No one does Christmas quite like Germany, and the ultimate way to experience the season is by visiting the country’s most quintessential Christmas markets. Weeks before the official date, the towns and cities of Germany become hosts to thousands of Christmas markets all over the country. While strolling through them, you’ll be able to window (or actually!) shop hundreds of stalls selling all sorts of handmade goodies, delicious food, and of course, plenty of beer and glüwhein (mulled wine).
Typically, Christmas markets in Germany begin popping up on the first weekend of Advent, which is usually the last week of November. This means you can visit the country as early as then if you want to make the Christmas spirit last even longer!
While there are virtually thousands of Weihnachtsmärkten (almost every town, city, and village hosts at least one!), I’ve put together a list of some of the best Christmas markets in Germany for first-timers!
The Best Christmas Markets in Germany
Tucked away in the German Alps, Nuremberg is a city that still retains its old-world charm and is towered by a mighty fortress from the Middle Ages, creating the perfect setting for its annual Christmas market.
Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt remains as traditional as it was back when it started during the 17th century. Sellers are forbidden from offering mass-produced items, so visitors can expect to find all sorts of handmade things that most people spend the entire year preparing to sell.
As you explore the market, you’ll feel as though you’re in a world of twinkling lights, all while getting to check out hundreds of stalls selling just about everything from traditional Christmas decor to local designer clothing and delicious homemade food and desserts! This is where I was introduced to white glüwhein and now I can’t get enough during the holiday season. It’s also an easy train ride from Munich, so you can visit both markets in a weekend quite easily.
Am Dom Market in Cologne
Set right at the foot of Cologne’s famous UNESCO cathedral, Am Dom Market is one of the most popular markets to visit in Germany outside of Bavaria.
Here, you’ll find glorious mulled wine to keep you warm as you stroll through over 160 stalls. Plus, one of the things that make this market so unique aside from its perfect setting is the fact that it hosts plenty of musical entertainment every day and evening!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt
Known for being one of Germany’s prettiest towns, a visit to the Reiterlesmarkt in Rothenburg ob der Tauber will make you feel as though you stepped into a fairytale setting.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a town that is known for its quaint cobblestone streets, colorful half-timbered houses, and its medieval castle that looms above. Add to that the fact that it’s towered by the German Alps and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for an extremely picturesque spot to host a Christmas market!
Come late November, the town gets adorned by Christmas decor and glimmering lights all over. On the main square, you’ll encounter the annual market, where you’ll find about 50 stands offering delicious Franconian treats as well as goodies to bring back home as souvenirs. Make sure to try Flammkuchen and Bratwürste for dinner and gingerbread Lebkuchen for dessert!
Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market
If a unique Christmas market is what you’re after, head over to Germany’s Black Forest, where one of the most peculiar ones is held!
This market is extremely special due to its location in a gorge right under one of the viaducts of the Devil’s Valley Railway. As a bonus, this is a rather unknown market for visitors, which makes it a perfect go-to for those looking to get off the beaten path in the traditional Christmas market route.
The Black Forest region in Germany is also known for its unique culinary delights. While the stalls at the market still sell the more traditional bites such as Flammkuchen, you’ll also be able to savor new recipes such as the traditional Black Forest cake!
Marienplatz Market in Bavaria
As one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany, Munich’s market is as classic as it gets. This was my first German Christmas market, so it holds a special place for me.
Set on the city’s Marienplatz, the Munich Christmas Market is located amid gorgeous historical buildings and towered by an enormous fir tree. Come late November, you’ll find hundreds of wooden stalls draped by Christmas decor and lights where you’ll find plenty of crafted goodies, authentic Bavarian items, and food galore. Getting to hear live music from the Town Hall balcony is definitely a highlight, as well as seeing the Rathaus-Glockenspiel chime.
As a bonus, while the Marienplatz Christmas Market is the oldest and most popular in the city, Munich is pretty big, so you’ll also find tons of smaller markets spread all over in case you want to have a more local experience during your time in the city!
The Dresdener Striezelmarkt was first held back in the 13th century, making it the oldest Christmas market in Germany and one that everyone should visit at least once.
While you’ll be able to find just about everything you could find at every other market in the country, what makes the Desdener Streizelmarkt extremely unique is that it has still managed to keep alive its ancient roots. An example of this is the climbable Christmas Pyramid covered in wooden figures. Christmas pyramids are decorations that go back to the folklore of the Ore Mountain region.
Heidelberg Christmas Market
No Christmas list would be complete without including the Christmas market of Heidelberg, known for being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe for its medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and centuries-old castle.
Mulled wine is the star of the show at this Christmas market, but you’ll also be able to find food everywhere you turn as well as gorgeous decorations to purchase, hand-knitted festive wear, and just about everything in between!
Wherever you decide to go, visiting at least one of the best Christmas markets in Germany needs to be on your list. It’s often pretty easy to combine more than one into a single trip (which is how I did it) and is an amazing way to celebrate local culture and the Christmas season.
Germany is known for its woodworking and you’ll see lots of examples at the Christmas markets. Read this brief history of woodworking in Germany before you go!