Christmas Market Adventures
Stressing out about all that last minute holiday shopping? Would you rather be feasting on Christmas treats and sipping hot wine in the shadow of a snow-powdered castle? To help you plan next year’s Christmas market adventure, we’ve put together this list of our favorite Christmas market destinations with a few tips on what to eat along the way. We have visited all these markets ourselves and done the hard work taste-testing the sweet and savory specialties along the way.
What’s Cool: Füssen’s Christmas market is all about location, location, location. Indulge in the typical Bavarian Christmas sausages, Swiss raclette, or grilled fish before heading up to Germany’s most famous fairy-tale castle, magical Neuschwanstein. You might need snowshoes. 😉
What’s Cool: Backed by two stunning cathedrals, this is our personal choice for Germany’s best Christmas market. The old town, with its medieval cross-beam houses and unique market bridge, plays right into every visitor’s Christmas fantasy. Don’t miss the potato pancakes topped with apple sauce AND lachs. Love it!
What’s Cool: Arguably the most famous Christmas market in Germany (and possibly Europe), Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt has been thrilling visitors since 1530. Highlights include gorgeous medieval backstreets, the large Nuremburg castle, original Nuremburger sausages, and the country’s most famous lebkuchen (German gingerbread).
What’s Cool: Don’t forget the Czech Republic. Prague’s stunning Christmas markets are another of our personal favorites. From the market in Prague castle to Wenceslas Square, it’s pure Christmas fun. But the clear winner is the huge spectacle in Old Town Square. Amazing! Don’t miss the roast ham, the grilled klobása, and the trdelník, a spit-roast pastry.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
What’s Cool: Germany’s most picturesque walled village is Christmas market perfection. This world-famous Medieval village also boasts the most impressive Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas store in the country (even Santa would be impressed.) Don’t miss the long bratwursts and the local schneeball pastries, balls of woven dough.
What’s Cool: The elaborate Dresden Striezelmarkt has been awing visitors for nearly six centuries. Some Germans consider this spectacular Christmas market to be the country’s best vying with Nuremberg for the title. Grab a cup of eierpunch (German eggnog) to go with the famous local Dresdener stollen, a traditional Christmas fruit cake. Yum!
What’s Cool: Christmas in Italy! Sandwiched between Milan’s ornate Gothic cathedral and the equally ornate Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, you certainly can’t beat the location or the Christmas tree. Keep your eyes peeled for the panettone, Milanese fruit cake, as well as mouthwatering salamis, cheeses, and pastries in the market stalls.
What’s Cool: Christmas in Munich is a little different. Time your visit to coincide with the Krampus festivities and watch the Christmas devils and witches dance past the Renaissance town hall to the sound of cracking whips. Don’t miss the insanely delicious flammlachs, honey-glazed salmon roasted over an open fire and served on a Bavarian bun! And if its too cold outside, there’s always the Hofbrauhaus.
What’s Cool: Berlin boasts more than 50 Christmas markets making it one of the coolest yuletide destinations on our list. Favorite markets include the spectacular spread at Charlottenburg Castle, the sprawling market at Alexanderplatz, the elegant festivities at the Gendarmenmarkt, and the hidden gem at the Kulturbrauerei. If you hang with the cool crowd, grab a Christmas currywurst and a beer.
What’s Cool: The sprawling, atmospheric Leipzig market flies under the radar of most Christmas market tourists despite the fact that locals have been enjoying it since 1458. If you’re lucky, you might find räbchen, marzipan filled plums fried in pancake batter. Leipzigers also take pride in their stollen (fruit cake), which they claim is better than Dresden’s.
What’s Cool: Salzburg allows you to live out your Christmas and Sound of Music fantasies at the same time. When not twirling in an alpine meadow, you can shop for decorative Christmas eggs or feast on my favorite Christmas market treat germknödel, a dumpling filled with spiced plum compote and topped with melted butter and poppy seeds. I’m salivating as I write!!!
What’s Cool: Strolling through the cobbled streets of Weimar sipping your glühwein or nibbling on a bratwurst, know that you are walking in the footsteps of Goethe, Schiller, and Liszt. This Christmas market comes with some serious German history!
What’s Cool: The tropical sprawl of Bangkok, Thailand is a secret Christmas gem for travelers in the know. The continuous stream of yuletide celebrations that flow from MBK to Siam Paragon put many Western locations to shame. Grab some Christmas khao niew mamuang (mango and sticky rice), stroll the skywalk, and enjoy the carolers singing in English and Thai.
What’s Cool: Rural Benediktbeuern, nestled in the foothills of the German Alps, is a tip for anyone who is looking to skip the touristy Christmas market trail. Here you can bask in the market authenticity of yesteryear. Just you, great food, Bavarian visitors, and the historic monastery. (Note: This little village is where the original Carmina Burana manuscript was found.)
What’s Cool: This market sits in the shadow of the world’s tallest church, the Ulm Minster. Save room for candied nuts, gummi bears, gingerbread, chocolate, sweet eierlikör, käsespätzle, schupfnudeln with sauerkraut and bacon… you get the point.
What’s Cool: Another Asian surprise, Taiwan blew us away with an elaborate Christmas market at the base of towering Taipei 101, one of the tallest buildings in Asia. Make room for some Christmas baozi or deep-fried guotie followed by some sweet German baumkuchen (layered cake).
What’s Cool: Nothing is more beautiful than the snow-covered castles of Potsdam followed by a hot steaming cup of glühwein at the Christmas market in town. Well, it might be better if you add a schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle).