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Best Christmas markets in Germany (near Frankfurt) and how days for first-time visitor

Hi all! I am going to Brussels for work and I have about 9 days after my work trip for R&R. I will travel from 26 Nov (start of the advent) to catch the Christmas markets. And I have to catch my flight out of Frankfurt.

I would like to visit some cities in France and Germany that are well known for their Christmas markets. I have been to France once and visited Paris only and I have never been to Germany. I have received tips from RS travelers that Stuttgart and nearby Esslingen Christmas markets are highly recommended. And Nuremberg Christmas market is very famous.

Any recommendations for which cities to visit for their Christmas markets (near Frankfurt, on the way from Strasbourg) and how many days to spend (so I have sufficient time to enjoy the cities and all the markets without rushing too much)? I will be traveling by trains. Thanks!

Tentative Itinerary
Day 1: Brussels -> Paris, check out Paris’ Christmas markets (overnight Paris)
Day 2: Paris to Metz Day 1 (overnight Metz)
Day 3: Metz Day 2 (overnight Metz)
Day 4: Metz->Strasbourg, Strasbourg Day 1 (overnight Strasbourg)
Day 5: Strasbourg Day 2 (overnight Strasbourg)
Day 6: Strasbourg-> Stuttgart/Esslingen? Frankfurt?
Day 7: Germany Day 1
Day 8: Germany Day 2
Day 9: Germany Day 3
Day 10: Depart Frankfurt

Posted by
291 posts

How will you be traveling? Car? Train? It depends on how much time you would like to spend. Heidelbergs market was small but nice. Strasbourgs market is a must see. We didn't do any markets around Stuttgart so I am no help there. I wanted to see Rothenburg o. d. Tauber Christmas Market and was disappointed as it was very small. We love visiting Unless you want to see the town I would pass on their Christmas Market. We love visiting Rothenburg however. Nurembergs is a must see also. We left Germany after Nuremburg and visited markets in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest so I can be of no further help.

Posted by
8244 posts

The markets near Frankfurt that may be running during that time period and that I recommend, would be Mainz, Wiesbaden, Rüdesheim, Limburg, Marburg, Seligenstadt, Worms, Heidelberg, Speyer, and of course Frankfurt. I would need dates to check some of the smaller towns that just have them on one weekend, like Idstein, Bad Homburg, Ronneburg Castle, etc.

Posted by
66 posts

Hi thanks all!

I will be driving using trains as I don’t dare to drive in Europe in winter!

Posted by
15243 posts

Definitely Esslingen - allow several hours including at least an hour after dark.
From Frankfurt, you can see both Mainz and Wiesbaden in one day by train.

I liked Colmar markets and especially decorations, as much, if not more than Strasbourg.

In Germany, the markets don't get going until lunchtime. That gives you mornings to do "general" sightseeing. There are lots of things to see in Frankfurt. There are good sights in Mainz as well.

Posted by
5654 posts

"I have never been to Germany... sufficient time to enjoy the cities and all the markets without rushing too much..."

You can only spend so much time at these Christmas markets. Besides those, what sorts of things do you hope to find in the cities you visit? What interests you about Germany? I suggest you investigate more closely some of the normal sightseeing options within the areas you plan to be and let your findings guide your choices.

Personally, I think a Nuremberg stay is ideal for gathering your first impressions of Germany. I'd look into that first. There's a very diverse set of sightseeing choices there. The old-town area is charming yet fairly compact for a city this size, and mostly traffic-free thanks to the enhanced pedestrians-only zone. Also, Nuremberg is a rail hub for short day trips to other fine destinations, including Bamberg, whose old-town center has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bamberg also hosts a Christmas Market.

Nuremberg street map

If you also find Nuremberg a good choice, I could see this...

Day 6: morning train to Stuttgart and Esslingen (both stations have luggage lockers) for 6-7 hours of markets/sightseeing + late afternoon train to Nuremberg (stay 3 nights.)

Days 7 & 8: 1 full day each for Nuremberg and Bamberg (45 min's from Nuremberg by direct train.)

Day 9: morning train to Frankfurt (stay 1 night) for market and sightseeing.

