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Christmas Markets

Help!

We're planning a trip to Europe this winter (December 2022) to see the Christmas Markets. I've narrowed it down to the following cities. Before I make the airline reservations I need to know how many nights we need to spend in each one. We only want to see the Christmas Markets and not the other sights as we travel to Europe quite often and will see them at a later time. The cities are Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Nuremberg, Frankfort and Strasbourg.

Are there any cities here that we should skip? How many nights would you suggest in each one to see the Markets? We plan on traveling from one place to another by train.

Thank you!

Posted by
1916 posts

WE did xmas market in Dec 2019. Based on that and my research, I'd suggest skipping Frankfurt and Munich markets; perhaps fly into Munich and go straight to Salzburg.

I'd also suggest going thru Basel on the way to the incredible Strasbourg markets, then onto Stuttgart and Esslingen, and perhaps to the smaller markets outside of Frankfurt. The Esslingen markets have a Middle Ages theme, and are a one-of-a kind experience, with vendors in period costumes, street theater, fire sword juggling, costumes parades, etc.

We didn't go to the Nuremberg markets because of the reports of serious crowds- this was pre-covid.

You are on your feet a lot, so having slow days are essential, so a minimum of two nights, if not three in each area.

We love Rothenburg, and went there also; the markets are much smaller, but the city is magic.

I'll dig up my trip reports and add them in another post.

I'm so jealous that you're going to have these magical experiences!

Posted by
56 posts

This was our trip to the Markets for 2021 but had to cancel. Been to the markets on 4 different occasions but not a fan of Munich, Innsbruck, Frankfurt, or Nuremberg (Crowds). Never been to Strasbourg heard it was a good one. Here is what we are doing this year, I hope.

Chicago to Budapest to Vienna, To Krakow, with a 2-day trip to Warsaw, Wroclaw, Dresden, Wurzburg, Rothenburg. End in Cologne. The trip is for 33 days. So, you will be in each city 2 to 4 days. Depends.

Posted by
1916 posts

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/christmas-markets-switzerland-france-germany-2019

Hope the above Trip Reports can be helpful.

Mrs. Jo is the Forum expert here on Germany Christmas markets, and many of us have found her input exceptional. She lives in Germany. If you do a Search history on her posts, you'll find a wealth of great recommendations .

There is also much input on xmas markets if you do a Search here on the topic.

Safe travels!

Posted by
582 posts

We go over every other year and unless you’re flying in and out of Frankfurt and Munich- I’d skip those cities - the markets are very underwhelming.

Also, know many markets close December 23- so be sure and check the dates .

In Nuremberg, I recommend Hotel Victoria! You can walk underground and across the street to the train station, so it’s super convenient- plus, breakfast is included! It’s next door to the Handiworks area- full of local vendors and very close to the markets and two amazing cathedrals. -& it’s within the OLDE TOWNE wall of Nuremberg

Salzburg has a great market- plus I love the town. Strasbourg has an amazing cathedral, the market was ok.. I’d spend less time traveling and more time in the towns.
Regensburg and Passau also have great markets, as does Vienna. But you may want to only do 1-2 countries. The markets have been closed these past two years, so if they’re open this year- they’ll be mobbed- so you may want more time in each town as traveling between towns takes up precious time

Feel free to PM me if needed. Happy Planning

And we love the markets in Nuremberg- yes they’re crowded- but some of the best food and products of all the markets and it is GORGEOUS

Posted by
2404 posts

I was at the Strasbourg market last month, it's a long row of vendors who, frankly, all sell the same stuff. There isn't a whole lot of variety so it doesn't take long to walk the row. Food vendors are selling delish unhealthy stuff but again, they all sell the same stuff since that is what the public wants. There were also several markets set up in different locations around the city and ... yes, same stuff. There's only so much Xmas stuff in the world, ya know.

So I guess I'm not their ideal customer.

