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Winter destinations: The best Christmas markets in Germany

by Catherine Carey | November 16, 2023
Best Christmas Markets in Germany

Do you love winter and the Christmas season? Then you must travel to Germany during November and December when the country is full of Christmas markets. Germany's Christmas markets, known as 'Weihnachtsmärkte' in German, are a tradition in all of the country and world-wide. There are between 2,500-3,000 markets each year in Germany alone. 

In this article, we provide you with a list of must-see Christmas markets, what to expect, and the dates to ensure you experience the full magic of Christmas. Join us in embracing the festive spirit!

Which German Christmas market is best?

To determine which German Christmas market is best or which city has the best Christmas market is difficult. They are all wonderful and provide unique experiences and chances to explore different cities. 

Some of the most renowned and popular Christmas markets in Germany include: Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market, Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market, Dresden Striezelmarkt and Munich Christmas Market.  In the following lines, we explain some of them a bit further so you can prepare your trip.

Is the Nuremberg Christmas Market worth it? Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt

The Nuremberg Christmas Market in 2023 will be from December 1 to the 24. It is one of the famous Christmas markets in Germany and one of the oldest ones in the world (it is believed to have started in the early 16th century).

In the Nuremberg Christmas Market, you will find 200 independent vendors in the Main Market Square, selling handmade crafts like candles, jams, wool clothing and more. Since it was officially opened by Christkind (Christ Child), a young local woman in angelic garb and a golden crown, the market is famous for its Rauschgold angels, wooden nutcrackers, nativity scenes, and colorful stars. You will also find that the holy Christ child is played by a different local child each year and paraded through the main square.

We recommend trying some typical food like the Nürnberger rostbratwurst and lebkuchen (gingerbread). 

Those with little ones won’t want to miss the Christmas-themed city for children on Hans-Sachs-Platz, which has special entertainment for kids and booths with hands-on activities. The Nuremberg Christmas Market is a market with something for all travelers and locals that want to enjoy the Christmas spirit to the maximum.

Nuremberg Christmas Market - Christkindlesmarkt Nürnberg

Dresden Striezelmarkt

The Dresden Striezelmarkt is celebrated from November 29 to December 24 and it is believed to have started in 1434, which makes it the oldest in Germany and in the world. Striezelmarkt refers to the strüzel or stollen, a classic German Christmas cake. You must definitely try it if you go to Dresden during the winter season. 

You will find over 200 stalls in the market in the market square, with the Elbe River tinkling in the background. Some particularly remarkable things to do in Dresden Striezelmarkt are buying plaumentoffel (decorative figures made of prunes) and seeing the largest Christmas pyramid in the country (14m high). We also recommend riding the Ferris wheel to get the best view of the market lights. 

Striezelmarkt is not the only Christmas market in Dresden, you can also see Neumarkt or the Neustadt.

Is Dresden Christmas Market worth it?

Dresden is a hidden gem. It is absolutely worth to visit Dresden Christmas markets. More than a million of travelers visit Dresden's famous Christmas markets, which are scattered around the city. Discover real authentic Christmas spirit first hand in your next trip to Dresden. 

Dresden Christmas market

Berlin WeihnachtsZauber 

Another very recommendable market is the Berlin WeihnachtsZauber that starts from November 27 to December 31 in 2023. In Berlin, where the festive spirit thrives across more than 70 markets, the Gendarmenmarkt square hosts one of the most traditional and captivating Christmas markets: the WeihnachtsZauber ("Christmas Magic")

The market is surrounded by two baroque cathedrals and the elegant neoclassical Konzerthaus and offers a truly enchanting experience. While there's a small admission fee, the market compensates with top-quality Bavarian and Berlin specialties, a variety of drinks and unbelievable handicrafts.

How expensive are Berlin Christmas markets?

The majority of Berlin Christmas markets are free. You can check out which ones are free or if the one you have chosen is free here. Keep in mind that while many of the Berlin Christmas markets are free, the events, rides and attractions inside them can have a fee. 

