The German Christmas markets (“Weihnachtsmarkt”) are well worth visiting! They overflow with bright lights, great food, beautiful ornaments and friendly people. Here are a few markets that you’ll want to visit on your next trip to Germany.
What You Need to Know
Most Christmas markets are free to attend, but some do charge fees. They will put a bracelet on you to show that you have paid.
Food and Drink
When you buy a drink at a market, you’ll receive it in a ceramic mug. Each market has its own mugs, and you have to pay a deposit for your mug. Once you’re done your drink, you can return it to any drink vendor in the market for a refund, exchange it for a fresh one, or keep it as a souvenir.
Many different drinks are available. The most common are Glühwein (mulled wine), hot chocolate and beer.
Several foods are common at these markets. Currywurst is a Berlin staple and can be had at almost every market. Roasted almonds and potato pancakes (Reibekuchen) are also very common.
There are many vendors at each market, selling food, drink, toys, ornaments, clothing, soaps, candles, ceramics… the list goes on. As you visit multiple markets, you will find that some items are sold by vendors in every market. If you visit Christmas markets in multiple German cities, you may even see the same vendor in different cities!
Bring cash! You’ll need it.
Certainly, some vendors accept credit cards through Square or similar, but a lot of them do not and you’ll need to have cash on hand.
Use a bank ATM to get your cash to avoid surcharges. Watch carefully as you withdraw your money to ensure you aren’t being charged a large surcharge. Of course, watch around you to avoid pickpockets!
Many Christmas markets in Germany have merry-go-rounds, Ferris wheels, ice skating… there’s a lot to do for families and for couples.
The city of Cologne is famed for its cathedral, but it should also be famous for its many excellent Christmas markets. Our favourites were Heinzel’s Wintermärchen and the Markt der Engel (Angel Market).
Heinzel’s Wintermärchen is a sprawling market near the cathedral that features curling, a skating track and entertainers. It is a very popular and busy market.
Naturally, Heinzel’s also includes many rows of vendors.
The Cathedral Christmas Market
There is a netting of lights over most of the market, giving it a lovely starry sky look.
The Angel Market (Markt der Engel) is a nice, compact market. We liked it for the lovely lights suspended above the market, and for the angels – on horseback! – that occasionally toured the market. Very unique!
Cologne Harbour Christmas Market
The Harbour Christmas Market (Kölner Hafen-Weihnachtsmarkt) is directly on the Rhine River in Cologne. It’s a pretty unique setting, with the river, a pretend pirate ship, and the Chocolate Museum (Schokoladen Museum) all in one place.
Adding to the appeal of the location is the Malakoffturm, a brick gatehouse built in 1848. It was one of the towers that guarded the entrance to the Cologne harbour.
Berlin has several great Christmas markets. We visited several of them in 2021 and can recommend the Alexanderplatz Christmas Market, the Gendarmenmarkt, the Kurfürstendamm market and the Lucia Market.
We visited Winterwelt at Potsdamerplatz but were underwhelmed. It had few vendors in 2021 but had a lot of activities to do, like ice skating or toboggan runs. It is probably better for families than couples.
The Gendarmenmarkt is one of the prettiest Christmas Markets in Berlin. It is wedged into a square and is flanked by the Französischer Dom and the Deutsche Dom (more information on the square).
We really enjoyed the live performance at the market. Such talent!
The Kurfürstendamm Christmas Market
The Kurfürstendamm market is located in Breitscheidplatz Square, between the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the large Europa Shopping Centre.
This market is located in a tourist hotspot, with lots of shopping nearby. The market itself is full of vendors and quite busy.
We encourage you to explore just outside the market to see other festive light displays – there are many!
Alexanderplatz Christmas Market
The Alexanderplatz Christmas Market in Berlin is a sprawling, busy market with many attractions. Along with the dozens of vendor huts, there are restaurants, a colourful merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, and skating.
The market is conveniently located next to the Alexanderplatz U-Bahn station and tram stop, and is near the famous Berlin TV Tower.
The Lucia Christmas market in Berlin has a strong Scandinavian influence, including Nordic flags and games such as a crossbow shoot!
The Römerberg is a world-famous square in Frankfurt, featuring beautiful timber frame houses. Every year, the Römerberg Market delights thousands of visitors with dozens of stalls and vendors.
So Many Others
There are many other Christmas markets across Germany. There are too many to list here, but here are a few highlights:
- The Christkindlesmarkt (“Christ Child Market”) in Nuremberg
- The Marienplatz market in Munich
- The Striezelmarkt in Dresden
- Marktplatz in Stuttgart
- Old Town Christmas Market in Leipzig
- Essen International Christmas Market
- Trier Christmas Market