Fröhliche Weihnachten! Experience a little bit of festive magic this winter by visiting the best Christmas markets in Germany. Whether you’re planning a romantic break or a family getaway, Germany’s mix of enchanting decorations and picture-perfect locations will make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland. Explore stalls bursting with everything from delicious local delicacies to unique handmade gifts – perfect for a little last-minute Christmas shopping in Germany! Plus, our stylish Premier Inn hotels in Germany are the perfect base for getting the most out of winter breaks!
German Christmas Markets 2023
Christmas markets, Christkindlesmarkt, Striezelmarkt and more…
Depending on the region you visit, Christmas markets in Germany might go by different names. For example, Nuremberg’s market is called the Christkindlesmarkt, Munich’s is called the Christkindlmarkt, Dresden has the Striezelmarkt and in Frankfurt the Christmas market was called the Christkindchesmarkt for a long time too. Here’s our list of some of the best-known, most traditional and most beautiful German Christmas markets!
Berlin Christmas Market
One of the best Christmas markets in Germany takes place on the famous Gendarmenmarkt market square in Berlin. Between the concert hall and the German and French cathedrals, the historic backdrop is reason enough for many to visit this festive market. Discover all the incredible handmade goods from local artisans, and taste some of the best local cuisines. Even better still, the event organisers donate the entrance fees to various social institutions in Berlin – how’s that for Christmas spirit! The Charlottenburg Christmas market in West Berlin is also well worth a visit, as are those at Potsdamer Platz and Alexanderplatz in Mitte. You’ll find all kinds of quirky Christmas markets in Berlin too – dogs can celebrate at the Sirius Christmas market in Zehlendorf, design fans can explore all kinds of crafts in Treptow, and vegans will love visiting the Green Market in Friedrichshain. Plus, Christmas Avenue at Nollendorfplatz is one of the most popular LGBTQ Christmas events in Germany!
Cologne Christmas Market
You’ll have more than one Christmas market in Cologne to choose from throughout winter breaks in Germany! The festive event held at Cologne Cathedral is probably the largest and most famous Christmas market in North Rhine-Westphalia, and perhaps the most charming is the Heinzelmännchen market in the old town – locals in Cologne feel most at home between the old market and the Heumarkt. Surrounded by guild houses, traditional Christmas markets have been taking place in this picturesque setting for over 200 years! One of the main attractions is the Russian air swing, a forerunner of the well-known Ferris wheel, which has been turning since 1902! The market got its name from a well-known poem by August Kopisch – ‘Heinzelmännchen’ refers to the mythical gnomes who would come and help the Cologne craftsmen with their work at night!
Hamburg Christmas Market
Germany's second largest city also offers a wide range of Christmas markets in 2023, including the bright lights of the City Hall Market. Hamburg Jungfernsteig Christmas Market sees white pagoda tents replace ordinary wooden stalls, and stunning light displays ensure a cosy, stylish winter atmosphere. From the historic Ferris wheel on the Alster, you can soak up the views of the magical Alster tree and the colourful fairy tale ships. Plus, at the end of the Christmas market season, the city chooses its Ice Princess of the Year! So, if you’d like to experience a Christmas like no other, Hamburg’s markets are unmissable. Fleet Christmas Market and the Winter Pride Market are also ideal if you’re looking for smaller German Christmas markets.
Stuttgart Christmas Market
Like other German cities, Stuttgart has a long tradition of hosting amazing Christmas markets – the first mention dates back to 1692! The market is not only one of the most traditional, but also one of the largest Christmas markets in Baden-Württemberg – and even one of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe. Traditional market items, local delicacies and unique gifts are all up for grabs! There’s also a whole host of daily live concerts and activities for children to enjoy, and a visit to the antique market on Karlsplatz is a great way to round off this Christmas market experience.
Munich Christmas Market
Not to be confused with the other well-known Christmas market in Bavaria – Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt – this popular Christmas market in Munich takes place each year on the Marienplatz. The stunning, 30-meter-high Christmas tree in front of the New Town Hall is one of the main attractions, as is the local workshop, which give visitors an insight into how hand-carved crib figures and artistic tin figures are made. Of course, these are also brilliant gift ideas for loved ones!
Leipzig Christmas Market
The highlights of the Christmas market on Leipzig's Augustusplatz include the Finnish Village, the South Tyrolean Village and the Fairy Tale Forest. Don’t miss out on trying various types of tasty berry punch known as "Glögi" and Scandinavian delicacies such as the famous smoked tarte flambée. Little ones will love the Fairy Tale Forest, thanks to its enchanting mix of mythical creatures, and they can even visit Father Christmas!
Frankfurt Christmas Market
The largest Christmas market in Hesse takes place between Römerberg and the historic Paulskirche. The Frankfurter Christkindchesmarkt is one of the largest and most important Christmas markets in Germany. The life-size nativity scene is used to bring the biblical Christmas story closer to kids before they take a spin on the picturesque carousel in the middle of the market square. Even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe swore by the Christmas nibbles at the Frankfurt Christkindchesmarkt. Don’t miss out on trying the Brenten, Bethmännchen or Quetschmännchen – typical marzipan pastries from Frankfurt! Another sweet treat is the hot Äppelwoi, a counterpart to the classic mulled wine, which you’ll also find at smaller markets in the city, such as the Pink Christmas Market, or under the Goethe Tower.
