Christmas Markets in Germany. Doesn’t that sound magical? 

I’ve been wanting to see the Christmas Markets for years! One summer, quite a few years ago, I was standing in Wenceslas Square in Prague, and although it was still impressive, all I could think was how gorgeous and festive it would be when the Christmas market was on. At that moment, I added the Christmas Markets in Europe to my bucket list.

A few years later, the opportunity came to actually visit the Christmas markets! We spent 6 weeks travelling in Eastern Europe during the fall and planned our trip so that we were able to spend the last two weeks in Germany, exploring the Christmas markets.

We based ourselves in three cities, all in Western Germany, and did day trips from each city. With the fantastic German train system, it was easy enough to do. My only regret was that we didn’t have more time! (We’ll just have to go back next year….)

pin for this post - 10 Christmas Markets in Germany

If you have the opportunity to visit for a week or two, I’d suggest choosing only a few markets to visit, or to base yourselves in one spot and do day trips like we did. It was definitely nice to be able to return to the same place every evening, after being outside for a good part of the day!

And of course, there are MANY Christmas Markets in Germany, and throughout Europe. But with only two weeks, we weren’t able to visit them all…..

But that’s ok, because the ones we visited were amazing! Even though the weather wasn’t the greatest, you can’t help but enjoy the Christmas Markets in Germany!

If you’re planning a visit, or looking for inspiration for a future trip, here are the ten Christmas Markets in Germany that we visited.

(We’ve listed them in the order that we visited, NOT in order of preference.)

(If you don’t want to read all the way down, feel free to click on any of the markets listed for a quick jump to that section)

Dusseldorf | Essen | Cologne | Duisburg | Dortmund | Mannheim | Heidelburg | Ludwigsburg | Esslingen | Stuttgart


This was our first experience with the Christmas markets, and all I can say is, don’t go on the same weekend that we did!  Even though the market opened a week earlier, it was the first weekend of Advent, which is when most markets open.

It also happened to be Black Friday/Weekend shopping and it was extremely busy – I won’t go into detail on trying to walk up the main street with two little guys, who are at the same height as everyone’s bags!

Dusseldorf boasts seven Christmas markets, all at least a few blocks apart but still within walking distance. Here’s more about the Dusseldorf Christmas Markets.

The Engelchen-Markt

Visit the Christmas markets in Germany, at Dusseldorf

Gorgeously decorated with thousands of lights, even during the day this market seems enchanting. There’s a music pavilion in the centre which makes a great place to enjoy a glass of gluhwein!

The Handwerker Markt

As the name suggests, this market is where you can buy traditional handicrafts and watch the artisans work. We spent awhile watching the glass blowers! There is also a huge hand carved Nativity Scene.


Christmas markets in Germany have a Christmas pyramid selling gluhwein and other drinks.

Located between Engelchen Markt and Handwerker Markt, it’s not a traditional market but rather stalls set up along the street. Along the way there is a giant pyramid selling mulled wine, with some interesting figures rotating on top.

Sternchen Markt

This is a lovely small market, tucked away in a courtyard and a nice break from the busy streets. It’s done in a blue and white theme and has some great lighting designs.  We visited during the day, but apparently it’s best seen in the evening when you can fully appreciate the lights.


This is a fairy tale themed market and great for kids! The tops of the stalls are decorated with different characters from German fairy tales. Father Christmas wanders around and hands out tokens, which can be redeemed at the specific stall for a treat. After checking almost every stall, the boys were excited to find the matching one and were rewarded with hot chocolate.

Kids will love to drink hot chocolate at the Christmas markets in Germany

Schadow Markt

This market is set up along one of the busiest shopping streets, Schadowstraβe. Aside from the huts, you can also shop at many of the higher end stores along the street.

Kö-Bogen Markt

Overlooking the Hofgarten, and very visible by the “Dome of Lights”, it’s also one of the most child friendly markets. There’s a carousel, a children’s activity tent with performances and live music and even carol singing a few times throughout the month.

Visit the Christmas markets in Germany, at Dusseldorf


This was, I think, my favourite market! It’s an easy 30 minute train ride from Dusseldorf and definitely worth the trip! From the minute you walk out of the train station, you feel the festivity and magic of the market.