Berlin christmas market Gendarmenmarkt

Stuttgart Wintertraum Markt

Stuttgart Wintertraum Markt is a market that starts from November 29 to December 23, 2023 and it is particularly enchanting because of its old town and cobblestone streets. In Schlossplatz you will find this Wintertraum Markt (Winter dream Market) with around 300 wooden stalls that compete to win the annual city prize for the most beautifully decorated. 

If you are someone who cares for the planet, you must know that the market emphasizes local and sustainable products. Don’t be shy and try the roasted chestnuts and lebkuchen

To complete the experience, you can enjoy a rollerskating rink, ferris wheel, live jazz and choral performances in churches. 

Stuttgart Wintertraum Markt

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt

If you want to enjoy a romantic christmassy atmosphere then the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a popular option. From the 1st till the 23rd of December, you can enjoy its Christmas market, which has been running since the 15th century, with 50 stalls amid the town’s winding lanes and timber-framed houses covered with snow.

What is more remarkable of this town and market is the quality of music. There’s music from choral singers, brass ensembles and classical players.

For those who are interested in trying classic german dishes, we recommend trying grilled sausages and flammkuchen (a pizza-style dish) and local dishes like the Rothenburger Schneeballen (“snowball”). The Schneeballen are fried shortcrust pastry balls covered in sugar or chocolate and other toppings. 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Reiterlesmarkt

Aachen Christmas Market

Aachen Christmas Market runs from November 24 to December 23 and in the historic Münsterplatz that has an important cathedral where Charlemagne’s remains lay. In this Christmas market there are about 120 wooden kiosks that sell anything you might want from a Christmas market: mulled wine, handmade wooden toys, a festive carousel and more!

A local food you must try is the Aachener printen, a version of lebkuchen made with caramelised sugar, aniseed and other spices. The city is close to Belgium and the Netherlands so it is easy to do a hopping trip to another country while you are in Aachen.

Aachen Christmas Market

Leipzig Christmas Market 2023

From November 28 to December 23, you will be able to enjoy Leipzig’s Christmas Market with almost 300 stalls. Established in 1458, this Christmas market stands as one of Germany's oldest and largest. 

Set against the backdrop of Marktplatz, the market unfolds in the presence of the Renaissance-era old town hall. This historic venue, where Bach was once sworn into the city, transforms its balcony into a stage for enchanting trombone concerts.

Leipzig’s Christmas Market also features a 20m Christmas tree, a traditional medieval market, musical performances and entertainment shows, and child-friendly attractions like a roaming Santa Claus. Nearby you will see a ferris wheel that gives the best views of the city. 

Leipzig is quite close to Berlin and Dresden, so you can travel to Leipzig to see the Christmas market and then return to Berlin or Dresden.

Leipzig Christmas market

Is Frankfurt Christmas Market worth it? 

Our answer is absolutely yes! The Frankfurt Christmas Market is impressive, especially because, apart from offering everything you can hope for in a German Christmas market, such as good food, an enchanting atmosphere, attractions, and souvenirs, it also boasts a 30-meter-high Christmas tree. You can visit the Frankfurt Christmas Market from the 27th November to 21st December, but it is not the only Christmas market in Frankfurt and Hesse, so make sure to check out as many as you can. 

Frankfurt Christmas market

Are the Munich Christmas markets worth it?

Munich Christmas markets are absolutely worth it because you will be able to enjoy the Christmas stalls, but without so many people like the ones in neighbor Nuremberg. In Munich there are so many markets, but we recommend visiting Marienplatz since it is scenic. You will be walking through a Christmas market while seeing historic buildings.

In the Munich Christmas Market it is customary to see Bavarian handicrafts like hand-painted glass ornaments and the Krampus Run. In the Krampus Run, around 300 runners dress in costumes of the Krampus and walk through the city. In Munich, you should also try stollen and drink different types of mulled wine.

Which Christmas market is better Munich or Frankfurt?

Munich and Frankfurt are beautiful cities to explore during winter, but based on multiple opinions from travelers, Munich is the winner. They choose Munich not only for its market but also for the picturesque scenery it offers.

Munich Christmas market

Are Hamburg Christmas markets good?

