Festive breaks to Germany
The best German Christmas markets
You say Christmas markets, we say Germany. No country does it better. Known as the 'home of Christmas', Germany flaunts some of the oldest Weihnachtsmarkts in the world - Dresden's dates back to 1434!
Each year, the theme differs, but you can expect to find some all-time staples like Glühwein (mulled wine), Bratwurst and traditional hand-crafted souvenirs. Local choirs and orchestras fill the atmosphere with Christmas songs.
If you're planning a city break in Germany at Christmas, you're in for a treat. Our top picks for the best German Christmas markets include the following:
Berlin WeihnachtsZauber, Berlin
When: Monday 27th November to Saturday 31st December
Berlin showcases Germany's Christmas spirit at its finest. The city hosts 80 Christmas markets, with Gendarmenmarkt the most popular. This year, the market has been moved to Bebelplatz, where a giant Christmas tree will dominate the square and overlook fantastic entertainment, with choirs, fire-breathers, acrobats and angels on stilts.
Other popular Berlin Christmas markets include the following:
Weihnachtsmarkt Am Kölner Dom, Cologne
When: Thursday 23rd November to Saturday 23rd December
On the banks of the River Rhine in North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne shines like no other city at Christmas. Cologne Christmas markets are a cut above the rest, and the Markt am Dom is a perfect representation. In the shadow of the city's majestic cathedral, the market stuns with 250 red-canopied huts illuminated by gold decorations. Enjoy chocolate waffles and Glühwein while exploring the glittering pavilions and their handmade treasures.
Other must-visit Cologne Christmas markets are:
Dresden Striezelmarkt, Dresden
When: Wednesday 29th November to Sunday 24th December
Dresden Christmas markets are Germany's oldest, dating back to 1434. Highlights include the world's tallest step pyramid, merry-go-rounds and a Ferris wheel offering sprawling city views. Over 200 chalet stands crowd Dresden's main square, attracting three million visitors yearly. Enjoy local goods like buttery fruitcakes dusted with icing sugar, Christmas-themed origami and handmade Räuchermännchen (smoking men).
Looking for something more low-key? These Christmas markets may be up your street:
Münchner Christkindlmarkt, Munich
When: Monday 27th November to Sunday 24th December
Munich's most famous Christmas market is held in Marienplatz and dates back to the 14th century. The beautiful Christmas tree lights up 150 wooden stalls and celebrates the city's unique charm. Dance to traditional German folk music, try local delicacies or shop for hand-crafted souvenirs. If you're lucky enough to pass through the square at the right time, you may stumble upon the Krampus Run, a parade of over 300 people dressed as Krampus.
Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt, Leipzig
When: Tuesday 28th November to Saturday 23rd December
Leipzig Christmas markets are one of Germany's oldest and largest, dating back to 1458 and today featuring 250 stalls dotted around Marktplatz. The Saxon spruce tree steals the scene while wooden chalets fill the air with warming scents. Come hungry!
Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt, Stuttgart
When: Wednesday 29th November to Saturday 23rd December
Stuttgart Christmas markets host a yearly competition for the most beautiful stall, with a prize appointed by a jury. What does this mean for you? Well, you're in for a great show! The 300 stalls are beautifully decorated with ornaments and lights and sell culinary treats, including roasting Bratwurst and Lebkuchen (gingerbread).
Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, Nuremberg
When: Friday 1st December to Sunday 24th December
Wholesome and charming, Nuremberg Christmas markets are quintessentially German. They feel and look like a fairytale! The festive season opens with a speech by Christkind, an angelic gift-giver who symbolises Christmas. Locals and visitors gather in the Hauptmarkt, ready to explore a treasure trove of handmade crafts and culinary delights.
Bremen Weihnachtsmarkt, Bremen
When: Monday 27th November to Saturday 23d December
Bremen Christmas markets are another wonder you can't miss. They’re held around the Town Hall and the Roland statue, both World Heritage Sites. The atmosphere is intimate and romantic, with festive lights, candles and decorations adorning the square. Over 150 stalls extend along Bremen's River Weser, showcasing all kinds of treats.