A Visitor’s Guide to German Christmas Markets

Christmas Markets are a deeply rooted tradition in Germany. Every year, over 2000 markets pop up all over the country and if you’ve never been to one before, here’s our guide of what to see and eat at one of these markets! If you’re not familiar with the history of Christmas Markets, they

began in 14th century Germany, as space for peasants to come and sell their goods. This was their livelihood and the money which they earned from these markets allowed them to buy food at Christmas.

Today, these Christmas markets have transformed into huge events that are spread across Europe and other parts of the world. These markets are generally found in city centers or marketplatz and are made up of clusters of little wooden huts. Here you can find local shops or artisans

selling truly unique and one-of-a-kind goods. This is a great place to come if you’ve got some Christmas shopping to do or if you want some precious souvenirs to take back home. However, the best thing to do at any Christmas market is to eat your way through them, so make sure you arrive hungry because you’ll be spoilt for choice.



The most popular thing to get at one of these markets is a cup of Glühwein. Glühwein is made out of Red Wine, sugar and spice. It is then cooked slowly over low-heat to achieve that beautiful malt flavor. Every part of Germany has its own version of Glühwein. For example, Frankfurt

offers its customers a delicious apple Glühwein that is made with hard apple cider. It packs a punch so be careful but it will definitely keep you warm on those cold winter days!

Bonus Tip: If you don’t drink alcohol or are traveling with a child, there are also delicious non-alcoholic beverages to be consumed. You can opt for Kinderpunsch which is kid’s punch, Eierlikör or warm Eggnog minus the alcohol and Feuerzangenbowle or fire-tongue which features

an inflamed sugar-cube. All of these drinks are poured in decorated cups/glasses which have an additional charge. However, you can always return them and get your deposit back.

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Christmas time offers a wealth of traditional holiday treats — one of them being Lebkuchen. In the Middle Ages, Nuremberg was a very important city and the old castle is still proof of that today. The city, however, wasn’t only significant politically but also had some culinary wonders to offer to

the world. Nuremberg’s Christmas market is one of the most famous in the country and is the place to find Lebkuchen or Gingerbread. You can opt for the classic round with different chocolate toppings or specialties modeled after Christmas figures. Either way, don’t miss out on these delicious treats!

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Advent wreaths or Calendars

With the arrival of Christmas, many Catholic families begin to decorate in preparation for the birth of Jesus. One of several holiday traditions still strong today, especially in Germany, includes the use of a decorative advent wreath. The traditional wreath is made of evergreens and 24 candles

which are lit every day leading up to Christmas. You can find a wide variety of Advent wreaths and calendars across markets in Germany.

Advent wreaths


Stollen is another Christmas staple that tourists and locals alike, indulge in. It is a German fruit cake/bread that is packed with raisins, currants, candied peel, almonds, and marzipan. This dessert is said to have religious symbolisms — its long oval shape is supposedly symbolic of

Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. If you’re looking for a traditional Stollen, the Striezelmarkt, Dresden’s Christmas Market, is the place to find it.

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The Zwetschgenmann are unusual little Christmas dolls that are typically made from the local harvest which includes — dried prunes and walnut. This Christmas tradition dates back to the 17th century and the Zwetschgenmann (prune people) were usually purchases as gifts for friends

and family. These figures are a gesture of good will and are said to bring you fortune/luck.

©/Meghan and Stephen Barke/Flickr


In the 15th century, European craftsman were carving beautiful nutcrackers shaped liked animals and people. German artisans became known for their famous wooden nutcracker kings and soldiers, similar to the ones in Tchaikovsky’s renowned ballet. Like porcelain figurines, a lot of

nutcrackers sell as limited edition collectibles at different price points each. Interestingly, people don’t actually use them for their intended purpose. They are displayed as decorative items during the holiday season and are a pretty sight for sore eyes.


Glass Tree Ornaments

In the 19th century, a glassblower from Lauscha decided to use glass to make ornaments for the Christmas tree. They soon became a huge success around the world and are still made by hand in Lauscha today. These fragile works of art can be seen wherever you go and are widely sold

across the Christmas markets in Germany. Its definitely a feast for the eyes and each ball is certainly more beautiful than the last. Many customers prefer hand-made Christmas ornaments to the mass-produced industrial ones, and if you identify as one of them, the Thigria market is the

place to be. It’s a wonderful experience and the snow adds to the lovely atmosphere!

Glass Tree Ornaments
©/Paul Boudreau/Flickr

A Little Reminder

Now that we’ve covered all the foods you must try and ornaments to look out for, here’s a little reminder of the don’ts of Christmas Markets. Save yourself from the disappointment and don’t plan your trip too early or too late. In Germany, the Christmas markets don’t start till the first

Sunday of Advent — this is equivalent to the 1st of December or maybe the last week of November. Additionally, most markets close around the 23rd as Christmas arrives on the following days.