Best Christmas Markets in Germany – Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog

Last Updated on December 19, 2022 by Nellie Huang

Having lived in Europe for over 12 years, I’ve visited plenty of Christmas markets and have found these to be the best Christmas markets in Germany.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The aroma of sweet mulled wine and gingerbread fills the air, and festive music floods the streets. In Europe, Christmas markets and are a serious affair. Main squares get transformed into massive Christmas villages dotted with hundreds of stalls, Christmas trees and decorations.

For Europeans, Christmas markets mark the start of Advent. These markets usually stay open for four weeks leading up to Christmas. They first started in Germany during the Late Middle Ages, before spreading around Europe. It’s no wonder the German Christmas markets are the biggest, brightest and most festive.

When we lived in Amsterdam, we went to Germany every winter as it was just a short drive away. Here I’ve handpicked some of the best Christmas markets in Germany for you to soak up the festive atmosphere. 

best christmas markets in germany - frankfurt christmas market

Best Christmas Markets in Germany

What to Do at a Christmas Market

For Christmas fanatics, going to a Christmas market in Germany is like being let loose in a candy store! There’s so much magic and grandeur in everything, from the wooden Nutcracker to the Nativity scene and giant pyramids.

Christmas markets in Germany are also great places to try traditional German foods like the Lebkuchen Christmas cookies. I never leave a Christmas market without having a bratwurst (grilled sausage) and glühwein (hot mulled wine). If you’re wondering what to eat in Germany, here is my detailed German food guide.

German Christmas markets are the places to go for the best travel gifts. Traditional artisan products like the colorful nutcracker and handcrafted wooden incense smoker figurines make great travel gifts for kids. Another excellent souvenir to bring home is the collectible market mug that the glühwein is served in. You’re asked to pay 2-4 euros as a deposit for the mug which you’ll be refunded when you return it. Or you can simply keep the mug as a souvenir!

best christmas markets in germany - nutcracker

Which German Christmas Market Should I Visit?

There are hundreds of Christmas markets in Germany, even small villages have their own little Christkindlmarkt. So how do you decide which Christmas market to go to?

The most popular German Christmas markets are found in Cologne, and receive over 4 million visitors each year. The Christmas markets in Dortmund come in at second place, with more than 3.5 million visitors scouring their 300 stalls. Next most popular ones are in Stuttgart and Frankfurt.

Look at the numbers and you can imagine how popular these German Christmas markets are. Don’t let that deter you from visiting though, you just need to plan your trip to avoid the crowd. I have included the opening dates and times for each market, as well as the closest hotel to the market below.

best christmas markets in germany - souvenirs

Tips for Visiting a Christmas Market in Germany

  • Christmas markets in Germany usually open for the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas. Most end on the 23rd December.
  • To avoid the crowds, I recommend planning your trip close to the end of November to coincide with the opening of the German Christmas markets.
  • Visit the Christmas markets in the morning and you’ll tend to have the markets to yourselves. Most markets open around 10am and close at 10pm.
  • Credit cards are not accepted in most German Christmas markets, so be prepared with some cash (euros)!
  • In major cities, there are usually more than 1 Christmas market. Some of them even have Christmas market trains that provide a hop-on hop-off service connecting the markets.
  • The food at the Christmas markets are amazing, but also overpriced. 

Best Christmas Markets in Germany

Here’s a look at the best Christmas markets in Germany on a map.


 

1. Dresden Christmas Market*

Dresden‘s Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434 and is considered the first genuine German Christmas market. Today it’s one of the most visited Christmas markets of Germany, drawing in about 2 million people each year.

This was also the first Christmas market we ever visited, and it’s still our favorite to date! Not only is it the oldest Christmas market in Germany, the Striezelmarkt also showcased the world’s tallest Christmas pyramid in 1999.

The Striezelmarkt’s name actually comes from the word ‘Striezel’, which refers to a cake made at this time of year called a ‘Stollen’. It’s a traditional German food from the region and something you need to try when you’re here! 

Dates: 27 Nov – 24 Dec 2019

Times: 10.00-21.00

Location: On the Altmarkt square in the centre of Dresden

Where to Stay: Gewandhaus Dresden Autograph Collection

Best Christmas Markets in Germany

2. Leipzig Christmas Market

Just about an hour west of Dresden is Leipzig’s lesser-known old town Christmas market. We absolutely loved the Christmas market here and had so many fun evenings here with our local friend!

More than 300 exhibitors set up shop on the market square and in the nearby streets. At weekends (1pm and 5pm), the sound of trumpeters rings out from the balcony of the Old Town Hall, adding to the festive atmosphere. Kids can explore the fairytale forest or enjoy the elves’ workshop.

The market’s main feature is the enormous Christmas pyramid by the Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas Church), which is an impressive masterpiece. The festive concerts performed by the Thomaner choir in the Thomaskirche are also excellent.

