The Top 20 Most Romantic & Best Christmas Markets in Germany

German Christmas market at night with watercolor frame

One of the most romantic times to visit Germany is undoubtedly December. Picture glowing light decorations, tall live Christmas trees, historic brass orchestras and the wafting smells of all kinds of food. Since basically every town has its own Christmas market, I handpicked the best Christmas markets in Germany for you.

Of course, everyone has their own taste and expectations when it comes to beautiful German Christmas markets. As there are different types of winter markets, some romantic, others very traditional, I divided them according to boarder regions.

This makes planning your trip around Germany in winter easier as you don’t have to traverse the entire country on the hunt for the best Xmas markets in Germany.

Note: Individual dates for my selection of the coolest Germany Christmas markets will be added as they become available throughout the year.


The Top 20 Most Romantic & Best Christmas Markets in Germany

5 Best Christmas Markets in Eastern Germany

Dresden

Three things will greet you at one of Germany’s most beautiful Christmas markets: the 25 meter tall Christmas tree, the pyramid and candle arch, both from the Ore Mountains. They make for a perfectly charming picture and instantly amp up the Christmas spirit.

But of course, Striezelmarkt is not the only Christmas market in Dresden. There actually are a total of 11 Christmas markets spread out all over town with their own distinctive flair (and Christmas market mugs).

This way, you can easily combine your city sightseeing on your Dresden trip with Christmas market hopping. For instance, the Christmas market on Neumarkt with its more traditional approach is my personal favorite spot.

Erfurt Christmas market

Even more Christmas than Dresden has the Thuringian capital. In total, there are 17 Christmas markets in Erfurt! That’s a pretty solid number and the various locations are both outdoor and indoor, taking you around the Old Town center and into gorgeous historic buildings.

The true gem of it all are the floating ceilings of strung up lights hovering over the Merchants Bridge. Put it on your Erfurt sightseeing list to climb the bridge tower for an aerial view. The entrance fee is small.

Leipzig

Super close to Dresden, Leipzig also boasts multiple markets with local and international focus. For instance, there are markets representing Tyrol and Finland. And of course, the market in front of the old town hall with the gorgeous medieval houses is all traditional.

It’s dedicated to the Ore Mountains, which produce quintessential German Christmas ware, such as wooden candle arches, pyramids and the iconic incense smoker figurines/tiny ovens.

If you’re spending a few days in town, do check off a few of the coolest attractions in Leipzig, such as the zoo or art museum. Yes, even the zoo is perfect getaway in winter. Heat up in the tropical animal houses. 

Goslar

If you’re looking for truly historic looking Christmas markets around Germany, look no further than Goslar.

The small town will instantly put a smile on your face with its cute half-timbered houses, a backyard filled with glittering lights on Christmas trees and a gorgeous web of golden bulbs hanging over the old marketplace.

Goslar is always worth a visit; after all, it’s one of the prettiest towns in Germany. But if you’re looking on the official website, you can even see a counter to the next Christmas market.

Overview of Goslar Christmas Market at night
Goslar Christmas; Credit: Mapics (Shutterstock)

Schmalkalden

Thuringia has many Christmas markets, many even hosted in medieval, baroque and Renaissance castles. One of the prettiest yet smallest Christmas markets in Central Germany is hosted in Schmalkalden.

The town itself looks straight out of a German fairy tale, with its pastel rainbow colors displayed in the ensembles of historic houses. Cobblestone streets are decorated with Christmas motifs in golden lights, leading up to the town’s castle with its glorious baroque church.

If not for the Schmalkalden Christmas market, visit the town at any time of the year for its special architecture.

If you’re looking for even more cozy Christmas markets on castles, Thuringia has plenty of those.

5 Best Christmas Markets in Western Germany

Münster

I was so happy to be able to visit Münster because it’s just so gorgeous. Even though it was heavily bombed during WWII, the town center was completely rebuilt in the medieval merchant style, which then was inspired by Venice.

There are castles around, the harbor, a lake, … in short, Münster offers many activities. But no time compares to Christmas when the historic town center transforms and about 300 Christmas stalls line up underneath glorious lights.

In total, Münster has five such xmas markets and using public transport is free on advent Saturdays! There’s even free parking and a free shuttle service from the car park at Parkhaus am Coesfelder Kreuz. A perfectly budget friendly German Christmas market trip!

Munster in Germany at night
Munster at night

Cologne

Cologne is one of the most iconic German cities. No wonder nearly six million visitors flock to the Christmas market in Cologne! The market runs until a day before Christmas and its many Christmasy locations will instantly draw you in.

Marvel at  the Christmas pyramids in the Old Town or dance underneath a canopy of lights at the Market of Angels. There’s even a harbor Christmas market next to the chocolate museum. And chocolate is a must for Christmas anyway.

