Hard to believe it’s that time of year already, isn’t it? I’ve written before about my favourite small towns in Germany, and even the best Christmas Markets in Europe, but really, when it comes to doing Christmas right, the Germans make it an art form. Every town, even the tiniest one, puts up some kind of market, and larger cities have more than one. It’s one of my favourite travel experiences, and I’ve been to quite a few Christmas markets in Germany. Here are the ones I’d go back to in a heartbeat.
Without a doubt, Nuremberg is my favourite market. It’s also one of the most popular – the inner city, still mostly surrounded by its medieval protective walls, turns into a cosy Christmas village, with hundreds of stalls offering hot drinks, freshly prepared comfort foods, and the streets are packed with folks enjoying time with family and friends. It’s so atmospheric. A must – but plan ahead, as I say, because it’s popular.
Another city that does a fantastic job on the Christmas markets is Cologne – for a small town, they have quite a few! The one underneath the towering Dom cathedral has the best food, but don’t miss the unusual market-on-a-boat experience at the river, and there’s also an interesting medieval-themed market (great for souvenirs) during the daytime, as well as a kid-themed market too.
I love Heidelberg year-round, so it’s no doubt that the city gets on my list for top markets. The city has great shops, and a picturesque city centre that easily transforms into the perfect wintertime Christmas village. The main action happens right behind the cathedral in the town square, but wander off down the alleyways into shops that have seasonal specials.
As one of Germany’s largest and edgiest cities, you’d expect Berlin to pull out all the stops for Christmas, and they certainly do. There are over 60 Christmas markets in Berlin – yes, 60 – that’s more markets in one city than there are in some countries. Crazy! It’s hard to choose, but some of my recommendations would be Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz, as well as the most famous, Gendarmenmarkt – the market flanked by churches is a very ironic Berlin photograph.
Munich makes for a great winter base because you’re surrounded by ski destinations, and of course the city’s cavernous beer gardens should the cold be too much for you. Munich’s massive market is abuzz with action day and night, from concerts to shopping to food and drink. This is one of the best markets for shopping, as the selection is unparalleled. And I also think the selection of mulled wines and beers is the best – but you’ll have to sample to decide for yourself!
Last but certainly not least, Dresden’s claim to Christmas fame is that it is Germany’s oldest market. Dresden is a pretty old town as well, so the combination makes for a fantastically atmospheric event. While you enjoy their famous Christmas cake, take a look at their larger-than-life sized nutcrackers and Nativity scenes – they’re world famous and a one of a kind experience.
Posted : Thursday, November 15th, 2012 at 11:00
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.