How to Do Christmas Markets in Germany RIGHT 15

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Whether you are a direct descendant of Scrooge himself or Martha Stewart’s doppleganger, who doesn’t love European Christmas Markets?

Christians and Non-Christians alike all can’t wait for Advent to begin in Europe so that Christmas Markets can take over for the following month!

Cool evenings with snow falling gently.

Sipping warm mulled wine.

Music playing softly.

Combine all these things with maybe a light snowfall, some delicious food and eye candy galore and it will get anyone in the Christmas spirit!!!

There are tons of info on dates and locations of Christmas Markets, but this tells you HOW to do do them!




There are a hundred and one awesome websites designed specifically to the dates and locations of Christmas Markets in Germany and Europe and just as many which tout the titles of “Top Ten Christmas Markets in (Insert Destination).”

So, instead of re-hashing what has already been done, I wanted to focus on what actually goes ON at a Christmas Market, why you need to go to as many as possible and then how to do them RIGHT.


When do they Start:

With the exception of a few, the most typical times for Christmas Markets across Europe to happen is the first weekend of Advent through Christmas.  For non-Christians or for those that just like a little more context, this often begins the week or weekend after American Thanksgiving (so typically, the last weekend of November).  Some will run to the New Year or shortly after Christmas, while others will be just for one weekend alone.


What Christmas Markets to Go To:

Like I mentioned earlier, there are endless websites that help you find a Christmas Market near you.  While I may argue that a few markets stand out and are more magical, have wider varieties of  goods and more activities, this is a topic that no matter which ones you attend, you just simply can’t go wrong.

Big and Famous Markets

Here in Germany, markets like Nurnberg, Cologne and Dresden are famous for their size and how long they have been happening.  These all deserve a visit just for those factors alone.  It is amazing how many rows of Christmas items, decorations and food stalls there are and how fun is it to say you went to “The World’s Largest/ Oldest/ etc Christmas Market.”

Teeny Tiny Towns

Almost every village has their own Christmas market.  While you can walk around these ones in less than 30 minutes more often than not, it doesn’t mean that these are not worth going to.  In fact, it is often the smaller markets that have more local artisans, craftsman and unique items. In fact, I love our small town, (population: 6500  ) small market.  It is located in and around our town’s castle and hosts more local shops and artisans than mass-produced products.  That alone makes you feel the Christmas Magic!


Planning A Magical German Christmas Market Experience?

Don’t forget to research cheap things to do on TripAdvisor and book affordable Hotels at



When to Go:

If going to the larger or more famous markets, approaching them from your “typical tourist times” is best.


When to go to Christmas Markets


Weekdays: Some markets can get incredibly crowded.  Going during the week often can cut down on the crowds.  Usually, the earlier in the day you can go, the better as well.

With that being said, I love being at markets in the evening.  There is something about the lights on all the stands glowing and the Christmas trees lit up that just make the atmosphere take on a whole new feeling.

Events: Alternatively, you can also do the exact opposite and battle the crowds for planned events.  Yes, this means more people, but these are so much fun to attend!  A simple google search of the specific Christmas Market you want to visit will have you at their homepage where you should find a calendar for the duration of the market.  See if there are any parades, Krampus evenings or St. Nick sightings.  While you may not have as much elbow room during these times, seeing the local cultures and traditions is a blast.



What to Eat

What kind of Economical Excursionist post would this be if I didn’t mention food!? Like most fests in Germany (and Europe), Christmas Markets have delicious foods to nibble on all day long.

Lebkuchen: In Germany, this is the traditional “Gingerbread” and Nurnberg claims to be the home of it all.  However, you won’t be finding any gingerbread men hanging around.  Instead, there are both elaborate, large frosted decorations in addition to smaller versions that let you try the many flavors and varieties.



Note: Gingerbread in Europe is NOT like it is in the US.  It is much more “spicy” (not hot, but literally, just has more spices- think nutmeg, ginger, etc) and you’ll probably love it or you’ll hate it…but there is only one way to find out!

Sausage Sandwiches (Semmels): What is Germany without a good brat!?  While you can find most of these sausages at any fest, I love grabbing a warm dog on a cold night to walk around with.  It is fast food at it’s finest! If in Bavaria, of course try a Nurnberger Sausage (think breakfast sausage). Some other personal favorites are Rotewurst and Bockwursts (just think good, plump sausages!) Add some spicy mustard, onions and a dash of horseradish and you are in Brat Heaven!  The point is, just find a stand, point at something sausage-looking and you won’t be disappointed!

But, who doesn’t want a hot dog that is a full meter long!?

Meter Long Hot Dog

That’s one long dog!


Frikadellen: Frikadellen is literally “meat cake or meat balls” and will also typically come with a roll to make a delicious sandwich with. Slather some onions and mustard on top and YUM!


Enjoying a Frikadellen Semmel and some warm Gluewein!

