As the holiday season unfolds, Germany transforms into a winter wonderland, beckoning travelers with its enchanting Christmas markets. These markets, steeped in tradition and merry spirit, offer a unique way to experience the country's rich culture. This year, we embarked on a captivating journey through three of Germany's most celebrated Christmas markets: Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Hamburg (and a few more outside of Germany).
Stuttgart Christmas Market
Our first stop was in Stuttgart, where the Christmas market creates a storybook atmosphere right in the heart of the city. As we strolled through the festively decorated stalls, the air was filled with the scent of roasted chestnuts and spiced mulled wine. The market is renowned for its exquisite handcrafted decorations and the array of traditional delicacies. This was one of our favorite Markets as it was a great mix of traditional and modern traditions. It was also significantly larger than we expected!
Next, we visited the world-famous Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt. This market is a historical marvel, dating back to the 16th century. The highlight is the opening ceremony, where the 'Christkind' angel recites a traditional prologue. Nuremberg's market is famous for its Lebkuchen, a type of gingerbread that's a must-try (give it at least two bites before you judge). Amidst the wooden toy stalls and twinkling lights, it was like transported back in time. Now Nuremberg's market was huge and spread out, there was multiple areas that had stalls and stands. a significant portion of the center of Nuremberg had stands lining the street, but the biggest collection of stalls was in the Hauptmarkt which is near the Rathaus. This is an easily walkable city and we would recommend getting a hotel just north of the Nuremberg Hbf station in the center of nuremberg.
Hamburg offered a contrasting experience as it is a much larger city. The markets here were less traditional but they had a mix with modern traditions and amazing foods. If you are in Hamburg this is a great opportunity to see some of the german Weihnachtsmarkt (Holy Night Markets) tradition. Unfortunately we only had one night in Hamburg so we did not get to experience all of the wonderful markets. We know there was at least 3 different markets in hamburg that all have unique themes. However our favorite was the Rathaus (City Hall) Weihnachtsmarkt which even included a levitating sleigh which glided through the air as it read out a Christmas story, causing everyone to fall silent and stare.
Travel Tips and Logistics
Traveling between these cities was an adventure in itself. We found the train system in Germany to be semi-unreliable, and difficult as trains seemed to skip stops, start halfway through a trip, split in half going to different destinations, get delayed, outright cancelled 5 mins before leaving, and miss connection times. As long as you are prepared for this it is a workable solution.... however it can turn a 3 hour trip in to a 8-10 hour trip. Weather in winter also has a huge impact on trains as we found out the hard-way getting stuck in Stuttgart and Nuremberg for days on end as no trains were running anywhere south. Unfortunately this did result in us being unable to use our hotel rooms and many were non-refundable... this is where good travel insurance would have come in handy.
For accommodations, staying close to the city center was convenient for market visits. Dress warmly, as the evenings can be freezing, wet, and windy. Be prepared for large dense crowds, especially in Nuremberg and Stuttgart even during the week (Monday - Thursday). Earlier in the evenings may help (2-4pm) with crowds however the weekends (Friday - Sunday) are always packed from opening to closing.w
Visiting Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Hamburg's Christmas markets was an unforgettable experience. Each market, with its distinct character and charm, offered a glimpse into Germany's festive traditions and warm drinks. For anyone looking to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit, these markets are a must-visit.
As we conclude this journey, we encourage you to explore these winter wonderlands and perhaps find your own favorite Christmas market in Germany. Frohe Weihnachten and happy travels!
Christmas Market Vlogs:
For more information on the opening dates and times of these markets, visit:
- Nuremberg Christmas Market - christkindlesmarkt.de
- Home: Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt 29.11. - 23.12.2023
- Hamburg Rathaus Market
Don't forget to check out local guides for insider tips and hidden gems in each city!