-forward hotel in Hamburg city center.
Henri Hotel Hamburg Downtown – Stylish boutique hotel close to the city hall with a gym and sauna.
Frankfurt Christmas Market
Frankfurt might be known as Germany’s finance hub with a more modern skyline but underneath all the modern it does have one of the country’s best Christmas markets.
In Frankfurt’s old town you’ll find the city’s last neo-gothic churches and old half-timber houses- the perfect backdrop for a Christmas market. Stalls here sell a delightful array of local and traditional products including ornaments, artwork, and crafts.
There’s also some delicious food to be had here too. Frankfurt’s Christmas Market is big on apples so you’ll find a lot of hot apple wine as well as baked apples for sale. There’s also a lot of wurst- of course- as well as gingerbread, roasted almonds, and all the mulled wine your belly could desire.
Where to Stay in Frankfurt
Studiohouse Frankfurt – bright and minimal studio-style rooms in the city center
Sofitel Frankfurt Opera – Incredible spa facilities, great location, gorgeous rooms, and impeccable city views.
Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market, Berlin
As you can probably imagine, Germany’s capital, Berlin has quite a few different Berlin Christmas markets throughout the city. A best Christmas market in Germany guide just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning at least one Christmas market in Berlin.
While Berlin doesn’t really provide the backdrop for the most romantic, fairy tale market, it does have the most Christmas markets of any city in Germany. Visiting the capital just before Christmas will give you access to a range of markets from the more modern to the more traditional.
Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market is one of the more modern markets in Germany and aside from all the stalls selling crafts, arts, and mulled wine, it’s also home to Winter World. Winterwelt is a sporting venue and one that features a 70-metre-long toboggan run. It’s perfect for those looking for a more active Christmas Market experience.
For those wanting a more classic market experience in the German capital make sure to head to Spandau Christmas Market or Karl-August-Platz market for more crafts, gifts, and a more traditional air.
Where to Stay in Berlin
Grimm’s Potsdamer Platz – Budget-friendly hotel right by Potsdamer Platz with fitness facilities
NH Collection Berlin Mitte am Checkpoint Charlie – A solid choice with a great location in Berlin from NH Collection.
Top Tips for Visiting the German Christmas Markets
↠ Bring plenty of warm clothes. It gets really cold very quickly at this time of year in Germany. It’s also worth bringing an umbrella as it tends to rain fairly often too. I personally love this down jacket, this beanie, and these gloves for travel in Europe in winter.
↠ 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 cash. Many stalls do not take cards so make sure to bring plenty of cash with you. There are ATMs located all over the cities including at train stations.
↠ Visiting all 12 best Christmas markets in Germany would take weeks so I definitely wouldn’t recommend it. As they are similar in many ways I would personally just choose a few and focus on those, prioritizing also cities in Germany you might want to visit for other reasons.
↠ Some other lovely Christmas markets to visit in Germany are Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market- a must-do when in Cologne for the other markets, Stuttgart Christmas market, Trier Christmas market, and Dresden Christmas market.
Ready to finally discover the best Christmas markets in Germany? Let me know your comments and questions below- I’d love to hear from you.
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