Fun fact: the smallest Christmas market in the city is made up of only ten huts and you can get here by tuk tuk shuttle.

Cologne Christmas market at night from above
Cologne Christmas; Credit: picturetom (Shutterstock)

Essen

The Ruhr Valley has many hip towns with cool art installations to offer. But during winter times, you want to move a little away from the funky former mining dumps and get all bundled up at a Christmas market in Essen with a mulled wine in hand.

The town has a very special market: it’s not a typical German Christmas market but an international one. It runs from mid November to the day before Christmas Eve and its 240 stands invite for a stroll around the world.

Be it handmade souvenirs from Poland or Peru, you will surely find something very special for your loved ones at home.

Essen Christmas market with lights above, at night
Essen Christmas; photo: Peter Wieler, EMG

Michelstadt im Odenwald

Leading up to the striking tower of the iconic, stilted town hall, you’ll find some of the around 100 wooden huts inviting you on a Christmas outing.

What’s even more special than the gorgeous setting of the Old Town streets are the life-sized wooden figures around the market place. They were handmade by the local school for woodwork.

But it’s not just the Christmasy atmosphere that is alluring. The German town’s Christmas market also offers an attractive musical and theatrical program.

Christmas market at Michelstadt im Odenwald at night
Michelstadt Christmas; credit: LaMiaFotografia (Shutterstock)

Trier

The Christmas market in Trier is utterly entrancing with its pastel colored historic houses and stately cathedral framing the historic German Christmas market.

The medieval fair offers delights and souvenirs at its 90 stands. Christmas music is brought to you by traditional brass orchestras and trombone choirs.

A big bonus: Public transport and parking is free on all advent Sundays. Buses take you to the market every twelve minutes, so it’s super hassle-free.

  • 20 November to 22 December 2020
Trier Christmas Market
Trier Christmas; Credit: Igor Link (Shutterstock)

5 Best Christmas Markets in Northern Germany

Schwerin

One of the best German Christmas markets in the North definitely is fairy tale town Schwerin. With its striking castle surrounded by moats and landscaped gardens, you have a magical setting.

From there, walk into the Old Town and discover multiple markets around the historic streets and in backyards. The most important part of the Schwerin Christmas market is strategically placed inheart of town, overlooking the central boating pond with views over the Cathedral and main street.

A 108 feet-tall (33 meters) ferris wheel allows for aerial views over the lively market below. Should you want to attend the limited time market inside the castle walls, check announcements in time. It’s usually hosted mid December.

Potsdam

While most December markets in Germany come in golden lights, the Potsdam Xmas market is all about vivid blues. Lined up from the Brandenburg Gate (not the one in Berlin) to the central church, you can enjoy an easy stroll along the many huts and shops, all decked out Christmas-style.

As is typical for other Christmas markets in German towns, you can find a neighboring market dedicated to theme park-like attractions, such as a ferris wheel or rides. So you have the best of both worlds: the romance and the fun of Christmas.

Berlin

Of course, Berlin ranks high among the top Christmas markets in Germany. Here again are plenty of different markets scattered around town. From the romantic Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace (with its Swedish Christmas bazaar) to the xmas market on Alexanderplatz square.

The most popular may very well be the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market. It charges a small fee but is very much worth it. To see an overview of the various markets in 2020, click here.

If you can’t make it to Berlin in December, you still have the chance to put on the skates and enjoy the winter scenes at Potsdamer Platz. From the end of October to the beginning of the New Year, the Winterwelt welcomes visitors.

  • Estimated 20 November to end December 2020
Berlin Christmas Market Gendarmenmarkt at night
Berlin Christmas; photo: José Harvey

Hamburg

Hamburg itself is an exciting place to visit. With impressive buildings around its harbors, a musical scene, lots of shopping facilities and vibrant nightlife, there’s an abundance to do.

Local winter time is a rather cold and windy time to visit, so getting to see a Christmas market in Hamburg is a great way to really get that cozy Christmas feeling.

The Fleetweihnachtsmarkt feels like a cheery and calm oasis in the midst of the busy city. Right in front of the Michaelis Bridge you can find a cute xmas market.

This is not the only Christmas market in town; you should also stop by the fairy tale ships along the Jungfernstieg, Altona or attend the Christmas Parade.

Hamburg Christmas market seen from above at sunset
Goslar Christmas; Credit: Mapics (Shutterstock)

Bremen

One of the prettiest Northern Germany Christmas markets is the magical city of Bremen. Yes, the one from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale! Picture a grand town hall, cathedral and historic town houses overlooking a sea of light covering about 175 huts and Christmas trees on the old market square.

