Are you ready to plan the most epic Christmas market road trip?! We have traveled the past three years to visit the European Christmas market scene.
We have decent knowledge on exploring these famous European markets, but in this post, we’ll give you our play-by-play of our latest German market road trip.
First things first, what is a Christmas market? The Christmas market dates back to 1434 and they are held in the streets of just about every German city for the four weeks of advent.
Imagine this…you’re wandering in and out of the magical Christmas market stalls, sipping on Glühwein (warm mulled wine) or hot chocolate out of the cutest mug you’ve ever seen, while taking in the aromas of all things sausage.
The Christmas lights, atmosphere, entertainment, and sounds of laughter and Christmas music fill the air. Think….Christmas fair. That’s a Christmas market. They’re literally magical.
Well, lets get to it! We’re about to show you some of the BEST Christmas markets in Germany…big and small.
First off, you can start in any of the following cities and make your way around in a circle. We rented a car, so we could come and go as we wished.
By having your own car, and with our guidance, you’ll be able to create custom Christmas market tours based on where you want to start and where you want to finish.
In the post below, we’ll share, in order, each market that we visited. We’ll also talk about each one.
That being said, have so much fun planning your German Christmas market road trip!
Frankfurt Christmas Market
There’s no better place to start your German Christmas market tour than in Frankfurt.
In Frankfurt, we rented an Airbnb within walking distance to the market. Hotels sell out quickly around city center, and the ones not sold out are going to be pricey!
Franfurt’s Christmas market is HUGE! It’s a contender for the largest Christmas market in Germany. Possibly one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe.
That being said, don’t feel guilty about eating your way through the market. There is a new food stall every few feet, so no need to worry about food!
Since the market is so large, you can easily spend a day weaving in and out of the streets and stalls of one of the best Christmas markets out there.
Personally, I thought the market in Frankfurt is one of the prettiest. The backdrop of the market is made up of well-preserved historic and architectural houses and buildings.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Alright, now for one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. And I mean all of Europe.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s market is located in the center of this medieval walled town. Let me tell you…I can’t even begin to describe how magical this place is. A true fairytale town.
Rothenburg is one of the best European cities for Christmas. Not just because of the market, but the many Christmas shops located there as well.
These shops make it feel like Christmas year round here. So, if you visit anytime of the year, you can still get your Christmas fix.
We get asked what to buy at German Christmas markets all the time, so you can still purchase the items you’d find in the market, but in these shops year round.
This market is rather small, so you can easily explore it in a few hours. Do plan on at an hour or so just to walk through Kathe Wohlfahrt’s massive Christmas store.
HELPFUL HINT: If you choose to purchase from Kathe Wohlfahrt, they can box up your purchase and have it mailed directly to your home. That way, you don’t have to worry about packing it or hauling anything around.
Nuremberg Christmas Market
One of the most popular Christmas markets in all of Germany is Nuremberg’s. They have a few markets scattered around the city, including a children’s market.
Nuremberg’s markets are best described as a German Christmas festival. There are people EVERYWHERE! When I say everywhere, I mean…it’s crowded!
If you’re not into crowds, I’d bypass Nuremberg. At least at night. It was so crowded, that we were almost shoving our way through the crowds. It wasn’t enjoyable at all.
To be honest, it was our least favorite market. We were later told that if you want to visit the Nuremberg markets without the crowds, to show up right when they open.
I don’t want to leave this on a bad note…Nuremberg had a lot to offer. The kids market was the cutest!
They also had a market that was made up of stalls from other countries that were selling items specific from that region.
If you don’t mind the crowds, you’ll love it. No doubt about it. If you’re not a fan of crowds, I’d pass on this market at night and wouldn’t go here if it’s your first time visiting a Christmas market.
HELPFUL HINT: If you visit the Nuremberg market, make sure you try the original Nuremberg Rostbratwurst. It’s recipe dates back over 700 years!
When we did a search on Google for ‘Christmas markets near me’, we came across the Ingolstadt German Christmas market. I’m so glad we found this gem and now we get to share it with you!
We have decided that for the most part, we really enjoy the small town markets better than the bigger cities.
Ingolstadt was a incredible charming and you can tell is was more of a locals markets than a touristy one. We found amazing food here that no one else had.
