13 Best Christmas Markets in Germany

When the Christmas season begins, hundreds of thousands of tourists and Germans alike flock to the traditional Christmas Markets in Germany. They sprout up in every city from Aachen to Berlin, and Hamburg to Munich, filling the country with an unmatched spirit of Christmas, selling the traditional classic drink of glühwein (mulled wine) and foods such as roasted almonds, crepes, and a number of potato-based dishes.

They appear in many small towns alongside the big cities, and even in front of large Big Box stores, as even they have space to set up a skating rink and a few market stalls. Yet the big cities have many different Christmas Markets to display.

Best Christmas Markets in Germany

Every city has its own unique flair when it comes to Christmas markets in Germany, and has a large variety of things to see and do in them.

Berlin

1. Roten Rathaus, Berlin


With a 50 meter tall big wheel, this market is known best for its attractions. One can see the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, and the radio tower from the top. On the ground, visitors can see facades portraying Berlin in the 1900s. Another specialty stall makes its own bread in a bakery styled after those in the middle ages, which one can buy alongside roasted apples, langosh (fried dough), and mushrooms.

To burn off the calories gained by the food in Berlin, a 600 square meter ice rink also fills this Christmas market.

2. Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin


This market hosts both a stage with many different acts, from acrobats to fire performers, and many works of art. This comes at a small entrance cost of 1 euro, but that money is donated to fund social and cultural events elsewhere in Berlin.

However, this market is filled with many different types of foods for travelers to enjoy. With many dishes like Rinderroulade (consisting of bacon, pickles, mustard, and thinly sliced beef) with red cabbage and mushrooms, Hirschragout (a thick stew with venison) in a sweet pepper sauce, and Italian specialty pizzas, visitors are sure to fill their stomachs.

3. Potsdamer Platz, Berlin


With an Austrian theme, this crafts market is set up in log cabins. Commonly known as the Winterwelt (Winter World), it features an ice rink, curling courts, and a toboggan run. The market is filled with Austrian specialties to be tried. When the night begins, so does the festive aprés-ski party, where DJs keep the spirit alive into the night.

Insider Tip for Shopping at Christmas Markets: Travel on an empty stomach. The smells fill the air around you, and many of the stalls serve wonderful food and drinks. You will want to enjoy as much of the food as you can.

Best Christmas Markets in Germany

Cologne

In Cologne, a city better known for its fanatic Carnival celebrations, there are many Christmas Markets that one may enjoy, each of which has its own distinct character, in its own unique corner.

4. Cathedral (Dom), Cologne


As Gothic churches go, it is one of the most famous in all of Europe and can be seen from both sides of the Rhine River. Of course, Cologne has many things to see and do.

Occupying the famous Cathedral Square in front of the massive Kölner Dom, this market is a quick walk up some stairs from the central train station. This market is filled with over 150 stands and a stage, where multilingual music always enlivens the mood. The stage hosts the highlight event Los mer singe ('let us sing' in the regional dialect) every year.

Cue cards with the lyrics are a staple for those not as well-acquainted with the songs. There are also many market stands for kids, that specialize in crafts, make-up, or puppet shows. After the fun to be had there is had, a historical carousel is available for rides.

5. Neumarkt, Cologne


Arranged in the center of Neumarkt in an easily-navigable circle, this market is known as the Markt der Engel, or market of the angles, because of the many little lights that float above the little streets formed by the house-shaped market stalls. To complete the wonderful theme, angels wander the market, spreading handfuls of glitter among the folks there.

When Santa Claus comes, an angle accompanies him on horseback, letting everyone know that he has arrived. Other fairy tale creatures, such as Stellaxia, wander through the crowds as well.

While the scent of roasted almonds, meats, and glühwein fill the air, one of the beloved stalls serves waffles in the shape of the famous Cathedral. With an addition of liquid chocolate, whipped cream, or cherries, these treats taste like the holiday spirit in the market around them. A taste is highly recommended. Cologne is known for its beer and traditional Brauhaus culture.

6. Heumarkt, Cologne


Known for its Ice Skating Rink, the Christmas market at Heumarkt is another favorite. Under the Statue of Kaiser Wilhelm the third, visitors can enjoy a football-field sized skating area. A two-tiered building houses a place to find a warm drink on its lower story and a deck on top, for bands to play as travelers walk through the streets.

