Every December for the last many years, I’ve shared with you my love for exploring Germany’s Christmas markets — keeping running tabs on how many mugs of Glühwein and bags of Schmalzkuchen I’ve consumed (too many), challenging myself to visit new markets every year, and taking way too many photographs!
This year will be much the same — but in addition to all of that, I’m gathering all of my Christmas market posts here in one place, especially focusing on Weihnachtsmärkte in the cities I know best — including Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Hannover, and Lüneburg. Along with some helpful tips and information, I’ll keep adding new links as the season continues so you can start exploring Germany’s Christmas markets right away.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
Christmas markets got their start in the German-speaking areas of Europe during the late-Middle Ages. Around the 14th century, winter markets started selling more than just meat and supplies for winter — and began offering toys, sweets, and roasted almonds and chestnuts too. These days cities and towns across Germany host their own Christmas market(s) — the Weihnachtsmärkte in the big cities run every day through the four weeks of Advent, while the markets in the smaller towns and villages may only run for a weekend or just for one day.
My very favorite part of the Christmas markets is certainly the food! Enjoying a hot mug of Glühwein while standing outside in the dark and freezing temperatures is nearly a requirement of the Weihnachtsmarkt experience. Though there’s always lots to choose from, I usually find myself gravitating to the Kartoffelpuffer (latkes), Schmalzkuchen (fried dough with powdered sugar), and gebrannte Maronen (roasted chestnuts).
If you’re in the mood for shopping, there are plenty of stands where you can find a last-minute gift or the perfect ornament for the tree. The Weihnachtsmärkte are typically open all day long, but are at their most beautiful after the sun goes down. If you can, visiting in the evening during the week is a wonderful way to avoid the largest crowds, but still enjoy the magical glow of the Christmas lights.
The first Weihnachtsmarkt I ever visited (a couple of years before I even moved to Germany) was at Jungfernstieg along the Alster, so Hamburg’s Christmas markets will always hold a special place in my heart. If you start at the Alster and then walk towards the city center, you’ll encounter loads of Christmas markets along the way.
Germany’s capital offers dozens and dozens of Weihnachtsmärkte, so you will be guaranteed to find one that suits your tastes — especially if you’re searching for a less traditional experience.
You just can’t beat Bremen’s Altstadt or waterfront as the perfect, magical backdrops for a picturesque Christmas market scene. The medieval Christmas market along the waterfront is also one of my favorites.
The number of Weihnachtsmärkte in Hannover has really grown over the last several years! My hands-down favorite is the Finnish market — located in the Altstadt and surrounded by gorgeous Fachwerk houses, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Walking through Lüneburg’s Altstadt feels like you’re walking through a storybook during the Christmas season! So quaint and charming that I can’t believe that it took me so long to visit.
Where are your favorite Weihnachtsmärkte in Germany? What kind of Christmas market food do you like the best?