Germany knows how to do a Christmas market right. Visit in late November or throughout December and you’ll be in the Christmas spirit within minutes of arriving, even before you start sipping your first cup of spicy mulled wine or shopping for the perfect Christmas ornament for your tree back at home.
With a super-tall tree and the gorgeous Cologne Cathedral as a backdrop, Cologne’s Christmas markets had to make this list. The city’s largest markets are located downtown, but even the smaller ones scattered around the city are worth a visit as each has its own theme, like “fairytale” and “gnomes”, and there’s even a gay/lesbian- focused market, complete with its own parties and performances.
Learn more on the Cologne Christmas Market website
Over 60 individual Christmas markets are scattered around Berlin starting November 26th and continuing to New Years’ Eve, each with something different to offer. Check out the Green Christmas Market, which serves up vegetarian/vegan dishes and treats, go ice skating at Berliner Weihnachtszeit, go for a 70-meter-long Toboggan run at Potsdamer Platz, or visit the market at Klunkerkranich, which is on the rooftops of Berlin— be sure to check out the views while you’re there.
Before you go, take a look at this map for some help getting around to Berlin’s various Christmas markets.
Learn more about the Berlin Christmas market on the Visit Berlin website.
Nuremberg’s Christmas market has over 180 stalls and is one of the oldest in Germany, dating back to 1682. Taking place in Hauptmarkt Square, the locals take their old-school Christmas traditions very seriously— market “police” enforce rules like “no use of plastic wreaths” and “no pre-recorded Christmas Muzak”. Because of this you’ll find a seriously un-commercialized market filled with high-quality handmade goods, Christmas treats, and more.
If you can get there on the Friday before Advent starts, you can watch the Christmas Angel appear to recite the opening speech that officially begins the market season— it’s a seriously popular site to see.
Learn more on the Tourism Nuremburg site.
There’s evidence that Dresden’s Streizelmarkt began around 1434, so it’s pretty obvious they know a thing or two about a good Christmas market. It’s most famous for its Streizel (or Stollen) cake, which is made with dried fruit and marzipan and is a must-try when you visit. Here you’ll also find beautiful views of the River Elbe, the world’s tallest Nutcracker, and the world’s largest Erzgebirge step pyramid.
Learn more on the Dresden Tourism site.
The Christmas magic will be individually staged at seven locations simultaneously. In the city centre, artistically designed theme worlds invite visitors on a trip of exploration. Seasonally decorated huts will for four weeks turn the city into a winter’s fairy tale for the whole family. More information at the website.
Christmas cheer will be spread across seven locations in Dusseldorf this year but in the city center, mainly around the Königsallee, a popular shopping street, you’ll find “themed worlds” to explore, including ones for art lovers, kids, and more.
Learn more on the Dusseldorf Tourism site.