#Blogmas - The Ultimate Guide to German Christmas Markets
I’ve been wanting to write a post like this ever since I left Germany, and now even more so because I really miss the German festivities. Germany does Christmas SO well.
The Christmas Markets embody the spirit of Christmas. The smell of cinnamon lingering in the air, towering trees, wooden huts roasting meat and chestnuts. Locals chatting, laughing and enjoying hot drinks and food with friends, slowly strolling the cobbled paths lined with stalls strung with lights. It's all so cheerful and jolly.
While I was there, I visited a fair few Christmas markets and picked up a few tips along the way, so I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re planning a festive getaway (probably for 2018 now… which does seem forever away.) A lot of people would automatically think of visiting Berlin in Germany, but there are so many other places you could go, and then there’s the case of what to actually do when you get there!
So this chatty guide will hopefully persuade you that a trip to Germany next December should definitely be on your New Year’s Resolutions, and hopefully give you some helpful advice too.
Where to go
There are Christmas markets in every town across Germany, so you’re not spoilt for choice! I’ve been to a fair few there and while I enjoyed every single one, I’m going to recommend my absolute favourites.
Heidelberg is very popular with American tourists, but for good reason. I lived in Mannheim during December and Heidelberg is very close so I ended up visiting a lot! It’s one of the prettier towns in Germany as it was spared from bombing in WWII so there’s a lot of old buildings still standing. There’s a hill that towers over the city with the ruins of Heidelberg Castle.
There are markets up on this hill with beautiful views of the castle and over the Altstadt (Old Town) and river. It’s only a short walk up but it’s so worth it to have a mulled wine at the top.
Back down in the Altstadt, there’s an ice rink which has the romantic backdrop of the castle and historic buildings, which are lit up beautifully at night.
There are more market stalls to be found in the town with roasted almonds, hot dogs and mulled wine plus plenty of stalls selling unique decorations and gifts.
Another city I would really recommend is Munich. It feels really festive in the run up to Christmas, with the snowy mountainous backdrop and Christmas lights. There are lots of different markets dotted about the city - such as those in the English Garden with giant Christmas trees and there’s an ice rink at Stachus too.
But another reason I would recommend visiting Munich is because you could take a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s a classic, Disney-esque, fairytale castle nestled in mountains.
If you’ve never visited Germany then Berlin is always a great place to start - there’s around 60 markets in Berlin so you won’t be short of them, plus you’ve got all of the other tourist attractions and history of the city.
Cologne Christmas Markets also have an impressive backdrop of the towering, Gothic cathedral. There’s also a lot of entertainment through the advent period and Cologne has a tonne of shops if you’re wanting to get some Christmas shopping done too. Plus, it has a market specifically aimed at homosexuals!
Nuremberg market is also a heavily recommended market - it’s one of the largest in the world and the medieval city itself is beautiful with romantic buildings and a gothic Church.
To summarise, you can’t really go wrong in Germany. You definitely won’t be hard pushed to find some Gluehwein in a cute mug during December.
What to eat and drink
You won't be short on choices for food and drink at the markets, but you might not know what to try. The great thing about German markets is they're really not overpriced, so you won't spend a ridiculous amount of money trying lots of things. You'll find some food you'll be familiar with like chips (Pommes), chocolate covered fruit, waffles, crepes,
The classic German food - sausage in bread, otherwise known as a hot dog. Have it with ketchup and mustard. There will be a lot of sausage variations but again, Germany is ACE at sausages so you can’t go wrong.
Okay let’s just get this out there, the 4 staples in a German diet - sausages, bread, potatoes and beer. We’ve covered the sausages and bread - now the potatoes. Reibekuchen are potato pancakes - definitely worth a try, I’d recommend apple sauce topping.
Or mulled wine, as you will know it as. Served in cute, ceramic mugs. You’re gonna want some hot drinks to keep you warm and a mulled wine or four will definitely do the trick. Glühwein is most commonly red wine with spices, but I loved the Weiß Glühwein which is made with white wine. You'll find other varitions too such as Kirschwein (cherry wine) and Heidelbeerwein (blueberry wine).
Another hot drink but this one might not be as popular - it literally translates as egg punch and I guess could be compared to eggnog. It’s something a bit different to try anyway.
I am a huuuuuuuge fan of Lebkuchen, and you'll find it everywhere in Germany at Christmas time. It's akin to gingerbread, and you might find them in a hard form decoarated with icing and hanging from stalls or in a soft, almost cakey form. So. Good.
Not a sweet Kuchen (cake) this time, but a savoury one. Flammkuchen can be likened to pizza, however commonly topped with creme fraiche, onions and bacon, but the toppings will vary. It's lighter than pizza, on a thin, crisp base, and really yummy.
You will definitely find caramelised, roasted almonds at every market, and a variety of flavours too. I bloody love these little things, I can't get enough of them!
- When buying hot drinks or alcohol at the markets, you have to pay Pfand (a deposit) on the mug - like a couple of Euros. You will get this back when you return your mug, or you can keep the mug as a little souvenir.
- A day trip is possible - I visited Berlin for the day last year on my own and wandered round the Christmas markets. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as you can easily spend a few days at markets but if you want to keep costs down - it's definitely doable.
- If you have a few days in Germany, get on a train and visit another city and more markets. The train system in Germany is great, and you'll be able to get to most places really easily and every market varies a little bit.
- Wrap up warm - I feel like a mum saying this but seriously, it can get COLD in Germany and all of the markets are outside.
So there's my guide to the German Christmas markets. It seems like it was really long, but hopefully I've persuaded you that booking a trip to Germany is absolutely necessary in 2018. I absolutely loved spending Advent in Germany and the Christmas markets in England will just never live up to the German ones.
Have you ever been to German Christmas markets? Have I tempted you?