Germany enjoys tourism boom as country welcomes more visitors than ever

Germany is forecast to enjoy another record year of tourism as more holidaymakers than ever flock to the country.

Germany enjoys tourism boom as country welcomes more visitors than ever
View of the Bastei bridge in the Sächsische Schweiz National Park. Photo: DPA

Guests from abroad spent 39.8 million nights in German hotels in the first half of 2019 – an increase of of three percent compared to the same period in 2018, according to preliminary figures published by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis).

But it's not just foreigners who are making the most of Deutschland’s cool cities and stunning nature spots –  domestic tourism is developing well too. The number of overnight stays by Germans travelling in the first half of 2019 within their country rose by four percent to 182.6 million compared to the same period last year.

Popular destinations for Germans include the North and Baltic Sea coasts, while foreign travellers opt for the likes of Bavaria, Berlin and Baden-Württemberg. Nature reserves, like the sprawling Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland) National Park, are frequently visited by holidaymakers from both home and abroad.

Overall, during this time there were 222.4 million overnight stays by domestic and foreign guests in accommodation in Germany, an increase of 3.8 percent compared with the first half of 2018.

In June, a record-breaking month for high temperatures in Germany, the number of overnight stays by guests rose by 9.7 percent year-on-year to 50.7 million. Of this total, 8.3 million overnight stays involved guests from abroad (plus 3.3 percent) and 42.4 million to people in Germany (an increase of 11.1 percent).

Tourism in Germany achieved its ninth record year in a row in 2018. And that growth is expected to continue.

The island of Vilm at the Baltic Sea. Photo: DPA

For the year as a whole, an increase of 1.5 per cent is expected, according to data from the German Tourism Industry (BTW) based on a survey by consumer research company GfK.

READ ALSO: Visiting Germany – why is tourism continually booming?

Travel mood despite climate worries

The increase comes despite worldwide concerns about travelling due to climate change.

“The travel mood has so far proved resistant both to darkening economic clouds and to various voices critical of tourism in the course of the climate debate,” said BTW President Michael Frenzel. The industry must and will face up to its climate responsibility, Frenzel said. “But it must be a well thought-out political overall solution.”

According to the Tourism Industry, Germans spent 408 million days on excursions and trips between January and April, around 5 million days or 1.2 percent more than in the same period last year.

The statistics published by Destatis with regards to overnight stays refer to tourism accommodation establishments, such as hotels and hostels, with at least 10 beds.

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Five of Germany’s most magical Christmas Markets to visit in 2021

Despite rising infection numbers, most of Germany’s Christmas markets will be open to fill our hearts with festive cheer this year. We give you a rundown of five of the country’s most magical Christmas markets.

Five of Germany's most magical Christmas Markets to visit in 2021
The entrance to the Stuttgart Christmas market in 2019. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Tom Weller

In 2020, many Christmas markets in Germany had to close or were scaled back massively because of the pandemic. This year – at least at the time or reporting – lots of markets are set to open in the coming weeks. 

Here are five we love at The Local Germany. If you have any suggestions for magical Christmas markets in Germany, please leave a comment below. 

Maritime Christmas Market on the Koberg, Lübeck

Lübeck, the so-called “Christmas city of the North”, will be welcoming the festive season this year by lighting up its old town with over 500,000 Christmas lights.

The northwest of the old town island is where you’ll find the maritime-themed Christmas market which has been going since 2011.

Centred around the gothic, middle-aged church of St. Jacob, this Christmas market celebrates the city’s historical sea-faring residents by creating a cosy harbour atmosphere with old wooden barrels, nets and a stranded shipwreck as well as a Ferris wheel with an unforgettable view of Lübeck’s old town and harbour.

Culinary stands offer visitors sweet and savoury dishes, and beverages such as hot lilac punch, mulled wine and, of course, rum.

Extra info: The current rules for events and hospitality in Schleswig Holstein is that 3G applies (entry for the vaccinated, people who’ve recovered from Covid or people who show a negative test)  but from Monday, November 15th, indoor areas will be enforcing the 2G rule (excluding the unvaccinated).

The Christkindlesmarkt in Augsburg Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

Christkindlesmarkt, Augsburg

With its origins in the 15th century, the Christkindlesmarkt in Augsburg is one of the oldest in Germany, and the Renaissance town hall provides a particularly beautiful backdrop to this winter wonderland.

As well as a wide variety of stands selling handcrafted nick-nacks and tasty treats, the Augsburg market also has some especially magical features, including the “Heavenly Post Office,” and “Fairytale Lane”: an animated fairytale depicted in ten scenes in decorated shop windows around the market place.

Extra info: In order to keep dense crowds to a minimum, the Angel performance will not take place this year. The market will also be spread out over more locations in the historic centre and there will be fewer mulled wine stands than in previous years. The stalls will be distributed over the Hauptmarkt, Lorenzer Platz, Schütt Island and Jakobsplatz.

Meanwhile, masks will have to be worn due to the high Covid numbers in Bavaria – and there will be 2G rules around the mulled wine stands, meaning unvaccinated people will not be served alcohol.

READ ALSO: State by state – Germany’s Covid rules for Christmas markets

Medieval Market and Christmas Market, Esslingen

The Medieval Market and Christmas Market in Esslingen, with its backdrop of medieval half-timbered houses, offers visitors a trip back in time, with traders and artisans showing off their goods from times gone by.

The stands show off the wares of pewterers, stonemasons, blacksmiths, broom makers and glass blowers, as well as some old-fashioned merchants selling fun themed goods like drinking horns and “potions” in bottles.

Extra info: This year the number of stands will be reduced from more than 200 to around 120 and the stage shows, torch parade and interactive activities will not be taking place.

View from above the historic Streizelmarkt in Dresden. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Streizelmarkt, Dresden

No Christmas Market list would be complete without the Streizelmarkt – Germany’s oldest Christmas market in the “Florence on the Elbe”.

This market, which you will find in Dresden’s city centre, first took place in 1434, and since then it has acquired quite a reputation.

The ancient market is home to the tallest Christmas pyramid in the world, as well as the world’s largest nutcracker.

Amongst the dozens of traditional stands, visitors to this market must also try the Dresdner Christstollen: the famous fruit loaf that is baked according to a traditional recipe with chopped dried and candied fruits, nuts and spices and dusted with powdered sugar.

Visitors can also take a ride on the historic Ferris wheel and gaze down upon the lovingly decorated huts of the Striezelmarkt.

Extra info: This year there will be no stage program and the mountain parade has been cancelled.

Old Rixdorf Christmas Market, Berlin

Although not as well-known as some of Berlin’s other Christmas Markets, the Old Rixdorf Christmas market is a romantic and magical spot which is well worth a visit. In the south of city in Richardplatz, Neukölln the old village of Rixdorf was founded in1360.

This charming setting is home to historic buildings such as the Trinkhalle and the Alte Dorfschmiede, and is illuminated every year with kerosene lamps and fairy lights. The stalls and booths are run by charitable organizations and associations. There are homemade trifles and handicrafts, but also culinary delights such as fire meat, waffles, pea soup, and numerous varieties of mulled wine and punch.

Extra info: The Old Rixdorf Christmas Market will be following the 2G model, meaning that all visitors over the age of 12 will be required to be fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19.