During the “Adventszeit” (the period of the four Sundays and weeks leading up to December 24th) it is tradition in Germany to visit Christmas markets and embrace the holiday spirit.
Here is a list of ten wonderful Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets) that embody that magical wintry feeling.
Domäne Dahlem Berlin (open on weekends from November 30th until December 22nd)
Roasted almonds sold at the Nürnberger Christmas market. Photo: DPA
The “Domäne Dahlem”, at the U-Bahn station Dahlem Dorf, is a historic manor in the former village of Dahlem. Nowadays it is an open-air museum for agricultural farming in the southwest of Berlin.
Its yearly Christmas market keeps this theme going with individual stands selling homemade, local products, such as natural cosmetics, jewellery, tea candles and foods such as regional sausage, honey and jams.
The classics are “Bratwurst” (fried sausage), “Gebrannte Mandeln” (roasted, sugared almonds) and “Glühwein” (mulled wine).
And while you are there, you should purchase a bottle of “Berliner Winter”. This tasty alternative to Glühwein is a combination of apple juice, spices and vodka. It can be drunk cold but is best served warm.
Lübeck (November 25th-December 30th)
The Lübecker Christmas market next to the town hall. Photo: DPA
This Christmas market is one of the best known in north Germany and takes place in the old town of Lübeck.
There are around 150 booths belonging to separate small Christmas markets with different themes.
For example, the “Petrichurch” displays and sells artwork. In the area of the Obertrave, the market is family oriented with Christmas baking and model trains.
The Hanseatic city of Lübeck is renown for its Marzipan, with the tasty treat being sold every year. This tradition is a highlight at their Christmas Markets.
Treats such as Marzipan cappuccinos and Marzipan stuffed baked apples are just the beginning.
Rothenburger Reiterlesmarkt (November 29th- December 23rd)
This Christmas market has a centuries-old tradition involving the figure “Reiterle”, who German legend has it is delegate of a world beyond ours.
During Christmas time, he and other souls of the dead would visit our world by sailing through the air and bringing people joy.
This performance of the “Reiterle” is an attraction for this Christmas market, which can be seen across the rooftop and tower landscape of Rothenburg.
Among other treats, this market offers old Franconian pastries, such as their variety of the “Stollen”, and “weißer Glühwein” (white mulled wine), which is rather rare compared to regular red mulled wine.
Hamburger Fleetweihnachtsmarkt (November 27th- December 23rd)
Preperation of the rum-soaked sugarloaf for the “Feuerzangenbwole”. Photo: DPA
This Christmas market has maritime air. You can wander through the streets and shop at booths directly along the water.
Traditional Christmas foods and drinks such as “Feuerzangenbowle” (mulled wine with a rum-soaked sugarloaf lit above it), or “Spanferkel” (sucking pig) make this market a rustic and classic experience.
Additionally, two sailing ships delight the harbour with their festive lighting, making this market not only a seasonal, but also seaside, experience.
Hochschwarzwald in der Ravennaschlucht (Fridays- Sundays from November 29th- December 22nd)
The railway viaduct and the Christmas market in the Ravenna canyon. Photo: DPA
This Christmas market is set up under the nearly 40 meter high railway viaduct of the Ravenna bridge.
Here you will find around 40 small cottages surrounded by a hilly landscape where you can purchase regional products and traditional craftwork from a magically secluded place.
This fairytale-like attraction is quite unlike any other Christmas market. It is filled by the flair of nature and salvation.
Gendarmenmarkt Berlin (November 25th- December 31st)
The Christmas market on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. Photo: DPA
This nostalgic Christmas market is set up on the Gendarmenmarkt – one of the prettiest places in Berlin. It is located between the German and French dom, which gives it an historic ambience.
This market is characterized by its fine arts and delicious sweet and hearty treats such as “Rahmbrot” (creamed bread).
And, unlike most Christmas markets, it presents its guests with a stage program of choir, acrobats and dancers that fill the air with music and excitement.
In addition, a great thing about visiting here is that the one euro entry fee is donated to people in need.
Frankfurt am Main (November 25th- December 22nd)
This Christmas market is one of the most visited in all of Germany, and renown for its processed stoneware.
It is set in the historic old city of Frankfurt am Main.
This area is characterized by its timbered buildings which create a romantic atmosphere when illuminated with Christmas lights.
Here you will find a wooden karussell, a large illuminated Christmas tree, booths and various delicious treats.
A recommended treat is the traditional “Bethmännchen”, which is a Frankfurter marzipan pastry.
Goslar (November 27th- December 30th)
Illuminated spruce trees at the Christmas market in Goslar. Photo: DPA
This Christmas market takes place in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Goslar, and not only entails a market but also a “Christmas forest”.
Every year, the market is inaugurated with a “Laternenumzug” (lantern parade), which tunes in the festive occasion.
In the forest you will find illuminated coniferous trees and the pleasantly fragrant smell of soil.
So grab a cup of “Glühwein” and some “gebrannte Mandeln” and enjoy a romantic walk through the magical forest.
Esslingen Mittelalter- und Weihnachtsmarkt (November 26th- December 22nd)
A group of oriental dancers in their Bedouin tent at the Esslinger Christmas and Medieval market. Photo: DPA
This unique market combines the Dark Ages with Christmas (sounds weird but is definitely a place you must visit).
Here the people are dressed in historic robes, selling medieval craftsmanship, food and drink. Jesters, fire-breathers, and musicians characterize this market.
Among other things, you can also watch how a blacksmith or gaffer assemble their products (all of these handicrafts can of course be purchased).
This market offers the chance to watch, participate in and taste things that are not part of everyday life.
Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt (November 29th- December 24th)
The Christkindlesmarkt after the opening prologue of the Christ Child. Photo: DPA
This widely known Christmas market is the largest in all of Germany, and is set in the centre of Nürnberg’s old city.
Annually, it is inaugurated by the prologue of the Christ Child, who is chosen anew every year by the city.
Instead of “Bratwurst” you will find the original “Nürnberger Rostbratwürste” which are smaller, but some might say tastier, and also make a great snack.
A unique treat to try is the “Zwetschgenmännle” which is a traditional Nürnberger specialty with dried plums.
These “Männle” (male) are put together with dried fruit and wire to create a little figurine.
The “Zwetschgenmännle” is one of the original kinds but nowadays there are dozens of varieties to pick from.