Posted by
64 posts

I go to the Christmas markets almost every year and always enjoy them. Contrary to other posts I find different items and food at different markets. From your list the two I liked best are Strasbourg and Nuremberg. As far as crowds, they are always more crowded in the evening and on weekends. Some of my favorites not on your list are Cologne, Regensburg, and Vienna. Munich was one I wouldn’t go back to.

Posted by
1581 posts

Strasbourg was our favorite Christmas market. We did not go to shop but rather to just enjoy the decorations, festive atmosphere and vin chaud (gluhwein in Germany and Austria) so I can’t speak to any of the goods being sold. Colmar is a short train ride from Strasbourg and makes a nice day trip. It is charming. We were there the previous summer so it was fun to see it at Christmastime. I would give Strasbourg/Colmar three days. We also loved Rothenburg and spent two days there. Munich was fine but we did other things besides the markets there so I would give that two days. If you go to Salzburg, then do a quick trip to the markets in the Salzkammergut at night. We did a bus tour (Grayline I think) so that was easy. I would give Salzburg two or three days. There is also a “castle” near there easily accessible by bus with its own market. Vienna was lovely and we did other things besides the markets so perhaps two or three days there. As I said, we were not there to shop but rather to experience Christmas season in Europe. I would suggest doing other things besides the markets lovely as they are or you will get overdosed on the Christmas stuff.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you to everyone that has replied to my posting. I'm trying to keep the trip to only two weeks. I'll be flying into and out of Munich but have decided not to stay there. Based on everyone's input I think I'll be changing my itinerary. Thanks again for all of your help!

Posted by
1916 posts

Would you consider flying into Munich and out of Frankfurt, so you don't need to backtrack? Generally, open jaw flights are about the same price as RT from the same city.
Safe travels!

Posted by
8064 posts

The deal about flying into Frankfurt and staying there for a few days means you can also go to these wonderful markets (if they have them), Mainz, Wiesbaden, Marburg, Limburg, Seligenstadt, Michelstadt, Heidelberg, Worms, and on certain weekends - Idstein, Büdingen, Gelnhausen, Ronneburg Castle, Kronberg, Oberursel, and Bad Homburg. You can also go to the Winter Lights in the Palmengarten, which is beautiful and fun to do with a different atmosphere than the markets.

The reason I like the Frankfurt market is the way the stalls are decorated. They had it more spread out this year which made it better. They also have a small market in the City Forest next to the Goethe Turm, which can be nice at night.

Favorite big city market is Stuttgart, and then Esslingen, followed by Mainz.

Haven't made it to the one in Cologne yet, but hope to go this year, as well as the one in Koblenz. Munich was extremely underwhelming. Surprised me as thought it might be better. Not a market I would go to again.

Posted by
1199 posts

We've only visited the Christmas Markets once (back in December 2019). Ranked in order of preference/fun were Colmar, Kaysersberg, Freiberg, Basel, Eguisheim. When ranking the towns only: Colmar, Kaysersberg, Equisheim, Basel, Freiberg.

Posted by
582 posts

It's always best to fly MULTICITY to Europe, that way you don't backtrack back to Munich. What about Munich and Frankfurt? Or Munich and Vienna?

If you do use Munich, you could stay a day or two there and use bighattours.com for a day trip to the Markets in Regensburg - the town is amazing. And he is an incredible guide. They also have the BEST Xmas market called Thurn and Taxis - you do have to pay as it's private, but it also gets you entry into the Palace there which is incredible. Google this - it's one of our favorites. He also does a great day trip to Dachau Concentration Camp if you're interested.

Munich is a quick train trip to Nuremburg and you can walk right underground across the street and stay at our favorite hotel, Hotel Victoria - it is so close to the train station and the markets and the cathedrals and their included breakfast is amazing.

It does take lots of planning - but we love the markets and we go over every other year.

Posted by
1916 posts

Flying into/out of Vienna is harder because, in my experience, there are fewer options, thus long waits for connections.
Safe travels.