Enjoying a Frikadellen Semmel and some warm Gluewein!


Crepes: Another typical fest food is a crepe and is another perfect warm treat as you walk around the Christmas Markets.  My favorite? Nutella with a shot of Ameretto



What to Drink:

Glühwein : Here in Germany, the local, warm, mulled wine is called Gluewein.  In Scandanavian countries, it is known as Grogg.  In the Czech Republic, it’s Svařák , in France you’ll see vin chaud and Itally it’s Vin brulé.

No matter the title, the bottom line is that it is a delicious, warm, spiced wine.   The typical and most traditional is a red variety, but there are also whites as well as all sorts of fruit flavors (blueberry, cherry, apple and more!).  Call me a lush (remember my crepe preference?) but on especially cold nights (and ones that we are either walking or taking the train home!) we order our Gluewein “mit Schuss” or “with a shot” of rum.  It really kicks it up a notch!


1) There is often a “pfand” or deposit on the Glühwein cups.  Return then to the same or a similar stall to receive your small deposit back.

2) The perfect Christmas Market Souvenir are these cups! They often have the name of the market and a scene of the town on them.  Instead of buying more junk, just keep one of these mugs for a nice reminder of your holiday times at the markets!


Feuerzangenbowle: Extremely similar to Gluewein, this mulled wine puts on quite a show.  The rum is an already assumed addition and then a sugar cube is lit on fire on top to give it an extra punch of sweetness.  It’s fun to try at least one!




KinderPunsch: For the youngins or people who prefer not to drink, you can opt for the KinderPunsch.  Basically, it is just non-alcoholic Gluewein

Eggnog (Eierlikör): Not at all Christmas Markets, but a drink that probably can be found at the bigger ones is Eggnog.  This isn’t your typical store-bought, carton of Eggnog though! This thick, egg concoction is worth a try.  I personally wasn’t expecting it to be warm, so the thickness of it threw me off.  Maybe it was just the batch I had or maybe it’s truly just the norm, but if you aren’t a fan of rum, you might want to shy away from this one!

Hot Chocolate: Of course you can find other warm drinks that soothe the soul, like hot cocoa


What to Buy:

Christmas Markets are the absolute opportune time to buy Christmas gifts that are unique and thoughtful.  You can share a glimpse into the life you are living while abroad with your family back home….and drink wine while doing it!


Nativity Scenes: You will find some of the most stunning and beautiful nativity scenes at the markets.  Some are obviously mass-produced, but others can be hand- carved or just quite unique.

Christmas Pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide): A classic German Christmas Market item are the Weihnactspyramide.  These tiered candle carousals turn by the power of the heat of small candles.  They range in small to big and beautiful!


Life Sized Christmas Pyramid

Life Sized Christmas Pyramid


Ornaments: You can buy Christmas ornaments just about anywhere, but why not get it at a Christmas Market? You can get ones that say the town’s name, or get one with a more “traditional” Christmas scene.  No matter what country you are in, get one that is unique to the culture there for a fun souvenir.  For example, Germans have a tradition of hiding a pickle (ornament) in the tree.  The first kid to find it, gets to open their gifts first!


Nurnberg Christmas Market

Nurnberg Christmas Market


Hand-Crafted Items: You will find so many hand-crafted, unique and stunning items.  No matter the style and preferences of the person you are shopping for, you will find hand-made jewelery, labor intensive woodwork, XX pottery and more.


Keepin’ It Kid-Friendly:

Due to crowds and length of time needed, many people wonder if taking the youngins’ to the Christmas Markets are worth it.  Here a few tips from those who have lived and experienced it:

1) Go during weekdays and mornings when there are less people

2) If the child is young enough, baby wear if possible.  While plenty of people (including locals) will have strollers, it is just easier to navigate the rows of stands and large amounts of people without one.
3) Find a kid-friendly (see list below) market that has a children’s area or kid activities to keep them occupied.

4) Stay as long as you want! Don’t feel like you need to see everything.  This is often why smaller, local markets are great, too.



There are SO many Christmas Markets in Germany and Europe.  Each country often has a bit of it’s own culture infused into it, including favorite foods, different items for sale and events going on.

However, regardless of where you are in Europe, one thing can be sure during the Christmas Season: Christmas Markets are about the most perfect way to spend your time.



Want to know what Christmas Markets to put at the top of your list (for Germany)?

Larger/ More well Known:

Nurnberg: World’s Oldest Christmas Market.  Claims to have the original gingerbread recipe

Dresden: Germany’s largest Christmas Market

Köln (Cologne): Several markets within the city provide different experiences at each one

Esslingen: Christmas Market meets Medieval fair! Talk about a magical experience to take you back in time!

Rothenburg: Home of Kathe Wolfhart Store (original Christmas stores), you know the town takes their markets seriously!

Berlin: Over 60 markets spread throughout the city! Each one has something different to offer and is worth exploring!