Nuremberg Christmas Market
The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is probably the one of best European Christmas markets to visit in 2023, as well as being the one with the richest history – it dates back to the 17th century when it was held for the first time in 1628 according to local legend! Unsurprisingly, delicious gingerbread – which was invented in Nuremberg in the Middle Ages and is now known all over the world – is always one of the bestselling treats at this festive market!
If you’re planning weekend breaks to Dresden in the winter, you’re in for an experience like no other. The beautiful old town illuminates for this popular German Christmas market that sees locals and visitors alike enjoy all kinds of festive activities. Like the Nuremberg gingerbread, trying a piece of Dresden Christstollen is a must, as the Christmas stollen is a staple of the Striezelmarkt. Founded in 1434, the popular Striezelmarkt is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany. Dresden and Leipzig are the most-visited Christmas markets in Saxony each year. Plus, you can also visit the medieval Christmas market in the Stallhof Dresden, one of the most popular Christmas markets in the city after the Striezelmarkt.
Passau Christmas Market
If you follow the Krippenweg through Passau's old town and city centre to the cathedral square, you’ll reach the Passau Christmas market! Year after year, people from all over Europe are drawn to the city of three rivers in the winter. There’s something to keep all ages entertained, thanks to the wide range of arts, crafts and activities on offer. A highlight of the market is the appearance of the traditional Perchten groups – the Perchtenlaufen is an ancient Alpine custom that is supposed to drive out evil winter spirits on dark evenings! Plus, for little ones visiting this Christmas market in Germany, there’s also a puppet theatre every Wednesday.
Other popular Christmas markets in Germany
In addition to the ten best-known Christmas markets in Germany, there are a number of other exciting destinations to discover in the run-up to Christmas. Dortmund or Hanover, for example, have a wonderful Christmas atmosphere to enjoy, as do the Christmas markets in Essen or Erfurt. Somewhat smaller destinations, such as the Christmas market in Potsdam, St. Wendel, Quedlinburg, Gera, Aurich or Wismar, promise a particularly cosy winter atmosphere – ideal for romantic breaks in Germany!
The history of German Christmas markets
In the past, local craftsmen and traders were allowed to offer their wares at markets. This dates back to the 14th century, so the tradition of Christmas markets in Germany is around 600 years old! The sales fairs were intended to enable the population to stock up on all the necessary goods for the cold winter season and the approaching Christmas festival. This custom stimulated the idea of a marketplace within communities and quickly spread across the country.
Mulled wine, gingerbread and other culinary classics at Christmas markets
The smell of mulled wine, roasted almonds and grilled sausages between rustic wooden stalls – this is what Christmas smells like in Germany! From grilled sausages to crispy potato pancakes with applesauce, a visit to some of the best German Christmas markets offers you a wide range of delicious delicacies and regional specialties to taste. For dessert, a tasty crêpe with cinnamon and sugar or chocolate sauce is a must!
From work trips to romantic breaks, a cup of hot mulled wine will always go down a treat! In addition to the classic red wine-based drink, there’s also a white wine-based one to try. Most markets even offer a ‘children's punch’, the non-alcoholic version of mulled wine which often consists of orange or apple juice with various Christmas spices.
Hard, brown chestnuts roasting away in the chestnut stand, turned every few minutes until they’re cooked to perfection – which is usually after about 20 minutes. Then all that’s left to do is simply crack the shell, take out the soft core and enjoy the mild, nutty taste this Christmas!
Treat yourself to some roasted almonds this winter. Everyone knows that sweet, caramelized taste and – when they’re weighed up and packed into a little paper bag for you – they make the perfect on-the-go snack as you stroll through the Christmas markets.
A Gingerbread Heart is the perfect gift to send to your loved ones this Christmas. Decorated with a tasty sugar glaze, gingerbread hearts are available with a wide variety of Christmas greetings – and often look too good to eat!
Check out our list of top UK Christmas markets for even more winter break innspiration!
Why are German Christmas markets so popular?
With some German Christmas markets dating back to the 13th century, this festive tradition is built into German culture. It’s this magical mix of local heritage and festive fun that makes Christmas markets in Germany so popular every year.
What is there at German Christmas markets?
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to fun things to do at Christmas markets in Germany. Some have rides and amusements for little ones, others have daily shows and activities, and almost all are bursting with festive stalls, handmade gifts and freshly cooked sweet treats!
What food can you find at German Christmas markets?
Mulled wine, chestnuts, roasted almonds and gingerbread hearts are just some of the festive foods you’ll typically find at German Christmas markets. Don’t miss out on other local delicacies like Stollen – a spiced fruit bread – potato pancakes, and Bratwurst.
Which is the best German Christmas market to visit?
Wondering which Christmas market to visit in Germany in 2023? The good news is that you’ll have plenty to choose from! Nuremberg is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Germany and a must-visit for a real taste of local tradition (and gingerbread!), while markets in Berlin and Hamburg are always popular destinations for winter breaks thanks to their exciting choice of stalls and amusements.
What are the dates of the German Christmas market?
German Christmas market dates depend on the city you’re visiting for your 2023 winter breaks, so it’s always doing a bit of research before travelling.
Christmas market dates and times are subject to change therefore please double check your chosen Christmas market event before booking. Please also note some areas can often have multiple Christmas market events, please check this before booking. This information is provided as a guide only, and Premier Inn is not responsible for any changes made by third party event organisers.