Posted by
1386 posts

We really like Würzburg in the general area of Frankfurt. The Archbishop's Residenz, the castle (Marienberg) and the pilgrimage church (Käppele) are our favorite sights to visit along with the Christmas Market. Nürnberg, Rothenburg and Bamberg are all reasonable day trips by train.

We have stayed in Würzburg the night before flying out of Frankfurt and then taken an ICE train to catch our flight. I will not recommend that. Too much early morning hassle. I would stay in Frankfurt or Mainz at least the last night.

I stayed in Frankfurt for a couple days before flying out a few years back and enjoyed Jo's tour of the city. Daytrips to markets in other cities would work fine.

https://www.frankfurtonfoot.com

We have stayed in Mainz twice before flying out of Frankfurt Airport. That would work as well, but Frankfurt City is a major railroad hub and might have better connections to some towns.

Posted by
66 posts

Hi all! I am so excited that I have booked my air tickets! I will fly out from Frankfurt and plan to visit some of the places recommended. Here's my itinerary based on the recommendations so far. Please give any feedback about the number of days I should spend in each place.

Day 1 (Thurs): Travel from Strasbourg/Colmar to Stuttgart/Esslingen Day 1
Day 2 (Fri): Stuttgart/Esslingen Day 2 (overnight Esslingen)

Day 3 (Sat): Nuremberg Day 1 (overnight Nuremberg)
Day 4 (Sun): Nuremberg Day 2 (overnight Nuremberg)
Day 5 (Mon) Nuremberg-Frankfurt (2.5 hours train) (overnight Frankfurt)
Day 6 (Tue): Frankfurt (overnight Frankfurt)
Day 7 (Wed): Fly out of Frankfurt

I have some questions!
- Accommodation:
a) Is it better to spend the nights in Stuttgart or Esslingen?
b) Nuremberg hotels are looking to be quite expensive. Any recommendations for 2 pax?
c) Frankfurt: Is it safe to stay near Frankfurt main train station (as it is easier to head to Frankfurt airport)? RS recommended Concorde Hotel near the station. But some reviews said that the red light district and 'druggie' cafes are nearby.

  • Transportation: Should I book the train tickets - Strasbourg/Colmar->Stuttgart, Stuttgart->Nuremberg, Nuremberg->Frankfurt in advance to get discounted tickets? Which are the best websites to book the tickets?

Thanks!

Posted by
8244 posts

Not sure why Rick likes the Concorde hotel so much, there are a lot better hotels in the city center. The street it is located on has gone downhill the past few years and right now, all of the the entrances to the underground station at the Hauptbahnhof are closed off the streets around the Hauptbahnhof, due to a massive renovation project.

You can pick up your train to the airport in multiple locations, like the Hauptwache or Konstablerwache or Taunusanlage, you do not have to get it at the Hauptbahnhof. The S-8 and S-9 go through the city, stopping at those locations.

Check out Motel One by the Römer, Miramar Hotel on Berlinerstrasse, or perhaps Adina Apts.

I would stay in Esslingen over Stuttgart, simply because it is more charming.

Posted by
66 posts

Hi Ms Jo, thanks! I relooked at the reviews of Concorde and the vicinity is really not that great. I will book Motel One by Romer. It is quite expensive for quiet small room. Hopefully this is the best economical and convenient option. Thanks!

Posted by
8244 posts

Did you look at the other 2 options I suggested? Motel One has a premium location for the Christmas market and is only a few years old. May be why prices are higher? They used to be considered quite a budget hotel.

Posted by
2965 posts

I noticed the Motel One Romer prices were also very high during a convention a few years back. Lots of variance depending on what's happening in town.

Posted by
66 posts

Hi! Thanks! I also checked Miramar Hotel on Berlinerstrass but the rooms look abit dated. And Adina Apartment looks great but it is more expensive.