Dates: 26 Nov – 23 Dec 2019

Times: 10.00-21.00 (Sun-Thurs); 10.00-22.00 (Fri-Sat)

Location: On Marktplatz in the heart of Leipzig

Where to Stay: Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof Leipzig

best christmas markets in germany - leipzig christmas market

3. Cologne Christmas Market*

The world-famous Am Dom Markt is the most visited Christmas market in Germany, receiving around 4 million people each year. Situated at the foot of the UNESCO World Heritage Cologne Cathedral, the Am Dom Markt has a spectacular setting.

The 150 stands that make up this Christmas market is set around the largest Christmas tree in all of the Rhine. Explore its glittering wooden pavilions, try some delicious German food and find handmade gifts including wood carvings and tree decorations.

Other Christmas markets I recommend visiting in Cologne are Angel’s Market in Neuwmarkt Square and the Old Market at Alter Markt. We are heading back this year and will be writing more about it!

Dates: 25 Nov – 23 Dec 2019

Times: 11.00-21.00 (Sun-Wed); 11.00-22.00 (other days)

Location: On Roncalliplatz next to Cologne Cathedral

Where to Stay: Excelsior Hotel Ernst am Dom

best christmas markets in germany - cologne christmas market

4. Munich Christmas Market*

Munich is my favorite city in Germany — we celebrated New Year’s Eve here once and it was seriously our best ever! What I love most about Munich is the strong Bavarian culture and traditions. It’s truly the best place to visit in Germany to experience the traditional side of Germany.

Held in the famous Marienplatz, the Munich Christkindlmarkt is truly a traditional German Christmas market surrounded by historic buildings including the New and Old Town Halls. The pedestrian heart of the city turns into a giant market each year.

Don’t miss the Middle Ages Market at Wittelsbacherplatzhis recreates the atmosphere of what the original Munich Christmas markets must have been like, with music, handmade stalls and stallholders dressed in clothing from the Middle Ages.

Dates: 27 Nov – 24 Dec 2019

Times: 10.00-21.00; 10.00-14.00 on Christmas Eve

Location: On Marienplatz and the main shopping centre streets

Where to Stay: BEYOND by Geisel

best christmas markets in germany - munich marienplatz

5. Heidelberg Christmas Market

Another personal favorite, Heidelberg is easily among Germany’s most beautiful cities. But to see the picturesque old town and the castle illuminated by fairy lights during the Christmas season is the icing on the cake.

The Christmas market in Heidelberg is a perfect blend of tradition and romance. It’s spread out across seven locations in the old quarter: in the pedestrian area and on Bismarckplatz, Anatomiegarten, Universitätsplatz, Marktplatz and Kornmarkt, the most beautiful square of all.

There are plenty of things to do in Heidelberg: Head to the inner courtyard of Heidelberg castle that provides a picturesque setting for another Christmas market. Beneath the castle, you can go ice skating and enjoy lively music on the ‘Christmas on Ice’ rink at Karlsplatz square.

Dates: 25 Nov – 22 Dec 2019

Times: 11.00-21.00; Karlsplatz ice rink 10.00 – 22.00 until Jan 2020

Location: On Hauptplatz in the heart of Heidelberg

Where to Stay: Hip Hotel

best christmas markets in germany - heidelberg

6. Dortmund Christmas Market

The Dortmund Market is lauded as one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany, with over 300 stalls packed around a gigantic Christmas “tree” that stands 45 metres (148 ft) tall. In fact, it’s not just one tree — it’s made up of 1,700 individual fir trees, lit up by 13,000 light bulbs.

What I like about the Dortmund Christmas Market is how it caters to families. Every day there is a colorful show program by the Alter Markt Theatre Company and a puppet or magic show for kids of all ages.

The Dortmund Christmas Market is split across ten different sections, all within Dortmund City Centre. They’re all close to each other and only about 10 minutes’ walk from the Dortmund Train Station.

Dates: 21 Nov – 30 Dec 2019 (closed on 24 & 25 Dec)

Times: 10.00-21.00 (Mon-Thurs); 10.00-22.00 (Fri-Sun)

Location: The main section is at Hansaplatz

Where to Stay: Coffee Fellows Hotel Dortmund

best christmas markets in germany - dortmund christmas market

7. Frankfurt Christmas Market

Frankfurt, as a major financial centre with skyscrapers marking the scenery, has a reputation as a booming modern city. But in the old town, you can still feel the strong history of old-world Germany.

Drawing in around 3 million visitors each year, the Frankfurt Christmas Market is a single big market in the historic quarter of the city around Römerburg and Paulsplatz. It stretches from the Hauptwache Square to the quayside on the river.

Over the centuries, the Frankfurt market has developed its own speciality and it’s become famous for its baked marzipan (a confection made of sugar and almond).

