Map of Germany’s Best Christmas Markets
Germans have celebrated the holidays with Christmas markets since 1393. The tradition has only gotten stronger over the centuries and has spread its magic around the world.
Follow this map of Germany's best Christmas markets, and let the mulled wine and bright lights warm your soul.
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What's the Best Christmas Market in Germany?
How do you choose which Christmas market to visit? Here is our definitive ranking.
10. Lubeck Christmas Markets
Northern Germany is often neglected in the winter, which usually translates to its Christmas markets being sadly underappreciated. But for savvy travelers who go against the trend, this means fewer crowds.
The Baltic city of Lubeck hosts five Christmas markets, three of which are in the town's UNESCO-listed old town. You'll find the usual food and drink stalls, along with crafts and goodies that make for perfect Christmas gifts. We recommend the medieval market, which basically combines Renaissance fairs and Christmas markets into one perfect event.
Where to stay: Atlantic Hotel Lubeck
9. Bremen Christmas Markets
Find another underrated market in Bremen's old town square (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site). With over 150 stalls, it's a perfect winter wonderland. For something a bit different, head to Weser River, where there's a maritime-themed medieval market. The highlight here is definitely Sinter Klass, a pirate-riding Dutch Santa that seems a whole lot more fun than his counterpart.
Short outdoor plays are common at both markets, particularly during the day. Try to catch one even if you don't speak German.
Where to stay: Radisson Blue Hotel, Bremen
8. Leipzig Christmas Markets
The second-oldest Christmas market in Germany has opened annually since 1458 — decades before the European-American encounter! About 250 booths line up in front of Markplats, or Market Square. People gather to see a tall Saxon spruce tree, which is deemed to have the world record for the biggest free-standing Advent calendar.
One unique part of Christmas in Leipzig is its Finnish Village. Located in Augustusplatz, this market is set up in tents a la Scandinavia. Once you've had your fill of hot chocolate and pretzels, give some Finnish holiday food a try.
Where to stay: Steigenberger GrandHotel Handelshof
7. Frankfurt Christmas Market
Frankfurt's historic, half-timbered houses provide the perfect backdrop for a magical winter event, especially at night when everything is lit up. As is to be expected, the city's old town is the place to be, particularly around Romerberg square.
Gaze up at a Christmas tree taller than some buildings while you stuff yourself on regional delicacies like hot apple wine and bethmannchen biscuits, which are made with almonds and marzipan.
Where to stay: Hotel Miramar am Romer
6. Eisenach Christmas Markets
Like many German towns, Eisenach holds a Christmas market in its main square. And while we certainly encourage you to visit this spot, there's an even better one in the area at Wartburg Castle.
Yes, you can do your Christmas shopping inside an authentic medieval castle where Martin Luther once set foot. In keeping with the theme, the market brings in craftspeople who take on traditional trades like candle making, stonemasonry and glass blowing while visitors watch. Buy some of their crafts, enjoy medieval music and, of course, fill up on the food and wine.
Where to stay: Romantik Hotel at the Wartburg
5. Nuremberg Christmas Markets
Christkindlesmarkt, as Nuremberg's Christmas market is known, is held in honor of the Christ child (Christkind). This is because in the city — as in many other places in the world — kids traditionally receive presents from the infant figure of Jesus.
Christmas carols ring through the air while the aroma of sausages and sweets overtakes your senses in one of the country's largest holiday fairs. There are also coach rides, handmade gifts and a nearby market geared specifically toward children.
Where to stay: Hotel Victoria
4. Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market
Maybe the most unique Christmas market in the world, this holiday fair isn't held in a town. Rather, it's set underneath an arched railway viaduct sitting in a gorge near the Black Forest. As is to be expected, this event is much smaller than its counterparts, with about 40 small booths. But, really, nothing can compare to the almost surreal setting.
The Ravenna Gorge Christmas Market is so popular in the region that free shuttles are available from some of the nearby train stations.
Where to stay: Landhaus Naturgarten
3. Cologne Christmas Markets
One of Germany's most famous markets, Cologne holds its main event in front of its imposing Gothic cathedral. Mulled wine was invented here, so it's a must-have, along with baked apples and other sweet goodies. Over 160 businesses hide from the cold under red-roofed tents, with a tall Christmas tree dominating the center.
Besides its traditional market, the city also has other interesting fairs, including the Harbour Market, which sits on the Rhine River.
Where to stay: Excelsior Hotel Ernst
2. Rothenburg Christmas Market
The Rothenburg Christmas market has been at the center of holiday celebrations since the 15th century. The half-timbered houses and cobbled streets of the main square in this Bavarian town help set the mood.
But Rothenburg isn't like other German cities that save up Christmas joy for a small part of the year. At any time, you'll be able to visit the German Christmas Museum, where priceless historic Christmas ornaments are preserved. This, plus the town's postcard-perfect winter look has earned it the nickname of the Christmas capital of Germany.
Where to stay: Historik Hotel Gotisches Haus Garni
1. Dresden Christmas Markets
While competition is tough, there is simply no better choice for the best German Christmas market than Dresden. In fact, we'd argue this is the best winter market in all of Europe.
Part of the honor comes from the fact that this is the oldest market in the country. But seniority isn't enough to keep the first spot, which is why Dresden has armored itself with a number of other superlatives. Namely, the world's largest nutcracker and a pyramid that stands more than 45 feet high.
Several markets make up the fair, which is called the Striezelmarkt. Each has its own theme and feel, so you can choose whichever fits your tastes better. Or simply go from one to the other trying as much food as possible.
Where to stay: Amedia Plaza Dresden