Should you time your visit right, you can partake in the official opening of the market in the St petri Cathedral. Then, take a twirl on the merry-go-round or go on a casual stroll around the inner city to kick off the Christmas season.

Bremen Christmas market by the harbor at night, Germany
Bremen Christmas; credit: Mapics (Shutterstock)

5 Best Christmas Markets in Southern Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Bavaria is majorly attractive all year round for tourists but during Christmas its towns’ many charms really come to life. Germany is so diverse and you can really tell a different between North and South, for instance, in its architecture and food. Try the Franconian cookies and goodies!

On Christmas market trips to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you will find an absolutely gorgeous medieval town nestled on a hill overlooking a green valley. While you might not get sugar coated scenes (it doesn’t always snow when it should), you will be able to take in hundreds of lights.

The core of the Christmas market is the Reiterlesmarkt square with its Reiterle. That’s a local figure bringing luck during its visits around Christmas. Plus, there’s the famous shop of Käthe Kollwitz features a special Christmas village during December (Weihnachtsdorf).

  • Date: 27 Nov to 23 Dec 2020
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market at night
Rothenburg Christmas; credit: Asvolas (Shutterstock)

Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt

A list of German xmas markets wouldn’t be complete with this one; you might have heard of if. Chances are big as it’s said to be the oldest and most popular Christkindlmarkt in Germany and even the entire world. A Christkindlmarkt is basically a Christmas market but it’s a more regional name, such as a Christkindlmarkt in Austria.

The setting is absolutely fabulous, you’ll be right in the heart of town, on front of the elaborately decorated Cathedral and close to the main attractions. Nürnberg is very walkable and closely connected to nearby Fürth, in case you want to make the most of your German Christmas market breaks.

While you’re here, do make sure to try lebkuchen (ginger bread) and spekulatius (almond cookies), local Christmas delicacies. Another specialty is the Lichterzug, a lantern procession by the local kids.

Munich

Follow the wafting scents and glittering lights from Munich central station and wind your way through the cities historic streets and many Christmas market locations. There’s so much to explore, so much to taste and you’ll definitely want to pack your camera.

From shop windows to beautifully illuminated historic buildings, such as the townhall or gates, you will not want to stop your wonderful holiday experience. The main Christmas market in Munich is set up on Marienplatz, right in front of the imposing neo-Gothic townhall.

Aside from the typical German Christmas market fare, expect local handicraft and cuisine. Plus, there’s always something going on here, from live performances to ice rink skating, you won’t be bored.

  • Marienplatz: 23 November to 24 December 2020
Munich town hall with Christmas tree at night
Munich Christmas; credit: Jaromir Chalabala (Shutterstock)

Weihnachtsmarkt in der Ravennaschlucht

One of the most unique Xmas markets in Germany undoubtedly has to be that located in the ravine Ravennaschlucht. Found in the Black Forest and located beneath a 40-meter-high (131 feet) arched rail bridge, the setting is truly mesmerizing.

It’s a typical but very small German Christmas village with only 40 huts in total but if you get added snowfall, your inner Christmas-spirit-o-meter will be bursting from sheer delight. Besides the huts serving fare and Christmas items, there’s also a small path all the famous manger scene.

snow falling on the Christmas market at Ravennaschlucht, Germany
Ravenna Christmas; credit: Olga Niekrasova (Shutterstock)

Ludwigsburg

Similarly small but just as alluring is the Christmas market in the Baroque town Ludwigsburg, making it a great half day trip from Stuttgart. It’s super easy to reach via local train and the market staged right outside the opulent Baroque church.

Giant angels and curtains made from light are hung around the market square, adding an extra special flare to the lavish Christmas tree. The cherry on top is the live Christmas music in the evening.

  • 24 November to 22 December 2020
Nightly angel installation at Christmas market in Ludwigsburg, Germany
Goslar Christmas; Credit: S. Kuelcue (Shutterstock)

Extra Travel Tips for Your Christmas Market Visit in Germany

  • Book your train tickets in advance to save money. Read on for more train travel tips.
  • Reserve your accommodation early. If you book on Booking.com, you can adjust the dates later. Click here to secure your accommodation.
  • If you can’t travel during the week and plan a Christmas market weekend break, be prepared for the crowds. On one hand, it makes everything much cozier, but also more crammed. Come just before sunset to still enjoy enough walking space.
  • I usually wear thermal underwear* to the markets because it can get rather chilly and you’ll be standing around a lot, drinking mulled wine or eating. Wear warm woolen socks* and proper winter shoes as well.
  • A hand warmer* can work wonders for ice cold fingers.
  • Waterproof mascara* is a really smart idea because the icy winds or humid air can make you have a racoon face real fast.

Check out these other Germany Xmas markets as well

The Top 20 Most Romantic & Best Christmas Markets in Germany
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