If you end up here, order the Hirtenbrot from Robby’s Suppenkuche! It was one of the best things we ate while exploring the markets.
Although the smaller markets may not be mentioned on any best Christmas markets in the world list, they shouldn’t be passed up.
To me, these smaller markets are more inviting, less crowded, and quaint.
Munich Christmas Market
Munich has to be one of the best places in Europe for Christmas! The Munich markets were our overall favorite for this trip.
First off, Munich has their stalls set up where you can easily get in and out without being overwhelmed with the crowds.
The backdrop of the Munich cathedral has their main market looking like something that should be on a postcard or in a movie.
There are about ten (maybe?) Christmas markets in Munich, but the one you don’t want to miss is the medieval market.
If you visit the medieval market, make sure you order the drink in the goblet. This was a highlight for my husband and he STILL drinks out of that goblet at home!
Overall, this Bavaria Christmas market is one to not be missed. Not just our opinion, but Munich is rated as one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe.
HELPFUL HINT: If you stay at Hotel Brack and you’re looking for some good German food, there’s a great restaurant within walking distance. It’s called Lindwurmstuberl. Everything we ordered was amazing!
Augsburg is another small town market. We got here right when it opened, so it was only us and a handful of locals.
You might not think that going to the market when it’s slow and in the morning is as magical at night, but there are pros to going during this time!
First off, you get the freshest food! We LOVE Dampfnudel (see below), and we ate one at every market. Augsburg offered plum filled ones!
You have zero crowds to contend with. So, you can chat with the stall owners.
Going in the morning or early afternoon is very peaceful too. It’s quiet, except for the Christmas music.
Augsburg is a great market with little decorative touches that the other markets didn’t have…a gingerbread house trash can!
Every holiday market has its own personality and offers different things that others may not.
Ulm offered a live animal display. It was a good size and both the kids and adults loves watching the animals.
Also, the top Christmas markets in Europe don’t have Oh My Waffle, but the Ulm market does, and it’s worth a stop just to get their chocolate salted caramel waffle!
The Ulm market was surprisingly larger than I thought and it had a cute kids area that included train rides.
Ulm is a great place to stop before you head to Stuttgart!
Stuttgart Christmas Market
Just like the others, Stuttgart’s winter market is also located in city center. We found a great Airbnb that was about a 20 minute walk from the market.
I do recommend either staying in city center or at least close enough to walk to the market.
It’s one of the top Christmas markets in Germany, because it’s one of the oldest and biggest markets around.
It came across like a Christmas festival. I highly recommend a stop at one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe.
The German Christmas market, Karlsruhe, is one to not be missed! We LOVED this market for it’s overall vibe.
There were massive trees that were used as a canopy for tables, lights, and so the entire space just felt magical.
The market had this really cool Christmas tree lined path that was lit up, and would make for wonderful photos.
I’m not sure if this is always the case, but when we were there, the bathrooms were free to use! Sounds crazy, but that’s huge in Europe.
Although, a “smaller” market, I’d return to this one. The atmosphere and decorations had it feeling so festive.
We felt like we were just chilling with the locals, and to me, that’s what these famous Christmas markets are about…experiencing Christmas like a local.
Okay, I’m going to be honest here. By the time we got to Darmstadt, it was the last market we visited on the last day, so we were exhausted!
That being said, it was a really small market, so we were able to see it, eat more dampfnudel, drink more hot chocolate, and do a little shopping in about an hour’s time.
We bought the cutest wooden tealight candle holder here. The wood was from the Black Forest in Germany. We also bought chocolate covered gingerbread…life changing.
Darmstadt is right outside Frankfurt, so it’s an easy stop if you want to add another market to your list.
Christmas in Europe
Oh my gosh!! I’m so excited for y’all to visit the Christmas markets!
Whether it’s exploring one city’s market, taking one of the German Christmas market tours, one of the Christmas market cruises, or renting a car and driving yourself around (like we did), you’ll be sure to have a blast!
Overall, after three years of visiting different markets in different countries, the Cologne Christmas market is still our all-time favorite.
Some of our other favorites are: the Strasbourg Christmas market, the Bruges Christmas market, and Luxembourg City Christmas market.
Anyway, now you have a ton of choices on where to go for Christmas in Europe!
Have so much fun planning your Christmas market vacation!