Kid Friendly:

Nuremberg: Has it’s own “Kinder” section complete with mini train rides, elf homes and more

Guteneck: Has a kid section as well as a petting zoo

Bamberg: Has an Ice Rink

Berlin: Frozen fountain to ice skate in, ferris wheel, snow tubing/sledding, pony rides and more!

Dresden: Has a “kinder” bakery where little ones can make cookies and decorate gingerbread houses.

Esslingen: In addition to a bakery for the kids, there are also other crafts activities, like dipping candles, making little figurines and even has a kid- friendly archery area.


Smaller, but still worthwhile:

  • Wildenreuth
  • Dinkelsbuhl
  • Rothenburg
  • Regensburg
  • Bamberg


For further information, dates and locations of Christmas Markets around Europe, here are a few great resources:



What is YOUR favorite Christmas market to go to and why?


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LeAnna Brown

Author and Creator at Economical Excursionists
Former teacher turned blogger turned mom turned full time travel addict, LeAnna has never been one to live life by the rules. Whether she is moving to a farm in Switzerland to learn to make cheese (Yes, CHEESE), jumping off a mountain to paraglide over Cinderella castles, or taking her baby all over the world with nothing but a backpack on their backs, LeAnna designs and defines her OWN life. LeAnna, her husband Andy, and kiddo, "Lil B" love to live a minimal lifestyle, not only for the "thrill" of pinching pennies but in order to save for traveling the world. Considering over 40 countries and 90+ cities have been explored, we'd say they are doing something right!

About LeAnna Brown

Former teacher turned blogger turned mom turned full time travel addict, LeAnna has never been one to live life by the rules. Whether she is moving to a farm in Switzerland to learn to make cheese (Yes, CHEESE), jumping off a mountain to paraglide over Cinderella castles, or taking her baby all over the world with nothing but a backpack on their backs, LeAnna designs and defines her OWN life. LeAnna, her husband Andy, and kiddo, "Lil B" love to live a minimal lifestyle, not only for the "thrill" of pinching pennies but in order to save for traveling the world. Considering over 40 countries and 90+ cities have been explored, we'd say they are doing something right!

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15 thoughts on “How to Do Christmas Markets in Germany RIGHT

  • Stefan

    We just returned back to Europe for Xmas with families, we – Stefan in London and Seb in France. We love the Christmas markets in Europe and our closest to a Germanic experience was at Alsace. Cozying up to a mulled wine in the freezing cold with a few roasted chestnuts and other tasty prizes was a memory we missed during our long travels in Asia.

  • Claudia

    Call me Grinch but I can’t stand Christmas. This coming one is the first one I will spend at home after 3 years and I am trying to come up with an escape plan. The last thing I would do would be to visit a Christmas market – though I appreciate a lot of people love them

    • LeAnna Post author

      Everyone has their reasons! Although, I’d be surprised if you didn’t find SOMETHING (the food?? ha! that’s what I am always drawn to!) that wasn’t enjoyable at a market

  • Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers

    I enjoy the festive celebrations with family and friends but don’t often brave the crowds for the more commercial activities. I’m sure I would be tempted though with the local flavour of some of the pretty smaller villages across Europe at that time of year.

  • Travelwith2ofus

    I never knew Christmas markets was such a huge thing in Europe and Germany. Sounds really amazing with different food, drinks and merchandise on sale. I really want to try mulled wine. I have heard about it but never got a chance to taste it.

  • RaW | Ramble and Wander

    A very helpful list of tips! I haven’t been to Germany but I do love travelling in Europe during winter. Much less tourist crowds 🙂 So far the best Xmas markets that I’ve been to would be the ones in Vienna. Would love to check out Xmas markets in Germany one day!

  • Mar

    Oh this has just made me super excited to visit Munich in 3 weeks! It’ll be my first time in Germany and my first time at a Xmas market and I can’t wait!

  • Maria

    Ah I love a good Christmas market! I live in Copenhagen at the moment and they are adorable here, my favourites are the one in Tivoli and the one in Christiania. So lovely and atmospheric, I agree that it’s fun to battle the crowds sometimes, it’s nice to be part of the Cristmas hustle and bustle every once and a while. and the Glogg that they serve here is amazing, so potent though!

  • Becky Markovitz

    I’m sad you didn’t have Leipzig on the list! If you haven’t been, you really should! Along with the classics you listed in your post, they also have a quirky Medieval market with delicious Handbrot (bread stuffed with goat cheese and peppers). It’s definitely worth seeing!

  • Juergen |

    Two (or three) yummy things to eat not mentioned in this article:
    1. “Gebrannte Mandeln” [sugar roasted almonds], best when they’re still warm;
    2. “Paradiesäpfel” [toffee apples], though they can be hard on your teeth;
    3. “Röstkastanien” [roasted chestnuts], you don’t find them in all regions of Germany.