Germany is famed across the world for its atmospheric and cozy German Christmas markets. No other country does Christmas quite like the Germans—they have perfected the art of Yuletide, attracting Christmas lovers from across the world every December to their glittering and atmospheric markets.
Join us as we explore five extraordinary German Christmas markets that each has a unique appeal. From the Black Forest Highlands to the Hanseatic coast let’s take a trip through to the magic of Christmas. We’ll be toasting our Glühweins to every ringing bell, roasted nut and twinkling fairy light throughout December to make up for lost time after last year’s break!
Christmas market in the Ravenna Gorge, Black Forest
The first Christmas market on our list is located in the fabled Black Forest highlands. An illuminated, colorful 130-foot-high railway viaduct frames the scenic Devil’s Valley gorge. The Ravenna Gorge Christmas market boasts 40 stalls with plenty of fire pits to keep you warm as well as decorated Christmas trees. Sample festive treats such as roasted nuts, gingerbread and regional specialities such as Black Forest gâteau (a chocolate, cream and cherry cake) and down it all with the local cherry schnapps.
The local organizers are firm believers in sustainability so the market features handcrafted items such as Black Forest angels, hand-blown baubles and driftwood art. Shuttle buses take visitors from nearby stations such as Freiburg to the gorge and if you’re feeling frisky, you can hike from Hinterzarten through the Löffeltal landscape following a stunning forest path with scenic views leading you to this picturesque winter wonderland!
When? Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from November 26 until December 19, 2021
Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt is one of the oldest German Christmas markets—locals say the first market was held in 1628. Even though the Second World War put a stop to all festive events, the market returned in 1948 in the ruins of the Main Market Square in the Old Town—this has been the location ever since.
This Bavarian market may be steeped in tradition but philanthropy is at its core. Every year, an elected Christkind (a female gift-bringer) represents the Christkindlesmarkt, reflecting the spirit of the season. Many of the stalls are lovingly decked out, with matching red-and-white striped roofs, and proceeds of all sales go to regional charities. Apart from visiting the charitable institutions, the Christkind kicks off the grand opening ceremony the Friday before every first of Advent.
With more than 30 stalls dating back to 1890, there’s plenty of traditional treats to go around. Try the organic Bratwurst Weggla (Nuremberg sausages served with mustard in a bun) or the Spekulatius cookies. Afterwards, sip on blueberry mulled wine made of selected Italian varietals. It’s a spin on the classic winter warmer and has been sold at the market for 35 years.
Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt, Berlin
The impressive red brick Kulturbrauerei, a 19th-century brewery, in Berlin’s bougie Prenzlauer Berg district has hosted this family-friendly Christmas market since 2000. Red-and-white huts feature festive treats for adults and children wait impatiently in line to ride the carousel.
The illuminated market has a Scandinavian flavor. The market is named for the Swedish tradition of Lucia, which takes place on December 13 each year. Lucia was a martyred saint who was said to wear lights in her hair. Watch a modern Lucia lead a train of white-dressed carol singers through the dark. The market also boasts a mobile sauna for the Finns in the crowd and serves Glögg, the sweet Nordic mulled wine topped with almonds and raisins, as well as moose goulash and reindeer salami.
With more than 70 Christmas markets in Berlin alone, there’s plenty of options in the capital but Gendarmenmarkt is known for its fairytale atmosphere and acrobats.
Lindau’s Harbour Christmas Market, Lake Constance
This idyllic Christmas market in Bavaria takes place on a small, narrow island near Lake Constance that’s surrounded by snow-capped mountain peaks and crystal clear water. To kickstart the lake promenade fair, the giant Lindau Christmas tree is set up at Bismarckplatz helping to create one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany. The market has a full program every weekend, ranging from fairytale readings and pony-riding to live performances from a Louisiana jazz band to an alphorn group!
Once in Lindau, you can board the Austria, which has been decorated with holiday ornaments and a nativity scene, take a quick cruise across the lake to the Bregenz Christmas market and enjoy spectacular views on both waterfronts.
Lübeck’s Town Hall Christmas Market
Lübeck is one of the brightest jewels in the Hanseatic League and its Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, plays host to one of the prettiest Christmas markets in all of Germany. The town hall, with its green spires, and Holstentorplatz, with its cobblestones, make the ideal backdrop for a sparkling Christmas market.
Christmas revellers have been gathering here since 1648 and often meet at Kaak, a local landmark, where butter traders used to sell their wares in medieval times. From there you can explore more than 200 stalls of handcrafted toys, trinkets and piping hot drinks.
Stroll around wooden chalets gathered under a net of 500,000 fairy lights and sample deep fried pastries or Lübeck’s world-famous marzipan served on biodegradable plates.
There’s plenty of other must-see Christmas markets in Lübeck. Stop by Koberg Maritime near the port and enjoy a ride on the ferris wheel or skate across the ice rink. The popular Fairytale Forest is perfect for children who want to hear all about the tales of the Brothers Grimm.