Stalls line the street right from the train station, all the way to the main area of the market. And the lights! Lights were everywhere! There were a lighted decorations, perfect for photo ops.

Food stalls were mixed in with craft stalls and as they were spread out down the street, it was so much easier to browse and not feel too crowded.

Visit the Christmas markets in Germany, at Essen


Also a quick trip from Dusseldorf, Cologne was another of our favourites. Right beside the train station is the impressive Cologne Cathedral. And just in front of the cathedral is one of the biggest markets, the Cologne Cathedral Market. Even though this is one of the most popular markets, it didn’t feel too busy and there was plenty of room to walk around and look at the stalls (and enjoy some mulled wine).

A short walk away is the Old Town Christmas Market. This was just magical. With a large skating oval, complete with a curling rink in the center, and a set of steps that you could climb up to look over the rink, it really was the focal point of the market.

Visit the Christmas markets in Germany, at Cologne

Surrounding the rink were gorgeous stalls and of course, a ferris wheel. This wasn’t a large one so the boys talked me into riding it. We had some of the best views of the market from the top!

The Christmas markets at Cologne from above

The Angels Market, the Harbour Market and the Gay Christmas Market are not as popular, which means not as busy, but well worth seeing.

For more information, and a map of the markets, check out Cologne’s website.


Duisburg is also a short train ride away. It’s only 15 minutes, and one stop from Dusseldorf.

Not as large as Essen or Cologne, it’s still a great little market and easy to do on the way to or from Essen.

A big bonus is that it’s one of the earliest markets to begin, opening mid-November. For more information, click here.


We didn’t make it to Dortmund, but it’s also a short train ride from Dusseldorf. Boasting the largest Christmas tree, it’s also one of the largest markets in Germany. If you make it there, let me know!

Dusseldorf is a great spot to base yourself, as there are so many fantastic Christmas Markets just a short train ride away. Search for the best accommodations in Dusseldorf here.


Mannheim was the second city we based ourselves in, as it was easy to do a few day trips from there.

Mannheim hosts two Christmas markets only a short walk from each other, plus a Children’s Fairy-tale Christmas market – a fantastic kids’ market and definitely one of our favourites!

Market on Kapuzinerplanken

Our hotel overlooked the Market on Kapuzinerplanken and we had a fantastic view of the market from our room. We had a few lazy mornings and it was neat to see the market coming to life in the morning as vendors opened their stalls.

Many of the vendors produce their own products and the vendors change weekly! It’s a smaller market with 70 artisans, artists and food stalls, but it’s a great place to pick up unusual gifts and handcrafted products.

Water Tower Market

The main Christmas Market in Mannheim is located by the Water Tower.

It’s one of the oldest markets in Germany and the 200+ stalls are set against the backdrop of the Water Tower, making it pretty impressive!

Definitely make sure to visit at night when the lights make it look magical! You can find more information on the Mannheim Christmas markets here.

Visit the Christmas markets in Germany, at Mannheim


But the highlight of Mannheim, at least for us, was the Märchenwald – the Children’s Christmas Market.

Characters and scenes from fairy tales are displayed throughout the market. Many of the displays behind glass windows also have an audio recording of the story playing as you stop to look at the display.

But by far the favourite of my boys, and other children as well, was the talking tree! We must have stopped by to visit him every night that we were in Mannheim.

The talking tree at the Christmas markets in Germany, at Mannheim


Heidelburg is a quick 15 minute train ride from the Mannheim station.

We arrived in the afternoon and wanted to explore the castle and the city, but it was pouring rain as soon as we got off the train. Still pretty though, and it’s definitely a place I’d like to return to!

The markets were still great though, even in the rain. There are quite a few small markets along the main street in addition to the main three.

Only a short walk from the train station (you pass by the tourist information center on the way), is the Kornmarkt. Called the Winterwaeldchen, it’s decorated with fir trees and has a winter woods theme.

Another large market is found at the Market Square, where you will find the giant Christmas pyramid, with revolving historical figures from Heidelburg’s history.

the pyramid at the Heidelberg Christmas markets in Germany

And not to be missed, is the market at Karlsplatz. Home to a large skating rink, surrounded by stalls and set against the backdrop of the castle, this market just felt magical!