Dates: 25 Nov – 22 Dec 2019

Times: 10.00-21.00 (Mon-Sat); 11.00-21.00 (Sun)

Location: On Römerburg

Where to Stay: Motel One Frankfurt-Römer

best christmas markets in germany - frankfurt christmas market

8. Stuttgart Christmas Market

I’ve never been a huge fan of Stuttgart, but the Stuttgart Christmas Market definitely won my heart as it’s one of the most unique in the country.

Firstly, the Stuttgart Town Hall transforms into a giant Adventure calendar (from 1 December onwards). Windows of the building represent the dates and each number is revealed per day up until Christmas.

Another unique feature of the Stuttgart Christmas Market is the rooftop decor on the stalls. Almost every stall has whimsical displays of teddy bears, giant nutcrackers, mechanical reindeer that go all out to impress.

Dates: 27 Nov – 23 Dec 2019

Times: 10.00-21.00 (Mon-Thurs); 10.00-22.00 (Fri-Sun)

Location: The main section is at Marktplatz

Where to Stay: Apartment Central 11

best christmas markets in germany - Stuttgart market

9. Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market*

Just 12km away from Stuttgart is a small, charming city that was voted the ‘Best Christmas City‘ in 2018. The time-warped town oozes with character and charm, especially so during Christmas. It’s also home to the oldest row of half-timbered houses in Germany.

The Esslingen Medieval Christmas Market is what the town is most famous for. Merchants in historical garments offer their goods for sale across 80 stalls, just as they did hundreds of years ago. Craftsmen like blacksmiths and rope-makers demonstrate their craftsmanship.

Renowned performers from all around Europe also join in the entertainment program which changes daily. Expect to see puppet shows, fire shows and storytelling sessions.

Dates: 26 Nov – 22 Dec 2019

Times: 11.00-21.30 (Thurs-Sat); 11.00-20.30 (Sun-Wed)

Location: The main section is at Rathausplatz

Where to Stay: Buroma-Apart Suites Esslingen

best christmas markets in germany - esselingen medieval market

10. Nuremberg Christmas Market

Poised in the center of the Old Town, the gold-hued Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt oozes with history and Bavarian tradition. More than 180 market stands have on display traditional Christmas ornaments of all shapes and sizes, including the local gold-foil angel, “Zwetschgenmännle”.

Nuremberg Christmas market is most famous for its regional German foods. Be sure to order a drei im weggla (three in a roll) Nuremberg Bratwurst or the famous Lebkuchen (gingerbread).

Pro tip: Climb to the top of the Church of our Lady to see the red and white booths on the streets below.

Dates: 29 Nov – 24 Dec 2019

Times: 10.00-21.00; 10.00-14.00 on Christmas Eve

Location: On Hauptmarkt in the heart of Nuremberg

Where to Stay: Sorat Hotel Saxx Nürnberg 

best christmas markets in germany - nuremberg

11. Berlin Christmas Market

Germany’s capital city, Berlin, is home to over 70 Christmas markets and they are as diverse as the city itself. They range from warm indoor markets to outdoor fun fairs and markets with historical themes.

The historical Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is my favorite and probably the most famous. It’s a small tent city with hundreds of stands as and more than 1,000 fairy lights enhancing the atmosphere.

The nostalgic Christmas market at the Opernpalais has an impressive array of artisans from all over the world. You’ll also find amusement rides and traditional culinary delights such as roasted almonds.

Dates: 25 Nov – 1 Jan 2020

Times: 11.00-22.00; 11.00-18.00 on Christmas Eve; 11.00-01.00 on NYE

Location: On Gendarmenmarkt

Where to Stay: Titanic Gendarmenmarkt Berlin

best christmas markets in germany - berlin gendarmenmarkt

12. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market

Located in the Franconian heartland of Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of those sweet fairy-tale towns that you have to see to believe. Whimsical timbered houses line the cobblestone lanes that weave past bell towers and old-world churches.

Step back in time at the Rothenburg Reiterlesmarkt, and enjoy the festive season amidst its magical setting. If you’re there for the opening ceremony, look out for the appearance of the “Reiterle” figure.  The figure was believed to be an envoy from another world that brought the souls of the deceased at winter time. Now it’s been transformed into a friendly character.

Also, be sure to try Rothenburg’s trademark Schneeball biscuit, a kind of fried dough covered in powdered sugar or melted chocolate. Rothenburg ob der Tauder is definitely one of the best places to visit in Germany all year round.

Dates: 29 Nov – 23 Dec 2019

Times: 11.00-19.00 (Mon-Thurs); 11.00-20.00 (Fri-Sun)

Location: On Grüner Markt in the heart of the city

Where to Stay: Hotel Reichs-Küchenmeister

best christmas markets in germany - rothernburg ob de tauber

Are you planning to go to a German Christmas market? Which of these Christmas markets in Germany do you want to visit?


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