Here are the best German Christmas markets that are nothing compared to what you’ve seen before!
Nothing compares with being home with your family for the holidays, but there’s one thing that is truly worth leaving the comfort of your house for: a European Christmas market (or even a European-style Christmas market in the US).
When it comes to traditional holiday markets, Germany sets the standard for decorations, baked goods, and spectacular festivities that range from ice skating rinks and live concerts to the crowning of the Christmas angel. Shopping is obviously half the fun, so get ready to fill your suitcase with handcrafted, unique ornaments and other special gifts to surprise your loved ones on the big day!
While you can find a Christmas market in many small towns around the country, some special ones are the most legendary. We’ve rounded up some of the best German Christmas markets worth traveling to in Europe for the holidays. Check this out!
1. Trier Christmas Market
Open every day from late November to December 22, the Trier Christmas Market has been a cherished German holiday tradition for over four decades. Located in the small town of Trier, only eight miles from the Luxembourg border, this event is packed with a festive vibe and features about 90 decorated wooden stalls.
The romantic medieval setting, surrounded by the Main Market and Trier Cathedral, attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a year and is one of the oldest and best German Christmas markets. With a family-friendly program that changes daily, you can enjoy live concerts, historical puppet theater performances, and a poetry slam.
Candle shoppers, sweet-eaters, toy hunters, and fans of handicrafts will find everything their hearts desire for themselves and their friends and family.
2. Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt
One of the oldest and best German Christmas markets, the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, or “the little city of wood and cloth,” is also one of the world’s most famous holiday events, so it really pays off to visit it if you have the chance. Held every year on Nuremberg’s Main Market Square, it’s officially opened by Christkind, a fairy-kind young woman sporting an angelic garb and a golden crown.
The market is famous for its nativity scenes, colorful stars, wooden nutcrackers, and Rauschgold angels, as well as culinary highlights such as bratwurst, gingerbread-like lebkuchen, and mulled wine.
As one of the best German Christmas markets, its whole vibe is quite special, and this is the kind of experience you’ll remember for a lifetime.
If you’re looking to buy a new set of gloves and a scarf, here are some great options to choose from.
3. Berlin Christmas Markets
If you want to visit a different Christmas market every day of your trip, Berlin is a great bet. You’ll be surprised (or maybe not) to learn that there are over 100 Christmas markets in Germany’s capital, so there’s a wide selection to choose from.
Although it’s pretty hard to pick one, the WeihnachtsZauber Gendarmenmarkt is one of the best German Christmas markets (and also the most visited ones). The event is located on a lovely square framed by the magnificent buildings of the Concert Hall and the German and French churches.
Of course, there’s a huge Christmas tree and a stage with live choir performances. It’s really magical at night when everything is joyfully lit up.
Another great pick is the Berlin City Hall Christmas market, where you can skate the ice rink, ride the Ferris wheel, and walk across the old Berlin-style market alleys.
4. Leipzig Christmas Market
Open from late November to December 23, the Leipzig Christmas Market is one of the oldest and best German Christmas markets. Dating back to 1458, the market features more than 250 sparkling stalls, a marvelous Saxon spruce Christmas tree, and all kinds of craftsmen, from blacksmiths to candle makers.
Other highlights are, of course, culinary goods, the traditional medieval market, and several performances on the market square stage. The fairy tale forest makes children’s hearts beat faster, and both young and old can go on a ride on the big wheel and marvel at the city from above. There’s also an iconic tiered carousel in Reichsstraße, which awakens nostalgia, contributing to the festive vibe.
As one of the best German Christmas markets, this is a must-see destination during the holidays, and you won’t regret visiting it.
5. Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt
Delivering a traditional German Christmas market experience, the Heidelberger Weihnachtsmarkt is one of the most transportive and romantic in the country, thanks in part to the charming 17th-century riverside town setting and nighttime backdrop of the glowing Heidelberg Castle.
The market is spread across five different squares and embodies the warm, fuzzy feeling of Christmas. There are over 120 decorated wooden huts and stalls selling traditional German foods, sweets, mulled wine, and handicrafts. Don’t miss the illuminated fir trees at Kornmarkt and the ice rink at Karlsplatz.
As one of the best German Christmas markets, the Heidelberg holiday event exudes an enchanting ambiance that only a few others can hold a candle to.
6. Düsseldorf Christmas Market
If you think you’ve seen it all when it comes to European holiday markets, you may be wrong because the next entry on our list of the best German Christmas markets isn’t one but seven markets, each themed around the varied goods on offer, from dazzling decor schemes to edible delights, plus an ice skating area.
Taking place from late November to December 30, the event offers over 200 elaborately adorned Christmas huts to marvel at various locations throughout the city center. The whole area has been turned into a winter wonderland, lined with hundreds of Christmas trees.
Stroll around, marvel at the twinkling lights, and buy presents. And if you want to get up high, hop on a ride on the Ferris wheel on Burgplatz and enjoy the panoramic view of one of the best German Christmas markets.
7. Dresdner Striezelmarkt
The Dresdner Striezelmarkt is considered the world’s first genuine Christmas market, dating back to its first edition in 1434, when it was held for just one day. In other words, it’s the oldest Christmas market in the entire world.
As you expect, the experience is meant to be unforgettable. Today, the event takes place at Altmarkt from late November to December 24. As one of the most stunning and best German Christmas markets, it features more than 200 stalls where vendors sell tchotchkes, sweet treats, and more.
If you want to get the best view of the market lights, riding the Ferris wheel will give you one that’s pretty hard to beat. For those seeking something a little more intimate, Dresden hosts several other Christmas markets of all sizes, so after visiting the Striezelmarkt, you can go over to the Neustadt or the Neumarkt, where there’s more Christmas fun to be had.
8. Stuttgart Christmas Market
Stuttgart Christmas Market is one of the best German Christmas markets you can visit to truly dive into the festive atmosphere. With a tradition spanning more than 300 years, the event has some of the best decorations in the country. Moreover, there’s a prize that’s awarded each year for the most charming booth (chosen by a jury), so all 300 stalls are ornately adorned.
What’s interesting about this Christmas market is that it features a giant Advent calendar. More precisely, Stuttgart’s town hall is turned into a huge Advent calendar with its windows blocked off with numbers, and every day a new image is revealed up until Christmas.
The event is open from late November to December 23.
If you liked our article on the best German Christmas markets, you may also want to read 8 Charming New England Winter Destinations You Must See.