We stayed at the Leonardo Hotel in Mannheim and it was excellent! You can search for other available accommodations in Mannheim here.


Unfortunately our time was running out, and the weather was not cooperating, but we still had markets to see! We based ourselves in Stuttgart for our last few days and wish we had another week or so!

Ludwigsburg was only a 15-20 minute train ride from Stuttgart. Once again, it was pouring from the time we left the train station. But a glass of mulled wine certainly helps to warm you up!

Must try gluwhein when you're at the Christmas markets in Germany

The market stalls are fairly spread out, which made it really nice to wander through. It helped that it wasn’t too busy, probably due to the rain!

There was a large angel with huge, lighted wings overlooking the market. There were many other lights too, and once it started to get dark, rather than feeling chilly with the rain, the lights made it feel cozy!

The Ludwigsburg Christmas Markets in Germany


Another quick ride from Stuttgart, this time on a bus, was Esslingen.

The weather wasn’t great again, but at least it wasn’t raining to start with.

We hiked up to the castle for a great view of the market and town. We had heard it was a good hike up a lot of stairs, but we didn’t see the stairs and took the long ramp up instead.

Once we found the stairs and climbed down, we realized we had walked right past the entrance on our way to the ramp.

Esslingen is known for its’ Medieval Market. There are lots of activities for kids and adults to try (like a beanbag on a catapult or ax throwing), numerous stalls selling medieval clothing, jewelry and really anything medieval. Most of the vendors are dressed in medieval clothing too!

Located right beside it on the Marktplatz is the main market, with traditional food and crafts. There’s a Christmas pyramid selling mulled wine and other warm drinks, an interesting carousel and lots of stalls selling toys, ornaments and crafts.

Another CHristmas pyramid at the Esslingen Christmas markets in Germany

The half-timbered houses and interesting architecture of the buildings makes this market unique! Take some time to wander the surrounding streets and you won’t be disappointed.


We honestly LOVED this market. I’m not sure why it stole our hearts, as it wasn’t as gorgeously decorated as some we had seen, or as festive of a feeling, but we kept coming back to it.

Even after visiting the other markets during the day, we had to stop in at the Stuttgart market on our way home as well. You can read our full post on the Stuttgart Christmas Market here.

Known as the Stuttgart Weihnachtsmarkt, it’s one of the oldest and largest in Europe.

The market spreads out over several squares and streets, from the Neuen Schloss and Königsbau to Karlsplatz and Schillerplatz and then to Marktplatz. Full information on the market can be found here.

One of the highlights is the light display in the Palace Square. Eight different light structures, representing the city’s main tourist attractions are displayed here. Each hour there is a special light show that is set to music. Be sure not to miss it!

Along Königstrasse, there is a Christmas pyramid, a small ferris wheel and a train set.

The train rides through a miniature village, which also has small trains running along various tracks. If you have little kids, make sure to stop here! There is also a train they can ride through the miniature village (my kids enjoyed the ride, but preferred to stand at the side and watch all the miniature trains!).

The steam train and miniature trains at the Stuttgart Christmas markets in Germany

Another highlight is the Town Hall, or Rauthaus, which is turned into a giant advent calendar. The windows are decorated and each day one is opened to reveal a coat of arms belonging to a district of Stuttgart.

It’s hard to see it fully, as part of the market is here as well, and the huts and stalls make it tricky to get a great photo. You’ll just have to see it for yourselves!

The Rathaus turns into a giant advent calendar during the Stuttgart Christmas markets in Germany

This is certainly not a complete list of all the Christmas Markets in Germany, but was what we managed to see in two weeks, based out of three cities. You could easily base yourself in Stuttgart for a week or two and visit many more markets.

What other Christmas markets in Germany would you suggest? Let us know in the comments below!

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For more tips and inspiration on visiting Christmas Markets, be sure to check out these posts:

One Comment

  1. I completely agree with you on the magic of German Christmas markets! The lights, crafts, and mulled wine at the Dusseldorf markets really do make the festive season special. As a Dortmund resident living in Borsigplatz, I can’t wait for you to experience our Christmas market too – our tree is one of the tallest in the world! Happy travels.

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