Rothenburg ob der Tauber
If you’re in the area, chances are that the enchanting village of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is already on your list of places to visit. With snowfall and Christmas approaching, the quaint town, with its historical half-timbered houses, gabled roofs and cobbledstone streets, becomes a magical winter wonderland. The city, including the Christmas market, is decorated with lights, garlands and ornaments. Vendors sell handmade products and Franconian culinary specialities. A must-try is Rothenburg’s signature treat Schneeballen, meaning ‘snowball’, which is a short-crust pastry ball, either dipped in chocolate or sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Munich’s oldest and largest Christmas market offers everything your heart could possibly desire. Framed by the historic City Hall and the pedestrianised shopping district, more than 180 wooden huts and booths set up shop on Marienplatz. If you’re looking for souvenirs, you’ll be spoilt for choice, with a colourful mix of ceramics, scented candles and soaps, handmade toys, Christmas tree ornaments, lanterns, jewellery, embroidered fabrics and more. The list of foods and drinks on offer is just as varied, and so is the entertainment programme. Over the weeks leading up to Christmas, choirs and bands accompany the hot chocolate and Glühwein-infused activities.
Jaw-dropping views of the nearby mountains, skiing pistes in winter, walking trails in summer and fascinating historical sights make this small town at the border with Austria a popular destination year-round. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Berchtesgaden casts a spell over its visitors with its Christmas market. Fir trees and wood-carved figures decorate the square in front of the Royal Castle, and some 40 vendors sell the best of their traditionally wrought carvings and other pieces of craftwork. A highlight is always a free ride in a horse-drawn carriage through the valley.
The Augsburg Christkindlesmarkt has a 500-year-long tradition and is considered one of Germany’s dreamiest Christmas experiences. Rows and rows of festively decorated huts line the area between the City Hall square and St Moritz church. Sparkling lights, evergreen garlands and the smell of roast almonds escort you through the market alleys while you shop for handcrafted gifts and souvenirs and sample some delicious food. On the weekend, the facade of the City Hall transforms into an oversized Advent calendar, when 24 angel figurines appear and perform the Engelsspiel.
Every year, the charming town of Lindau by Lake Constance puts on a beautiful Christmas market along the harbour promenade. Picturesque views are guaranteed, whichever way you look. The elaborately decorated huts and the old town building twinkle with Christmas lights as visitors flock in to browse the stands of festive decorations, jewellery, arts, crafts and sweet and savoury treats. A mug of mulled wine or punch is the best way to keep warm while you stroll around. Throughout the weeks before Christmas, fire shows, choirs and bands and a fairytale forest of fir trees create a perfect festive atmosphere.
If you’re keen to see Germany’s only Christmas market located on an island, head down to southern Bavaria’s Chiemsee. On the first and third weekend in December, boats take you from Prien to the island for a romantic Christmas market experience. More than 90 festive booths present original handicrafts, decor, jewellery and clothes. Food stalls serve highlights of the region’s cuisine, from bratwurst to kaiserschmarrn. Sugar cravings can be stilled with a slice of the traditional apfelbrot or gingerbread.
Nuremberg is among the top destinations for Christmas markets in Europe. The traditional Christkindlesmarkt dates back to 1628 and still works its charm on locals and visitors alike. The city is world-renowned for its bratwurst variety and gingerbread, which are staple foods at the market food stalls. You can spend hours browsing the handcrafted lanterns and sculptures, soaps and beeswax candles, jewellery and toys, and you’ll sure find gift and souvenirs for friends and family at home.
During the Advent season, some 100 wooden huts with shingle roofs take over Würzburg’s market square between the rococo facade of the Falkenhaus and the 14th-century St Mary’s Chapel. Vendors offer arts and crafts, souvenirs, trinkets and gifts and spoil you with yummy snacks from sausages to pralines. At the weekends, artists showcase their works in the city hall courtyards. The festivities are rounded off with music, plays and wine tastings.
Approximately 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of Bamberg, the city of Coburg is somewhat of an insider’s tip when it comes to Christmas markets. If you love half-timbered houses and the overall flair of a historic town, you will like the festive vibes this old town market spreads in the weeks leading up to Christmas. With a bit of luck, the rustic wooden huts, Christmas pyramid and the merry-go-around will all be dusted in snow. The historic townhouses as a backdrop create the perfect setting for an evening of Christmas shopping.