I guess Motel One by Frankfurt-Römer is the best option as it is near the Christmas market =)

Posted by
1836 posts

I’d spend at least 2 nights in Stuttgart. If Limburg an der Lahn has a market, I would choose that as it’s only a hour from Frankfurt and has a nice altstadt

Posted by
3026 posts

If you're already coming to Stuttgart, I'd recommending visiting Ludwigsburg as well. It has a beautiful palace ("the Swabian Versailles") and an elegant, unique Christmas market and it's less than 15 minutes by S-Bahn from Stuttgart, like Esslingen.

No one's mentioned it but Stuttgart's market is fantastic - one of the risks I run when I do my Christmas Market traveling is being spoiled since Stuttgart, Esslingen, and Ludwigsburg are all so great that it's easy to be underwhelmed by others, even famous ones in cities (not gonna name names, as it's already been recommended to you here).

If you're going to only do one night in the area, I'd stay in Esslingen so you can enjoy the market after dark until it closes. it's very atmospheric at night even without the market. However if you're going to stay two nights, you might want to stay in Stuttgart city center just for the convenience of traveling, and it's not like Stuttgart's markets or Schlossplatz are ugly at night!

Posted by
66 posts

Hi! Thanks for all the tips! Looks like I can only spend 1 day at Stuttgart (overnight Stuttgart city) and 1 day at Esslingen (overnight Esslingen).

Is it sufficient to spend 1 day at Esslingen Christmas market? Or is it better to visit the market for 2 nights?

Posted by
1386 posts

We liked the Esslingen Middle Ages market but a few hours were plenty for us. Esslingen is an attractive city but I would prefer a day visit there. We day-tripped to Esslingen twice and found little to do other than the market. We considered staying in Esslingen but there were few hotel choices.

We stayed in and enjoyed Ludwigsburg, though that hotel is now closed. The palace is worth a visit. We have not visited the Ludwigsburg's Baroque Christmas Market.

Stuttgart had the most choices for hotels and restaurants. We stayed twice at the City Hotel and enjoyed it. The market was large and varied. I hope they still have the Swedish salmon teepee. Stuttgart has good connections to the other towns for day trips. Sarah is right about the area around the old and new palace being very attractive.

Posted by
3026 posts

We day-tripped to Esslingen twice and found little to do other than the market. We considered staying in Esslingen but there were few hotel choices.

You missed out on the J. F. Schriber Paper Model museum? For shame! ;)

It's true that most of Esslingen's attractions are just sort of wandering around, but there are a handful of small sites worth seeing, mostly in the form of tours. I will show my hand here and admit that I do tours of Esslingen, but to avoid a forum conflict of interest and just for the sake of honesty I will suggest a tour with Tom Hale, an American who has made his home there for decades and is as passionate about the history of Esslingen as anyone I know. He's also licensed by the city. If you do take a tour with him please tell him I sent you! There are also special tours the city does (which Tom also sometimes runs) that take you into hidden underground places such as the crypt underneath the city church that dates back past 800 - truly remarkable stuff but requires advance booking which you can find through Esslingen's website. If you don't see any tours in English, please contact their TI.

That said, I think an afternoon/evening is sufficient to enjoy the Esslingen market for most people.

Stuttgart had the most choices for hotels and restaurants. We stayed twice at the City Hotel and enjoyed it. The market was large and varied. I hope they still have the Swedish salmon teepee. Stuttgart has good connections to the other towns for day trips. Sarah is right about the area around the old and new palace being very attractive.

The food at the market in Stuttgart is so good that I don't know how much anyone visiting would want to eat at restaurants, but I will share the locals' tip that the best traditional restaurants (or honestly, any good restaurant) is found just outside the city center, either in the city's original "suburb" (from a 14th century perspective) called the Bohnenviertel, which has several great "Weinstuben", traditional Swabian restaurants The slightly further districts of West and Sued also have great traditional restaurants. Feel free to DM me for more info!

BTW the Finnish market (easily confused for Swedish!) is at Karlsplatz at it's a highlight. We've had it every year from 2011-19 and I and many others are really hoping it will be back this year. A lot of people don't even notice it as it's set apart from the rest of the action. The best gluhwein at the market is at the stall in front of the "Alte Kanzlerei" restaurant on Schillerplatz. It's homemade, not from a bottle and you can tell the difference!