7. Stadtgarten, Cologne


In the hip Belgian district of Cologne, the market in the Stadtgarten (city garden) is a wonder to behold. Trees are filled with lights, inspiring the perfect holiday atmosphere. Fitting with the Belgian influences, this market serves its own specialty glühwein, and makes pfannkuchen (pancakes) in the Alsatian Style.

Added to this is the stage offering thiry rotating events. Because of this and the changing market stalls, repeated visits will always bring something new.

8. Chlodwigplatz, Cologne


In the southern part of the city, a smaller market offers all of the classic market dishes and vegan delights. After perusing the food options, travelers can visit a stall filled with nonprofit organizations, advertising their work and accepting donations. A special highlight of the market is a look into the past, as a film showing the city’s past is projected onto the Severinstorburg, the castle that stands over the market.

Insider Tip for Shopping at Christmas Markets: Always have cash. While some vendors do have card readers, it is not common for sellers to have them, and ATM's, while nearby, can charge hefty fees.

Hamburg

9. Rathausmarkt, Hamburg


This market prides itself on being historical and selling goods of quality, with its motto Kunst statt Kommerz (Art instead of commerce). With wood workers from Tyrol among other places, this market specializes in wooden gifts instead of those of a plastic variety. They also prepare their own recipe for glühwein to add to the festivities.

10. Fleetinsel, Hamburg


Sandwiched in between two rivers, the market on the Fleetinsel lies near to the harbor. It stands out for displaying older sailboats, which can be enjoyed in between the classic shopping, eating, and drinking. Because of all of this, the market has a strong maritime theme, which is very fitting of Hamburg.

11. Jungfernstieg, Hamburg


Nicknamed Weißer Zauber (White Magic) for the magical combination of a baked apple smell, glistening bright lights, and Christmas melodies in the air of the market, and the fairy-tale and Christmas tree ships on the Alster to be seen, this market has an unmatched atmosphere.

It also has a broad array of wares for shopping, for if the clothes, toys, jewelry, porcelain, and Christmas decorations in the market are not enough, the more permanent department stores are nearby. If that wasn’t enough, a Ferris Wheel from 1926 occupies the grounds too.

Insider Tip for Shopping at Christmas Markets: Go at night, and dress warmly. The lights keep the markets well-lit, and add a beauty to the scene in the markets. Naturally, don’t forget to bring along some warm clothes for the occasion, especially a scarf, a favorite clothing item of the Germans.

Kassel

12. Märchenweihnachtsmarkt, Kassel


The Märchenweihnachtsmarkt (Fairy-tale Christmas market) in Kassel is filled with fairy-tales and characters alike, all from the stories that were written down by the Brothers Grimm. There is a fairy-tale forest, an advent calendar with scenes from many stories, and the world’s biggest fairy-tale pyramid. There are other activities, such as a sky workshop for children, a cozy king’s mountain pasture, and an ice slide.

Insider Tip for Shopping at Christmas Markets: Once you buy glühwein, the mug belongs to you. If you are so inclined not to pay for the mug itself, it may be returned for a refund, between 25 cents and 4 euro, depending on the market. However, they are often uniquely decorated, making them a wonderful holiday keepsake.

Nuremberg

13. Christkindlesmarkt, Nürnberg


This market is famous throughout both Germany and the world, and is one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. With famous foods such as their specialty Drei im Weggla (three bratwurst in a bun) or lebkuchen (gingerbread), it expands the classic Christmas market into a grandiose affair.

The market is filled with activities, from taking stagecoach tours to meeting the christkind (Christ child or child Jesus). There is a separate children’s market, with a carousel, Santa Claus house, and a Christmas bakery.

When finding gifts, this market is famous for its Zwetschgenmännle (prune men), which are dressed up in many different occupations, such as fishermen, musicians, pastors, and chimney sweeps. They make wonderful additions to any household.

Insider Tip for Shopping at Christmas Markets: Tables are not always easy to find. They are often standing tables, and with so many visitors, they can be occupied. In buying food, make sure you are able to carry it, in case a table is not open. You won’t be alone in standing with your food.

Interesting Reads: Best Christmas Markets In PragueBest Christmas Markets In UKBest Christmas Markets In MadridBest Christmas Markets In CopenhagenBest Christmas Markets In Vienna

Text BY: Jakob Schreiber
Kalyan Panja

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