Yes, Hamburg Christmas markets are very good. There are plenty of Hamburg Christmas markets, but all are ideal for those travelers that want to enjoy a Christmas wonderland without too many crows. One of the most remarkable ones is the Santa Pauli Christmas market from the 13th of November to 23rd of December. 

There you will discover handcrafted treasures, ranging from intricately carved wooden figures to irresistible gingerbread. Take pleasure in wandering through the narrow, picturesque alleys adorned with sparkling lights. 

Additionally, the market extends its hours well into the night, distinguishing itself from numerous other Christmas markets. This elongated schedule contributes a vibrant entertainment lineup to the already lively atmosphere of the Reeperbahn area.

There is also a stage where there are shows and performances and an open-air art gallery. 

Hamburg Christmas market

What are the dates for Christmas markets in Germany?

The dates for Christmas markets in Germany can vary by region and city, but generally, Christmas markets in Germany begin at the end of November and last through December. You should check the specific dates of the Christmas market you most want to visit and plan around those dates.

What is special about German Christmas markets? Are German Christmas markets worth it?

Christmas markets are absolutely worth it. The most special thing about German Christmas markets is how well they immerse you in the Christmas spirit. Just imagine the cobblestone streets adorned with twinkling lights, wooden stalls decked out in festive ornaments like nutcrackers, figurines, marionettes, and the irresistible aroma of Christmas specialties wafting through the air. 

As you stroll through these streets, you immerse yourself in a magical and festive atmosphere. The bright lights create a cozy and warm ambiance, while the stalls offer a wide array of handcrafted goods, traditional toys, and culinary delights. Sample beverages like Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) or home-made chocolates and candied almonds. With our guide on what to eat at German Christmas markets, you can discover all the delicacies you must try at any German Christmas market.

Some markets also have street musicians playing festive tunes and Christmas carols performed by local orchestras and musicians. 

Anyone who loves Christmas must explore some of the best German Christmas markets. Even if you don’t love Christmas, you will fall in love with the holiday when you arrive at one of the Christmas markets. By the way, the majority of them are free to enter, so there is no excuse to visit them. 


Are German Christmas markets free?

German Christmas markets are generally free to enter, but keep in mind that some specific events or attractions may have fees.  Also, you will see that, if you ask for a mug of Glühwein, you will have to pay around 3 euros as a deposit or Pfand, for this proper mug. You can decide to keep it or return it and receive your euros back

We recommend keeping it since each market has its own mug and it usually has a festive design with the year printed on them. They make for the perfect souvenir. 

Where is the best Christmas market in Europe?

With so many Christmas markets in Europe, you might wonder, what are the best Christmas markets in Europe? The truth is that all European markets are good and each one stands out for one thing or another. Nevertheless, the most renowned markets are in Germany, France, Czech Republic, Austria and Belgium.

How to dress for German Christmas market? 

If you are preparing yourself for winter in Germany, you must prepare for cold, rainy and snowy weather. You can expect to see temperatures range from -3ºC (27ºF) and 5ºC (41ºC), although temperatures fall more heavily towards January. Also keep in mind that the weather does vary between different parts of Germany. If you go to the southern parts of Germany like Frankfurter, you will find warmer temperatures than in the north like Berlin and Dresden. Here are our tips on how to dress for German Christmas market

  • Layering clothes will be essential. You should be prepared to wear some layers in order to get rid of some if you enter a café or restaurante where there are heaters. 
  • Pack warm and comfortable clothes because you'll be outside for hours at a time.
  • Your must-have pieces of clothes are long-sleeved shirts, jeans, jumpers, thermal leggings or tights under the jeans, winter coat, scarf, hat, gloves (we recommend a pair with touchpads), thermal underwear, boots or warm socks and shoes.
  • An umbrella will become your best friend, if it rains. Although we don’t recommend opening the umbrella during the Christmas market because it might be uncomfortable due to the crowd, it will come in handy when you leave these and it rains.
  • Always wear sun protection. You should consider that when the sun hits the snow, the reflection can damage your skin and eyes.